In the last 24 hours, Jesus was betrayed, arrested, abandoned, mocked, beaten, condemned and hung on a cross to die. According to eyewitness accounts, the following were his final words before he died.
Forgiveness. Jesus’ first words on the cross were “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) Even in agony Jesus embodied God’s amazing love, echoing his earlier words from the Sermon on the Mount: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28).
If anyone would come after me,
he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily
and follow me.
I’m blessed to attend a church headed by one of the largest-brained pastors in the history of the universe, Dr. Marc Erickson. In his sermon yesterday, Dr. Erickson — a former emergency room physician — diagnosed a serious disease running rampant through the world today:
The prognosis? If left untreated, death. Fortunately, God provides a cure:
When asked for God’s prescription for daily living, here’s what Jesus, the Great Physician, said:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
In other words, we should do the exact opposite of what the world tells us to do. God’s agenda — not ours — should be #1. We should love Him above all else and then love others like we love ourselves.
What a wonderful world it would be if we all lived like that. Here’s a little prayer to help us all start off on the right foot . . .
GOOD MORNING, GOD!
Thanks for another day.
Help me live it for you.
Not for me.
Everything I have
everything I am
Help me follow you
with every step I take today.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
Stop whatever you’re doing right now and memorize this verse. Meditate on it. Live it.
LIVE BY FAITH IN JESUS
This week, we’re walking in Jesus’ footsteps to the cross and beyond.
Yesterday, Jesus died on the cross. Or so it seemed.
Rather astonishing eyewitness reports are pouring in from all over. According to those accounts:
- “Darkness came over all the land” from approximately noon until 3:00 p.m. yesterday as Jesus hung on the cross (Matthew 27:45).
- At the exact moment of Jesus’ death, a huge curtain in the temple measuring approximately 60 feet high and 4 inches thick was “torn in two from top to bottom” (Matthew 27:51). According to religious authorities, that curtain separated the “Most Holy Place” — an inner sanctum symbolizing God’s presence — from the rest of the temple.
- There were also reports of earthquakes and rocks splitting at the exact moment of Jesus’ death (Matthew 27:51).
- Stranger yet, witnesses reported that “the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life” and “came out of the tombs” (Matthew 27:52-53).
- Even Jesus’ executioners appeared to be affected by the strange events. One centurion reportedly exclaimed: “Surely he was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:54)