WHOSE Blood Bought Me?

 

Four years ago I first posted this, and on this Palm Sunday I feel the need to repost what I wrote then. This first came to me in the teachers’ workroom at school, then exploded in me again the following Sunday, when the enormity of what God did for us in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus rose like a  fountain of passionate love in my heart. It’s still true, and though my heart fell to fear of man and grief of loss a month after I first embraced this enormous truth, the GOD of grace, mercy, compassion, and love has walked with me steadfastly even as I slipped along the journey that led me here and, in some ways continues through a dark valley toward God’s goodness. I know a fraction of the price GOD paid for me, and in truth he never needed to send me any greater other proof of his love, for  nothing more could possibly measure up to this undying incomprehensible gift. Yet out of love, he shows me his love so tenderly and powerfully. I pray it speaks to your heart today.

How I treasure those brief flashes of deep, gut insight that hit me much less frequently than I long forDo you know what I mean: times when you feel for a Nano-second that you’ve touched a deep truth about God, and you wish with everything in you that it would engulf you so you could immerse yourself in its power? Frustratingly, those moments never linger long enough.

The latest one that grazed my consciousness on Palm Sunday, March 24th, 2013, entered the orbit of my subconscious during the week before as I searched YouTube for some exciting video and information about relative sizes of objects in space for the third grade class I assist in. Some facts about VY Canis Majoris absolutely astounded me: a red hypergiant, it’s one of the largest stars we know of, with a diameter of 1,227,000,000 miles (that’s billion, if you don’t want to count the place value yourself), or 1,975,000,000 kilometers. Take a look and be astounded:

 

To give you a better sense of that immensity, if VY Canis Majoris was at the center of our solar system, its surface would extend at least beyond the orbit of Jupiter, and perhaps as far as the orbit of Saturn. What grabbed my attention in the video was the comment that if you could fly in a jet at 900 miles per hour, it would take you over 1,000 years to fly around the star! It’s so distant that the light of VY Canis Majoris takes 3,9000 years to reach us.

I sat in bed at 5 a.m. that Sunday and tried to cold-start praise to the King of Kings as Holy Week began.  A realization rose slightly above the horizon of my consciousness: WHOSE blood bought me? WHOSE blood?  Yes, Jesus’ blood – that rolls of my tongue almost tritely sometimes – but WHAT blood is his? WHOSE BLOOD?

“And God said, ’Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night,’ . . . And it was so. God made two great lights . . . .  He also made the stars. . . . “  Genesis 1:14-16

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? . . . On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?”  Job 38:4, 7

“He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.” Psalm 147:4

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God . . .. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” John1: 1, 3

“I, Jesus, . . . am the Root, and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” Revelation 22:16

The “gestalt” of the immensity of VY Canis Major created by Jesus himself fused with these Bible verses and blazed into a whole much bigger than the sum of its parts. The Blood that bled for every speck of sin in my life coursed through the veins of the ONE whose voice spoke the inferno of VY Canis Majoris  and every blazing star, asteroid, comet, planet, and moon into existence. THAT blood! The most precious fluid and outrageous gift in the universe because it was the Blood of the ONE who imagined life, then spoke blood itself into being, and who bound the vastness of HIMSELF within the confines of a completely human body to spill HIS BLOOD instead of requiring mine. Let that sink into your heart for a minute …

For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!….For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.         Hebrews 9: 13-15, 24-28 NIV

princeofpeace13JesusChrist with crown of thorns

And HE, THE GOD OF CREATION, PURE RIGHTEOUSNESS, PURE HOLINESS, PURE MAJESTY, PURE LOVE willingly gave it for me. I – like every oneof us – was  bound for Hell until I saw and reached out for God’s merciful gift of love, Jesus.

Oh, I wanted to grasp the enormity of that love in every cell of my body and neuron of my understanding!  Like a meteorite, infinite love tore through the atmosphere of my finite comprehension. Why in the world do I think I’m not loved? Why do we think we have to, or ever could, earn that love? And engulfed by that love, why in the universe am I ever afraid?

“His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns . . . and his name is the Word of God…. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS!” Revelation 19:12,13,16

Even now I feel like I’m writing an ionic plasma breath of truth with hands and understanding of concrete, but O God, let me burn with that reality one day! Brand my heart with it now: I AM YOURS! YOU SOUGHT AND BOUGHT ME  WITH THE COSTLIEST TREASURE IN ALL TIME AND UNIVERSE, YOUR OWN SON JESUS!

I  worship you, LORD Jesus! You alone are worthy of true worship, and in this I lift up my love and thanks and wonder:

Therefore, so, because of this incredible gift God gave us through Jesus:

But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord:I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”  Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10: 12-18

A “…BUT…” to pray: LORD GOD, ABBA, Father, I may think I understand what you did in sending Jesus to pay for my sins and bring  into loving righteous relationship with you, BUT LORD, my heart longs to feel this powerful, transforming reality.  I AM a sinner, saved by your grace and unmerited mercy alone, and I do feel sorrow that my sins put Jesus on the Cross, evenas I feel joy that his Blood erased them all forever, completely. Holy Spirit, pour this truth of the priceless gift poured out for me into my spirit and into every fiber of my heart and being today, by your grace __________________________________ (And God smiles and replies, “I was hoping and waiting for you to ask me for this… it’s yours!) Holy Spirit, LORD Jesus, here I am thirsting to receive your priceless reality into all of me. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!  Holy Spirit, speak:  I’m eagerly listening ________________________________________________________

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My letter to a Muslim friend

Thanks so much for your question. I will do my best to answer you as simply but in as much wisdom as I can, and not my words as much as what God has spoken.

