The Power of the Cross

by Rick


Part I

  • The True Meaning of Easter (Resurrection Sunday)
  • A Substitutionary Life
  • Our Blood Covenant
  • We Serve a Living Savior!
  • The Story

Part II

  • Remember what Jesus did for You!
  • No Weapon formed Against you will Prosper
  • Total Death for Total Life
  • An Equivalent Ransom
  • Christianity is the Only Religion that touts an Empty Grave

The True Meaning of Easter (Resurrection Sunday)

(Gen 3:21 KJV)  Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

I felt led to take a break this week from our current series to deal a topic that unfortunately many don’t understand.  This upcoming Sunday children all over the United States will go on extensive searches through fields of grass, with their best clothes on, looking for colored eggs.  They will call this “Easter.”  I call this upcoming Sunday morning Resurrection Sunday.  It has nothing to do with Peter Cotton tail, or bunnies, or eggs.  Resurrection Sunday has everything do with celebrating the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ.  The songwriter said, “What can wash away my sin, nothing but the blood of Jesus!”  Let’s talk about the blood this morning.

Christianity is a religion riddled with blood.  Were it not for the blood of Jesus, I would not be writing this morning, nor would you be reading.  Were it not for the blood of bullocks, goats, turtle doves, and lambs, the journey of the Old Testament would have never reached the shores of the New.  Our faith is as bloody as any war, but the blood I speak of was shed with a purpose.  This week we will deal with words like substitution, atonement, and redemption; and we will learn how they are tied to the blood and how it applies to our daily lives.

Let’s begin our journey in the beginning.  Genesis 3 opens with the despicable serpent and his conniving acts.  He tricks the woman into eating from the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil; disobeying the command of God.  She then gives to her husband and he eats as well.  As soon as he ate the eyes of both of them were opened, they realized they were naked, and they covered themselves with fig leaves.  They were previously naked and not ashamed (2:25), because they operated completely in the Spirit.  After their act of disobedience, however, the Lord removed His Spirit from their bodies and they were condemned to a life without the Spirit of God.  We were, consequently, born the same way, because we were born with the inheritance of Adam.  We will learn later that Jesus came that we might be Born-Again, that the Spirit of God might enter into us, and that we might be restored to the original condition of man in the garden.

We go back to the garden and we find a man and a woman who have sinned against God and have died spiritually as a result.  This act of disobedience introduced a dynamic-duo – Sin and Death – that would trouble mankind until the coming of Christ; who delivered us from both.  After pronouncing judgment upon the serpent, the woman, and the man; God did something in our text that would be the pattern of deliverance for the rest of the Old Testament.  He killed an innocent animal for the act of a man.  The blood of the animal became the price for the works of the man.  The skin of the animal became the covering for the shame of the man.  This unnamed animal paid the price that was reserved for the man (Gen 2:17) and the man lived his life then, under the covering (clothes) of the animal.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that the Old Testament is but a foreshadow of the New.  We will learn that Jesus came as the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world.  He would be the Lamb that would die for the man, so that the man could live for the Lamb.  He put down His righteousness and clothes Himself in our sin, so that we could put down our sin and clothe ourselves in His Righteousness!  We can enter into this day knowing that we have been redeemed from sin and bought with a price.  What was that price – the Blood of Jesus!

Confession for this day: Lord God. There is power in the Blood of Jesus. Your Son died that I might live. You Son paid a price that I could not pay myself. I now live for Him and Him alone. I am redeemed from both Sin and Death and I walk in the newness of life. I can face this day with confidence and boldness. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I do not allow sin to control me. I have been bought with a price and walk as a redeemed soldier in Your Army. I am covered by Your blood and anointed by Your Spirit! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

A Substitutionary Life (top of page)

(Gen 22:13 CEV)  Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in the bushes. So he took the ram and sacrificed it in place of his son.

