Malankara World Journal Good Friday Special
Volume 4 No. 212 April 16, 2014
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
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1. Introduction to Jacobite/Orthodox Good Friday Services by Dr. Jacob Mathew, Malankara World
Good Friday service is one of the most heavily attended services in our church. It also is, perhaps, the most poorly understood service. Most people remember it by the long service (typically starting at 9:30 AM and ending perhaps at 3:30-4:00 PM). There are lot of 'kumbideel' (Kneeling or prostration). There are two processions. Usually there are two breaks and two meditation sessions or sermons. Many people weep, especially when it comes to the second procession, signifying the dead body of Jesus taken for burial. You drink a very bitter liquid ('chrukka') at the end of the service. And then comes the traditional rice and beans - somehow, the simple meal taste so good on that day at about 3 PM! I want to provide a quick introduction to what is going on so you will be able to benefit most from attending the Good Friday Service. You can learn more details in Malankara World. ...
4. Inspiration for Today: My Suffering Has Meaning Too by Fr. Gary
5. Verbum Crucis - A Meditation on The Passion of the Lord by Father Mark
6. The Gethsemane - Battle for Mankind by Zacheriah Koshy Puthuchira. Th.D.
7. Good Friday Devotional (Malayalam) by Rev. Fr. Jose Daniel Paitel, Malankara World
Orthodox Churches pay full reverence to the observances of Good Friday. On Good Friday the whole congregation gathers in the Church for a day long service of prayer, penitence, and prostration. Whole day service is the replication of the sufferings of Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible readings of relevant portions in connection with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ will lead the participants to the remembrance of the sufferings of our Lord. ...
8. Jesus of the Scars (Good Friday Poem) by A World War 1 Veteran
10. The Death of Jesus by Alphonsus Liguori
11. What Mary Was Thinking While Her Son Was Dying by Dr. Joe McKeever
Standing here, I keep remembering the words of old Simeon when we went into the Temple for Him to receive the dedication of the first-born. The old gentleman surprised Joseph and me by walking up and reaching out his hands to take our infant. After a moment's praise to Heaven, he looked at me and said, "A sword shall pierce your own heart." Little did he know. Or maybe he did. ...
The LORD appointed the Servant, that He might take our place in the judgment of our sin. All of the humiliation, pain, perplexity and estrangement that He experienced, is summed up in this terse, "He (the LORD) hath put him (the Servant) to grief". It can also read, "He hath made him sick". The death of the Servant was an offering of propitiation for our sins, that is a satisfaction offering. All of the demands of the broken law of God, and the offended holiness of God against sinners, have been satisfied by the offering of the Servant. ...
by Dr. Jacob Mathew, Editor-in-Chief, Malankara WorldGood Friday service is one of the most heavily attended services in our church. It also is, perhaps, the most poorly understood service. Most people remember it by the long service (typically starting at 9:30 AM and ending perhaps at 3:30-4:00 PM). There are lot of 'kumbideel' (Kneeling or prostration). There are two processions. Usually there are two breaks and two meditation sessions or sermons. Many people weep, especially when it comes to the second procession, signifying the carrying the dead body of Jesus for burial. You drink a very bitter liquid ('chrukka') at the end of the service. And then comes the traditional "kanji and payar' (rice soup and beans) - somehow the simple meal taste so good that day at about 3 PM! I want to provide a quick introduction to what is going on so you will be able to benefit most from attending the Good Friday Service. You can learn more details in Malankara World. Orthodox liturgy is full of imagery and mystery. It is also completely biblical. In Good Friday service, we are re-living the passion experienced/undergone by Jesus Christ 2000 years ago on Good Friday. We live through that by meditating on the scriptures hour by hour. Unlike the other services, on this day, we only recall Jesus Christ. No intercessions, no saints, no peace offering, No qurbana. It is all about Jesus, the second person of the trinity and the passion undergone by him. As we open the service in the morning, Jesus will be standing in front of the High Priests being questioned. (If your church has the midnight services, then you will participate in Jesus' agony at Gethsemane.) The service will end with Jesus' body buried in the tomb. It is a moving experience. You will be a witness to the whole passion. I can guarantee you that you will be moved and perhaps, overcome with emotions, you may weep. It is difficult not to do so when you hear St. Mary crying standing at the foot of the cross. You will listen to the debate between the two thieves. You will understand what Jesus did to redeem us; what was the ransom He paid. (Yes, he paid for us with His blood.) I have prepared an hour by hour commentary. Please read it. You can find it here: http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Lent/Passion/Passion_commentary-orthodox-Good-Friday-rev.htm Now, to expand on the theme a bit more, please read the following short article by V. Rev. Dr. Geevarghese Kunnathil, MD, Cor Episcopa who adds the missing ingredients from the incarnation to the resurrection and the important role played by Jesus. You can find his article here: http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Lent/Passion/Passion_what-do-we-celebrate-on-passionweek-KG.htm If you want to learn more, Malankara World has a whole section dedicated to Passion week. You can find it here: http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Lent/Passion/Default.htm We hope you will have a blessed Good Friday. May God Bless.
