Flashback Episode — The Giver of Life: Matthew 27:45-53


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As we near the end of our year podcasting through the miracles Jesus did in the gospels, most lists of miracles only have one miracle left, specifically a miracle that John’s gospel includes that happens after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. However, if we held real closely to the standard list of miracles, we’d miss some amazing miracles that are not often thought of as miracles.

The first of these amazing events comes to us in Matthew’s gospel as Jesus takes His last breath. While the idea of God becoming human, and God as a human actually dying is miraculous in itself, what happens when Jesus gives up His life is nothing short of miraculous.

Let’s read about what happened, and about what we can learn from the moment Jesus gave up His life. Our passage is found in the gospel of Matthew, chapter 27, and we will read it from the God’s Word translation. Starting in verse 45, Matthew tells us that:

45 At noon darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 46 About three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” 47 When some of the people standing there heard him say that, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.” 48 One of the men ran at once, took a sponge, and soaked it in some vinegar. Then he put it on a stick and offered Jesus a drink. 49 The others said, “Leave him alone! Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”

50 Then Jesus loudly cried out once again and gave up his life.

51 Suddenly, the curtain in the temple was split in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split open. 52 The tombs were opened, and the bodies of many holy people who had died came back to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after he had come back to life, and they went into the holy city where they appeared to many people.

In this passage, at the moment Jesus cried out and gave up His life, the curtain in the temple was split in two from top to bottom, and there was a massive earthquake that split open graves. These things are miraculous, but Matthew then describes the bodies of many holy people returning to life. While it isn’t clear if they were resurrected at the moment Jesus gave up His life or at the moment when Jesus returned to life, there is no denying that those present in the first century would have this date fixed in their minds.

Matthew’s gospel leading up to Jesus’ death isn’t as descriptive as some of the other gospels. Luke’s gospel described how Jesus has a conversation and promise for one of the criminals hanging next to Him. John’s gospel includes details surrounding Jesus connecting His mother with John the disciple. However, Matthew’s gospel includes a powerful theme related to who Jesus is that none of the other gospel writers included here at Jesus’ death.

When we look at what happened on the cross, we see the life of a Life-Giver. When we look at Jesus, we see how His death brings resurrection. Jesus’ death is a source of life. Through the cross, Jesus gives life.

Jesus is the ultimate Life Giver.

Through the Godhead, we have been blessed with this thing called life. We have breath in our lungs because God gave it to us. While some people believe all this happened through random chance, no amount of random chance could result in what we have today. We are alive today because of God, and whether you believe God is simply responsible for starting this thing called life, or whether you believe He is instrumental in every life that is created, God gives life. Because God gives life and because Jesus is a member of the Godhead, there is a strong case that Jesus is responsible for our current life on this earth. As a member of the Godhead, Jesus the Life-Giver gives us our first life.

But Jesus didn’t stop giving. When the first life was messed up with sin, Jesus stepped into our history. Jesus gave up His life in heaven to come to earth as a human. Jesus could have easily recommended that humanity should be abandoned, but that choice is not within God’s character to make. Jesus, the Life-Giver, gave up His heavenly life because He wanted us to know what God truly is like.

However, even after giving up His heavenly life, Jesus didn’t stop giving. In this passage, Jesus continues giving by giving up His life for you and for me. Jesus gave up His life on the cross for us. Because Jesus loved us so much, and because He knew what the consequences of sin are, He chose to come to take the penalty we deserve to give us the opportunity of the reward He deserved. Through the cross, the Life-Giver gives us a second chance because He gave His life for us.

At His death, Jesus the Life-Giver’s death rippled through the earth and supernaturally returned the lives of holy people who had died nearby. We don’t know who, how many, or really anything beyond what Matthew shares with us here, but we cannot escape the amazing theme that Jesus the Life-Giver’s death brings His people new life. As followers of Jesus, we not only have a new life in our current situation, but we also have the promise of a perfect, eternal life when Jesus returns.