This morning I will continue in this mini-series that I will call “The Power of the Cross.”  Genesis 22 opens with the Lord instructing Abraham to take his “only” son Isaac and to sacrifice him in the land of Moriah.  To understand that magnitude of the request we must understand that this boy was a child of promise.  Abraham waited on this promised son of Sarah for many years, although not always operating in patience.  Abraham wound up having another son (Ishmael) with his servant Gomar.  This really made Isaac his second son, but God referred to him as the “only” son, because he was the son of promise.  Abraham incredibly looked beyond his years of frustration while waiting for the boy and beyond the awesomeness of the request and set out the next morning to kill the son that he loved for the God that he served.  He got up early in the morning and took off with his donkey, the materials for the sacrifice, his servants, and his son.  After a three day journey Abraham finally saw the place that Lord led him to in the distance.  He told his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there.  We will worship and then we will come back to you.”  Notice that he said, “…we will come back to you.”  He had faith in God that somehow they would both be back together.  Abraham built the altar and arranged the wood.  He then bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar.  Here you have an old man that waited many years for a child of promise; taking the same child and raising a knife to kill him for the God of the promise.  When Abraham lifted up his knife to shed the blood of his promised son the angel of the Lord stopped him and brought his attention a ram that was caught in a nearby thicket.  The Lord honored his faith and provided the ram for the sacrifice in the stead of the boy.  This is chock-full of application about faith, promises, and provision; but our focus this morning is a seldom talked about subject –substitution.  Let’s take a closer look::

1.  Isaac was the second son, but he was the child of promise.

2.  God instructed the ‘Father of Faith’ to sacrifice this second and promised son.

3.  At the point of sacrifice, the Lord stopped it and provided a ram to die in the stead of the man.  God tested Abraham’s faith, but stopped him before human sacrifice.  God would reserve the shedding of human blood to that of His only begotten Son and the Old Testament would continue to riddled with the blood of animals for the actions of man.  The ram in the text and all other animals sacrificed after it had nothing to do with the circumstances surrounding the sacrifice, but they died so that humanity could live.  This is called substitution.

So what does this mean to you today? Remember that the Old Testament is but a foreshadow of the New.  Let’s take a look at the New Testament revelation of this text:

1.  Like Isaac, Jesus was the second (Adam was the first) and promised Son of God.

2.  God instructed Jesus to offer Himself as a sacrifice, thereby shedding human blood and ending the requirement for the shedding of animal blood.

3.  Jesus was the only human to never commit sin and therefore not required to pay the penalty for it; but He substituted His righteousness for our sin.  He became the innocent Lamb that paid the price for the guilty man.  He took on our guilt and gave us His innocence so that we could take on His innocence and give Him our guilt.  This is substitution.

4.   We can now face this day with the peace and assurance that we have been redeemed.  Jesus died a substitutionary death so that we could live a substitutionary life.  He died for you so that you could live for Him.  What are you going to do today that will honor His sacrifice?

Confession for this day:  Lord God.  With my whole heart I seek You and declare that I will not fail to give you praise for dying that I might live.  You substituted Your Son for my sin and I now substitute my life for His.  I will be Your legs to walk and Your mouth to talk this day.  Use me as an instrument of Your anointing.  I honor You Lord with my life and service.  I live my life in the name of the one who died so that I could live.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

Our Blood Covenant (top of page)

This morning we continue in this mini-series on “The Power of the Cross.”  Most people are familiar with the “Ten Commandments” of Exodus 20.  The Lord, however, continued to give commandments (laws) to Moses for the next three chapters.  In Exodus 24 the Lord ‘sealed the deal’ with a covenant of blood.  Moses told the people all the Lord’s words and laws; and they responded with one voice saying, “Everything God said, we will do.”  Moses then wrote down everything the Lord had said.  He got up early the next morning, built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and set up twelve stone pillars representing the twelve tribes of Israel.  He then sent young men to offer bullocks as peace offerings to God.  Moses took half of the blood of the animals and put it in bowls and sprinkled the other half on the altar.  Afterwards Moses took the Book of the Covenant (which he had written the night before) and read it as the people listened.  Once again, they said, “Everything God said, we will do.  Yes, we will obey.”  This is where it really gets good to me.  Moses took the rest of the blood and threw it out over the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God has made with you out of all these words I have spoken” (v.8).  By now I trust you see that the Old Testament is a foreshadow of the New.