Good Friday In Church
by Father GaryLife has a way of keeping most of us very busy, whether it is work, school, family, things to do, health issues or crises of one kind or another. Perhaps we are suffering or unemployed, grieving or in distress. At other times we are joyous, excited, and things are going well. Yet ultimately each person on earth has to answer the same question: what meaning does life have? What is the purpose of my life? What value (if any) do my struggles and sufferings have? All these mysteries are caught up in the great events of Holy Week. Year after year we hear the Passion of Christ retold to us on Good Friday, and always the Lord wishes us to know that God went through all of this out of love for me. We may at times doubt that God loves us, but here we find Jesus accepting all this suffering just so we could be forgiven by God and have a real relationship with God. He wishes us to recognize that by faith in him we are restored to the status of sons and daughters of God. In meditating on the Passion of Jesus we find the answers to the meaning of life, the depth of God’s love for us, and a hint of the meaning of our own trials and sufferings! Often when I visit the sick, the dying, or the chronically ill, the person in bed will feel helpless, useless, a burden to others. Yet nothing could be further from the truth! Scripture tells us that these times when we are granted a share in the Passion of Christ are the very times of the very greatest potential of union with Christ by acceptance of our cross, just as Christ accepted his, if only we recognize our opportunity when Christ offers it to us. This is why it is so very important for us to meditate on the Passion of Christ, because our sufferings have precisely as much meaning as Christ’s did, and no less. A person who is sick takes on the role of Christ on the cross. When we support the sick by prayers, a visit or an act of kindness, it is always Christ that we are assisting. At these times, we are like the faithful who stayed by the foot of the cross, supporting Christ who has taken the form of the person who is suffering. To love and assist the ill is to love Jesus Christ! At the same time, far from being useless, to be the one who is sick is our turn to share in the cross which brings salvation to the whole world. Our illnesses allow others to be kind to Christ by being kind to the one who is sick. In fact, everything that is done (whether good or evil) to one of our brothers or sisters who is ill is to do this to Christ himself. When I am sick, I allow Christ, through me, to offer others, whether family, friends, caregivers or strangers, to do something directly for Christ. It is often the greatest role we will ever fulfill in the ongoing drama that is each human life.
by Father MarkLast night He sat with us at table.
His Face illumined the Upper Room
and there, just above the bread and behind the chalice,
beat His Heart of flesh. John inclined his head;
he closed his eyes like a child secure on his mother's breast,
and listened there to the rhythm of the Love
that, mightily and sweetly, orders the sun and stars;
to the rhythm of the Love that, with every beat,
stretches upward and spirals inward to the Father;
to the rhythm of Love that meets
the pulse of every of other beating heart. Last night, He lifted up His eyes to heaven
and, all shining with the glory of His priesthood,
said: "Father, the hour has come;
glorify thy Son that the Son may glorify thee" (Jn 17:1). And to His disciples He said:
"With desire I have desired
to eat this pasch with you before I suffer" (Lk 22:15).
