The Wrath Against Jesus

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Wrath is defined as “strong, stern, or fierce anger; deeply resentful indignation; ire.” I am sure that some have faced wrath. It comes in waves at times by people who may hate you or despise you. It comes when something that you’ve done causes such grief for the other person that sometimes they will be wrathful toward you–holding deep resentful indignation at your very presence. However, the wrath that we face is nothing compared to the wrath that Jesus Christ faced. He faced the wrath of people from all walks of life and even to this day faces the wrath of people who claim to not believe He is the only way to get to heaven. Not only does He face the wrath of people, but Jesus also faced the wrath of His Heavenly Father.

The Wrath of Men

See first how the guards mocked Jesus Christ after they nailed Him to the Cross. Luke writes in his gospel, The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!” (Luke 23:36, 37) They were jeering at Him, making fun of him, being sarcastic toward Him. After He had been so weakened by the beating He endured, they nailed His hands and His feet to the Cross–a cruel form of death devised by the evil men of Rome. After crucifying Him, placing His Cross at the placed called Golgotha (which means Place of the Skull), these same guards offered Him wine mixed with gall to drink (Matthew 27:34). The gall would have sedative properties and sometimes would be given as a poison for the one being crucified. But Jesus refused to drink of this bitter cup. They then proceeded to divide His clothes by throwing dice. That is, they were placing bets as to who would win Jesus’ blood soaked clothes. He knew that His death was necessary even in the face of mockery from the guards.

See next how two thieves were crucified next to Jesus and how they showed their wrath toward Him. One was on the right and the other on the left of Him. Luke 23:40 records the words of one of the criminals: Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” He was saying these words in mocking way. The text in the Greek language indicates that this thief was being sarcasting, unbelieving as to whom he was speaking. He in essence was denying the very Person of the Lord Jesus Christ with his jeering. These outlaws were against Jesus, and yet Jesus knew that His death was necessary even in the face of the wrath he faced from the one theif. At least one of them asked Jesus to remember him that day. In other words, he was believing Jesus Christ to be his Savior. And what Jesus’ response? Luke 23:43 says, I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.

See how the crowds of people raged against Jesus Christ while He was crucified. They defamed Him and shook their heads at Him (Matthew 27:38). They misinterpreted His saying that the temple could be destroyed and in three days He would rebuild it. They sneered at Him saying, You who can destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you’re God’s Son, come down from the cross!” Notice the enticement to prove Himself as the Son of God when they said if you’re God’s Son. It sounds very much like the devil in Matthew 4:3, 6 when he tempted Jesus to turn the stones into bread because He had been fasting for forty days and nights. Then the devil tried to have Him prove to him and others that Jesus was truly God’s Son by throwing Himself off a cliff and having angels act as His parachute to bring Him to a soft landing. This would certainly prove to people all over that He truly is God’s Son. But Jesus would have none of the enticements from the devil or even the people who were wrathful toward Him. Rather, He knew that were He to take Himself off the Cross, although He could save Himself, He would then not be able to save anyone else–even those who were mocking Him, jeering at Him, sneering at Him, hurling insults and beating Him. Jesus knew that His death was necessary even in the face of these who did not believe Him.

See how the chief priests and scribes were revealing their wrath toward Jesus Christ. First, they were wrathful because He claimed to be the king of the Jews (Matthew 27:11). Second, they were wrathful toward Jesus Christ because He claimed to be God’s Son (Matthew 27:43). The idea in the Greek text is that they were bullying Him, making fun of Him while He was dying on the Cross. They were looking at Him, pointing at Him, and denying His Lordship, His Kingship, His dominion over everything. After all, how could this One who claimed to be a king die on the Cross? How could this blasphemer not be put to death by claiming His Sonship of God? In their estimation, Jesus Christ deserved death. And it Jesus knew that His death was necessary even for the religious leaders of His day.

The wrath of man toward Jesus Christ even wags its ugly head today–jeering, sneering, mocking, and denying.