I need to “back up” before telling you what Easter means to us. The story of Easter begins long before Jesus walked on the Earth.

It starts back with Abraham, when he left Haran to go to a land God, the One God, the Creator of all the Universe, called him to. In the first book of our Bible, which is also the first book of the Torah for Jews, God came to Abraham: the LORD came to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them,m he hurried from the entrance to the tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.” Genesis 18:1-2 God promised Abraham he and his wife Sarai (Sarah) would have a son the next year, the child they name Isaac. That was the beginning of two lines of people who would come from Abraham through Isaac and Ishmael, the son of Abraham and Sarah’s servant Hagar. The children and generations who came through Isaac became the Hebrews, the Jews.

Isaac’s son Jacob had twelve sons, and from them came the twelve tribes of Israel (the new name God gave Jacob). Down through hundreds and hundreds of years, God spoke through people like the shepherd boy David (who became probably the greatest king of Israel) and through prophets that God would send a King, a Redeemer, to Israel.

“Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of Glory may come in. Who is the King of Glory? the LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.” Psalm 24: 7-8 (written by King David)

“Never the less, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled Zebulun and Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee by the way of the sea, along the Jordan. The people waiting in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the shadow of death a light has dawned….For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be upon his shoulders, and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on forever.” Isaiah 9:1-2, 6-7 (Isaiah was one of Israel’s greatest prophets).

The problem was that the Jews thought God was sending an earthly king who would defeat their political enemies. But God always had something much deeper and more powerful and difficult to do on his heart: he intended to defeat the sin, the ungodliness, the selfishness and insecurity and fears that live inside all of us and cause the problems we have with each other, wars and killing and slavery and repressive governments, cheating and lying, greed, and creates a huge wall between us and God. God is totally holy, and we by our own choices are NOT holy, but sinful.

We all sin. Not one of us is purely holy, as God is holy. This truth is in both the Torah and the prophets of the Jews, what we Christians call in our Bible the Old Testament, and repeated in writings at the time of Jesus and after his death and resurrection by his followers in what we call the New Testament. (So one difference between Jews and Christians is that we have and believe both their holy writings and the sacred writings about Jesus and the 60 years or so after his crucifixion and resurrection.)

What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles (anyone who is not a Jew) alike are all under the power of sin. 10 As it is written: there is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Roman 9: 10-11

Above all,God loves us his children and wants to be in a loving relationship with us. You can understand that in the way you feel about your daughter! Is there anything you wouldn’t do or give to keep her safe, healthy,protected, and happy, and to see she experiences the best life she can? Would you ever stop being her loving father, even when she makes terrible mistakes? No! You will always love her as a father and want to be in a good, close relationship with her.

That’s exactly what God wanted, too, and wants with all of us. He gave laws to the Jews, but those laws only showed how none of us can keep them. Laws were meant to point out our weaknesses and lead us to God to do for us what we can’t do for ourselves. And that is precisely who Jesus was and what he came to do. For some reason the Jews overlooked other promises about their Redeemer (Messiah) in their own Torah and prophets:

He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering,. Like one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised ….Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity (sin) of us all. Isaiah 53: 2-6

The sacred books of the Jews told them that their Messiah would come as a suffering servant and the sacrifice that made all other animal sacrifices for sin completely unnecessary. But we all would rather see a conquering king smashing our enemies, not a LORd who comes to pay the price for our foolishness and selfishness. That kind of king requires that we admit our own guilt – maybe the hardest thing for any person to do. God is SO amazingly both holy, just (He can’t look upon sin) AND loving that he did the only thing he could do to save us from our sin: he paid the price himself! Jesus was the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” H_____, what kind of love sacrifices like that?

The promised King came first as the sacrificial lamb. God poured himself into a cell in the body of a young Jewish girl named Miriam (Mary). God did NOT have sexual relations with Miriam. Why would God the Creator need to do that to create a body, when he created all of us, Miriam included, out of nothing but himself? When the angel Gabriel came to Mary and told her “You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus (actually Yeshua in Hebrew, which means “God saves.”) Mary was frightened, and she answered, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. so the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” Luke 1: 30-35 (Luke was a doctor who traveled with some of the disciples, though he was not one of the original 12 men Jesus called to follow him.)