"And taking bread, He gave thanks and broke,
and gave to them, saying:
'This is my body which is given for you:
do this for a commemoration of me.'
In like manner, the chalice also, after He had supped, saying:
'This is the chalice, the New Testament in my blood
which shall be shed for you'" (Lk 22:19-20). In that moment, the Sacrifice was already accomplished.
The wood of the supper table fused with the wood of the Cross.
The Cross became His altar,
and He became the Lamb
fulfilling Abraham's prophecy on the mountain:
"God will provide himself the lamb for a holocaust, my son" (Gen 22:8). After that moment, there was no going back.
Before it the entire cosmos held its breath
in fearful anticipation.
After it, the angels themselves sighed,
and began to breathe again their breathless praises. Had He not said, "I came to cast fire upon the earth;
and would that it were already kindled!
I have a baptism to be baptized with;
and how I am constrained until it is accomplished" (Lk 12:49-50).
And they, paying attention to His Face
"as to a lamp shining in a dark place" (2 P 1:19),
remembered that He had said,
"Now is my soul troubled.
And what shall I say?
'Father, save me from this hour'?
No, for this purpose I have come to this hour.
Father, glorify thy name." (Jn 12:27). "Then a voice came from heaven,
'I have glorified it,
and I will glorify it again.'
The crowd standing by heard it
and said that it had thundered" (Jn 12:28). But last night in the Cenacle,
with shadows winding about them like a shroud,
there was no thunder, no voice,
but only the immensity of a silence
that He -- and those closest to His Heart --
knew to be the Father's sorrowful assent.
And the betrayer, quick to do
what could no longer be delayed,
"And it was night" (Jn 13:30). In the garden,
His Face was unseen,
for the eyes of His friends had grown heavy with sleep,
and there was none to meet the gaze of the Sorrowing Son
other than the Sorrowing Father
and the Consoling Angel whom He had sent
to wipe His brow,
to caress His head
and, for a moment, to hold His hand. This the Sorrowing Mother would have done
had she been there,
but even that was denied her.
The Mother was replaced by an Angel!
The consolation that only she could have given
was given by another,
and yet He knew the difference:
though sweet, it was an angel's, not a mother's. Weeping like Eve outside the garden,
she consented to the bitter Chalice:
"Be it done unto me as to your Word!"
Chosen for this, she elected to remain
cloistered in the Father's Will,
hidden and veiled in grief,
to drink there of the Chalice of her Son, the Priest,
and savour it, bitter against the palate of her soul,
for nought can taste a child's suffering
like a mother's palate. Then the Angel too was gone
and the Father hid behind the veil of blood and of tears,
leaving the Son alone with His sorrow
and with His fear,
to proceed with the Sacrifice:
the priest stopping on the way to the altar
with the chalice already in his hands. "My heart expected reproach and misery;
and I looked for one that would grieve together with me,
and there was none!
I sought for one to comfort me, and I found none" (Ps 68:21-22). There began the disfiguration of His Face,
the humiliation of Beauty,
the descent deep into abjection.
Blood oozing from His pores
mingled with tears streaming from His eyes,
and blood and tears alike
precious in the Father's eyes,
soaked the earth beneath Him
filling the underworld and all the just there waiting
with a strange anticipation. There followed the kiss of betrayal;
the grieving over one loved even in his sin;
the denial by Peter, His chosen rock, here soft as lead;
and that desolate liturgy crafted by iniquity:
a round of rude processions
first to Annas, and then from Annas to Caiaphas,
and then from Caiaphas to Pilate. Pilate, unwittingly, summons the world
to gaze upon His Face:
"So Jesus came forth bearing the crown of thorns,
and the purple garment.
And he said to them, 'Behold the man'" (Jn 19:5). The Seraphim above, hearing this utterance from far below,
turn their eyes of fire to behold the Man.
