Sunday, November 21, 2004

The Passion

I finally got the courage up to watch The Passion a couple of nights ago. I feared watching it because I know what that whole thing does to me. I kept avoiding it and avoiding it. I finally bought it a few weeks ago and STILL kept avoiding watching it. I mean - I owned it now. But I was still afraid to watch it. I say "afraid" because that's the best description of the anxiety I was feeling. I know that to face actually watching what Jesus went through on his last days in fleshly form would be an incredible eye-opener and cause me to examine the pitiful existence I have mostly created for the last 31 years. To include all the relationships gone sour, the crap I've gotten involved in, the people I have hated, the things I have done, the words I have spoken to others, and all the hurtful, unnecessary, evil-minded things I've thought of, done, or said. I don't rehash all that in order to express some form of guilt. I've done it and been forgiven of it. But the fact I went through all of it and wasted that part of my life as a result is that much more amplified in the microscope of this probe into the sin-bearing death of Jesus.

Now for those of you who do not believe in God... or in Jesus… or who do not quite comprehend “the gift of eternal life” that is paid at the price of this death on the Cross by Jesus - It's simple.

You have heard, and it is whether or not we like it, that Jesus is the Son of God. Came to Earth in fleshly form. He knew what it would cost to take all of man's (that's plural by the way... that includes men, women, children... all of humankind) sin and pay for it so that man could have eternal life with a merciful, loving Father... God. This is the “new covenant”. In the New Testament, Jesus speaks of it.

See, in the Old Testament, God had the Levites sacrifice a goat for the sins of all the people once a year. The Levites were the priests descended from the line of Abraham. They were an entire tribe – one of twelve tribes of Israel. They were appointed by God to serve Aaron - Moses' brother. God appointed Aaron as a priest. (Exodus 29:9, 44) The Levites were to serve in the Tabernacle, and all duties surrounding the Tabernacle were theirs. It used to be that every firstborn of a woman was given to God for service. A prime example is to read the book of Samuel I. His mom, Hannah, wanted a child but could not have one. So she prayed to the Lord and asked for a son and vowed to give him to the service of the Lord should he be born. Sure enough, she birthed Samuel and she made good on her promise. However, the Levites were instituted by God to take up that old ritual. Instead of accepting the firstborn among the children of Israel, God made the Levites that firstborn offering. They were His to serve Him. (Read Numbers chapter 3 verses 5-13.)

But a final scapegoat was needed once and for all. The blood of an animal could not save man for eternity. It was an imperfect sacrifice and had to be done repeatedly. There were too many things to do in an offering and they had to be done at certain times. (Just like the 10 commandments… there were too many laws to remember and it was hard to fulfill these laws by remembering to do or not do certain things.) A perfect sacrifice was needed. God made this sin-offering really user-friendly. But the sad thing is, there had to be an object of sacrifice. So Jesus, being the Son of God, stepped up to the plate and said, "I'll do it, Father." And with that - he was born on Earth, given to us by God the Father, to be an example to us – showing us how to walk with God and how to commune with Him. He told parables – which are stories that give a message of instruction – in order to teach us about some of the “mysteries” of our existence and God’s ways.

This is no myth, folks. But for those of you who wish to decree there is no God - or that Jesus is just another prophet - or that Satan doesn't exist - or that this is all just stories... well, it's going to be a rude-awakening when it's too late to turn back for you. Death waits for no man - and when you're no longer flesh, but you realize you’re “alive” (because, fact is, our spirits must return to God to make an account for how we lived) and you’re facing the Judgment Day with the books open and your life story is read... it would have been better if you just acted on Faith and believed... then do a little research to find out what you're believing in. Kinda like the Nike slogan: “Just do it.” What harm would it do? Ok so you might get called names, like I have been called, such as “Bible thumper” or “Holy roller”. Or you might get told you’re in a cult because you spend too much time at church or with church members. Your lifestyle might change because the things you used to do don’t appeal to you anymore. You get a little feeling inside of you when a song comes on and that feeling says, “I don’t like that.” So you stop listening to it. You stop watching certain movies. Let me say that you’re not missing out on anything if you do stop watching or listening to certain things. They just don’t appeal anymore.

The Christian walk: It’s an individual journey. Nobody can walk your walk. Nobody can walk mine. We have our own steps to travel. Nobody could do what Jesus did. Those were His ordained steps. And Thank God He had the love to do it.