With this promise, we look forward to heaven, and with whatever happens between now and then, we can trust that with Jesus, our lives will be saved for eternity!

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

As always, be sure to intentionally seek God first and place your faith, hope, trust, and belief in Jesus and what He accomplished for us on the cross. Jesus is the Giver of life and because Jesus is so focused on giving, we would be wise to accept the gifts that He offers to us. One great way of saying thank you to God is by accepting the gifts that He offers to us.

Also, always pray and study the Bible for yourself to learn and grow closer to Jesus. While a pastor, speaker, author, or podcaster can give you ideas to think about, never let someone get between you and God. God has made a way for us to come to Him, and because of what Jesus accomplished on the cross, we are invited to come before God with our questions and requests directly. Don’t let anyone get between you and God.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or fall away from where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Year of Miracles – Episode 47: When Jesus died on the cross, Matthew describes a miraculous event that many people might not think of when they think of the typical miracles of Jesus. However, in this event, we see an amazing picture of Jesus, of God, and of what God, through Jesus, offers to us when we come to Him.

Join the discussion on the original episode's page: Click Here.

Healing an Evangelist: Mark 1:40-45

Focus Passage: Mark 1:40-45 (NCV)

40 A man with a skin disease came to Jesus. He fell to his knees and begged Jesus, “You can heal me if you will.”

41 Jesus felt sorry for the man, so he reached out his hand and touched him and said, “I will. Be healed!” 42 Immediately the disease left the man, and he was healed.

43 Jesus told the man to go away at once, but he warned him strongly, 44 “Don’t tell anyone about this. But go and show yourself to the priest. And offer the gift Moses commanded for people who are made well. This will show the people what I have done.” 45 The man left there, but he began to tell everyone that Jesus had healed him, and so he spread the news about Jesus. As a result, Jesus could not enter a town if people saw him. He stayed in places where nobody lived, but people came to him from everywhere.

Read Mark 1:40-45 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

Right near the beginning of Mark’s gospel, we find Jesus healing a man with a skin disease. This disease was serious enough that the man had been sent away from society to live among those who were sick.

However the healing isn’t as significant in my mind as what Jesus tells the man to do after he was healed. Mark tells us that after healing the man, “Jesus told the man to go away at once, but he warned him strongly, ‘Don’t tell anyone about this. But go and show yourself to the priest. And offer the gift Moses commanded for people who are made well. This will show the people what I have done.’” (v. 43-44)

What is odd about this request is that Jesus wants the man to keep it a secret – except that it really isn’t a “secret” secret, but it is more of a “subtle” secret. Jesus asks the man to go show himself to the priest and offer the gift of thanks for those who have been made well. Jesus wants the priests to be the first people who learn of this healing, and He wants the priests to declare the man clean again (i.e. free from disease).

Jesus finishes by saying that the declaration from the priest regarding the man’s healing will “show the people what I have done.” (v. 44b)

But the man did something different, and he was very effective with his methods. Mark tells us that “The man left there, but he began to tell everyone that Jesus had healed him, and so he spread the news about Jesus. As a result, Jesus could not enter a town if people saw him. He stayed in places where nobody lived, but people came to him from everywhere.” (v. 45)

The man Jesus healed, probably on the way to see the priest, told everyone he could about Jesus and what Jesus had done for him. The man may have even taken some “detours” or longer routes to get to the priest so that he could share his story with more people. This man was so effective that Mark tells us Jesus couldn’t even enter a town if people recognized who He was.

This man was an evangelist and he could not contain his joy from being healed.

But I believe the man missed the message Jesus wanted to convey. While the healing was important, I believe Jesus wanted to send a subtle message to the priests that He did not come to stand against them or what they taught. Instead, He came to fulfill what the prophets had written about the coming Messiah. I believe Jesus wanted the priests to be the first people who were really aware of this healing.

However, Mark records history happening differently, and while the priests did eventually learn of the healing, they may have heard it through messengers and rumors before having actually being told first hand by the man.