Let’s take a closer look at this passage.  The Lord gave Moses four chapters of clear instructions to give the people.  He then told the people what God said and they said, with their own mouths, that they would obey it.  Moses then took it a step further and wrote down what God said, had an altar built, the blood of bullocks applied to it, and then shared the commands of God again with the people.  Once again, they declared that they would be obedient to the Words of God.  Only after this declaration of obedience would the other half of the blood be applied to the people.  So there was blood on the altar and blood on the people, showing that both were mutually bound by this blood covenant (the strongest form of covenant).  God was bound to protect, shield, and bless His people and they were bound to honor, love, and serve their God.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that we are also in a Blood Covenant with God.  Our covenant, however, was ratified with the most precious blood ever shed – the Blood of Jesus.  All the gold in Fort Knox could not purchase one drop of Jesus’ blood.  Jesus died as the ultimate sacrifice (animals no longer required).  His blood was shed on Calvary’s cross for the remission of sin and the redemption of humanity.  This cleansing blood is offered to all people – the entire world – but like the people in the text, we must first make a declaration of obedience and acceptance before the blood is applied to our lives.  Once we openly declare – with our own lips – that Jesus is Lord, that He died and was risen from the dead, then He becomes our Lord and Savior, His blood is applied to our lives, and the blood covenant is sealed! Once the blood of Jesus is applied to our lives and we are in eternal and everlasting covenant with the King of Glory!  We are bound to honor, love, and serve Him and He is bound to protect, shield, and bless us!

That’s what this upcoming Sunday is about and that’s why I am so against entertaining bunny rabbits and colored eggs; they become a mockery of the true meaning of Resurrection Sunday.  Sunday we should celebrate the fact that Jesus conquered hell, sin, and the grave so that we could do the same.

Confession for this day:  Father God, I acknowledge afresh that Jesus the Christ was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life in the earth, was persecuted, crucified, died, and was buried.  You rose Him from the dead on the third day with all power in His hand.  He ascended up to heaven and is seated at Your right hand.  He is coming again in glory to judge the living and the dead and His Kingdom will have no end.  I acknowledge this with my lips and with my heart and I thank You for applying the blood of Jesus to my life.  I am in Blood Covenant with You Lord and this covenant cannot and will not ever be broken.  You are the God that I serve and I put no other gods before You.  The blood of Jesus is applied to my life and I am healed, healthy, blessed, and prosperous because of it!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

We Serve a Living Savior! (top of page)

(Mark 16:1-6 NIV)  When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Solome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.  Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb…  As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.  “Don’t be alarmed,” he said.  “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified.  He has risen!  He is not here.”

This morning we continue in this mini-series on “The Power of the Cross.”  Jesus died a brutal death on the cross for all humanity, but remember that no one took His life, He freely gave it for our sin.  Nevertheless, they took the body down from the cross, wrapped it in linen cloth, together with spices, and placed it in a borrowed tomb that had never been used.  Joseph of Arimathea (the owner of the tomb) and Nicodemus prepared the body, placed it in the tomb, and left.  This is where we pick up our text.

The women went looking for Jesus’ body, but they did not find it.  The body was not there because Jesus had been risen from the dead!  This is what we will truly celebrate on Sunday morning.  Resurrection Sunday is about the empty tomb that became the Good News of the gospel for all eternity.  That empty tomb gives Christians all over the world the spring in our step.  That empty tomb is the fuel in our fire, the air in our lungs, and the wind beneath our wings! Without the empty tomb there is no Christianity.  Without the empty tomb we have no hope.  Without the empty tomb our message is just a story.  Paul said it this way, “And if Christ wasn’t raised to life, our message is worthless, and so is your faith” (I Cor 15:14 CEV).

