Break Every Chain by Jesus Culture
In the classic book by Karl Menninger of the Menninger Clinic, Whatever Became of Sin?, he described a situation where a mime on the busy sidewalks of Chicago would point at a total stranger and yell out “Guilty!” Amazingly, the reaction of most of the strangers was to slink away, as if to say, “How did you know?”
We all instinctively know that things are not right between us and the universe. There is a name for that, and it is sin. Sin is what is wrong with this world. But sin has been dealt with in a decisive way.
Soon another Good Friday will be upon us. This is the Christian Day of Atonement. This is the Passover to us, just as that original Good Friday coincided with the Passover.
Before a holy God, none of us can stand without condemnation—in our natural state. This is why God sent Jesus, His only begotten Son, to die in our place—to bring salvation for those who believe in Him.
Centuries before Jesus came, God instituted through Moses an elaborate system of sacrifice of animals. From a Christian perspective, all of those sacrifices were foreshadows of Jesus’ once- and-for-all sacrifice on Calvary.
One of the great pictures of Christ’s redemption is the Passover—because the ancient Hebrews were instructed to take the blood of a lamb without blemish and smear it on the top and two sides of the entrance to their homes—in essence forming the sign of the cross. The angel of death would “pass over” the homes where the blood had been smeared, sparing the occupants. People were either covered by the blood of the lamb or they were not.
Christ is the ultimate Passover Lamb who was slain for our sins. When John the Baptist, the great forerunner of Jesus, who prepared the way for the Lord, first saw Jesus, he famously said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” In Latin, Lamb of God is Agnus Dei.
Often in cathedrals, you can see the image of a lamb with a cross—sometimes that cross is like a flag. That is the Agnus Dei, the Lamb of God.
Years ago I interviewed a Jewish believer in Jesus, Murray Tillis of Atlanta. He came to believe in Jesus as His Jewish Messiah and has founded Light of Messiah Ministries.
He told me, “As I read Psalm 22 [written c. 1000 B.C.] for the very first time as a Jewish person, I was shocked that this writer, David, who is writing long before Jesus ever came and long before crucifixion was ever even a known method or means of execution, he was describing the crucifixion of Jesus.” The opening line of this psalm was something Jesus quoted on the cross: “My God, my God, Why hast Thou forsaken Me?”
I asked Murray about Jesus and the Passover. He said, “The meal on the night He was betrayed was a Passover meal. Jesus said to His disciples, ‘I earnestly desire to eat this meal with you.’”
That Last Supper, of course, was the celebration of the Passover. Says Murray: “It was within the context of a Passover Seder or Order of Service, where Jesus, sitting around the table with His disciples, was going through the Order of Service that Jewish people were very familiar with then and are very familiar with today—an order that consists of four cups, the cup of blessing, the cup of plagues, the cup of redemption, and then the cup of praise.”
Tillis adds, “The cup of redemption comes directly after the meal. In fact, in the New Testament, we read that Jesus took the cup after the meal. That was the cup of redemption…He raised that cup up, He looked at His disciples, and He said, ‘This is my blood which is shed for you.’”
And so in one sense, Passover and communion become one. Murray continues: “And then He took the unleavened bread, symbolic of sinlessness or sinless nature, broke it, and said, ‘This is my body which is broken for you.’”
Murray Tillis concludes: “And so, within the context of this Passover meal, Jesus was saying to His disciples, ‘My blood is going to be shed for you. I am going to be crucified for you. I am the Passover Lamb. And because of that blood, death will pass over you, as well.’”
It is His blood that is the key to forgiveness. It is His blood, received by faith, that washes away guilt. Happy Holy Week.
by Jerry Newcombe
Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, bringing sin into God’s perfect creation. They experienced an immediate separation from their Maker, and from that moment, all of creation began longing for redemption.
Old Testament prophets spoke about a coming Messiah—the One who would redeem and restore. For centuries, the Israelites waited hopefully. They must have wondered why God was waiting so long, and perhaps even doubted whether a savior would ever come.
There was a bigger picture, though, that they couldn’t see. From our viewpoint thousands of years later, we can piece together some reasons for God’s timing—down to small details like communication and travel.
For example, when Alexander the Great conquered much of the known world, he spread Greek throughout his expanding empire. The Hebrews then translated the Old Testament into Greek. As a result, many more people were able to hear truth, understand their need, and recognize the Savior when He came.
Next, the Romans defeated many nations and created new highways for travel. Seas and roads were safer during their rule than in previous times, so it was easier for Jesus’ disciples to spread the gospel message.