For a moment
-- if moments there be in eternity --
the ceaseless beating of their ruby wings is stilled
and all of heaven's eyes
meet the gaze of the Son of Man
and rest riveted to His Holy Face. Hidden in the crowd is the Mother.
Now from her grief-stricken heart there rises over Pilate's words
that prayer of the psalmist
entrusted to Israel, and to her, the Daughter of Sion,
for this day, and for this hour:
"Behold, O God, our protector;
look upon the Face of your Christ!" (Ps 83:9). Charged with the terrible timber of that chosen tree,
all the weight of the sin of the ages
presses into His flesh that He, the Lamb, might bear it away:
the crushing cruelty of my sins and yours:
pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth. Upon Him lies the burden of every betrayal, every refusal,
every indifference, every defilement,
every blasphemy, every hardness of heart.
This is the heaviness that pushes Him three times to the ground,
grinding His Face into the dust,
that dust out of which, in the beginning, He fashioned man,
His masterpiece, His image, His joy. Having arrived at the place of a skull
"which is called in Hebrew Golgotha" (Jn 19:17),
He stretches out His hands
to receive the nails
that will hold Him on the wood
in the position of one waiting to embrace and to be embraced,
in the gesture of the priest standing before the altar
for the Great Thanksgiving.
His feet are nailed
fixing Him to this one place at the centre of the earth,
that all who approach the Cross
might find Him there,
the One who, immobilized,
can say only, "Come to me."
"Come to me all you who labour and are heavy laden,
and I will refresh you" (Mt 11:27). Here the Bridegroom finds His marriage bed,
here Priest and Victim find the altar,
here the King of Glory finds His throne.
Here the Oblation is lifted high;
here the covenant is ratified,
here the Spirit is outpoured
in the Breath of His mouth. Those who approach His pierced feet,
He raises, by a word, to His pierced side,
repeating from the Cross
what He said last night at table:
"Drink of it, all of you;
for this is my blood of the covenant,
which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Mt 26:28).
The Mother assisting at this,
the solemn once-and-for-all Mass of her Son, her Priest,
follows the bloody liturgy
with the absolute adhesion of her heart
to every gesture, every word. The Mother sees,
the Mother understands
that the Cross is the new language of new liturgy
for a new temple.
Every alphabet devised by men
is subsumed into the Verbum Crucis,
the language of the Cross,
the one language devised by God
to say all that He would say to man
through Christ, His mediating Priest;
the one language
by which man, speaking through the same Eternal Priest,
can say all that he would ever need to say to God. For this is the Woman given to John,
to every priest of Jesus
to every disciple of Jesus:
that at the school of the Mother of Sorrows,
all might learn the language of the Cross,
the pure liturgy of sacrificial love. "'Woman, behold thy son!'
After that He said to the disciple:
'Behold thy mother!'
And from that hour the disciple took her to his own" (jn 19: 26-27). The language of the Cross,
transcending the Hebrew, the Latin, and the Greek
of the inscription affixed to the tree
will be the mother tongue of the Church,
the language of the saints of every age,
the language of the one Holy Sacrifice
offered in every place
from the rising of the sun to its setting (Mal 1:11). If you would hear the Word of the Cross (1 Cor 1:18),
remain silent before it and adore.
Approach it not with many words,
but with tears,
and with one burning kiss of reparation and of love.
Plant your kiss upon His feet,
press your mouth against that wound
wait in the stillness of the Great Sabbath,
to drink in the brightness of Pascha
from the river of life
that even now gushes from His open Heart. References: Isaiah 52:13-53:12
John 18:1-19:42 Source: Vultus Christi
© 2013-2014 The Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle. All Rights Reserved.
by Zacheriah Koshy Puthuchira, Th.D.
