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Friday, April 7, 2023
Message summary: This week we "consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men." This Good Friday let us, through faith with thankful hearts, accept God's only solution for our sin problem, His all sufficient merit. Let us faithfully live for the One who died for us.
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"When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified Him, along with the criminals--one on His right, the other on His left" (Luke 23:33).
Walking into our church sanctuary this last Sunday we were blessed at the sight of three large crosses at the back of the platform. Normally Christians use a single cross as a symbol of their faith but the three crosses also have rich symbolism as a reminder of the three crosses on Mount Calvary.
Jesus, crucified on the middle cross, vicariously dying for the sins of all mankind. Two criminals, representative of the human race, hung on crosses at each side of Him. These three crosses each represent:
1) The cross of rejection. One criminal represents the masses that to the very end rebel against God and reject His plan of redemption. But rarely is such sneering so openly expressed, and this by a dying man as he hurled insults at Christ. This unnamed criminal is merely expressing the viewpoint of so many who reject God's only remedy for our sin problem. This criminal died in his sin.
2) The cross of repentance. The other criminal represents those who repent of their sins and place their faith in God's redemptive plan. This criminal came to realize that he and the other lawbreaker deserved the penalty and was quite frank when he spoke: "We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong" (Luke 23:41). His faith is humbly expressed in these words: "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom". Our Lord's word to this criminal, one of His seven recorded last sayings, brought eternal hope to the repentant criminal as well as spiritual hope to millions throughout the centuries, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise". This criminal died to his sin.
3) The cross of redemption. On the middle cross Christ died once for all time for all people. "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace" (Ephesians 1:7). "For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross" (Colossians 1:19,20). Peter, a witness to these things, stated, "For Christ died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust" (1 Peter 3:18a). Our Savior died for our sin. "The man in the middle just keeps on giving His love away" (Wayne Watson).
Today is a day of decision. Truth be told, everyday is a day of decision.
For many of us it will be a decision of reaffirmation to follow Christ that we previously made whether it was in recent years or at a very early age. In our case it was over 50 years ago. Till our dying breath we aspire to proclaim, "I Still Believe!" This evening at our Good Friday service we will remember and worship our Redeemer. We will remember Christ's supreme sacrifice on the Cross of Calvary, and even more poignantly as we partake of the communion elements.
But for others this can be the day you move from indifference or rejection to repentance through faith in the Great Redeemer, Jesus Christ. The cross of redemption was singularly accomplished by Jesus Christ. Our only hope is His all sufficient merit.
Here's life' most important question: Are you living your life in rejection of Christ or in repentance? Let us, like the repentant criminal, acknowledge that "we are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong" (Luke 23:41).
This Good Friday let us, through faith with thankful hearts, accept God's only solution for our sin problem. Let us faithfully live for the One who died for us.
All sufficient merit shining like the sun
A fortune I inherit by no work I have done
My righteousness I forfeit at my Savior's cross
Where all sufficient merit did what I could not
Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)
Stephen and Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, thank You for the record in Scripture that makes us more than just curious bystanders during the crucifixion of Your precious Son. Jesus' recorded conversation with the repentant criminal helps us to see how immediate redemption for all humanity was being provided through His death on the cross. Thoughtful reflecting on this day brings about grief and sadness as we recall the rejection, pain, ridicule and suffering Christ underwent. In Luke 22:53 Jesus spoke to those who seized Him in the garden as a time when darkness reigns. Though He may have been speaking figuratively in the garden the next afternoon literal darkness fell upon the earth as He breathed His final breath. Surely all hope dissipated for those who stood by our Lord as He hung on the cross. But I'm so glad we don't have to wait for the rest of the story to unfold since we know, through Scripture, the final outcome and the way of salvation Christ made possible for us. Thank you, Father, that You loved the world so much that You gave Your one and only Son to die for our sins, that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. We call upon the Lord Jesus to save us, cleanse us from our sins, and to indwell our hearts. Amen.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"All Sufficient Merit" Click to listen on YouTube Shane and Shane
It is done, it is finished
No more debt I owe
Paid in full, all sufficient
Merit now my own
The phrase "All Sufficient Merit" to the best of my study ability first appears in a song by Charles Wesley often sung during advent. Can you identify it? (See below after last photo for answer.)
"Thank You Jesus for the Blood" Click to listen on YouTube Click to listen on YouTube Charity Gayle (I look forward to hearing our choir lead in this song during our Good Friday service this evening.)
"Man In The Middle" Click to listen on YouTube Wayne Watson A "contemporary" song we recall from the 80's and also a contemporary in ministry as he was born in 1954, same as Stephen.
(We are posting this information all through Holy Week)
The four gospels cover the life of Christ, a period of about 33 years. Most of this material deals with the 3˝ year period of His ministry. However an astounding 30 of the 89 accumulative chapters in the gospels deal with the period from 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 material dealing with God's greatest act of mercy in providing our redemption.
Here's an interesting chart from the Life Application Study Bible that may be helpful as you study the Bible during this time. It sure helps me to have a sense of when the events took place and is inspiring to read these Scriptures in the daily sequence leading up to Easter.
Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem: Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-40; John 12:12-19
Jesus Clears the Temple: Mt. 21:12,13; Mk. 11:15-17; Lk. 19:45,46
Jesus' authority challenged in the temple: Mt. 21:23-27; Mk. 11:27-33; Lk. 20:1-8
Jesus teaches stories and confronts the Jewish leaders: Mt. 21:28-23:36; Mk. 12:1-40; Lk. 20:9-47
Greeks ask to see Jesus: Jn. 12:20-26
The Olivet Discourse: Mt. 24; Mk. 13; Lk. 21:5-38
Judas agrees to betray Jesus: Mt. 26:14-16; Mk. 14:10,11; Lk. 22:3-6
The Last Supper: Mt. 26:26-29; Mk. 14:22-25; Lk. 22:14-20
Jesus speaks to the disciples in the upper room: Jn. 13-17
Jesus struggles in Garden of Gethsemane: Mt. 26:36-46; Mk. 14:32-42; Lk. 22:39-46; Jn. 18:1
Jesus is betrayed and arrested: Mt. 26:47-56; Mk. 14:43-52; Lk. 22:47-53; Jn. 18:2-12
Jesus is tried by Jewish and Roman authorities and disowned by Peter: Mt. 26:57-27:2, 11-31; Mk. 14:53-15:20; Lk. 22:54-23:25; Jn. 18:13-19:16
Jesus is crucified and buried: Mt. 27:31-56; Mk. 15:20-41; Lk. 23:26-49; Jn. 19:17-30
The glorious resurrection: Mt. 28:1-10; Mk. 16:1-11; Lk. 24:1-12; Jn. 20:1-18
Today we share several photos taken this week in our rural area.
Sheep scattered here and there as they graze on a broad hill on Grandview Road north of Mount Joy. (Psalm 23:2)
Click on photo to enlarge
Amish farm near the Lancaster/Lebanon County line on Harvest Road.
We have quite a contrast in farming methods on our relatively short road.
Yesterday we saw our Amish neighbor plowing with a mule. Leon works for a farm equipment dealership who has the latest power and time saving equipment.
Click on photo to enlarge
The phrase "All Sufficient Merit" to the best of my study first appeared in Charles Wesley's song, "Come Thou Long Expected Jesus" most often sung during Advent.
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Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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