Tag Archives: Jesus

Jesus as the Passover Lamb

26 Mar

Passover-doorpost

Since our first parents sinned, God told them that the result of sin was death. Yet He had mercy on them and instead of immediately requiring their own death, He provided them with a way to temporarily cover their sin. God allowed the life-blood of an animal to atone or take away sin, so they could be restored to fellowship with God.

Animal sacrifice was instituted in the garden, even before the Passover and the subsequent sacrificial system in the tabernacle. The animal represented an undeserving recipient of a deserved punishment. Substitutionary atonement; one punished in place of another. It represented faith in God’s word if it was done as He instructed, and trust in His provision. The sacrifice was valuable; one gave only the best. The perfect, unblemished animal foreshadowed Jesus, the perfect sacrifice who atones for sin once and for all. “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29b

Because these sacrifices only temporarily covered the sins of the people, they needed to be offered on a regular basis. When the offering was brought, the person would put their hands on the head of the animal while it was killed (Lev. 1:4). This symbolically put their sins onto the animal, and the person identified with it, and then it died in their place.

The requirements for the Passover lamb; male of the first year, one per household, a lamb without blemish, kill it and catch its blood, smear it on door posts and lintels, eat the flesh which was roasted whole on a fire, eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, while wearing travelling clothes, all of it must be eaten that night, anything left till morning must be burnt with fire. The bones were not to be broken. The angel of death would come, and God promised, “when I see the blood, I will pass over you.” Ex. 12:13

How is Jesus represented by the Passover Lamb?

He is without blemish (sinless).

“For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.” Heb. 7:26,27

“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin,” Heb. 4:15

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”2 Cor. 5:21

“…knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things like silver and gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” 1 Pet. 1:18,19

The lamb was to be fully consumed. Ex. 12:8-10

He really died. We feed on Him by faith. (John 6:54)

Ex. 12:46, Num. 9:12 The lamb’s bones were not to be broken.
His bones weren’t broken. John 19:33,36 To show He fulfilled Scripture, it points back to the instructions about the Passover lamb, but now applies it specifically to Jesus.

John the Baptist called Jesus the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. (John 1:29)

They were to remain inside the house all night to be safe. “And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning.” Ex.12:22b We are safe if we are “in Christ.” “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Rom. 8:1

He was perfect, unblemished, male, no broken bones, a substitute who bore the wrath of God, we are covered by His blood, protected from the punishment of death, we feed on him, we partake because we are circumcised in heart=regenerated/born again. He preserves the lives of all who trust Him.
“Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away the foreskins of your hearts, you men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, lest My fury come forth like fire, and burn so that no one can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.” Jer. 4:4

“In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,” Col. 2:111
It was to be eaten with bitter herbs to remind them of their bitter slavery in Egypt/our bitter slavery to sin.
Jesus redeemed His people from slavery to sin. “Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” John 8:34-36
“Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?” Romans 6:16
“But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.” Romans 6:17
“But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.” Romans 6:22
Also eaten with unleavened bread. Leaven represented sin.

We have been set free (redeemed) from our slavery to sin. Therefore we must remove sin from our lives.

“Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” 1 Cor. 5;7,8

Those who applied the blood of the lamb were safe from judgment and death. Ex. 12:7,13
We are under the safety and protection of His blood.
“…knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things like silver and gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” 1 Pet. 1:18,19

He was killed as our Substitute, therefore we need not fear death and judgment.
“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,” 1 Pet. 3:18

Jesus as the Scapegoat in Leviticus

30 Mar

Scapegoat
What exactly happened there, on that Roman cross two millennia ago?

In 2 Corinthians 6:2, Paul says, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Paul here summarizes the gospel message for us, bringing in the idea of imputation.

Imputation simply means that something is accounted to someone else. In this case, our sins are laid on Christ.

But there’s more. We get something too. Not only do our sins become covered by the blood of Christ, but we are seen as righteous in God’s sight. We are justified, another theological term, which means to be declared righteous in the Supreme Court of the Universe.

In the Old Testament, in Leviticus 16, we see an example of this idea. Two goats were presented at the front of the tabernacle; the High Priest would lay his hands on the head of the goat, and confess over it all the iniquities and transgressions of the children of Israel, putting their sins (ceremonially) on the head of the goat. In this case, the sins of the people were imputed to the goat. One goat was killed, and its blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat.

The other goat, the scapegoat, which is where we get that word, was left alive, and led out into the wilderness, never to be seen again.

