And sitting down they watched him there;
Sitting or Standing
This week I read the story of Jesus' crucifiction and resurrection again. Each gospel gives a few details that the other three don't give. I noticed that Matthew gives the only account of the four centurion soldiers sitting at the foot of the cross.
In Mark 15:24, the soldiers cast lots for his garments, but it doesn't speak of them sitting and watching. Luke's account of the crucifiction tells that the people stood beholding. John's account speaks of those who crucified him casting lots for His coat, with the next verse speaking of Mary the mother of Jesus standing at the cross.
I know the soldiers were ordered to guard Jesus carefully because that was the custom of the day. Anyone who was crucified was guarded by soldiers because there was the fear someone might remove them from the cross. Also, the guards had to make sure the crucified actually died. In the case of Jesus, even though they doubted Jesus being who He said He was, they still thought it was possible Jesus might come down off the cross by His own miraculous power.
Even though I understood the why of Jesus being guarded, I wondered what was the significance of the soldiers sitting and keeping their watch.
I thought of those who stood in the crowd watching, some probably had been saying Hosanna to Jesus one day and crucify Him the next. They were the type who followed the crowd. Whatever seemed to be the popular thing to do is what they did. I think those who stood watching probably moved along quickly and went back home after the nails had been driven. This was the major event they had come for. What more was there to see? They followed Jesus on days it was convenient and popular. They turned their backs on Him when they felt His popularity and the excitement had ceased.
Those soldiers who sat and kept guard had more time to not only observe Jesus hanging on the cross, but also to think about what they had done to put Him there As it turned out those who had driven the nails and sat and guarded Him were the ones who gave the best testimony in their world as to who Jesus Christ was.
Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.
The soldiers who sat still and watched Jesus experienced His power first hand. Whatever doubt had been with them as to who Jesus was, ceased to exist when they felt the earth move.
They realized the magnitude of what they had done, driving nails into His hands and feet. I believe they were not only frightened as the verse says, but I believe they were sorrowful for the part they played in His death as well.
All those who simply stood awhile in the crowd and moved on didn't experience a powerful movement up close and personal like the soldiers who had sat and observed Jesus at the foot of the cross.
Those who simply stood and moved on didn't realize their part in driving the nails.
They may never have realized that Jesus truly was the Son of God.
They may never have been sorrowful for the part they played in His death.
In our world today there are still those who follow Jesus when it is the convenient and popular thing to do. When things are going good crowds are shouting praise. When things aren't as exciting they turn their backs on Jesus.
If there is a big Spiritual movement "event" the crowds stand and watch. When they see what they have come to see they go back home.
However, there are Christians who sat and observe Jesus every day. They experience His awesome power first hand and know without a doubt He truly is the Son Of God. They realize the part they played in His death. They know He died for them. They are truly sorrowful and ask Him for His forgiveness.
Today are you siting at the foot of the cross, or are you simply standing in the crowd?
The very best witnesses for Jesus Christ spend time sitting
and observing Him.
The Man on the Cross
I heard of a man they killed the other day.
I heard the news and what everyone had to say.
Some say he was a trouble maker.
Some say he was an earth shaker.
It happened down the road a piece from here.
It happened, but the way of it isn't to clear.
Some say he must have committed some sort of a crime.
Some say he just had to die, it was his time.
I once met him in the road, it's been awhile.
I remember his kind eyes and his loving smile.
Some say he healed the lame and made the blind to see.
Some say he came to earth to set all men free.
I have pondered over all the tales I have heard.
I have wondered if he came to fulfill God's word.
I was told when I was young one day a savior would come.
I was told many things about him, I still remember some.
My mother took me to the synagogue holding my hand.
The priest read of prophets saying God would send a man.
He would come from generations of David's seed.
He would not be accepted as the King he was indeed.
I have been told to keep my opinion of him to myself.
I have heard this man's followers have been put to death.
Now that I am fully grown,
I have to make such decisions on my own.
I feel something drawing me from this place,
As I remember his kind eyes and loving face.
I think I will go down the road and seek what is true.
I think I will go, that's what he would want me to do.
In the streets, there is a huge crowd growing.
In the streets, I hear talk of an angel glowing.
This morning some women went to the tomb where he once lay.
This morning those women found the stone rolled away.
Some people here are joyously dancing with glee.
Some people here seem sorrowful they didn't set Him free.
A woman named Mary brought this news.
Many of these people seem confused.
As I walk further on toward the Golgotha hill,
I feel such sorrow for this man they chose to kill.
I feel sorrow for all those who turned Him away.
Yet, I feel such peace as I come to this hill today.
It is good to hear of a man conquering death,
But some things you have to see for yourself.
