Jesus on the Cross

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And many women who followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him, were there looking on from afar,  among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons. – Matthew 27:55, 56.

Imagine standing there watching your Lord, who had done nothing worthy of the cruel death He was sentenced to suffer, as hang on the cross.  I can’t begin to imagine how those women felt but I know that whenever I watch a scene of the crucifixion, it feels me with pain and sorrow.  I cry.  I know that Jesus suffered on that cross for me and the world.  He willingly laid down His precious life so that we could have eternal life.  He did it so that we won’t have to experience God’s wrath or be eternally separated from Him. He did it because He was obedient to the Father even unto death.  He did it because He loves us.

How amazing it is that God loves us so much that He didn’t think twice about sending His Son to die for our sins.  It must have been hard for Him to see His beloved Son being whipped and struck, spat on and mocked but the prophet Isaiah stated: “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief.  When You 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 the labor of His soul,and be satisfied.  By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53:10, 11).  There was a purpose for this horrific death.  It was God’s only way to save us.  We are that precious in His sight.  Our salvation came at a great cost to Him and His Son, yet it cost us nothing.

As one of those women standing there, helplessly watching their beloved Lord hanging between two criminals, with the sins of the world upon His shoulders, bleeding and in excruciating pain, unable to tend to His needs, what would go through your mind?  Luke tells us how some of the crowd reacted when He died.  And the whole crowd who came together to that sight, seeing what had been done, beat their breasts and returned. Yet, all of His acquaintances, and these women stood at a distance, watching these things (Luke 23:48, 49).  Would you stand at a distance too and watch these event unfold?  Are you still watching from afar or are you going to stand at the foot of the cross and glorify God as the centurion did? (verse 47).

Today and every opportunity you have, take time to reflect on the work Jesus did on the cross that makes it possible for you to boldly approach the throne of grace.  What He did for you over two thousand years ago makes it possible for you to have a loving and saving relationship with God.  On that day, those women, when they watched Jesus on the cross, through tear filled eyes, they were seeing the salvation of God.  At the time, they were too sorrowful to rejoice but today, we can see past the sorrow and the tears and humbly declare, “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him” (1 Thessalonians 5:0, 10).

A Father’s Vow

“If You will indeed deliver the people of Ammon into my hands, then it will be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the people of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering” – Judges 11:30, 31

I read this story again today and it filled me with sadness.  Jephthah was a mighty man of valor but was driven out of his home by his step-brothers because his mother was a harlot. He went to the land of Tob where he fell into the company of worthless men he went raiding with.

When the nation of Amnon made war against Israel, the elders of the Israelite people went to Jephthah for help.  He reminded them of how they had treated him and wanted to know why they were now seeking his help.  They promised him that if he would fight for them, they would make him their head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.  Jephthah agreed.  He went with them and they made him their head and commander.  Before he went to war, Jephthah gave the king of Ammon the opportunity to call a truce but he refused to listen.

God’s Spirit was upon Jephthah as he advanced toward the people of Ammon.  It was at this time that he made a vow to the Lord.   The Lord delivered the people of Ammon into his hands.  When he returned home after his great victory, his daughter came to meet him, happy to see him and and he was devastated.  He had made a vow to the Lord that whatever came out of his house to meet him when he returned from fighting the Ammonites, will be the Lord’s.  It never occurred to him that his daughter, his only child, would be the one to come out to meet him.

When he saw her, he tore his clothes and cried, “Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low! You are among those who trouble me! For I have given my word to the Lord, and I cannot go back on it.”

So she said to him, “My father, if you have given your word to the Lord, do to me according to what has gone out of your mouth, because the Lord has avenged you of your enemies, the people of Ammon.” Then she said to her father, “Let this thing be done for me: let me alone for two months, that I may go and wander on the mountains and bewail my virginity, my friends and I.”  She had accepted her fate.

For two months she and her friends bewailed her virginity on the mountains.  And at the end of the two months, she returned to her father and he honored his vow to the Lord.  She never knew a man.  She remained a virgin until she died.  Jephthah never had any grandchildren.

How sad it must have been for this young girl who like most girls dreamed of one day falling in love and getting married.  She would never know the joy of being a wife and a mother.  If a man showed any interest in her she would have to reject him.  How it must have been hard to see her friends get married and have children.  She may have held some of those children in her arms, knowing that she would never be able to have any of her own.  It is said that it became a custom in Israel for the daughters of Israel to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite for four days each year.

I can’t imagine how her father must have felt, seeing his only child live the rest of her life a spinster because of a foolish vow he had made.  The vow as not even necessary.  The Spirit of the Lord was with him.  God would have given him the victory anyway.  What should have been a celebration for father and daughter turned into a tragedy.  His victory came at a great cost because of a vow he had made in order to guarantee that victory.

Be careful when you made a vow to the Lord or anyone.  Consider what you are doing first.  Make sure you can live with your decision.  Don’t make promises that you may regret keeping.

If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth – Numbers 30:2.

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