Closing the Gap 3.28.18

The Sacrifice of Christ

Week 12 Day 3

Pray:

Ask God to reorient you to Himself. Confess any known sin. Thank Him for His forgiveness. Be still and reflect on Jesus and His sacrifice for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to God’s Word. Pray for others in your life that they, too, would know and love God today.

Read:

John 19:16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus.  17 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). 18 Here they crucified him, and with him two others — one on each side and Jesus in the middle.  19 Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 20 Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek.  21 The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.” 23 When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.  24 “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said, “They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” So this is what the soldiers did. 25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.  28 Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Reflect:

Why the cross?  God is really smart and really powerful, so why the cross?  Surely there was a better, less violent, more creative way to accomplish what needed to be done. Some theologians who do not take the Scriptures seriously have called this “cosmic child abuse.”  They mock the idea of a substitutionary atonement for sins. But if we start with God’s wisdom and not our own, then we would conclude that since God did it this way, this is the best way. If we begin our questions with the wise, all-powerful God (and we should), then the assumption must be that if God did something a certain way, it is the best way it could be done. Why the cross? There are a number of answers and undoubtedly many more than we are even aware of, but one of those answers is the fact that there is no greater love than to give your life for another.  Jesus prayed in the garden for his Father to show him another way, but there was not one. So he declared that he would obey at all costs and his will was surrendered to the will of the Father. Why the cross? Because Jesus loves you. Because you were part of the joy set before him. The cross of Christ should never lead us to think much of ourselves, but rather to think much of Jesus. When you realize Jesus went to the cross because he loved you, that is not self-centered thinking, at least not if you are thinking clearly about yourself and about him. It was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us.  He did not wait until we were “better” before he loved us. He did not demand we change before he changed us. Jesus did not die for “good” people; he died for rebels, for sinners. His death for us reveals how great his heart is. What about your circumstances right now? Why are they such as they are? Perhaps some of them are the results of your own poor choices, even so God still loves you, but he is a good Father so he will not automatically and easily remove consequences from your life. But what of the issues of your life that are not tied to your own choices? What of the difficult and even heartbreaking situations you are enduring right now, why does God allow them?  Will you begin with a God who is smart, powerful, and loving? Then will you yield to him as Jesus did? Will you ask him, appropriately so, to give you another way? If he says “no”, then will you say, as Jesus did, “not my will but yours?” Close the gap on your faith today. Begin your questions with thoughts of who God is. He is all-wise, all-powerful, and all-loving.

Pray:

(Personalize this prayer today; make it specific to the circumstances that face you.)

Ask God to lead you through His Spirit as you go through your day. Ask Him to bring to mind the truth of the gospel and its implications for what you will encounter today. Tell Him “Yes” to His will and ask Him for His power and protection to live this “yes.” Ask God to create and reveal opportunities to proclaim the good news today.

 

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