The Wrath of God

Then we see how God the Father poured out His wrath on His only begotten Son. Jesus cries out with a loud voice, Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” Translated from the Aramaic, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46) Jesus Christ, after taking our sin upon Himself, became sin on our behalf (2 Corinthians 5:21). It was by Jesus Christ’s shedding of His own blood that sins are forgiven (Ephesians 1:7). It is His willing obedience to go to the Cross (Philippians 2:5-8). All the while He was doing what His Heavenly Father had planned for Him to do accoridng to His good pleasure and for His glory (Ephesians 1:6, 9, 12, 14). At the moment that Jesus Christ took the sins of the world upon Himself, this is when He faced something that He had never faced before: the forsaking of His Father. The One with whom Jesus had perfect fellowship for eternity was now being abandoned to die on the Cross. But think not that this was something He disdained; rather, Hebrews 12:2 says that this is the joy set out for Him  that he endured the Cross, disregarding the shame, and now has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:3 then says, Think of Him who endured such opposition against Himself by sinners, so that you may not grow weary in your souls and give up. He willingly gave Himself to die on the Cross in obedience to His Father so that He could save us from our sin.

The wrath of God toward Jesus Christ He endured was no smal feat. For the death that He died was the wages of sin (Romans 6:23). There was no other way for these wages to be paid. John 3:16 says, For this is the way God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God the Father gave His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, so those who believe will ahve eternal life. We would not have eternal life had Jesus Christ saved His own life. We would not have eternal life had Jesus Christ not willingly had given His life as a payment for our sins.

Jesus Christ endured the wrath of man (and still does, although He died for all), and certainly endured the wrath of His Heavenly Father on our behalf. Of course the story does not end here. We still have the truth of His resurrection from the dead.

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A Mighty Fortress

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A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing; Our Helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing; For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe; His craft and pow’r are great, and, armed with cruel hate, On earth is not his equal.

Martin Luther’s battle-hymn Ein’ feste Burg took its sstarting point from Psalm 46, catching its indomitable spirit but striking out in new directions. The defiant tone suggests that it was compsoed at a time of crisis, which makes the confession of faith doubly impressive. Although the crisis is left unidentified by Luther, Psalm 46 speaks to the various crises we face and how God is our refuge, strength, and a present help in a time of trouble.

The title of this psalm is found in the words For the choir director. A Psalm of the sons of Korah, set to Alamoth. A Song. Although this does not appear as the first verse in the English translations, it is in the Hebrew text. The sons of Korah are listed as music leaders in 2 Chronicles 20:19. They are also seen in Number 26:58. They wrote Psalm 42, 44-49, 84-85, and 87-88. This song has been incorporated in the Songs of Zion because of the centrality of Jerusalem in its message. Moreover, Alamoth would indicate that this is written for higher voices, sopranos perhaps or young female verses.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing, Were not the right Man on our sid, the Man of God’s own choosing: Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He; Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same, And He must win the battle.

God is in the tumult! Psalm 46:1-3

In the midst of chaos, God is there! Notice how Psalm 46:1 begins: God. All things begin with God and all things end with God. His name in the Hebrew is Elohim which means Almighty. He is the supernatural being who originated and rules over the universe. This name is used in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God [Elohim] created the heavens and the earth.” The sons of Korah know that it is God who is in the midst of the chaos and it is He who is in control. Consider this: It would be much worse if God was not in the midst of the tumult!

What we do learn about God in this verse is that He is our refuge. He is our security. He is the One to whom we run when trouble comes into our lives. God is also our strength. He is the One who can handle the pains of life through us. The word strength in the Hebrew can also be translated as fortress. A fortress is walled, and it brings security to those within the walls. It keeps the enemies from coming into the city. It keeps the enemies penetration from happening and causing troubles. We also see that God is a very present help in trouble. He is an abundant help in trouble. He is a present help in trouble. He is in the midst of our trouble providing for us in a few ways: 1) He provides a way of escape; 2) He provides a way of strength; and, 3) He provides a conclusion to the trouble that befalls us.