It’s a beautiful picture. But as a type, it’s imperfect. Ideally you’d have only one goat. But you can’t kill a goat and then still have a live one to send out.

However, in Christ, you have One who is killed as an atoning sacrifice, and yet as a living Saviour He removes our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. Just a point of geography, but you know that if you go north, eventually you’ll be going south again. But if you go east, you keep going east, or if you go west, you keep going west and you will never go east in that direction. It’s a beautiful way to show that we will never meet up with our sins again once they have been laid on our scapegoat, Jesus.

At the cross, an exchange takes place; our sins on Christ, His righteousness on us. It’s like being poor and indebted, to the point that you can never repay it even if you lived fifteen lifetimes, and then a rich benefactor places billions of dollars into your account. He imputes it to your account. This not only pays off your debt and provides for your care, but you are rich beyond your dreams.

Similarly we are indebted to God, and we owe a debt we can never pay, and suddenly, we find we are not only forgiven, but we have now become joint-heirs with Christ, who owns all things. We are promised His presence with us in this life, and eternity with Him in Heaven. Chrysostom said, “O Sweet Exchange!”

So now that we see what happened on the cross, you may say, “How can a few hours on a cross, even as horrible a death as that, possibly atone for a lifetime of sin?”

It has to do with the value or worth of the One who was crucified. Because He is infinite, He paid an infinite price. He was separated from His Father. That is the greatest agony He suffered on the cross.

“To see sin as it really is, contemplate what it cost to remove it. If we had fallen into a deep pit, we could tell how deep we had fallen by the length of rope let down to save us. In the same way, we can only understand the depths of depravity into which sin has brought us by the lengths to which God must go to redeem us.” Robert Morey

If forever in hell, seems too harsh a punishment for only a lifetime of sin, as the Jehovah’s Witnesses teach; you don’t know your own heart, or the value of the One you’ve offended. A threat against a person has a certain penalty, but a threat or assault against the Prime Minister has greater consequences because of the position of the one who has been so mistreated.

By extension, we could argue that an eternity in Heaven is too great a reward for only a lifetime of service. How can the J.W.’s believe in annihilation but still hold they will be rewarded for eternity? The most they should get is a week in the Caribbean!
You can’t have both. But that would assume we obtain Heaven by works. We do not. It’s not of works. It’s grace. Amazing Grace!

Here is a beautiful quote by R.C. Sproul in his book, Reason to Believe, on Grace:

“Nothing requires that God be gracious, not even His love. If grace is ever required, it is no longer grace. Grace cannot be required. If we merit it then it is no longer grace; if God is obliged to give it then it is no longer grace. When we think that God must be gracious, we confuse grace with justice. Once I rebel against God, He owes me nothing… If God deals with us ultimately on the basis of justice alone, we will perish.”

Prayer: “Thank you, God for Jesus, Who was the perfect scapegoat, Who could atone for our sins by dying as a Sacrifice, and also bear our sins away, never to be brought up against us again. Thank You for saving us by grace instead of dealing with us on the basis of justice.”

Jesus as the Judge of All the Earth in Revelation

20 Oct

Read Revelation 20:11-15

Maybe I have an overly sensitive conscience, but I feel nervous around police and judges. Once, when I was called for potential jury duty, I took the stand to be asked a simple question. My heart was racing. I was sooooo  nervous! If I tremble before a human judge even though I’m innocent, what would it be like to stand before the Judge of all the earth, guilty?

The images of the end of the age are awesome, with horrible judgments poured out on the earth, and a vision of God on His throne so terrible, it says the earth and heaven fled away, and there was no place for them. (Rev. 20:11) People will be so terrified, they will prefer to hide in caves and ask the mountains to fall on them and hide them from the wrath of the Lamb. “For the day of His wrath has come, and who can stand?” Rev.6:14-17

One doesn’t usually associate wrath with a lamb. Lambs are docile, sweet and helpless. But this Lamb, who “as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” Isa.53:7, was also, “Christ, our Passover, slain for us.” 1 Cor.5:7 The Lamb of God came to earth the first time to handle the sin problem. Now He is coming to Judge the earth.

In Matt. 25:31-46, Jesus tells a parable about the Sheep and the Goats. It is set at the Last Judgment. Jesus is on the throne. We know this because the One on the throne refers to His Father. Also, we know that all judgment has been committed to the Son. John 5:22, Rom.2:16, Eph. 5:10, john 5:22

The sheep and goats are separated, with the sheep on the right and the goats at His left hand. Jesus here rewards His people for doing things out of love for Him. They are so unaware of their actions being commendable, that they are surprised to hear that He likens their good works to His brethren as good works toward Him, personally.