[Editor's Note: We are proud to introduce Dr. Zacheriah Koshy Puthuchira (Regie), a new contributor to Malankara World. Regie is an Evangelist & Director of 'Word of the Hour Ministries', a ministry he founded that focuses on the establishment of Christ in the hearts of the Youth to help preserve the value and principles that were practiced by our forefathers and the church fathers centered on Christ. Regie is a Director Board Member of Mor Adai Study Center and hails from Thiruvalla. He is currently working in Doha, Qatar. We will be carrying more of Regie's Devotional and articles in the future.]Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me……nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt - Mark 14:36.Gethsemane is the transliteration of Aramaic "Gat-Shemanim" meaning "Oil Press" or the 'Crushing Place'. It is the venue in the history of Eternity where the Greatest Battle Ever Fought took place. It is where Christ met Satan in his fullest fury and schemes. It is the place where the agony and travail of the Soul of Jesus was found acceptable to hold the wrath of God over man. Isaiah 53:11-He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. The death of Christ on the cross was by itself not any harder than what others were facing at that time at the hands of the Romans or from that which the saints faced during the dark ages that followed. Indeed some of them have faced far worse and far greater painful deaths. However none of them faced the kind of death that Jesus faced at Gethsemane. In fact, there at Gethsemane, the agony and travail of the soul of Jesus (Isaiah 53:11) was so intense and of such a pure quality, that it was found acceptable with God to stand as a ransom for a guilty Mankind! “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities”- Isaiah 53:11. Christendom often focuses largely on the grueling hours of scourging and crucifixion and hardly focuses on the grueling battle that took place at Gethsemane. The outcome of that battle is the Victory for the Christian today. Calvary was just the follow up of the victory and decision already gained and made - at Gethsemane. Read the complete devotional in Malankara World
by Rev. Fr. Jose Daniel Paitel, Malankara World Board MemberOrthodox Churches pay full reverence to the observances of Good Friday. On Good Friday the whole congregation gathers in the Church for a day long service of prayer, penitence, and prostration. Whole day service is the replication of the sufferings of Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible readings of relevant portions in connection with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ will lead the participants to the remembrance of the sufferings of our Lord. Read the full article in Malayalam in Malankara World.
by Edward Shillito
Your eyes burn through the dark, our only stars; We must have sight of thorn-marks on your brow,
We must have you, O Jesus of the scars. The heavens frighten us; they are too calm;
In all the universe we have no place. Our wounds are hurting us; where is the balm?
Lord Jesus, by your scars we know your grace. If, when the doors are shut, you then draw near,
Only reveal those bloodied feet and hands . We know today what wounds are, have no fear;
Show us your scars, we know the countersign The other gods were strong; but you were weak;
They rode, but Jesus stumbled to a throne; But to our wounds only God's wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds, but You alone
Into your hands I commend my spirit. (Psalm 31:6)It's Good Friday, the very day for which Jesus was born into the world. His whole life, everything he ever said or did, had been leading up to this day. Every miracle, every sermon, every word of forgiveness or challenge - none of them makes sense apart from the cross. And today, we are invited to join millions of people all over the world in gazing upon the Lamb who was slain for our sin. So let's follow Pilate's words and "behold the man" (John 19:5). Come and behold the Christ in his humanity. Recall his humble beginnings as a newborn in a manger. Wonder at his hidden years as he grew in stature and grace. Come and behold the One on whom the Holy Spirit rested as a dove. See him in his humility, trust, and surrender to his Father as he walked with God each and every day. Behold the One who prayed, "Into your hands I commend my spirit" (Psalm 31:6). See how this prayer, which he breathed with his dying breath, was but the full expression of a lifetime of yielding to his Father. Come and behold the One who said, "I thirst" (John 19:28). Gaze upon the One who experienced hunger, thirst, and pain, both physically and spiritually. He came not to be served but to serve. He washed his friends' feet. He dined with sinners and touched lepers. He poured out his life day after day for his people. And now here he is, crucified, betrayed, and abandoned. He is nailed to a cross, and he is still pouring out his life. "Behold, your king!" (John 19:14). Before his pierced and bloodstained feet, we bow our knees, anticipating the day when every person will kneel before him. Look upon this ravaged rabbi, and see here your eternal King, the One through whom all things were created. See your high priest seated in heaven, even now constantly interceding for you, just as he did on the cross. Behold Jesus. The sky blackens. The earth shakes. The rocks rend. His body lies still for now. His majesty is emptied but for a season. Here is your King. "Jesus, into your hands I commend my spirit." Scripture Sources: Isaiah 52:13–53:12; Psalm 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-17, 25; Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9 Source: The Word Among Us