This is why Psalm 46:2, 3 tells us that we do not have to be afraid or feel anxious or apprehensive about the situations in which we find ourselves. We do not have to be afraid if the earth should change, if the mountains slip into the heart of the sea, if the waters roar and foam, if the mountains quake at its swelling pride. God is in control of all of Creation. There is nothing that has ever been out of God’s sovereign control. He controls all of His Creation with His spoken word (cf. Hebrews 1:1-4). And the psalmist then says SelahSelah means to take a pause, to reflect, to be refeshed with what was just spoken or sung. It’s refreshing to know that God is our refuge, our strength, our present help in times of trouble. And notice that He is present with us at this very moment.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us; the Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him; His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure, One little word shall fell him.

God is in His city! 46:4-7

The city of God is where the Most High dwells. There is peace that inhabits the city of God, namely because the presence of the Most High. God will not allow her walls to fall down. When He speaks, the people of the earth lose courage to stand against Him. Even though other nations would fall, Jerusalem will be safe. Even though other nations will roar against Him, Jerusalem will be safe. For what reason? God is our fortress! He controls the unseen armies of heaven. He is a Person to whom His people can flee for refuge when enemies attack. The Bible teaches us in Habakkuk 2:20 that God is still on His throne which indicates that He is ever ruling, ever in charge, ever in control.  And for this reason, the enemies of God’s people quake.

That word above all earthly pow’rs, no thanks to them, abideth; The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth; let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also; The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still, His kingdom is forever.

God is in the earth! Psalm 46:8-11

The psalmist then turns his attention to the works of God. He takes us to review the in our minds’ eyes the Lord’s deliverances of His people (Psalm 46:8). He has caused Israel’s enemies to become a wasteland. The armies of the enemies have been destroyed. It is God who causes wars to cease and He is the One who breaks their bows and their weapons. In other words, He fights for His people while at the same time providing protection for them.

The psalm ends with the Lord’s presence being with His people. He is with us. He is present. He is our refuge right now. He is our strength right now. He is a present help in times of trouble right now. It is now that the Lord dwells in us through His Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Praise be to God who is our refuge, our strength, and our present help in times of trouble.

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Hush, Be Still

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Uncertain Times

We are living in uncertain times. Today more than any other time in our lives we have seen store shelves emptied for fear that people will run out of food. When we first heard that toilet paper was going quickly, there was a mad rush to get all that we could get and it didn’t matter if we would end up taking more than we need.

Are there any other storms in your life that you’ve faced? Were they as uncertain as our times today? How was your faith during those trying days?

From 1347-1350 A.D., the Black Plague–otherwise known as the Bubonic Plague–swept out of China or India to the Crimea and thence into Europe as far as Iceland. This particular plague killed one-fourth of the population of Europe.

Martin Luther, the famed reformer in the 16th Century, wrote to Dr. John Hess in a letter entitled Whether one may flee from a Deadly Plague, these words: “I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help, purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, He will surely find me and I have done what He has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.”

Read Mark 4:35-41:

35 On that day, when evening came, He said to them, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him. 37 And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. 38 Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” 39 And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. 40 And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? How is it that you have no faith?” 41 They became very much afraid and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”

“God, don’t you care about us?” 4:35-38

Have you ever asked that question?

“God, don’t you care about me? Aren’t you at all concerned with what I am facing at this point in my life?

We can’t look at the disciples and judge them too quickly for their questioning Jesus; after all, He was asleep in the back of the boat! And if we’re honest about ourselves, there have been times that we have felt distant from Jesus even though we know in our minds that He is ever-present with us.

This is the Sea of Galilee. They are gong from one side of the sea to the other. Scripture says there were other boats traveling with them. Most boats on the Sea of Galilee are not very large even to this day, but this one must have been large enough to carry all of them. All of a sudden a storm arose.

