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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

6-9-2018    The path to victory

This may seem a little out of season, but the Lord put it on my heart to do now, so here it is.
I’m not going to cite a lot of scripture this trip because I want you to go back, for yourselves, and read the accounts in Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.

Let’s take a look at the path Jesus walked beginning that evening in the garden at Gethsemane through His resurrection and then ascension.

                                                                 From the mount      

After celebrating the Passover supper, Jesus took the disciples up onto the lower slopes of the Mount of Olives to pray.  Judas had left the group earlier to go and gather his band of men so he could earn his thirty pieces of silver. 

Settled in the garden, Jesus separated Peter, James and John from the group and moved a little farther into the garden.  Finally, he separated himself a little farther from Peter, James and John and knelt down, alone.  This is where Jesus asked the Father that the cup might pass from Him. This where Jesus said to the Father “Not My will, but Your will be done.”  An angel of the Lord came to strengthen Jesus as His sweat flowed like droplets of blood hitting the ground.  Jesus knew what lay ahead.  He was preparing Himself to take those steps necessary for his last days before His crucifixion.  Jesus knew what He had to do, though His flesh thought it was a very crazy idea (I’m sure, mine would).  I’m not sure how much of a battle there was here, but when you pray hard enough to sweat as Jesus did, you ain’t just a pickin’ n’ grinnin’ for fun.  It WAS intense.  But in the Spirit, Jesus was determined to do what He was anointed to do.  He would not resist those who were coming for Him.

Twice Jesus came from His prayer finding the disciples asleep.  The third time Jesus returned He awoke them for Judas had arrived with his band of men.

Jesus asked the group whom they sought and they said Jesus of Nazareth.  Jesus said that was he and the group stepped back.  Then Jesus again said the He was the one whom they were looking and asked that if they would let the others (the disciples) go and He would come with them.  They did and He did.

                                       To the hearing (Annas & Caiaphas, the high priest)

Jesus was taken to Annas (a former high priest), the father-in-law of Caiaphas (the current high priest).  This is where Peter denied Jesus three times.  He went out and wept because of the major change which had just taken place in his heart.  Now Annas questioned Jesus before sending Him on to Caiaphas for questioning.   Before the high priest and the scribes, Jesus was again taunted and slapped before being sent off to Pilate.

Now, you may say Matthew, Mark and Luke don’t say they took Jesus to, Annas.  One says they took Jesus to where the chief priests (note the plural), elders and scribes were.  Another account says they took Jesus the high priest’s house.  Note, John only says that Annas sent Jesus bound to Caiaphas, not confirming or rejecting the idea of a different ‘house’, just another location, possibly within that same structure.

                                            From the hearing to the trial (Before Pilate)

 I’m not going to relate all that happened before Pilate but the summary is Pilate questioned Jesus and found that He was only in violation of Jewish custom and had done nothing worthy of death according to Roman law.  He suggested reprimanding Jesus then letting Him go but the scribes and the Pharisees basically had a tizzy for they wanted Jesus dead.  Pilate agreed to scourge Jesus but after the trade-off with Barabbas, he bent to the wishes of the Jews and sent Jesus to the cross.
Remember, now Jesus had already been “slapped around” and taunted while with the priests and scribes and even though Pilate found Him innocent an any wrong doing, along with the scourging, Jesus was still humiliated and struck by the Romans before being sent to the cross. 

I had always heard about the “cat-o-nine” tails which was a pretty formidable whip.  It had nine leads, but the whip the Romans usually used in scourging was a short whip having only three leads BUT each lead had three or more bone or metal chips tied into it.  Three leads, but a minimum of nine elements of damage.  I remind you, the death penalty was forty lashes.  Add ‘em up.  That’s a minimum of 360 times a bone or metal chip would connect with the body.  And also consider that when those sharp objects hit their target, they would cut into it and then rip the flesh as the whip was pulled back.  I’ve read where people have been stabbed six, eight, a dozen times with a knife and I think that’s almost inconceivable.  But 360 connects!   

Now, Jesus was not given the death penalty by scourging.  He still had to go to the cross.  But imagine, they could have whipped Him as many as thirty-nine times.  Not enough to ‘kill’ Him, but to weaken Him.  I don’t know how many times they struck Jesus with the whip.  I know it wasn’t forty, but neither do I know how close they came to the thirty-nine!  Jesus had to have been one bloody mess after the scourging.  And they weren’t done!   After the scourging, they still buffeted and tried to humiliate Jesus even more. 

                                                               From the trial to cross

Now we usually see Jesus carrying the complete cross in depictions of his trip to Calvary, but, Romans, traditionally had the condemned man carry only the cross member, which weighed seventy-five pounds or more, all by itself.  Jesus was so weakened by the scourging, He was unable to accomplish that task.  The Romans commandeered Simon, a Cyrenian to carry it for Him.  In His weakened condition, it must have taken Jesus a very long time to take that trek to the hill called Golgotha.

 The condemned was usually crucified naked.  Remember, the soldiers each took a part of His clothing but cast lots for the coat of Jesus, for it was one piece.  And with the sign they posted over Him, the attempt at humiliation and mockery continued even on the cross. 