One idea I see in Jesus’ request is the subtle request to try to win the priests over to Him. For the majority of His ministry, the religious leaders seemed to believe Jesus was against them, but this was never Jesus’ intent. I wonder what would have happened differently if this evangelist had been more subtle with his sharing – but then that might not have been possible because when Jesus has healed you, freed you, and/or redeemed you, the most natural thing to do is to tell others what He has done.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus “Reflective Bible Study” package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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The Darkest Hours in History: Mark 15:33-39


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During the past couple of podcast episodes, we have been looking at how Mark describes the time Jesus spent on the cross. For this episode, we will conclude looking at what Mark tells us happened during the hours Jesus spent on the cross, and discover what we can learn during the last portion of this event.

Our passage for this episode is found in Mark’s gospel, chapter 15, and for this episode, we will read from the God’s Word translation. Starting in verse 33, Mark tells us that:

33 At noon darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 At three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

35 When some of the people standing there heard him say that, they said, “Listen! He’s calling Elijah.” 36 Someone ran and soaked a sponge in vinegar. Then he put it on a stick and offered Jesus a drink. The man said, “Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down.”

37 Then Jesus cried out in a loud voice and died. 38 The curtain in the temple was split in two from top to bottom.

39 When the officer who stood facing Jesus saw how he gave up his spirit, he said, “Certainly, this man was the Son of God!”

Without any question in my mind, the moment Jesus cried out in a loud voice and died is the darkest point in the entire Bible. For three hours, darkness covered not only the entire region but specifically Jesus on the cross. I wonder if this darkness was caused by supernatural forces, if there was some type of eclipse that blocked out the sun, or if this happened because of a thick cloud cover. It was as though the last three hours of Jesus’ life were aimed at prompting Jesus to feel like He was all alone.

Mark doesn’t describe anything that happened during these three hours, and I wonder if nothing noteworthy happened, perhaps except for Satan trying to mock and taunt Jesus that His death was for nothing and that His sacrifice would not be accepted by God.

Whether the darkness ended immediately after Jesus gave His last breath, or whether the darkness ended at the point Jesus cried out about feeling like God had abandoned Him, the last hours leading up to Jesus’ death gave Jesus time to reflect on His sacrifice. These three hours likely felt like an eternity, but it was an eternity where Jesus was able to reflect and resolve that His death would open the way for our salvation.

In my mind, it is significant to pay attention to what Jesus cries out here in Mark’s gospel. After three hours of darkness, Jesus cries out in verse 34 saying, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

This cry of Jesus is a cry we all may be tempted to believe when we go through dark points in our lives. In our lives, we all will have times when things go our way and when life is looking up, and we will all have times when it seems like everything is going wrong. It is tempting to think God is with us in the good times and that He has abandoned us in the bad times, but if we choose to believe this, we may be believing a lie Satan wants to trick us with.

I have no idea whether the darkness during the last hours of Jesus’ time on the cross was caused naturally or supernaturally. I don’t know whether it was something symbolizing God turning His face away from Jesus or whether it was a move by Satan to try to break His spirit.

However, I believe that regardless of the source of the darkness, and regardless of Jesus’ cry out to God about feeling abandoned, I have no doubt in my mind that God was 100% focused on this moment in history. Even though Jesus felt like God had left Him, I don’t believe for a moment that God turned His back on Jesus’ sacrifice.

One of the most famous verses in the Bible tells us that God loves humanity to the point that He sent His Son to face death for us. Jesus took the punishment we deserved onto Himself because God loves us that much. God accepted Jesus’ sacrifice because Jesus returned to life the following Sunday morning. The weekend of the cross was what the entire Godhead had been directing history towards.

However, with God’s focus present on this moment, I don’t believe God felt joy during this moment. Instead, in ways that would be hard for us to imagine, I believe God felt pain during the hours Jesus hung on the cross. Regardless of whether a skeptic could rationalize God’s perspective and say that He knew Jesus would be alive days later, God knows what it is like to watch someone you love die. God understands one of the greatest pains we can experience in our human lives.

