The Love of God at the Cross

Romans 58 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Romans 5:6–11 (ESV)

6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Take out a pen and piece of paper. Write down a list of people that you would be willing to sacrifice your comforts and freedoms for. Now, make a second list of the people you would even be willing to die for. Who is on that list? Family? Loved ones? How many of your enemies are on that list?

Consider this: Jesus Christ gave up his life for us while we were sinners. This means that he died for us while we were the enemies of God. Why would Christ die for his enemies? Because that is how much he loves us! He went to the cross to die because that is what was necessary for our salvation. Do not fail to see the love of God displayed at the cross. The Savior who died for us.

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Jesus Washes Feet

John 135 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 13:1–20 (ESV)

1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus washed the disciples feet. This may not stand out to us as a big deal, but it was shocking to his disciples. Washing feet was for servants. It was for the least to do to those who were more important. The disciples spent a great deal of their time arguing over who would be the greatest among them. Now Jesus, their leader, was giving them an example.

Jesus told the disciples that they should wash one another’s feet. They should serve one another. This was what it meant to be a leader. This was the kind of leader Jesus was. He served his people. In fact, he went to the cross and gave his life to serve his people. And he has called all of his followers to imitate his service. We are to put others first and look to meet their needs. We are called to wash feet.

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No Excuses

1 Peter 224 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Romans 1:18–23 (ESV)

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In Romans 1:16-17, Paul writes that there is only one way for any person to be saved. Salvation is by grace through faith. In our reading today, he tells us why salvation can only come in this way: all people are under the wrath of God because of sin. Every single person, whether religious or not, is guilty because God has revealed himself to us in the created order and what can be plainly known about him has been rejected by every one of us. No one will be able to claim “I did not know!” Mankind has exchanged the one true God for other gods.

We have a sin problem. It is our greatest problem and causes all of our troubles in this world. And there is nothing we can do in our own power to fix our problem. The good news is that God has done something for us. Jesus Christ came into the world to live the sinless life none of us could. Then he went to the cross to die in our place. He took the wrath that we deserve to pay our debt. If we will turn from our sin and turn to Jesus in faith, God promises to forgive us and give us eternal life. This is amazing grace!

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With His Wounds We Are Healed

Isaiah 535 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Isaiah 53:1–6 (ESV)

1 Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Son of God came into the world to save mankind from our sin. Who would have imagined the way such a salvation would come? The King of kings and Lord of lords came as a humble servant to serve us. He gave up his high position and glory to become nothing for us. And as he came to show such great love for us, we rejected him and nailed him to a cross to crucify him.

When we look at the cross, we must never lose our sense of awe over what our Savior did for us. Such an amazing act of love! Jesus Christ gave his body to be beaten and torn until he died an agonizing death. As he hung on that cross, he bore our sins and took the punishment each one of us deserve. Through his suffering and death, those who repent and call out to him in faith, receive the healing we desperately need: freedom from sin and the gift of eternal life. So, as we look to the cross, let us celebrate our salvation, but let us not forget the great sacrifice that our salvation required.

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Why God Became Man

Hebrews 217 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Hebrews 2:14–18 (ESV)

14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Understanding and Applying the Word

St. Anselm wrote a book many years ago titled Cur Deus Homo, which means “Why God Became Man”. Our passage today reveals to us the answer to Anselm’s question. Hebrews says that Christ came as a man to share in the same things that mankind shares in. Verse 17 tells us that Jesus “had to be made like his brothers in every respect…to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” Jesus came as a man because that was the only way that we could be saved. He had to be a man to die for the sins of mankind.

Have you ever spent time wondering over the incarnation? How and why did God come as a man into the world that he created? It is an amazing thing to think about! When we think of Christmas, let us contemplate the truth that our God has come into our world, that he came as a baby, that he lived as a man, and that he died on a cross to pay for our sins. What a great salvation! What a great God!

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It Is Finished

Cross in Red

Reading the Word

John 19:28–30 (ESV)

28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus hung on the cross for about six hours. It is no surprise that he became thirsty, but we are told that his statement “I thirst” was in fulfillment of Scripture. This fulfillment likely points us back to Psalm 69:21, which reads, “and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.” After receiving the sour wine (different from the wine mixed with myrrh in Mark 15:23), Jesus said, “It is finished” and died.