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the single most important event in the history of history.  The resurrection of Jesus is what separates our religion from every other religion in the world.  We don’t serve an idol.  We don’t serve a man.  We don’t serve a dead God.  We serve a Living Savior – Jesus is His name! Over the nearly 2,000 years since many have tried to discredit and discount the validity of Jesus’ Resurrection.  As Dr. Charlie Parmer puts it, “The most telling affirmation of the validity of His literal Resurrection was and is the dramatic change that it produced in the lives of those followers.  From the weak, wavering, faltering, denying group of fishermen, tax collectors, etc.; the twelve plus the others became the most zealous, faithful, dynamic group who ever lived.  They literally became burning evangels for the cause of Christ; and they totally turned the world up-side down for Him over the next 71 plus years.  They were condemned, threatened, imprisoned, beaten, and commanded to be silent; but they just got right back out on the streets and just started preaching Jesus again – alive by Promise, dead by Purpose, Resurrected by (God’s) Power, and reigning for our good Measure and Pleasure!”

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:

1.  It means that Jesus’ victory over death liberates us to reign over death as well.  Jesus took the sting out of death (1st Cor 15:55).

2.  It means that Christianity is the only religion with a living Savior.  Mohammed, Buddha, Ghandi, etc. all died and remained dead.

3.  It means that to be a Christian you must have a personal encounter with our Living Savior.  You can be a Muslim without ever meeting Mohammed, you can be a Buddhist without ever meeting Buddha, but if you are going to be a Christian you have to meet Christ for yourself!

Confession for this day:  Father God, I thank You for sending Jesus to die so that I could live.  I live for Him, in Him, with Him, and through Him.  It is in You God that I live, and move, and have my being.  Jesus’ victory over death means that death has no victory over me.  I am dead to self, alive to Christ, and I know that I will live forever in You and with You.  I love you with all my heart and I live for You all my days.  Help me to share Your love, Your light, and Your resurrecting power with others today!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

This is Today’s Word.  Apply it and Prosper!

The Story (top of page)

This morning we close out our mini-series on “The Power of the Cross.”  God gave me a poem this morning that tells the story of the Resurrection.  I called simply titled it, “The Story.”

God released His best to Adam in the garden,

Kingdom Dominion, power, blessing, and the more,

But shortly thereafter humanity was seeking a pardon,

Adam sinned and the recovery from this sin… a chore.

God re-established His blessing with a man named Abraham,

To bless the whole world was his charter, his mandate, his command,

I am not really sure if Abraham could truly understand,

The awesomeness of the task the Lord had just placed in His hands.

But sin and death still ruled, because of Adam’s transgression,

An answer to this dynamic duo of destruction was needed in the land,

Two types of lambs were chosen as an annual concession,

The blood of these animals were to be shed by the hands of man.

The PASSOVER lamb served as a covering for death,

The Atonement lamb as a covering for sin,

But the blood of these animals was a temporary solution,

God sent Jesus to fight the ultimate battle – and win!

Jesus was the PASSOVER lamb,

Death had been conquered once and for all,

Jesus was also the Atonement lamb,

On Calvary’s cross sin took its ultimate fall.

So behold the Lamb of God that took away the sin of the world,

The ultimate sacrifice paid on Golgotha’s hill,

They hung Him high, they stretched Him wide, He hung His head, for me He died,

And for three hours the light of the sun was stilled.

But the true victory came later, after three nights and three days,

When Jesus rose with all power in His hand,

The resurrection is the Gospel, told in so many ways,

And we must keep preaching it all throughout the land!

Jesus died to pay the penalty for sin,

Jesus rose so that we could do the same,

Jesus’ victory is transferred to us, so we now win,

Back to dominion, blessing, and power in life’s game.

So this upcoming Resurrection Sunday please remember what it’s all about,

It’s more than rabbits and eggs and colorful attire,

It’s about redemption from sin and death, which should make you want to shout!