At any rate, the movie was quite accurate. I was amazed. I knew what was going to happen next. The only additions that I found were:

* the actual appearance of Satan in some scenes… which in a way was necessary because it is important for people to understand that Jesus wrestled with Satan too – I mean, this was a very important event in the history of the Spirit realm and by no means was Satan going to be absent from this event. It was going to define Christianity and the church like nothing before it. It was going to spell out the defeat of Satan’s rebellion against God. A more “in-your-face” approach than ever before.
* Jesus' saying some extra things in the Garden of Gethsemane… of course He said more than “If it be Your will, let this cup (chalice) pass from me. But not my will – Yours be done.” However, we do not get to read his entire conversation/prayer with God in the Bible – we only get to read that which the disciples had heard when they saw him. Yes, Jesus was wrestling with Satan in the Garden – not physically, but mentally. So that was a good addition in the movie: to have Satan in the background asking questions like, “Who are you? Who is your father?” It shows us that there was doubt entering into Jesus’ mind and he had to overcome that doubt. By the way, “Your will be done” is part of the “Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:1-4). We can pray for anything we want, but if God does not want it – it won’t happen. But if you push too much, He might give it – then be careful what you ask for. It’s like when children ask their parents for something. A parent may not give it because it is not good for the child. But there might be a time that a parent will give in to the pushy requests of a child just to get the child to stop begging for it over and over and over and over again.
* Peter and John saying some extra things in the Garden (they talked about Jesus looking fearful)... Okay yeah, we don’t get to read what the disciples actually discuss when Jesus wakes them up from sleeping, but I can imagine them saying something like what was said in the movie: “Dude, what was that all about?” “I don’t know. He seems afraid.” “Yeah. Totally.” (Valley version.)
* I appreciated how at different scenes, it cuts to show a past event where Jesus had spoken to people or done something, and how it related the current scene. For example, when he was hanging on the Cross, it cut to a scene where he was sitting with his disciples and broke bread and passed it around. Then a cup of wine was passed around. And he was saying to them, “This is my body, given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19,20) The purpose of that cut scene was to remind believers that his body was broken and his blood poured out to pay the price of our sins. (Isaiah 53:12) When we go to church and we take communion, the purpose of the communion is to proclaim the Lord’s death until he returns. (1 Cor 11:26-34) We need to examine ourselves and understand the gravity of this death – how it was delivered, why it was done, what it accomplished. “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.” (Isaiah 53:5) We may have sins that aren’t dealt with and they need to be removed from our lives. So we bring these things to the Lord and ask for forgiveness. Don’t forget to forgive others in your life before asking God for forgiveness. It is important to forgive others first, otherwise He will not forgive you. Then, we eat the wafer (or piece of bread) and we drink the wine (or grape juice). Don’t just eat and drink this because you skipped out on breakfast or dinner and your stomach is grumbling. That would be a bad thing. You eat and drink judgment on yourself. “When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.” (1 Cor 11:32) He teaches you so you don’t make a grave mistake. Get it? GRAVE mistake? DOH!

I broke out the Kleenex(c) for most of it. I was angry through parts of it in the beginning and had to ask for forgiveness for how I felt.

I mean, think about it: Here is this guy and he's proclaiming to be the Son of God? Nobody even really knew God then. How were they to believe that this man was God’s Son? God was never seen. He’s invisible. But now – they can see His son? All they knew was how to be manipulated by the Sadducees & Pharisees - the supposed "Holier Than Thou" religious leaders of the time. The very men who plotted to kill Jesus. He came unto his own and his own knew him not.

Watching the movie gave me a real understanding of what He went through. The blood poured out continuously from His body. I realized some things as I watched. For instance, the final moment before he let go of the spirit he said, "It is done." I wonder if in that moment it meant that the last bit of blood was poured out from his body. The final drop of blood - that which was the full price of our sin - had dripped forth. "He was wounded for our sins, he was bruised for our iniquity; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his stripes we are healed."

The movie made his punishment more real to me. I had heard it preached a time or two, but it never had the kind of affect it did by visually taking in the immensity of his torture. Matthew 27:26 and Mark 14:15 simply states that Pilate “had Jesus flogged”. The Bible does not go into great detail what kind of torment, abuse, pain, and the such that Jesus went through when he was “flogged”. It does not describe the flogging. It was enough to explain that he was flogged. It was important to know that he was flogged, ridiculed, made to wear a crown of thorns, mocked and given the sign: THE KING OF THE JEWS, and then crucified with two robbers on the hill called Skull. For believers, this is what God wanted to bring across: He paid a price. But for those who know there is more to the word “flogging” than what is so casually broadcasted from behind the pulpit most often, they go through the extent of explaining the ritual details of a Roman flogging: The devices that are used and the order in which they are used in. For those of us who take the word “flogging” so lightly when we read those two verses (Mt 27:26, Mk 14:15), this movie makes the statement loud and clear with graphic visuals.

One thing of importance that people must understand (especially if they have not read the Bible – or any other written account of this situation) when they watch this movie is that it was the 1. chief priests, 2. the rulers of the people, and 3. the teachers of the law who wanted Jesus crucified. They were envious of him. Even the Roman governor (Pontius Pilate) to whom they brought Jesus to knew that. (Matthew 27:18) It was not the Jews – the people – who called for Jesus’ death. It was the religious leaders. The religious leaders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and have Jesus executed. (Matthew 27:20) If you watch the movie closely, you will note that the religious leaders held a meeting right after Judas betrays Jesus. The guards bring Jesus into the meeting of the Sanhedrin. The high priest, Caiaphas, presides over the meeting to bring accusations against Jesus. He is the one in the movie who grabs his shirt and rips it at the chest, splitting it at the end of the meeting, “He speaks blasphemy!”