The mission that Jesus had come to fulfill was now complete. He had come as the promised Messiah, lived a sinless life, proclaimed repentance and the forgiveness of sins, performed miracles, confronted the hypocritical religious leaders, and now given his life as a substitute for those who would trust in him. Jesus had come to redeem mankind and show the way to the Father and his mission was finished. He had accomplished all that he had come to do.

Jesus’ death was a part of the plans and purposes of God. He died to bring salvation to many. And when he dealt with our sin, it was once and for all. It was finished.

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Always Putting Others First

John 1926–27 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 19:23–27 (ESV)

23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, 24 so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says,

“They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.”

So the soldiers did these things, 25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

Understanding and Applying the Word

As Jesus was dying on the cross, the Roman soldiers were dividing his clothing. The soldiers cast lots to determine who would receive Jesus’ tunic. In doing so, the soldiers fulfilled a prophecy recorded in Psalm 22:18:

“…they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.

We are also told that a few of Jesus’ followers were present at the cross. Among those present were Jesus’ mother and “the disciple whom Jesus loved”, which was a way of referring to John. As Jesus hung there in great pain, he was still focused on providing for others. He made sure to arrange for the care of his mother after his death by giving the responsibility to John, who willingly accepted.

Reading of Jesus’ concern for his mother reminds us of the reality of this event. A mother was watching as her innocent son was executed as a criminal. A son was leaving behind his mother and he wanted to make sure she was taken care of. We also get another glimpse of Jesus’ resolve to fulfill his mission as the Savior of mankind. As he hung on the cross, his first concern was not for himself, but for the welfare of others. He went to the cross specifically for that purpose. He went to save us and give us life. He gave himself for us. Even in his death he put others first.

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The Innocent for the Guilty

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Reading the Word

Luke 23:13–16 (ESV)

13 Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. 15 Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. 16 I will therefore punish and release him.”

Parallel Text: John 18:38

Understanding and Applying the Word

Pilate informed the religious leaders that both he and Herod had found no guilt in Jesus. He had done nothing wrong to deserve the death penalty that the chief priests were calling for. There are two things that are interesting to note about this. The first is that the religious leaders were not happy about this ruling. The second is that even though Pilate admitted that Jesus was not guilty of any wrongdoing, he was still willing to punish him before releasing him. What was the purpose of punishing him if he was innocent? Surely, it was to appease Jesus’ accusers.

We see clearly that Jesus was an innocent man who was going to be sentenced to die as a criminal. This is the message of the gospel. Jesus, the sinless and innocent one, died as a substitute for sinners. We are all guilty before the holy Creator and without the means to do anything to clear our name. Thankfully, Jesus paid the price that none of us could by giving his sinless life as a substitute. He bore our penalty. For those who repent of their sin and call out to Jesus in faith, there is pardon and reconciliation with God.

Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the Just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me

(Before the Throne of God Above – Sovereign Grace Music)

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How to Spot a Jesus Follower

John 1335 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 13:31–35 (ESV)

31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

After Judas had gone out from the group, Jesus spoke of his coming glorification. He was looking ahead to the cross and also the resurrection and ascension, which would confirm that Jesus was who he claimed to be and that his words were true.

As Jesus prepared to depart from this world, he left his disciples with the command to love one another. They were to love one another as Jesus had loved them, which was marked by humility and sacrifice. Through this display of love, the world would know that the disciples belonged to Jesus.

Those who belong to Jesus are called to be like him. Others should not only hear us say that we are Christians, but they should be able to observe our actions and know that we are different than the world. Jesus is no longer on earth, but his followers are many and serve as his representatives. We do this by proclaiming his word and by living as he lived. We are to love others just as he has loved us.

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The Desire to Be Great

man wearing blue suit jacket beside woman with gray suit jacket

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Reading the Word

Luke 22:24–30 (ESV)

24 A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. 25 And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. 26 But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. 27 For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.

28 “You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, 29 and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, 30 that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah. He was the promised one from the line of David who would reign over Israel and restore it to its place of prominence as it enjoyed during David’s life. To his disciples, this meant that they were going to receive great benefits from their close relationship with Jesus. So, naturally, the disciples argued over who was going to get the most. Who was going to be the greatest?

Jesus told the disciples that things would be different in his kingdom, in contrast to the kingdoms of the world. The world desires power and authority, but the kingdom of Christ cherishes humility and servanthood. Just as Jesus would serve his people by going to the cross and offering his life for others, Jesus’ followers should follow his example and be willing to make sacrifices in service to others. Our goal is not to be greater than others, but to point them to our great Savior.

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