Jesus died!  Jesus rose!  So we could live Higher!

That’s the story that we tell, that’s the story that we sing,

That’s the story that we preach all over the globe,

But it’s more than just a story; it’s a life changing thing,

It’s the Gospel, preached for the whole world to know!

This is Today’s Word.  Apply it and Prosper!

Part II

Remember what Jesus did for You! (top of page)

(John 18:22 MSG)  When he said this, one of the policemen standing there slapped Jesus across the face, saying, “How dare you speak to the Chief Priest like that!”

The vision of Today’s Word is to instruct, inspire, evangelize, and encourage.  I felt led to take a break this week from our current series to instruct and inspire you concerning the events of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  This upcoming Sunday is what the world calls “Easter” and the church calls “The Resurrection.”  I can’t cover it all in five days, but I will give you a short recap of the events leading up to the most important event in history.

Jesus prayed his well known prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Mat 26:39).  He left the garden and walked into the betrayal of Judas.  Peter tried to stop the arrest and cut a man’s ear off.  Jesus suffered it to be and gave himself over to the authorities.  Jesus was arrested without a charge or a witnesses.  They took Him first to Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest.  Peter, who had already denied Jesus to a little girl, stood outside in the cold with the authorities.  They started a fire and stood around it to warm themselves as the interrogation began inside. Annas interrogated Jesus regarding His disciples and His teachings.  Jesus answered, “I have spoken freely in front of everyone.  And I have always taught in our meeting places and in the temple, where all of our people come together.  I have not said anything in secret.  Why are you questioning me?  Why don’t you ask the people who heard me? They know what I have said.”  When He said this, one of the policemen standing there slapped Jesus across the face, saying, “How dare you speak to the Chief Priest like that!

Let’s be honest.  When we think of Jesus we think of the miraculous Jesus.  We think of the God-man that stopped a funeral precession and raised a widow’s only son from the dead.  We think of the God-man who looked out at a vast crowd (5,000 men, not counting the women and children), had compassion upon them, and fed them all with a little boy’s lunch (2 fish and 5 loaves of bread).  We think of the God-man who showed up at His friends’ house (Mary and Martha) after their brother (Lazarus) was dead for four days and whose body was already stinking.  He had so much compassion for them that He cried with them before He raised their brother back to life.  We think of the God-man who walked on water and met the disciples in the fourth watch of the night (3am-6am), when they were tired, frustrated, and fearful.  We think of the God-man who met a woman in church who wanted to straighten herself up, but she couldn’t.  She had been bent over for 18 years, but Jesus healed her that day.  Yes, we often times think of the miraculous Jesus, the powerful Jesus, the water-walking Jesus, the wonder-working Jesus.  But what about the Jesus that was whipped for us?  What about the Jesus that was beaten for us?  What about the Jesus – in our text – that was slapped in the face for us?

So what does this mean to you today? It means that this week we take some time to remember the Jesus that was battered, beaten, and bruised for us.  He died so that we could live.  Remember that today when you face something you think is unbearable.

Confession for this day:  Lord God.  I thank You for sending Your Son to die that I might live.  I acknowledge the life of Jesus and I acknowledge it all.  He stepped down from glory and bore my pain that I might step up from my pain and bear His glory.  I remember what Jesus did for me and I honor Him in all that I do.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

No Weapon formed Against you will Prosper (top of page)

(John 18:32 CEV)  And so what Jesus said about his death would soon come true.

This morning we continue our short recap of the events surrounding Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Yesterday we left Jesus with Annas.  Annas sent Jesus to his son-in-law (the other High Priest), Caiaphas.  After being questioned by Caiaphas Jesus was taken to the Roman governor’s (Pilate) house.  By this time it was early in the morning.  Jesus had been erroneously tried and found guilty, in the middle of the night, and all the while not one charge or one witness had been brought against Him.  Pilate came out and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?”  They answered, “He is a criminal! That’s why we brought him to you.”  Pilate told them, “Take him and judge him by your own laws.”  But the Jews knew that they were not authorized to have anyone executed.  They wanted blood.  They wanted Jesus dead.  They wanted to get back to their normal lives – as they thought.  The Jews replied, “We are not allowed to put anyone to death.”  This is where we pick up our text.  And so what Jesus said about his death would soon come true.  Jesus gave his disciples fair warning of his death.  Jesus would hang on a tree to become sin for us and to fulfill prophecy.

