Who Carried the Cross?

March 6, 2018 at 3:16 pm | Posted in John, Luke, Q&A | 1 Comment
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Question: John 19:16-17 says that Jesus carried His cross. HOWEVER, Matthew 27:32, Mark 15:21, and Luke 23:26 say that soldiers carried cross. Which one is true?

Answer: First of all, Matthew 27:32, Mark 15:21, and Luke 23:26 do not say that soldiers carried the Cross. They say that a man named Simon carried it. Jesus carried the Cross AND Simon carried it. They both did. Jesus first, and then Simon the rest of the way. Jesus in His humanity knew what it meant to be so tired and injured that He could not carry a burden that others were demanding of Him. In this respect, although He is God, He can still sympathize with us when we are forced to carry some spiritual or emotional or other burden that is too much for us. We can pass our burden to Him in faith, believing in Him, and He will take it for us without despising us for it.

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 4:15

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

I Peter 5:7

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

Matthew 11:28-29

Purple or Scarlet?

November 27, 2017 at 3:32 pm | Posted in John, Q&A | 3 Comments
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Question: John 19:2 and Mark 15:17 say that the robe which the soldiers put on Jesus shortly before His Crucifixion was purple. However, Matthew 27:28 says that the robe was scarlet. Which one is true?

Answer: “Purple” and “scarlet” and sometimes “crimson” are variations of the same color when used to describe fabrics in antiquity. Back then, garments were hand-dyed and hand-washed, often exposed to harsh scrubbing and extreme weather, so they faded much more easily than our garments today. The Holy Spirit caused different Gospel writers to describe the robe that the soldiers put on Jesus as both purple and scarlet, because, from Pilate’s and the Romans’ point of view, it was just a faded old garment used to mock Him, but, from our point of view, the royalty symbolized by the color purple was suitable to the King of the Universe, God Almighty, which is Who Jesus was.

The King’s Trial, Execution, and Victory

July 22, 2016 at 1:36 pm | Posted in Matthew | 3 Comments
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There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.

Matthew 26:7-9

The Disciples accused the woman with the alabaster box of wastefulness, but Jesus defended her. The one who was really guilty of “wastefulness” was Judas Iscariot, whom Jesus called the “son of perdition.” Judas wasted his opportunities, and betrayed his Master. He was not a martyr or an innocent tool of providence. He thought that he could “use” his place in the earthly ministry of Jesus for profit. Remember, things are to be “used;” people are to be “saved.” Things “used up” for the glory of Christ are not “wasted.” The King will be loyal to those who truly worship Him.

In Matthew Chapter 27 the King was placed on trial. The charges were: misleading the nation; forbidding the paying of taxes; and claiming to be king, as shown in Matthew 27:11-26. This third charge is the one that Pilate dealt with because it could have been a threat to the Roman Empire.

Pilate found no fault, because he understood that Jesus was claiming to be King of a Kingdom “not of this world.” However, Pilate chose to yield to the people and not to the true King.

At this point, King Jesus demonstrated His meekness and submission and strength. For His willingness to submit and for the strength that allowed Him to endure this tremendous, indescribable humiliation, we who know Him as Savior shall be eternally giving thanks.

He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.

Matthew 27:42

It was ironic for the people to claim that they would like to have a king who would save himself and not others. That’s how warped their idea of kingship had become.

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him. Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

27:45-50

Jesus was crucified at what we would consider to be 9:00 a.m. He was on the Cross for three hours until noon. At noon darkness covered the land – not a coincidental eclipse or a sandstorm, but a supernaturally produced darkness. Then it was dark for three hours. To the extent such a thing can be said to have occurred in “time,” this is believed to have been the time when Christ was “made sin.”

And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt. And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days:

Exodus 10:21-22

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.

Psalm 22:1-2

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

Isaiah 53:10

The King’s victory was yet another proof of His Kingship. In earthly governments, such as the Roman Empire of that time, it is common to see the principles of realpolitik and “might makes right,” but with God His might and His right flow from His Divine nature, so that He can never be overcome by, or with, wickedness.

In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

Matthew 28:1-6

The angel sat upon the rock, bearing witness to the King’s Resurrection, but we bear witness today by standing upon the Rock and speaking forth the truth of Scripture.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Matthew 28:19-20

The King commands us to be active, making not just converts, but also disciples: making learners and doers. We are not called to be, or to make, mere spectators.