Also notice, He rewards His people first, in order to vindicate them before the unbelieving world. It’s amazing to me that He would equip us for good works, Eph.2:10, and then reward us for them. 1 Cor. 3:14,15 Good reason to cast our crowns before Him. Rev.4:10

Then He assigns the unbelievers to eternal torment using almost the same words He uses to praise the sheep. They also protest, claiming innocence that it was Jesus they failed to care for when they failed to care for “the least of these”. They were looking to get off on a technicality, but God knows their hearts.

The images in the last few chapters of Revelation are sobering. Read Rev. 20:11-15 again. You see the awesomeness of the One on the Great white throne, the reanimation of the dead from the sea and the graves, all standing now before the Judge. Books will be opened, and people will be judged “from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.” Rev. 20:12

The most important book seems to be the Book of Life. “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Rev. 20:15

I know everyone has a different story to tell about how they were saved. Some see the beauty of the gospel, some see the reasonableness of it, some see the awesome sacrifice of Christ. I feared judgment. I recognized, even as a child, that I was guilty, and that God would be just in condemning me to hell. When I heard the good news, that He had also provided a way to escape the judgment, I ran for it.

That’s not a bad thing. It’s one approach to preaching the gospel. “…some save with fear…” Jude 1:23 The good news isn’t good news unless we first hear the bad news. How can we have assurance of our salvation and confidence that we can stand before the throne of this Awesome One without fear? The answer definitely doesn’t rest in us. I can’t “keep” myself in the faith, any more than I got myself into it. Salvation is God’s work from start to finish. He is the “Author and Finisher of our faith.”  Heb. 12:2 He chose me, so He keeps me. (Rom. 8:29). They are links of the salvation chain, we are secure because of Christ.

There are many theological terms we read in our Bibles, without really understanding them: justification, sanctification and propitiation come to mind. Most believers get the general idea of those words, but couldn’t give a clear definition.

We’ll focus on justification for a moment. I’ve heard that it means God looks on you “just-as-if-you-had-never-sinned”. While it might be a helpful way to remember, I think it’s a weak definition. Justification is actually a legal term. Since we’re dealing with the Supreme Court of the Universe, it’s helpful to speak legal-ease. Justification, as it is used in the Bible, primarily means to be declared righteous. That is exclusively the idea that the Apostle Paul means. James uses the term, but he uses it in reference to how our works validate our faith in the eyes of men, not how we stand or fall before God.

Justification differs from sanctification, which is the process by which God progressively makes us holy. The first thing we need is to have the death sentence removed from over our heads. When we believe in Jesus Christ; repenting of our sin and resting in the finished work of Christ as our Substitute, God declares us “NOT GUILTY”. We are free! “And Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Gen.  15:6 and Rom.5:1,2, Rom.8:1

As the Judge of the earth, He has the right to do that; to let a guilty person go free. But as a holy and just God, He could not do that without going contrary to His nature, which He cannot do. “He cannot deny Himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13 If only there was a way……….There is a way! His name is Jesus. Because Jesus was our Substitute, who paid in full for our sin, God can legitimately justify us.

So when we flee to Jesus for safety, we are hidden in Him, and in that sense, God now looks on us “just-as-if-we-had-never-sinned”. When God the Father sees us hidden in Christ, He sees only the perfect righteousness of His son. Col.3:3 A great exchange has taken place. Our sins on Christ, Christ’s righteousness imputed, or made over, to our account. O sweet exchange!

Justification by faith alone is a beautiful, life-changing, uplifting, soul-assuring doctrine. Never tire of praising God for justifying you. Because you are justified, you will not be condemned on that awful day. The worst words anyone will ever hear will be, “Depart from Me. I never knew you.” Matt.7:23

Yet, “there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ…” Rom.8:1

“It is in the substitutionary death of Christ that sin is overcome and wrath is averted, so that God can look upon man with pleasure, and man can look upon God without fear. Sin is expiated and God’s wrath is propitiated.” John Stott

Prayer– “Lord, how awesome You are. You are our Creator and our Saviour. The truth of a future judgement would be terrifying, if we weren’t secure in Christ. ‘Thank you’ is so inadequate to express our feelings about saving us from hell and promising us Heaven. +Help us to share the gospel so that others won’t have to face the wrath of the Lamb.”