Let’s briefly recap the life of Jesus.  He was born in Bethlehem and was then taken to Egypt because Herod wanted to kill Him as a baby.  This was an attack to destroy Him before He ever got started.  After Herod’s death He was brought back to and raised in Nazareth.  We don’t hear anything about Him between the ages of 12 and 30.  He shows up and 30 yrs. old, is baptized, and immediately led into the desert to be tempted of satan.  Satan tried to stop Him before His ministry ever got started.  Jesus comes back and starts preaching the Kingdom of God.  Before you know it, the blind can see, the lame can walk, the death can hear, the dumb can speak, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.  Satan is furious.  He works through the religious leadership of the time and manipulates them through their pride to finagle a way to kill Jesus.  They tried Him in the middle of the night without a witness, a charge, or a testimony.  They were doing all they could to kill Him, but once again, satan’s plan would backfire.  Paul later said that if he knew better he would have never had Jesus killed (1 Cor 2:8).  Jesus was at peace the entire time because He knew that He would still come out on top of this situation.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that when you walk with God, no weapon formed against you will prosper (Is 54:17).  It does not mean that the weapon will not be formed.  It does not mean that there will not be attacks against you.  What it does mean is that the enemy will not be successful in his attempts.  It all worked out for Jesus and it will all work out for us, if we continue to walk with God and in accordance with His Word.

Jesus faced many attacks and still came out victorious.  He is our example.  No matter what you are facing this morning you can have peace in knowing that when you are walking with God you will always come out on top!

Confession for this day:  Lord God.  I thank You for solidifying Your peace in my heart this morning.  I realize that many weapons were formed against Jesus, but they did not prosper.  I also realize that I have the same favor.  No matter what comes my way today or any day, I have the confidence in knowing that You are with me, in me, on me, and for me.  You are greater than anything I will ever face!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

Total Death for Total Life (top of page)

(John 19:34 MSG)  One of the soldiers stabbed him in the side with his spear. Blood and water gushed out.

This morning we continue our brief recap of the events surrounding Jesus’ death by moving past the mock trials and fast forwarding to the cross.  After the erroneous conviction they beat Jesus and flogged Him 39 times with a cat of nine-tails.  Each lash felt like 9 lashes.  The lashes had bits of metal and stone sewn into them.  The pieces of metal and stone sunk into Jesus’ back with each lash and they ripped pieces of His flesh off as the skilled torturer pulled the whip back.  They made a mock crown out of thorns and pushed it down into His head so that they thorns drove into His skull.  In this battered and bruised condition they made Him carry His own cross up Golgotha’s hill and then nailed Him to it.  Think about that for a moment.  Look at your manicured hands and pampered feet.  Now picture a railroad tie and imagine it being thrust into your hands and feet with a sledge hammer.  If that were not enough, they took His beaten, bruised, and nailed body and erected it as they elevated the cross.  Can you see Him? The hole for the cross was already prepared.  The weight is now painfully shifting between His upper and lower bodies.  They then locate the prepared hole and let the cross drop into it, rattling Jesus’ bones as it fell into place.  He tries to support Himself with His legs, but the position of His nailed feet makes it almost impossible.  He tries to lift Himself up with His arms, but His nailed hands make this excruciatingly painful.  For three hours He hung on the there (from noon to 3pm) in total darkness.  The sun refused to shine while the Son was shining.  Around 3pm, after enduring this brutal procedure, He cried “It is finished!”  With that, He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