They offered Him a mixture vinegar and gall.  Gall could have been a poppy derivative which may have actually been an attempt to reduce pain.  Maybe that’s why Jesus refused it.  He was going all out in His sacrifice for us.

Jesus was crucified shortly before the sixth hour (noon) and at the ninth hour (3:00 PM) He commended His Spirit to the Father.

                                                          From the cross to the grave

Jesus was crucified on a Friday afternoon.  The Sabbath was the next day, Saturday.  But, the Jewish Sabbath started at 6:00 PM Friday evening.  According to the law, a man who is hung on a tree is accursed and to keep the land from being defiled, the body must be buried that day (Deut. 21:23).  So, to keep the Sabbath undefiled, Jesus was buried before the start of the Sabbath. 

Because they were rushed to get Jesus into the tomb before the Sabbath, and even though He was wrapped in a burial cloth and napkin, Jesus did not receive a proper burial which would have included ointments, etc. 

But, remember, even before Gethsemane, Jesus had gone to one Simon, the leper’s house and while there a woman came in and poured precious ointment of spikenard over His head.  Jesus’ response to everyone’s indignation at this ‘waste’ was not to trouble her for she was doing this beforehand for His burial.

                                                          From the grave to paradise  

So did Jesus remain in the grave from 6:00 PM Friday evening until His resurrection on Sunday morning?  The Apostle Peter tells that even though Jesus was put to death in the flesh, He was quickened by the Spirit (1 Peter 3:19) enabling Him to go preach to the spirits in prison.  The word used for spirit in this passage is pneuma, the Greek word translated not only as spirit but as breath or rational soul.  Prison, from this passage is the Greek word phulake, which implies a place, condition or time, of holding, as in a cage, also watch.  Jesus went to those souls who were watching for Him, or waiting for Him (the Messiah).  They weren’t in heaven yet, but rather in paradise.  We may compare ‘paradise’ to “Abraham’s bosom” as noted in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man.  The rich man looked up from his torment and saw Lazarus, whom he ignored in life, leaning on Abraham’s bosom, safe and secure.  Among other things, Abraham told the rich man that there was a gulf between them so that there was no passage back and forth between the two places.  The rich man was not in the ‘lake if fire’, but hell nonetheless.  Somewhere between the burial and the resurrection, Jesus went to these souls in ‘paradise’.  “Here I am.  Do you believe?”  so He wasn’t just ‘hangin’ around’ in the tomb waiting for Sunday to come.  As always, He was still about doing His Father’s business.

                                          From paradise to complete victory (full resurrection)

Did Jesus make a pit stop back at the tomb as He entered into His resurrection?  When the two Marys went to the tomb on Sunday morning to anoint the body of Jesus, the stone was already rolled away from the entrance.  This had happened before their arrival, But was the stone moved earlier overnight or perhaps even on the Sabbath?  I suspect that it would have created quite a ruckus if it had.  That would have been a hot news flash, which it quickly became anyway.  The disciples thought the Romans moved the body.  The Jews were sure the disciples had moved the body.  The only thing the Romans thought about were the guards at the tomb.  They were “dead meat” because the body which was left under their charge, was no longer there, on Sunday morning.  The missing body indicated they had not done their job and a guard derelict of duty was executed. 

For forty days after the resurrection, Jesus showed Himself to His disciples.  He talked with them, He walked with them, in the flesh.  At first, the disciples thought they were seeing Jesus’ ghost but He challenged them to take a closer look.  A spirit does not have flesh and bone.  Jesus did (and does).  At a different time, He even challenged Thomas to touch the nail prints in His hands and the piercing in His side.  Jesus was resurrected a physical being!

After Jesus had commanded the disciples to wait in Jerusalem, for the Holy Ghost, a cloud received Him up from their presence.  The Greek word nephele is used for “cloud” in this passage.  The word is translated as cloud, but the implication is a cloudiness, perhaps even a haze or something akin to a fog.   I won’t try to read anymore into this.

So is the victory Jesus’ ascension?  We know that Jesus is now seated at the right hand of the Father.  The right hand signifies power and authority.  Jesus tells us that Father has given Him all power and authority (Matt. 28:18).  That power and authority are solidified as Jesus sits with the Father.  Victory in Jesus is complete! 

There is one thing left, though – for us to join Him.  Jesus says His Father’s house has many places to live and he’s preparing a place for us.  The Greek word mone is used in this passage and it means abode or mansion, a place to live.  No matter what you choose to call it, we WILL have a place with Jesus and we shall reign with Him (2 Tim. 2:12).

The complete victory, for Jesus, was to leave His rightful position beside the Father to come into this world, then to be re-seated at the right hand of the Father through His resurrection and ascension. 
Complete victory for us is when we are called to join Jesus in that victory and we are with Him throughout eternity.

From the mount to the hearing, from the hearing to the trial, from the trial to the cross, from the cross to the grave, from the grave to paradise and from paradise to the ascension and into complete victory which is eternal life in the fellowship with the Eternal God who always was, still is and always shall be.


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