by Alphonsus LiguoriThe amiable Redeemer approaches the end of life. My soul, behold those eyes grow dim; that beautiful countenance becomes pale; that heart palpitates feebly; that sacred body is abandoned to death. Jesus, therefore, when he had taken the vinegar, said, "It is consummated" (John 19:30). When on the point of expiring, Jesus placed before his eyes all the sufferings of his life-the poverty, fatigues, pains, and injuries which he had suffered-and, again offering them all to his Eternal Father, he said, All is now accomplished-all is consummated. All that the prophets foretold of me is consummated; in a word, the sacrifice which God expected in order to be appeased with the world is perfectly consummated, and full satisfaction is made to the divine justice. It is consummated, said Jesus, turning to his Eternal Father: It is consummated, he said, at the same time turning to us. As if he had said, O men, I have done all that I can do, in order to save your souls and to gain your love. I have done my part; do you now yours. Love me, and be not unwilling to love a God who has gone so far as to die for you. And Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit" (Luke 23:46). These were the last words which Jesus spoke on the cross. Seeing that his blessed soul was about to be separated from his mangled body, he said, with perfect resignation to the divine will, and with filial confidence, Father, to you I recommend my spirit. As if he had said, My Father, I have no will; I do not wish either to live or die. If it is pleasing to you that I continue to suffer on this cross, behold, I am ready; into your hands I consign my spirit; do with it what you will. Oh that we also would say the same when we meet any cross, leaving ourselves to be guided by the Lord in all things, according to his good pleasure! … . Yes, my Jesus, in your hands I place my life and my death; in you I abandon myself entirely, and I recommend my soul to you now for the last moments of my life. Receive it into your wounds, as your Father received your spirit, when you expired on the cross. But behold, Jesus dies. O angels of heaven, come, come to be present at the death of your God. And you, O sorrowful mother of God, approach nearer to the cross, raise your eyes to behold your Son; look at him more steadfastly, for he is about to expire. Behold, the Redeemer already calls on death, and gives it permission to come and take away his life. O death, he says, perform your office; take away my life and save my sheep. Behold, the earth trembles, the graves are opened, the veil of the Temple is rent in two; behold how the violence of his pains deprives the dying Lord of strength, of the natural heat, of respiration; his body is abandoned to death; he bows down his head on his breast, he opens his mouth, and expires: And bowing down His head, He gave up his spirit (John 19:30). Go forth, O beautiful soul of my Savior, go forth; go to open paradise, which has been hitherto shut against us; go to present yourself to the divine Majesty, and to obtain for us pardon and salvation. The crowd, turning to Jesus, on account of the loud voice in which he spoke these words, look at him with attention and in silence; they see him expire, and, observing that he is motionless, they exclaim, He is dead—he is dead. Mary hears this from all the bystanders, and she also says, Ah, my Son, You are dead. He is dead. O God, who is dead? The author of life, the only-begotten of God, the Lord of the world. O death which was the astonishment of heaven and of nature! A God to die for his creatures! O infinite charity! A God to sacrifice himself entirely! To sacrifice his delights, his honor, his blood, his life; and for whom? For ungrateful creatures. And to die in a sea of sorrows and insults, and in order to atone for our sins. My soul, raise your eyes, and behold that crucified Man-God. Behold that divine Lamb sacrificed on that altar of pain; consider that he is the beloved Son of the Eternal Father, and consider that he has died through the love he has borne you. See how his arms are stretched out to embrace you; his head bowed down to give you the kiss of peace; his side opened to receive you. What do you say? Does a God so good and so loving deserve to be loved? Listen to what the Lord says to you from the cross: My Son, see if there is any one in this world who has loved you more than I, your God, has loved you? Ah, my God and my Redeemer, you, then, have died, and died a death the most infamous and painful. And why? To gain my love. But what love of a creature can ever compensate the love of his Creator, who has died for him? O my adored Jesus, O love of my soul! How shall I be ever able to forget you? How shall I be able to love anything but you, after having seen you dying through pain on this cross in order to atone for my sins and to save my soul? How can I behold you dead, hanging on this tree, and not love you with all my strength? Can I think that my sins have reduced you to this condition, and not weep always with intense sorrow for the offenses that I have committed against you? O Jesus … remember that you did promise that when you would be elevated on the cross, you would draw all hearts to you. Behold, my heart, softened into tenderness by your death, will no longer resist your calls. Draw all its affections to your love. You have died for me, and I wish to live only for you… .I thank you for the light which you give me, in making me see in these wounds and lacerated members, as through so many lattices, your great and tender affection for me… My Jesus gives himself to me, and I give myself entirely to him… .Come, O Holy Spirit, and inflame our hearts with the love of you.