I saw the tomb was empty just like Mary said.
I knew that man had risen, He wasn't dead.
Much time has passed since the day I met Him long ago.
Much time has passed since I heard of the angel all aglow.
Much time has passed since I saw the stone rolled away.
Much time has passed, but I still feel His peace today.
He indeed is risen from the tomb so cold.
Indeed all of eternity in His hand He does hold.
He is the Savior the prophets spoke about.
His love for all of us is the one thing we should never doubt.
I Told You So
Last Easter I wrote a poem, "The Day The Stone Was Rolled Away." This year I began to write and kept coming back to a title, "The Way The Stone Was Rolled Away." The title never made it to poem, but I did begin to study some about the stone that sealed the tomb where Jesus was placed. The stone being removed from the entrance of the tomb is mentioned in all four gospel accounts of Jesus' Resurrection. However, the way in which the stone was removed is told of only in Matthew.
And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
No explanation is given as to the how in Mark, Luke, or John. It simply was. The stone was rolled away.
And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? 4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great
And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre
The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.
I studied to try to find why the story of the earthquake and the angel rolling the stone away is only told of in Matthew. I didn't find out why, I simply found that God's Word, His rhyme and reason is not to be questioned. If any of you have children, I am sure you can recall at one time or another answering some of their questions with "just because." Sometimes God tells us, His children, "just because" and that is all we need to know.
The stone was rolled away just because God wanted it to be rolled away when Mary came to the tomb. If the stone hadn't been rolled away that morning, how long would it have taken every one to know that Jesus had risen from the tomb just like He told them He was going to? Perhaps it would have taken a while longer because the stone was great, and the women couldn't have moved it on their own.
This week as you think of Jesus dying for us and rising again, think of all the big things in your life that would be really nice to have removed, just rolled out of the way for you; things that are so great, so heavy, that you can't possibly move them on your own. If they were moved from your life early in the morning, would you ask God how they were removed? Would you question how it happened?
Most likely not. This week remember every promise God has ever made to you. When those heavy problems roll away from your life when those promises come to pass, listen closely. and you might hear God say, "I told you so."
5The women were awestruck and bowed down in worship. The men said, "Why are you looking for the Living One in a cemetery? 6He is not here, but raised up. Remember how he told you when you were still back in Galilee 7that he had to be handed over to sinners, be killed on a cross, and in three days rise up?"
8Then they remembered Jesus' words
.Lord, today as I cut the tags from my brand new dress,
Let me remember you were stripped more or less.
As I put on my hat that I just bought too,
Let me remember the crown of thorns they put on you.
Lord, as I put an earring on each ear,
Let me remember all the mocking you had to hear.
As I put on my best shoes to walk out my door,
Let me remember who your final steps were for.
Lord, as I struggle to make it to church for just an hour,
Let me remember how you gave up all glory and power.
As I think of getting home to egg hunts and cooking,
Let me remember as you hung, up to heaven you were looking.
Lord, on this happy day we call an Easter holiday,
Let me remember to take the time to pray.
As I think of you hanging on that tree,
Let me remember to say Father forgive me.
For you asked the Father to forgive those who did this to you,
A thousand angels you could have called to your rescue.
Let me remember you chose to hang on that cross for me.
You hanging on that cross forever let me see.
After We Rise
Matthew 28:18 -
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
Easter, the calendar day, the holiday celebration, has passed once more. Again this year we were reminded of the great sacrifice of Christ for each of us. The cross, Calvary, and the tomb are usually the focus of our Easter messages. Songs were sung, plays were performed, sermons were preached. Jesus Christ rose from the tomb and is alive for evermore!
Most of the Easter Passion Plays end with Jesus rising from the tomb. There is a little more to the story that we sometimes overlook. What about the days after Jesus rose when He remained on earth before He ascended into heaven? What did He spend that time doing? Those days Jesus spent on earth were for a specific purpose.
After we have received Jesus Christ as Savior after we have accepted his cross and His forgiveness after we rise above the sin that has held us down, what should we spend our time on earth doing before we ascend to heaven? Rising from our old life into our newly-resurrected life with Christ isn't the end of the story. Our days here should serve a specific purpose. We should model our days after we rise from the grip of sin by the days Jesus spent on earth after He rose from the grave.
He spent those days appearing, speaking, teaching, communing with believers. He didn't hide Himself away. He wanted to make sure He was seen and that many believed He had risen again just like He told them He was going to.
Many doubted many didn't recognize Him as who He once was.
We should always spend our days on earth appearing as a living testimony of Jesus Christ our risen Savior. Others who knew us as we once were should have a hard time even recognizing us now since we have risen from our old life. We should speak up and teach others of the wonderful things Jesus Christ has done for us. We should obey His last words spoken on earth.