The Old Covenant Sanctuary and the New Covenant Sanctuary

February 29, 2016 at 1:38 pm | Posted in Hebrews | 6 Comments
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For the Hebrew believers the New Covenant was an extreme departure from everything they had done to attempt to keep a right standing with God. For those of us who have grown up around New Testament Christianity it would be like if we started having church standing on our heads! This is one reason why the Holy Spirit, in the letter to the Hebrews, breaks things down element by element, piece by piece, as if to say,”Look, it’s okay to draw near to God under the New Covenant.” The logical conclusion for 1st Century Jewish Christians would have been, “If we keep drawing closer and closer, we’re going to wind up in the Holy of Holies – that’s as close as you can get – AND WE CAN’T GO IN THERE!

So in Hebrews Chapter 9 the Holy Ghost explains, using contrasts, just how superior the sanctuary in Heaven (the New Covenant sanctuary) is to the sanctuary in the Tabernacle or the Temple. It is also important to remember that, for New Testament believers, our “sanctuary” is not really a “building.” Today, if you are truly a believer, the Spirit lives within you.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

I Corinthians 6:19

However, keeping that in mind, here are some contrasts between the Old Covenant sanctuary and the Heavenly sanctuary.

1. The Old Covenant sanctuary was man-made.

Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.

Hebrews 9:1

The earthly sanctuary was limited by decay and locale. The eternal sanctuary is permanent – spoken into existence by God.

But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;

Hebrews 9:11

2. The Old Covenant sanctuary was a “type” of a greater reality.

For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.

Hebrews 9:2-5

The pattern for a dress lets the seamstress see what it’s meant to be, but the actual dress is much more useful and fulfilling for the wearer. The Old Covenant sanctuary, by its very nature, pointed to something greater.

Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Hebrews 9:12-14

The sacrifice made in the New Covenant sanctuary actually cleans the conscience, instead of just making someone ceremonially clean.

3. The Old Covenant sanctuary acted as a boundary.

But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:

Hebrews 9:7

Only the high priest could go into the Holy of Holies, and then only once a year, but in the New Covenant sanctuary, spiritually, we can have unlimited access to God, through Christ because of His shed blood.

4. The Old Covenant sanctuary was temporary.

The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:

Hebrews 9:8

Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

Matthew 27:50-51

The New Covenant sanctuary is not only permanent, but is home to a permanent ministry.

For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:

Hebrews 9:24

Even the Jewish genealogical records have been lost or destroyed, and their religions leaders and historians are not sure who is supposed to be ministering as a priest today.

5. The Old Covenant sanctuary was set up to deal with ceremonial and carnal purity.

Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.

Hebrews 9:9-10

The New Covenant sanctuary deals with the heart (the conscience). It changes what is on the inside.

For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Hebrews 9:13-14

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

Hebrews 9:27

Have you taken advantage of the true – the better – the superior – the everlasting ministry of the sanctuary in Heaven?

How Tall Was Jesus?

October 21, 2011 at 10:20 am | Posted in Bible Studies, Biblical Teaching, Luke | 16 Comments
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When I first became the teacher of an adult Sunday School class my biggest worry was that somebody in class would ask a question for which I didn’t have an answer. So I would tend to “over-study” in preparation for class. Even if we were going to be covering something really simple (Does Jesus say you should love your neighbor?) I would be prepared to do a complete exegesis on the Olivet Discourse and to defend my position on infralapsarianism versus supralapsarianism – just in case. Well, after a few weeks, I stopped worrying about that. I came to realize that I had more pressing concerns than somebody asking a difficult question and putting me on the spot. My bigger concerns had to do with just trying to keep everybody awake for 35 minutes – or trying to make sure the people who preferred the chairs to be arranged in a circle didn’t physically attack the people who preferred to sit classroom-style. Instead of being afraid that someone would ask a difficult question, I actually began to hope that anyone would ask anything – which would at least indicate that someone was listening or had read the lesson. Finally, it happened.

A particular fellow stayed after class one Sunday morning and came up to me as I was shuffling my notes back into my folder. Oh boy, I thought, maybe he wants to know about modalism or the Sabellian controversy! But instead he said in a gruff voice, “Hey you’re one of them Christians – one of them ‘church people.’ How tall do you think Jesus was?”

Of course, I had no idea. And although I don’t think Jesus’s height bears a tremendous significance on the essentials of the Christian faith, I did promise to study the matter and get back to him.

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Luke 2:52 (emphasis added)

From the time Jesus was 12 years old He “increased in stature.” Presumably, this means that He “grew up” physically. So, however tall He was at 12, we can assume He got taller as He got older. The last part of that verse, which says “with God and man,” appears to apply to the part about Him growing “in favor,” but I suppose it might also apply to “increased in stature.” If Jesus grew “in stature with other men,” that would not tell us definitively how tall He was, but it would lead us to suppose that He reached an “average” height – similar to other men.

And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.