Jesus taught in parables, or stories, and he called himself the Good Shepherd. In his own words, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.” John 10:11 (John was one of Jesus’ closes friends as well as a disciple of Jesus, and his writings show the deepest intimacy of Jesus) Jesus was in the Temple at the time of the Feast of Dedication. some Jewish teachers of the law gathered around him there and asked him,”If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. .. I know my sheep and my shneep know me just as the Father knows me and I know the Father, and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen (meaning people who are not Jewish) . I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd… I and the Father are one.” John 10:14-16, 30

Jesus very pointedly said that he was truly the Son of God, and as Paul said, “The fullness of God in bodily form.” Jesus again told some religious leaders who were questioning by whose authority Jesus did the miracles he did (including giving eyes to the blind, healing lepers and healing the crippled so they could walk, and raising people from death) , “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I am.” John 8:58 “I Am” is that name God told Moses when Moses asked God for his name so he could tell the Israelites in the desert who was speaking to him. Jesus said he was equal and one with the Father. John wrote about Jesus, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…All things were made by him.” Jesus is the Living Word.

This is a long way to get to your question, but we Christians come out of the Jewish roots of our faith. Jesus was a Jew. He was their promised Messiah, but most of them even in his time couldn’t wrap their understanding around God, the Messiah, coming as a servant and a sacrifice for their sins. To Christians, and to Messianic Jews who do recognize that Jesus Yeshua is the promised King and Savior, Easter is the most holy day we celebrate, because it is the time – during Passover when lambs were traditionally sacrificed and Jews celebrated the Seder meal to remember their deliverance from slavery in Egypt – that Yeshua became the sacrificial lamb who took on himself the penalty and punishment for all of our sins, ALL of our sins forever.

We say that our sins are washed away by the “Blood of the Lamb,” and now God sees us through the righteousness of Yeshua. He rose from the dead three days later, just as prophecies from over 400 years before he was born promised, and just as Yeshua said he would rise again. Early in his ministry he went into the temple and saw merchants and money changers defrauding people who came to buy animals for sacrifices. Jesus Yeshua took a whip and drove them out of the temple, saying they were making it a den of thieves. The religious leaders became angry and asked him on whose authority he thought he could do this in God’s house.

John 2:18 The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”
19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”
20 They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body.

For Christians, Easter is a joyful grateful celebration that, when we receive this free gift from God of cleansing from our sins through what Jesus did and restoration of relationship with God as his sons and daughters, we know we have that same eternal life with God in Heaven after we die.

“To as many as received him (Jesus), to them he gave the power to become children of God, even to those who believe on his name.”

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God! And that is what we are!..,. This is the message you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” 1 John 3:1, 15-16

We aren’t made right with God by our good works, because none of us can ever be totally free from bad works. But in accepting Jesus as our sacrifice, we walk into the amazing love God has for us. Out of that love, then, because we want to do what honors him and brings God happiness, we do all the good we can for others. Now I admit that over the centuries many people who call themselves Christian have acted in ways that dishonor God. People have done much evil in the world and tried to cover it with “this is for Jesus,” which must make God want to vomit. Jesus himself said that many people would say, “Lord, Lord,” who never really knew him.

What this means to me personally is this: the man I was married to and loved for 38 years who committed adultery many times and now says he wants to “honor God” by being faithful to another woman has ever truly known Jesus, and never really made him Lord on the “throne” of his own life and will. The world would say I should hate him, but if that man turned around today, confessed his wrong, and asked my forgiveness, I would take him back and give him all my love forever. That is what knowing the love Jesus has for me does in me. I was and am forgiven of so much; how can I not forgive others, even my betrayer? I pray for him every day and have cried a river of tears asking God’s Holy Spirit to make Jesus real and visible and audible to that man who has never known Jesus’ love. I pray, “God, restore in him the man you created him to be before his father’s mental illness and his mother’s coldness so wounded him. Make and recreate in him the man you meant him to be while he still has life left to praise you.”

Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

The two greatest commandments Jesus said, and the total of all the law and the prophets, are these two: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and soul and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

Easter, the horrible death of Jesus, and it was horrible to the extent that the whipping alone he took cut away the flesh from his back and exposed his bones and his internal organs. He was mocked, spit upon, a crown of thorns pushed on his head, and he was forced to carry the crossbeam of his cross on his bleeding shoulders to the place of his execution. There his wrists and feet were pierced with huge spikes and he was nailed to the cross, where his lungs filled with fluid, he suffocated and bled to death. That is how ugly and brutal sin is. We have to recognize how truly terrible and repulsive our sins are. Yeshua gave himself willingly out of love for us, so the penalty of sin – which is death and eternal separation from God – could be paid in full BY GOD HIMSELF so we could live with God forever as his children, loving, forgiving, caring, and blessing while we live on earth, and enjoying his presence in Heaven forever.

Real Christians don’t “blame the Jews” for Jesus’ death. We know our sins put him on the cross. Most Jews don’t recognize Yeshua yet as their promised Messiah, so Easter means nothing to them. To real Christians, it is the very reason we live, and we hope all people come to know this great love. We won’t force anyone to claim Jesus as their Savior, but we certainly hope everyone comes to know this miracle of love for them.

This is a very long answer, but I hope it makes sense to you, my dear friend. YOU are loved passionately by a holy and merciful, just and loving God who made you to know him and to be loved as his son forever.

With deep respect and much regard, my brother,

https://youtu.be/38EVco7eba0