In this event, we discover that Satan wanted Jesus to feel as though He was alone, and in this regard, it is possible that he succeeded. However, Satan wasn’t strong enough to convince Jesus that His cries to His Father would not be heard.

This means that for us living today, Satan can try to trick us into believing that we are all alone and that God is uninterested in our lives. Satan can try to trick us into believing that our prayers fall on deaf ears, or no ears at all. However, Satan is powerless to stop our prayers from being heard by the Father, and Satan is powerless to stop the Father from being passionately in love with us!

The best Satan can hope for is tricking us into not praying and seeking God, because he knows that if we turn to God, God is more than willing to help us in our time of need.

When Jesus gave up His Spirit, the curtain in the temple ripped in two from top to bottom. This spiritual and significant act opened the way for sinners to come before God directly and ask for forgiveness, ask for help, and ask God for answers to our prayers and requests. Jesus’ death makes coming to God possible, and Jesus’ death bridges the gap sin had created between humanity and God.

Everything worth anything in life hinges on Jesus’ death, and because Jesus died on the cross, we are able to accept the gift of eternal life through Jesus that extends into eternity!

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

As I always challenge you to do, intentionally seek God first in your life. Resolve today to never let Satan trick you out of praying and seeking God. Satan’s best chance is tricking you into thinking that God doesn’t care about you and letting your mind resolve to give up on God. This is because Satan knows that God is unwilling to give up on us. Jesus came to prove to us that God loves us with all His heart and that He wants us together forever with Him in heaven!

Also, continue praying and studying the Bible for yourself to learn, grow, and fall in love with the God who gave Himself for you and me. Through the pages of the Bible, discover just how much God loves you and what He was willing to give up in order to redeem you and I for eternity.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or deviate away from where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him – even when Satan tries to convince us we are living alone and God has forgotten. God never forgot Jesus, and He will never forget you!

Year in Mark – Episode 46: During the last hours Jesus hung on the cross, Mark describes a darkness covering the land. Discover some things we can learn from this event and how even when things seem dark and hopeless, that God will never leave us or abandon us.

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Helping Because You Can: Matthew 25:31-46

Focus Passage: Matthew 25:31-46 (HCSB)

 31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

    35 For I was hungry
    and you gave Me something to eat;
    I was thirsty
    and you gave Me something to drink;
    I was a stranger and you took Me in;
    36 I was naked and you clothed Me;
    I was sick and you took care of Me;
    I was in prison and you visited Me.’

    37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or without clothes and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and visit You?’

    40 “And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’ 41 Then He will also say to those on the left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels!

    42 For I was hungry
    and you gave Me nothing to eat;
    I was thirsty
    and you gave Me nothing to drink;
    43 I was a stranger
    and you didn’t take Me in;
    I was naked
    and you didn’t clothe Me,
    sick and in prison
    and you didn’t take care of Me.’

    44 “Then they too will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or without clothes, or sick, or in prison, and not help You?’

    45 “Then He will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me either.’

    46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Read Matthew 25:31-46 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

In our passage for this journal entry, we read one of Jesus’ descriptions of His return and the judgment that takes place. The big thing I want to focus on is the idea that both groups of people do not know their actions (or lack thereof) are towards Jesus. Those people who help others are in reality helping Jesus, while those who don’t help have neglected to help Jesus.

It is as though the group of people who are determined to help others do so without really even thinking about the reward of heaven, while the group who missed out on heaven is equally surprised when they learn why they missed out.

This passage tells me that both groups have determined, by having previously focused on developing both habit and character, whether they are interested in helping those who are hurting. The group who helps those in need does so because they can, and not because they see a reward coming in the distant future.

This is the big thought: Have you determined what type of person you will be, starting today? Will you be someone who helps, for no other reason than because you can? Even if heaven wasn’t a potential reward for your help, you are still making a positive impact with each act of kindness you show.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus “Reflective Bible Study” package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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