We tend to view things along certain parameters of knowledge and experience. Learning something new is uncomfortable.
10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest [spiritual inactivity]–and [spiritual] poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.
People who look for counterfeit money do not study counterfeit money, but the real thing. Any abnormalities are immediately spotted. We want to do the same thing with truth. The problem is that our minds automatically adjust what we hear and read to a prescribed format. Take, for instance, the phrase, “They are now in the grave.” I typed this the other day and my auto-correct changed the word “grave” to “grace.” Even while I was making a note on my phone for this post it did it again! “Grace” not a bad option; it’s just not what I intended.
Our theology works the same way. In order to consider a new idea or concept, we must be aware that we have certain precepts built into our background, which is good–to a point. So, how do we determine what is good and what needs scrutiny? Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). In other words, He is the way to truth and life. Let’s run everything through the lens of Jesus, from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. Trust me, it’s not easy! In fact, it’s downright mind-blowing!
Jesus said that He came to fulfill (complete) the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17). Jesus completed their job, which was to point to Him (John 5:39). Jesus inaugurated a new covenant at the Lord’s supper and was referring to His blood that was to be spilled out during the crucifixion (Luke 22:20). From that point on, only Jesus matters. If it doesn’t line up with what Jesus taught, then we are to not put it on the same level with Jesus’ words and teachings. Here is a for-instance:
I have heard it taught that God turned His face away from Jesus while He was on the cross. Not True! I get their reason: God needed to punish mankind for their sin, so He poured His wrath out on Jesus. But, consider this:
- The Psalm that Jesus quoted was Psalm 22. Verse 1 is exactly what Jesus said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Taken at face value and if we read and know nothing else, I can see how a person might see it as God turning away. But, if you read the rest of the psalm, you find that in verse 24, it says, “For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one [Jesus]; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.”
- A technique of writing is the question/answer kind. The psalmist begins with a question and then answers it later in the psalm. Psalm 22 is just such a psalm, as is Psalm 6 (verses 3 and 9), Psalm 13 (verses 1 and 5-6), Psalm 62 (verses 3 and 5-6), Psalm 94 (verses 3 and 15, 23), and several others.
- Nearly all Jews knew Psalm 22. It was part of their early memorization and part of their weekly synagogue readings. Once Jesus began the psalm, every Jew within earshot would finish it in their minds. That particular psalm has several specific references to the crucifixion, which was going on at that time:
- 7 All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads.” Compare to Matthew 27:39, “those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads.”
- 8 “He trusts in the LORD, let the LORD rescue him.” Compare to Matthew 27:43, “He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him.”
- 14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.” The body weight pulls the bones out of joint.
- 16 “They pierce my hands and my feet.” Compare to John 20:25 and 27, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” “Thomas, put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” The feet are implied as per crucifixion methods.
- 18 “They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.” Compare with Mark 15:24, “And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.”
- 31 “He has done it!” In the Greek of the day, “It is finished!” Compare with John 19:30, “Jesus said, ‘It is finished.'”
- Jesus’ reference to this particular psalm identified Him as the Messiah, for it was considered a Messianic psalm.
My conclusion: Knowing that Jesus is “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being” (Hebrews 1:3), I can say with confidence that God died in Christ that day on the cross. His body took all our sin and the spiritual consequences (separation from God and its torment) and deposited them in the grave. That’s not a court room scene; that’s a Rescue Operation! And that’s how I choose to see God, as one of love, one who loves the world so much that He came to earth to rescue mankind so that we can be reunited with Him. It’s all there in John 3:16-17.
Abba, thank You for loving us and coming to rescue us. You are amazing! I love You! Amen.