Questions– When we stand before Jesus, will He be our Saviour or our Judge? If you are unsure, spend some time in prayer, asking God to save you, or if you are saved, to give you assurance of your salvation, so you don’t need to fear death and judgement. –Was fear of judgement a factor in your conversion?

Response– How familiar are you with theological terms? Look up the meaning of the following terms: justification, sanctification, adoption, redemption, propitiation.

Christ as the Mediator in Job

8 Sep

Read Job Chapter 9

“For He is not a man, as I am, that I may answer Him, and that we should go to court together. Nor is there any mediator between us, who may lay his hand on us both.” Job 9:32, 33.

Disputes can quickly turn ugly.  It can happen in labour talks, on the baseball diamond, or in a marriage.  When you have two parties, each with legitimate “beefs”, or at an impasse because neither side will compromise, you need outside help.

The form this outside help takes is important.  You don’t want someone who is vulnerable to accepting a bribe, one who can be threatened or coerced, or one who starts out with a bias toward one side or the other.

He must be trustworthy, fair and blameless.  Moreover, he must have a clear understanding of both sides in order to bring them together in reconciliation.  How difficult to find such a peacemaker!

In this passage, Job laments his situation.  He has some serious questions for God; namely, ‘Why am I suffering?’  Yet he knows he is dealing with the God of the universe, and one does not just saunter into His presence and demand answers.

Job knows he needs an advocate.  An umpire.  A mediator.  Someone who will put one hand on him, and one on God, and find a peaceful solution.  Oh Job, if you only knew that such a One would come!

“For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.” 1 Tim. 2:5

As sinners, we are in such a predicament, as well.  We are rebels against the King of the universe.  R.C. Sproul says we have committed “cosmic treason”. We are guilty before the Judge of all the earth.  There is nothing we can do to fix our situation.  Moreover, we have no right to even approach this Holy God to appeal for mercy.

Enter: the God-Man, Jesus.  He is the Eternal Son of God, and yet He took on flesh.  As a man, He could understand our predicament; as God He could do something about it.  While it’s nice that someone understands our trouble, unless they can do something about it, we’re still in peril.

If I was drowning and someone jumped into the water beside me, started flailing their arms and swallowing  water, it wouldn’t mean much to me for them to say, “I know just how you feel!”  I don’t need sympathy alone, I need help!  I need a hero to save me!

That’s why Jesus is the best Mediator.  As a man, He understands how sin has ruined us, although He Himself was sinless.  He knew pain, hunger, thirst, exhaustion, rejection and oppression.  But as God, He could also do something to relieve our situation.

That situation was our broken relationship with God.  We stood condemned.  He took the punishment, satisfying the wrath of a holy God.  Because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross, we can now approach this Holy God, and appeal for mercy based on the finished work of Christ.

Christ is the mediator that Job could only dream about.  We who live after the Cross can see how our sympathetic High Priest is also our Deliverer.

“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Heb. 4:15

“…and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” 1 Thess. 1:10

As a mediator between two opponents, he brings about reconciliation.

“Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” 2 Cor. 5:18   

He doesn’t just say, “Why can’t we all just get along?” or “Let’s let bygones be bygones,” or “Boys will be boys.”  He provides a real solution, not just platitudes.  He truly solves our sin problem.  A Holy God will not just overlook our offences.  At the cross, Mercy and Peace have kissed each other.

“knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” 1 Pet. 1: 18, 19

Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

Prayer– “Lord you know how obstinate and unforgiving I can be. You know I’m not the first to apologize after an argument. Break down my pride. Make me willing to humble myself in order to bring about reconciliation in my relationships. Thank you most of all for reconciling me to God through the sacrifice of Yourself.”

Questions– How do you deal with disputes? Are you an instigator, an agitator, or a peacemaker? Do you realize that before you were saved, you were an enemy of God?

“Fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement. He is a rebel who must lay down his arms. Laying down your arms, surrendering, saying you are sorry, realizing you have been on the wrong track and getting ready to start life over again from the ground floor—that is the only way out of a hole. This process of surrender—this movement full speed astern—is repentance.”  C.S. Lewis

I’m glad at the way it came out, but at the conversion moment, what I heard was God saying, ‘Put down your gun and we’ll talk’.” C.S. Lewis

Response– Do you need to make peace with someone? Do it before the day is over.

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