The next day was a special Sabbath and the Jews could not touch anything dead during this time.  They knew they only had three hours to get the bodies off of the crosses and into the tombs.  They asked Pilate to have the legs of the men broken and the bodies taken down.  This would ensure that all three men were dead.  The soldiers came and broke the legs of the two men who had been crucified with Jesus.  However, when they got to Him they believed that He was already dead, so they did not break His legs.  They did need to verify His death.  So one of the soldiers stabbed him in the side with his spear.  Blood and water gushed out.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that Jesus was completely dead.  His death was no hoax and His blood was surely shed.  Yes, He completely died a horrible death, but He also completely rose on the third day in a glorious resurrection!  He conquered death so that we could do the same.  Paul said that part of his aim in life was to know Jesus in the power of His Resurrection (Phil 3:10).  This Sunday is not about colored eggs or bunny rabbits, it’s about a Savior who died for our sin and rose for our life.  He conquered death for us.  So no matter how dead your dreams, goals, marriage, career, etc.; may seem, know that through Christ, you can bounce back and experience Resurrection Power!  Jesus was totally dead, but He came back from total death to provide total life.

Confession for this day:  Lord God.  I thank You for sending Your only begotten Son to die that I might live.  Jesus was completely dead, but You resurrected Him to complete and total life.  I flow in that same vein this morning and I speak to every dead issue in my life and pronounce resurrection.  I speak to darkness and pronounce light, I speak to chaos and pronounce order.  I walk by faith and not by sight.  I believe You can turn my hopeless situations around and I receive my breakthrough by faith!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

An Equivalent Ransom (top of page)

(Eph 1:7 KJV)  In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.

This morning we continue our brief recap of the events surrounding Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Yesterday we discussed Jesus’ death and this morning we take a glimpse at what his death gave us access to.

A few years ago Mel Gibson starred in a movie entitled “Ransom.”  It was a thriller where a rich man’s son was kidnapped and kept by his captors until a large sum of money was paid.  The tagline to the movie was ‘Someone is going to pay!’  The movie took a twist and Mel Gibson’s character decided not to pay the ransom to the captors, but to rather offer it as a reward to anyone who would turn them in.  In our real life drama, we were all born captured, in need of a ransom to be paid.  It is not that we had freedom and that our freedom was taken away at some point, but rather that we were born as bound to sin as the child was bound to his captors in the movie.  We were born with a death sentence, because of what Adam did in the garden.  We needed someone to pay our ransom before we could receive our freedom.  The problem is that our ransom could not be paid with money.  Our payment would involve the shedding of blood.  Our text speaks of “redemption through his blood.”  The person referenced in this text is Jesus.  Webster defines redemption as the repurchase of captured goods or prisoners; the act of procuring the deliverance of persons or things from the possession and power of captors by the payment of an equivalent ransom.  The key words are “equivalent ransom.”  The blood of an animal was shed in the garden when Adam sinned.  This served as a “ransom” for sin, but the blood of the animal was not equivalent to the blood of the transgressor.  This pattern was repeated every year, under the law, with the sacrifice of an atonement lamb, as a covering for sin; and the PASSOVER lamb, as a covering for death.  In both cases this ritual had to be repeated annually, because the ransom was not equivalent to the transgressor.

The only suitable payment for our life would have to be another human life.  Someone would actually have to trade their life for ours before we would be able to escape the clutches of sin and death (our captors).  Luke told us (Acts 20:28) that Jesus purchased (redeemed) us with His own blood.  Jesus became both the atonement lamb (offering for sin) and the PASSOVER lamb (offering for death) at the same time.  He was our equivalent payment!  Glory to God.  Our ransom has been paid.  We now have redemption and freedom through His blood!

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:

1.       All human beings were born captured by sin and satan because of the actions of Adam in the garden (Eph 2:1-3, Ro 3:23).

2.       The blood of lambs, goats, and calves served as a temporary solution to a permanent problem (Heb 9:12).

3.       God sent His own Son (the Last Adam) to die in our stead, paying an equivalent ransom and delivering us from the power of sin and satan (Gal 3:13, 1 Jn 1:7, Rev 5:9).

