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Monday, April 10, 2006

"Enduring The Cross"

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart" (Hebrews 12:2, 3).

We are commemorating a special, wonderful week in the church year.  Many church traditions call it "Holy Week" or "Passion Week."  The gospels cover the life of Christ, a period of about 33 years.  But most of this material deals with just the 3½ year period of His earthly ministry. 

However, an astounding 30 of the 89 accumulative chapters in the Gospels cover the period beginning with Christ's triumphal entry through His resurrection and post-resurrection appearances.  Mathematically this means that approximately 33% of the written material in the Gospels deals with a mere .05% period of His life!  In the providence of God we have a much greater proportion of Scriptural revelation dealing with God's greatest act of mercy in providing our redemption.

This week is a wonderful time to especially "consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men." The word "consider" translates the Greek "analogizomai" which is used only here in the entire New Testament.   (The English word "analyze" is related to this word.)  It means to carefully estimate and contemplate. 

All through this week I will be focusing on how our Lord "endured the cross" for our redemption, noting several of the specific forms of pain and shame our Lord endured from Gethsemane to His final cry on the Cross.  Each was either excruciatingly painful or humiliatingly shameful, often both.  I want to consider them, even the "minor" ones, which in themselves were horrible, such as being spit upon, which we will consider tomorrow.

The writer of Hebrews gives us a powerful reason for this exercise, "so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."  Encouragement is prominent in Hebrews. The theme verse for this ministry comes from Hebrews 3:13, "encourage one another daily."

Today we have this same need don't we? By deeply contemplating these various aspects of Christ's redemptive work on our behalf we receive encouragement and renewed determination to press on in our faith.

O the wonderful Cross,
O the wonderful Cross,
Bids me come and die
And find that I may truly live

O the wonderful Cross,
O the wonderful Cross,
All who gather here
By grace draw near
And bless you Name

Be encouraged today,

Stephen C. Weber

Brooksyne's prayer: Dear Jesus, I want to fix my eyes, my thoughts, and my affections on You, my blessed Redeemer.  Though You faced enormous opposition that would provide understandable excuse for altering Your redemption plan, nevertheless You endured the cross.  When I consider the depth of Your commitment I am determined to be faithful even in the night seasons of my Christian walk.  Jesus, help me to endure by keeping my eyes, not on that which is seen, but on the future rewards that You promise to those who are faithful.

"The Wonderful Cross" (audio) (video) These links are to the Willingdon Church in Burnaby BC Canada. This is a medley with the classic hymn "When I survey the wondrous cross". We sang this very medley in our church yesterday and I imagine many of you did as well!

We had a bit of a traffic jam on our country lane yesterday as we headed out for church. Our Amish neighbors had church in their home. (The Amish custom is to have church services in the homes of members, rotating among members.)  This is a traffic jam we enjoyed being in and we took the photo through our windshield. They were coming from several directions but we couldn't show that in a photo.  I really doubt if very many of our daily encouragement readers had to contend with this sort of delay as they went to church yesterday!

Amish traffic jam
(Click on photo to enlarge)

Here's a photo of the "parking lot."

Amish parking lot
(Click on photo to enlarge)

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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