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and
- John 21:25 -
- There are so many other things Jesus did. If they were all written down, each of them, one by one, I can't imagine a world big enough to hold such a library of books.
After We Rise
Easter Sunday many heard the familiar story of the day three women went to the tomb and found it empty. Angels appeared. The women went to tell.
He is risen! Jesus is alive!
Today, the day after Easter, I have been thinking what happens next?
What happened long ago after the celebrations?
What did Jesus do after He rose to new life?
In Matthew, we are told Jesus appeared and issued the great commission to the disciples, and to all of us as well. We are told we are given all power and we should GO. In the book of Mark, we are told to GO and also told in detail what we have the power to accomplish through the power given to us.
In Luke the story is told of Jesus appearing, proclaiming peace, allowing His disciples to handle His hands and feet to prove to them He was who He said He was. He also ate fish and honeycomb to show them He was truly risen flesh, not a spirit they should fear.
In John, the story is also told of Jesus' appearance to the disciples declaring peace, showing them His hands and feet. He told them He was sending them and they would receive the power of the Holy Ghost. The story continued when Jesus reappeared eight days later in the presence of Thomas who doubted the first appearance that he himself did not witness. When Thomas thrust his hand into Jesus' side he believed. A third appearance of Jesus by the sea is told of in John. He prepared a meal and served it to the disciples.
The famous conversation is here between Peter and the Lord which ended with Jesus telling Peter to follow Him.
John also tells us twice that many more things Jesus did that aren't written in this book.
So, after Jesus rose to new life, He didn't just sit around and wait on heaven.
He continued to instruct others and tell them of the power that was available to them.
He spoke peace. He relieved their fear of Him. He went out of His way to prove that He was who said He was.
He shared meals, He prepared and served meals. He fed others.
He told others to follow Him.
What happens today after the Easter celebration?
What do we do after we arise to new life everlasting made available
to each of us when Jesus rose from death to life?
We should follow the example of Jesus.
After we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and the new life given to us we should go and go, and tell and tell until we get to heaven ourselves. Jesus didn't stop after He rose.
We should believe and use the power given to us by God every day.
Signs should follow those of us who believe. We should never be satisfied to simply wear a sign saying, "I am on my way to heaven."
We should continuously strive to prove to the world that Jesus is who He says He is.
We should strive to show them Jesus relieves all fear. We should serve others.
We should follow Jesus every single day we walk on this earth.
There are many miracles waiting to happen.
The story of Jesus Christ continues and is still be written every day through our lives we live for Him.
This is a story with an ending we can add to by being obedient and getting as many to follow Jesus Christ as possible.
Let the celebration continue.
He is risen.
He is alive.
eaviness filled Mary Magdalene's heart early that morn,
very good thing, seemingly, from her life had been torn.
nside the tomb lay linen of white,
he couldn't understand, her Lord's body was nowhere in sight.
ightly so, she was very sad and confused,
nside once lay Jesus' body, beaten and bruised.
uddenly angels appeared where the body once lay at the foot and the head,
xalt the name of your Lord Jesus, He isn't dead!
ow appeared Jesus and asked, "Mary what are you weeping for?".
Go tell all, I have risen with my Father, to live forever more.
This week I had two very similar sounding words come to mind- selfish and selfless. Even though the words sound alike they are very different. The "ish" in selfish brought the words with and excessiveness to mind. Other ish words: Foolish, Rubbish, Squeamish...
The "less" in selfless brought to mind lacking and without. Another less word: flawless.
I thought of all the things selfless people lack and do without and all the excessive things selfish people live with. As I compared ish and less in my mind I came up with the poem written below for Easter. May we each remember the great sacrifice of our flawless selfless Savior.
Less and Ish
A selfless Savior hung dying on a cross.
A selfish sinner hung dying beside Him counting the cost.
The selfless Savior hung with His mouth so thirsty and dry.
The selfish sinner hung knowing he would soon die.
The selfless Savior longed to save the selfish sinner who thought only of himself,
The selfish sinner thought of his self centered life as he hung facing his death.
The Savior cried out Father forgive them who know not.
The sinner heard and wondered could He forgive him or not.
The Savior turned His loving eyes the sinner's way.
The Savior told him He would see Him in Paradise that very day.
Oh what a selfless Savior to the selfish sinner the man hanging on the cross became.
The selfish sinner died, but did not die unchanged.
He was no longer selfish, he wasn't the same.
He became a saved sinner hanging beside a Savior who didn't die in vain.
Even as our selfless Savior hung and died a cruel human death.
He thought of all who were selfish, never of Himself.