by Dr. Joe McKeever
"But there were standing by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene." (John 19:25)Why am I here? And why is He there? There seem to be no answers other than "God knows and we trust Him." Thy will be done. "I am the bond-slave of the Lord. Be it done to me according to Thy word." Sometimes you cry and cry until there are no more tears. Your heart aches until it no longer feels anything. Your mind grows exhausted from events happening all around, none of which you were prepared for. If anyone had told me a year ago I could experience the suffering of this day and live to tell it, I would have thought it impossible. There are no words to describe this kind of heart-break. You are surrounded by people, yet are more alone than at anytime in your life. Friends come over, want to make sure I'm all right. They ask how I'm coping. No words come. Where are the disciples? They never let Him out of their sight for three years, yet where are they when He needs them? Oh, there's young John. That's good. He's so broken in spirit. Maybe I should go over and comfort him. And that may have been Simon Peter in the back of the crowd, I'm not sure. Standing here, I keep remembering the words of old Simeon when we went into the Temple for Him to receive the dedication of the first-born. The old gentleman surprised Joseph and me by walking up and reaching out his hands to take our infant. After a moment's praise to Heaven, he looked at me and said, "A sword shall pierce your own heart." Little did he know. Or maybe he did. I miss Joseph so much. He could help me make sense of all this. My husband had such a strong and unencumbered faith. He heard from The Name, then obeyed. Me, I have to mull things over, to ponder and meditate. Nothing is ever simple for me. It helps a little - not as much as I wish it did - that He has the most incredible look of peace about Him, even in the midst of what is surely unimaginable suffering. God is with Him. The last few days, He seems to have been moving toward this event, these moments, even dropping a few hints. Maybe in time we will know what that means. Right now, everything is in a fog. The noise is unbearable here at the cross. Everyone seems to be shouting. Those not clamoring for His death and taunting Him for His Messianic pretensions, not cursing Him and spitting upon Him - forgive them, Lord! - are crying. All the women with me are so broken-hearted. John needs me. I'll walk over. And what's this? Through His agony, His tears, His pain - He speaks from the cross. "Woman." Did I hear what I thought I heard? He's speaking to me. "Woman. Behold. Your. Son." Oh, my beloved. I have been beholding nothing but My Son for these hours. Did you think you were escaping my notice? Do you see how my soul is crying out in pain for You? "Behold." He speaks again. This time His eyes have turned toward John. "Behold. Your. Mother." Oh. That's what He is saying. John will be my son and he is to treat me as his mother. Once again, He leaves me speechless. (How many times in these thirty-plus years has He done that!) He is suffering an agony we cannot imagine and what does He do but think of others. How good He is. How like The Name. How blessed I am to be His. I worship Thee, O righteous Lord. There is none like Thee. "Is it nothing to all you who pass this way? Look and see if there is any sorrow like unto my sorrow…." (Lamentations 1:12)
by Bill RandlesScripture: Isaiah 53:10-12
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. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.We come now to the last section of the 4th Servant Song of Isaiah. These verses point to the benefits which the efforts of the suffering servant of the LORD have purchased for God, and for himself and for us. We have already examined the terrible reality of the saying, "Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him (crush him), He hath Put Him to grief (He hath made him sick).