Matthew 27:35 (emphasis added)

The Roman soldiers cast lots (gambled) for Jesus’s clothing after He was stripped and crucified. They did this partly to fulfill Old Testament prophecy, but it is unlikely that the soldiers in their own minds even knew this prophecy, much less that they knew the Divine hand of God was causing them to fulfill it. It is also unlikely that they cast lots hoping to win a valuable souvenir or a Roman Catholic “relic.” More likely, they were hoping to obtain some free clothing. (Clothing was relatively expensive back in those days.) From this, we might infer that Jesus was physically around the same size as the average Roman soldier.

In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me.

Matthew 26:55

When Jesus was arrested, He pointed out to His persecutors that He had been among them openly, and the fact that He referred to His teaching as the means by which they might have recognized Him and arrested Him sooner, rather than by His physical appearance, may mean that there was nothing especially noteworthy about the way He looked.

Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

John 8:59

It is possible that when Jesus escaped being stoned in the Temple He supernaturally camouflaged Himself, but it is also possible that, during the confusion, He simply blended in with the crowd and got away, which, if He was of average height and appearance, would not have been terribly difficult to do.

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 4:15

If Jesus, during His earthly life, was tempted in all the ways in which we are tempted, might not that have included the temptation that comes with being made fun of for how we look? This does not really tell us anything about His height, but it does tend to support the idea that Jesus was not especially physically attractive. We know from the Gospel records that He was not a wimp, but He was gentle. Great stature (height or size) is usually associated in the Bible – especially in the Old Testament – with sin or great wickedness. (See Genesis 6:4-5; Numbers 13:30-32; I Samuel 17:4.)

These are only clues at best, but it seems that there was nothing glaring or especially attractive about Jesus’s physical appearance.

For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Isaiah 53:2-3 (emphasis added)

Regardless of whether Jesus was tall or short according to the standards of His day, we know that God looks at men’s hearts more than their outward appearance. Jesus was a giant when it came to righteousness and love. He did not intimidate people with His physical size. He was “tall enough” to bear our sorrows, griefs, and sins and to nail them to His Cross.

While we don’t have a detailed description of the physical appearance of Jesus during His days on earth, we do have something of a description of how He will look when He returns to set things right once and for all:

His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.

Revelation 1:14-15

By the way, that explanation did not satisfy my friend who stayed after class to ask me about it, and I suppose he went down the road to another church where the preacher got “a rhema word from God” and told him without a doubt that Jesus was five foot eleven and a half. Oh well, you can’t win ’em all.

The True Shepherd Vs. The Evil Shepherd

May 3, 2010 at 10:27 am | Posted in Zechariah | 9 Comments
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In Chapter 10 Zechariah revealed the image of the flock and the evil shepherd.

For the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain: therefore they went their way as a flock, they were troubled, because there was no shepherd. Mine anger was kindled against the shepherds, and I punished the goats: for the LORD of hosts hath visited his flock the house of Judah, and hath made them as his goodly horse in the battle.

Zechariah 10:2-3

In Chapter 11 he preached an “action sermon” about the true Shepherd.

Three shepherds also I cut off in one month; and my soul lothed them, and their soul also abhorred me.

Zechariah 11:8

He got rid of three unfaithful shepherds. Shepherds carry a crook (for guiding) and a rod (for protecting).

And I took my staff, even Beauty, and cut it asunder, that I might break my covenant which I had made with all the people. And it was broken in that day: and so the poor of the flock that waited upon me knew that it was the word of the LORD. And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD.

Zechariah 11:10-13

When Zechariah quit, they only paid him 30 pieces of silver, the price of a slave. He got disgusted and gave it to a potter in the temple. This reminds us of Judas who sold out the Great and True Shepherd for the same price, and wound up buried in a potter’s field.

Matthew attributes this prophecy to Jeremiah.

Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value;

Matthew 27:9

The reason may be that Jeremiah is the major prophet and Zechariah was a minor prophet, or it may be that Zechariah referred to Jeremiah’s prophecy when he did what he did.

A foolish shepherd does not feed his flock.

And the LORD said unto me, Take unto thee yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd. For, lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, which shall not visit those that be cut off, neither shall seek the young one, nor heal that that is broken, nor feed that that standeth still: but he shall eat the flesh of the fat, and tear their claws in pieces.

Zechariah 11:15-16

Instead he feeds himself with the flock, which is a mark of the Antichrist.

Contrast the true Shepherd:

Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.

Zechariah 13:7

This prophecy is fulfilled when Jesus is referred to as equal with God.

Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.

Matthew 26:31

But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.

Matthew 26:56

This also refers to the scattering of the Jews after A.D. 70 when Rome destroyed the temple.


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