During the meeting in the movie, one of the religious leaders comments something like, “Who called this meeting at this hour of the day?” This was to show the audience that the religious leaders did not all agree with the high priest in the matter of Jesus. Nicodemus was one such religious leader who did not agree. But he was mocked as a result. (John 7:50-52) I think they implemented his words into the meeting portion of the movie, “Does our law condemn anyone without first hearing him to find out what he’s doing?

In the movie, Mary Magdalene had tried to persuade one of the Roman soldiers to help Jesus by telling him that “they” (the religious leaders) seized Jesus in secret. Then one of the religious dudes says to the Roman soldier, “She’s crazy. It’s just some criminal who violated the temple laws.” Something like that.

Unfortunately, the religious leaders were Jewish. But they did not represent the Jewish people as a whole. They were manipulative, greedy, controlling men who used their influence on the people. Not all of them were that way though as I pointed out. If you recall in the movie, there were a few who spoke out during the meeting (such as the guy who said something about calling the meeting at that hour of the day). But they were shooed away and removed from the meeting because they were hindering the accusation process.

Another thing people need to understand when they watch this movie (if they’ve never read the Bible), is that all the things that happened to Jesus were prophesied long before he was even born. The Old Testament may seem like a bunch of old stories about the history of the Jews, but there were prophets (i.e. Isaiah & Jeremiah) and a King (David – in the book of Psalms) who spoke about Jesus’ life and acts before he even came into the world. The Old Testament confirms much of the New Testament. The Bible is written for a purpose. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16,17) By inspiration of God. Men’s hands wrote it, but God inspired it. Careful not to blaspheme the Holy Spirit. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. (Luke 12:10) What is in the Bible was meant to be – what is not was left out for a purpose. Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. (John 21:25) God does not make mistakes. He makes purposes. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10,11)

My favorite scene of the movie was…the ending, of course. It took them one day to beat him till all the blood poured from his body. He was unrecognizable after one day. The temple of God that housed his spirit - his body - was damaged to no end. And after three days of being in the grave - his flesh body was rejuvenated without a scratch to be seen (save the nail scars in his hands so Thomas the doubter could believe later on). He rose. Death and the grave were defeated. (1 Corinthians 15:54,55)

One Man laid his life down for all of us. One God loved us to do this.
No man could do this but God. What kind of Love is this?
It will never have to happen again, it was done once and for all.
All we have to do is believe. That is the Gift of God. The Gift of Love.

About Jesus' punishment

Isaiah 52
13 See, my servant will act wisely;
he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.
14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him -
his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man
and his form marred beyond human likeness-
15 so will he sprinkle many nations,
and kings will shut their mouths because of him.
For what they were not told, they will see,
and what they have not heard, they will understand.

About Jesus, his life, his death, the reason, and his reward.

Isaiah 53
1 Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 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.
3 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, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
5 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.
6 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 of us all.

7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
And who can speak of his descendants?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was stricken.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
11 After the suffering of his soul,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

The time is NOW. Just do it.

Isaiah 55
6 Seek the LORD while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake his way
and the evil man his thoughts.
Let him turn to the LORD , and he will have mercy on him,
and to our
God, for he will freely pardon.

8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the LORD .
9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
About Satan’s Existence
Isaiah 14
5 The LORD hath broken the staff of the
wicked, and the sceptre of the rulers.
6 He who smote the people in wrath with a continual
stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted, and none
7 The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break
forth into singing.
8 Yea, the fir trees rejoice at thee, and the cedars of
Lebanon, saying, Since thou art laid down, no feller is come up against
9 Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy
coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth;
it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations.
10 All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also
become weak as we? art thou become like unto us?
11 Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of
thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee.
12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the
morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the

13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into
heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the
mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will
be like the most High.
15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of
the pit.
16 They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and
consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did
shake kingdoms;
17 That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the
cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?
18 All the kings of the nations, even all of them, lie in
glory, every one in his own house.
19 But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable
branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword,
that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcase trodden under feet.
20 Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial, because
thou hast destroyed thy land, and slain thy people: the seed of evildoers shall
never be renowned.
21 Prepare slaughter for his children for the iniquity of
their fathers; that they do not rise, nor possess the land, nor fill the face of
the world with cities.
22 For I will rise up against them, saith the LORD of
hosts, and cut off from Babylon the name, and remnant, and son, and nephew,
saith the LORD.
23 I will also make it a possession for the bittern, and
pools of water: and I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the
LORD of hosts.
24 The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have
thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it
25 That I will break the Assyrian in my land, and upon my
mountains tread him under foot: then shall his yoke depart from off them, and
his burden depart from off their shoulders.
26 This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole
earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations.
27 For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall
disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?

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