As small as the Sea of Galilee may be, it can be a fierce place to be when on a boat. Such storms result from differences in temperatures between the seacoast and the mountains beyond. The Sea lies 680 feet below sea level. It is bounded by hills, especially on the east side where they reach 2000 feet high. These heights are a source of cool, dry air. In contrast, directly around the Sea, the climate is semi-tropical and the Sea causes large temperature and pressure changes. This results in strong winds dropping to the sea, funneling through the hills. The Sea of Galilee again is small, and these winds may descend directly to the center of the lake with violent results. When the contrasting air masses meet, a storm can arise quickly and without warning. Small boats on the sea are in immediate danger. The Sea is relatively shallow, just 200 feet at its greatest depth. A shallow lake is whipped up by wind more rapidly than deep water, where energy is more readily absorbed.

And what of Jesus? He’s sound asleep on a cushion in the stern! This should have just been about “a three-hour tour, but the tiny ship was tossed” and it was filling up with water rapidly.

Now in the midst of the storm, do you ever feel like Jesus is slumbering? Do you ever feel like He’s not around in the midst of the storm?

This is exactly how the disciples felt when they asked, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” In other words, “Are you willing to just let us perish with the storms in our lives?” The disciples woke Jesus in the stern of the boat.

“Don’t you trust Me?” 4:39, 40

Jesus Christ quickly responds by rebuking the wind and hushed the Sea. The idea of rebuking here means that Jesus gave a stern warning to the wind. Then Jesus silenced the sea, He put a muzzle on the sea and kept it there when He said, “Hush, be still.” Now I don’t know if Jesus Christ spoke loudly to the wind and the sea, but I tend to think that He said these words quietly–calmly. I think that He simply did this to show the power of God in such a way that the disciples would believe Him to be the Son of the Living God.

Verse 39 continues that the wind died down. The word in the Greek text for died down means that the wind grew weary; it was tired of blowing and ceased to cause such a stir! And then something extraordinary happened: it became perfectly calm. It means that the sea became perfectly serene–smooth as glass! All of this happened in a moment, a quick moment, a fraction of a moment in time.

Now in the midst of the storms in life, do you ever want Jesus to recognize the trouble in which you find yourself? Do you want Him to rebuke the winds and calm the seas of life–the troubles, fears, doubts and regrets that you face?

Notice how Jesus Christ cares for His disciples. He calms the wind and the waves. They see Him speak, “Hush, be still.” He doesn’t just intend these words for the wind and the Sea. He intends for His disciples to hush, and be still. He desires for them not to have a troubled heart in the midst of the storms of life. And in the same way He speaks to His disciples He is speaking to us today:

Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. John 14:1

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. John 14:27

These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

Jesus cares for His people and wants them to be still in Him just like the wind and the sea are in Him. And this is why He asks His disciples this heart-wrenching question: “Why are you afraid? How is it that you have no faith?” He cuts to the quick! For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12)

The word used for “afraid” is not the standard phobos in the Greek, from whence we get the word phobia. Rather, the word used is deilos which means to be cowardly, timid, fearful, without courage. He cuts to the chase and asks His disciples who have seen His power through miracles, signs and wonders, “How is it that you have no faith?”

How is it that you struggle with relying on Jesus? How can you go through life without dependence upon Jesus in every storm that you weather? How do you think that you can live without believing Jesus?

“Who is this Jesus?” 4:41

They asked this question because they were very much afraid at this point. They are not only cowardly, but now they are greatly afraid of the situation they’ve just experienced.

How is it that the wind and the seas obey Jesus? How is it that He can control the elements? Who is this Jesus?

Consider what the Bible says about this Jesus:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1

All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. John 1:3

I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. John 14:6

For us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him. 1 Corinthians 8:6

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21

He existed in the form of God, but did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped. Philippians 2:6

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they. Hebrews 1:1-4

And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” Revelation 19:16

This is who Jesus Christ is! He is Lord and Savior to His people! He is Lord and Savior to those who believe in their hearts that God raised Him from the dead! He is Lord and Savior to those who confess with their mouths that Jesus is Lord!

If He can handle the wind and the seas, He can certainly handle the storms in our lives today!

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