4.       The Ransom is paid, the captor has been defeated and the captured have been released – Hallelujah!  That’s what this Sunday is all about!

Confession for this day:  Lord God.  I am covered by the blood of Jesus.  Jesus paid the price that I could not afford for a debt that He did not owe.  He died that I might live.  He laid down His righteousness and clothed Himself with my sin that I would lay down my sin and clothe myself in His righteousness.  I enter this day as a cleansed, delivered, purified, and set apart warrior in the Kingdom of God.  I do not entangle myself again with sin and satan.  I am redeemed and have been bought with a price.  I honor You with my life and actions!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

Christianity is the Only Religion that touts an Empty Grave (top of page)

(1 Cor 15:22 MSG)  Everybody dies in Adam; everybody comes alive in Christ.

This morning we conclude our brief recap of the events surrounding Jesus’ death and resurrection.  I know these kinds of messages are not very exciting to many people, but without the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ we would have no hope.  There would be no Christianity.  There would be no Born-Again experience.  There would be no gospel.  Remember that this Sunday while TV commercials are full colored eggs and bunny rabbits, and while churches are full of new suits and colorful hats.  Beyond the misconceptions and pageantry, Sunday is about remembering Jesus and how He conquered death by rising from the dead on the third day in fulfillment of the scriptures.

Paul summed this all up nicely in 1st Corinthians 15.  He said, “Now, let me ask you something profound yet troubling.  If you became believers because you trusted the proclamation that Christ is alive, risen from the dead, how can you let people say that there is no such thing as a resurrection?  If there’s no resurrection, there’s no living Christ.  And face it – if there’s no resurrection for Christ, everything we’ve told you is smoke and mirrors, and everything you’ve staked your life on is smoke and mirrors.  Not only that, but we would be guilty of telling a string of barefaced lies about God, all these affidavits we passed on to you verifying that God raised up Christ – sheer fabrications, if there’s no resurrection.  If corpses can’t be raised, then Christ wasn’t, because he was indeed dead.  And if Christ wasn’t raised, then all you’re doing is wandering about in the dark, as lost as ever.  It’s even worse for those who died hoping in Christ and resurrection, because they’re already in their graves.  If all we get out of Christ is a little inspiration for a few short years, we’re a pretty sorry lot.  But the truth is that Christ has been raised up, the first in a long legacy of those who are going to leave the cemeteries.  There is a nice symmetry in this: Death initially came by a man, and resurrection from death came by a man.  Everybody dies in Adam; everybody comes alive in Christ“(1 Cor 15:12-22 MSG).

So what does this mean to you today? It means that Christ did die, the Father did raise Him from the dead, we do have eternal life in Christ once we are Born-Again, death has no dominion over us, satan is defeated, and our efforts as believers are not in vain.  This is no joke and no hoax.  Jesus Christ is the only religious figure – of all the world religions – that claims to still be alive.  Mohammed, Buddha, Gandhi, and etc. are all in the grave, but Christ is not.  Christianity is the only religion that touts an empty grave.  That’s why you can be a Muslim without ever meeting Mohammed and you can be a Buddhist without ever meeting Buddha, but if you are going to be a Christian, you have to meet Christ for yourself!  Once you meet Him, He washes your sins with his blood and makes you a king and priest in the earth (Rev 1:5,6).  Enter this day and this weekend with your head held high and your heart solidified in the reality that Jesus is alive and you are alive in Him!  He has made you royalty.  Act like it!

Confession for this day:  Lord God.  I am convinced that Your Son Jesus died and was raised from the dead.  I have no doubt.  My faith is rooted in His resurrection and the fact that He conquered satan, hell, and the grave gives me a renewed strength today.  You made me a king and a priest in the earth.  I conquer as a king and I hear from the Holy Spirit as a priest.  I provide both strength and wisdom for my family.  I do not take the resurrection lightly.  Jesus, your dying for me was not in vain.  I honor You with my life and living.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!