Now we clearly see that God wasn’t a moment late—He knew the perfect timing to send His Son to redeem mankind. But situations in our own life may not always make sense from our vantage point. Remember that our omniscient God has perfect timing. You can trust Him.
“But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.” (Malachi 4:2)
This is the very last of the numerous Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. After this, there were four centuries of silence from heaven, as far as inspired Scriptures were concerned. Thus this prophecy must have special significance.
The Messiah (“Christ”) is called “the Sun of righteousness” in contrast to “all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly” that “shall burn as an oven” when “the day cometh” (v. 1)—that “great and dreadful day of the LORD” (v. 5), and it “shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts” (v. 1).
The “Sun of righteousness” clearly refers to the coming Savior, for He will come “with healing in his wings.” The sun does not have wings, of course, so many commentators think this word refers to the rays of the sun, with their lifesustaining energy. However, the Hebrew word means “wings,” and nothing else. It is as though the sun is rising rapidly on great wings, dispelling the world’s darkness with its light, dispensing healing to its sin-sick soul.
The “Sun of righteousness,” of course, can be none other than God Himself, for “the LORD God is a sun and shield” who “will give grace and glory” to “them that walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11). It is the Lord Jesus Christ, the “light of the world” (John 8:12) coming “from heaven with his mighty angels [his ‘wings’?], in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8).
But “you that fear my name” in that day “shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, . . . when I make up my jewels” (Malachi 3:17). In the last prophecy of the Old Testament, Christ is the rising Sun; in the last prophecy of the New Testament (Revelation 22:16) He is “the bright and morning star.” HMM
Thou therefore endure hard—ness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. —2 Timothy 2:3-4
Save me from the error of judging a church by its size, its popularity or the amount of its yearly offering. Help me to remember that I am a prophet—not a promoter, not a religious manager, but a prophet. Let me never become a slave to crowds. Heal my soul of carnal ambitions and deliver me from the itch for publicity. Save me from bondage to things. Let me not waste my days puttering around the house. Lay Thy terror upon me, O God, and drive me to the place of prayer where I may wrestle with principalities and powers and the rulers of the darkness of this world. Deliver me from overeating and late sleeping. Teach me self-discipline that I may be a good soldier of Jesus Christ….
And now, O Lord of heaven and earth, I consecrate my remaining days to Thee; let them be many or few, as Thou wilt. Let me stand before the great or minister to the poor and lowly; that choice is not mine, and I would not influence it if I could. I am Thy servant to do Thy will, and that will is sweeter to me than position or riches or fame and I choose it above all things on earth or in heaven.
Enable me by your Holy Spirit to make this prayer genuinely mine. Amen.
And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! John 1:36
The Hebrew epistle instructs us to run life’s race “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith,” for faith is not a once-done act, but a continuous gaze of the heart at the Triune God!
Believing, actually, is directing the heart’s attention to Jesus. It is lifting the mind to “behold the Lamb of God,” and never ceasing that beholding for the rest of our lives. Distractions may hinder, but once the heart is committed to Him, after each brief excursion away from Him the attention will return again and rest upon Him like a wandering bird coming back to its window.
I would emphasize this one committal, this one great volitional act which establishes the heart’s intention to gaze forever upon Jesus. God takes this intention for our choice and makes what allowances He must for the thousand distractions which beset us in this evil world.
Faith is a redirecting of our sight, a getting out of the focus of our own vision and getting God into focus.
When we lift our inward eyes to gaze upon God we are sure to meet friendly eyes gazing back at us, for it is written that the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout all the earth. The sweet language of experience is, “Thou God seest me.” When the eyes of the soul looking out meet the eyes of God looking in, heaven has begun right here on earth!
Having made peace through the blood of his cross. COLOSSIANS 1:20
One of the strange things under the sun is a “crossless” Christianity. The cross of Christendom is a “no cross,” an ecclesiastical symbol. The cross of our Lord Jesus Christ is a place of death!
Let each one be careful which cross he carries!
Thousands turn away from Jesus Christ because they will not meet His conditions. He watches them as they go, for He loves them, but He will make no concessions.
Admit one soul into the kingdom by compromise and that kingdom is no longer secure. Christ will be Lord, or He will be Judge. Every man must decide whether he will take Him as Lord now, or face Him as Judge then!
“If any man will… let him… follow me” (Matthew 16:24). Some will rise and go after Him, but others give no heed to His voice. So the gulf opens between man and man, between those who will and those who will not.
The Man, the kindly Stranger who walked this earth, is His own proof. He will not put Himself again on trial; He will not argue. But the morning of the judgment will confirm what men in the twilight have decided!
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your patience as You wait for people to repent and turn to You. I pray that this will be a day when many will respond to Your voice calling them to follow You.