…". The plight of sinful man required this self offering of the Servant, as a substitution, for a righteous God can only receive sinners on righteous terms. Sin must be paid for, Holiness must be satisfied, the punishment must be carried out. The LORD appointed the Servant, that He might take our place in the judgment of our sin. All of the humiliation, pain, perplexity and estrangement that He experienced, is summed up in this terse, "He (the LORD) hath put him (the Servant) to grief". It can also read, "He hath made him sick". The death of the Servant was an offering of propitiation for our sins, that is a satisfaction offering. All of the demands of the broken law of God, and the offended holiness of God against sinners, have been satisfied by the offering of the Servant. …when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin…This is addressed to the reader or hearer of this prophecy, "… When You make His life your sin offering…". We are to approach God solely by the offering of this life, for this is the only sacrifice acceptable to God. In fact, this Servant is nothing less than the offering God made to himself. …he shall see his seed… Death will not be the last word for the Servant, for the Servant will see the outcome of his agony, a believing seed will arise out of his work. His sufferings will be the source of a vast, redeemed congregation , purchased by His blood. They will be faithful and true believers in Him, and in the God whom He came to reveal. Psalm 22, a similar prophecy of the suffering and glory of the Messiah predicting the crucifixion the casting of lots for His garment and the Servant's death at the hands of gentiles, starts with the cry of dereliction, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" and ends with a variation of the saying, "It is finished (He hath accomplished)". But in the middle of the Psalm the prophet looks ahead past the suffering of Messiah, to behold the glory and exaltation which should follow,
All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul. A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation. They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.…he shall prolong his days, … This is a prediction that the Servant will live forever. How could the same servant be "Cut off of the land of the living…and be appointed a grave with the wicked and the rich in his death" yet prolong his days? Isaiah 53 predicts here the resurrection of the LORD's Servant. This promise is also given in Psalms to David's seed,
He asked life of thee, and thou gavest it him, even length of days for ever and ever. His glory is great in thy salvation: honour and majesty hast thou laid upon him. For thou hast made him most blessed for ever: thou hast made him exceeding glad with thy countenance.…and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand God's pleasure, all that the Lord would accomplish for the reconciliation of Israel and of all sinful men, will succeed by the hand of the willing Servant. There will be many of every tribe and tongue who shall come to know the "only true God" through the work of the servant. The good purposes of the Lord shall flourish by the suffering of this one. …He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied… This too is a reference to the resurrection of the Servant, and the satisfactory outcome of his work. He will see the result of what he suffered for, and will be satisfied. It will have been worth pouring out his very soul to death, when He sees the redeemed company, knowing and loving God. …by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities… Accepting in humble faith, the report of what the Servant has done for us; with all of it's implications as to our persons, (that we are sinners in need of redemption, utterly separated from God by our sins, in need of forgiveness and deliverance from wrath), amounts to saving faith. Knowing and receiving the risen Servant of the LORD, and his work of sin bearing, taking upon himself the guilt for our sins, is the only way sinful man can be justified before a holy God. It is the God appointed way to be saved. As "Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness", even so the many, who simply believe the report of the Servant, shall receive as a free gift right standing with God. This is only possible because the offering of the Servant has satisfied the claims against us, and given the LORD a Righteous way to justify us. What glorious mystery! That we sinners can be justified by faith in the one who took our place in judgment before the Lord, dying under the penalty of God's law in our place. Truly with tears streaming down our eyes we sing ;
And can it be that I should gainAmazing love - how can it be" That thou my King shoudst die for me? Source: Bill Randles Blog
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