Extract taken from The Third Day.
As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. They came to a place called Golgotha (which means ‘the place of the skull’). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there.Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!’ In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. ‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, “I am the Son of God.”’ In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
At the crucial moment of Jesus' trial, the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate proclaims Jesus’ innocence, but Luke tells us that “with one voice they cried out” (Luke 23 v 18) for Jesus to be crucified. Who are the “they”? It’s the chief priests, the rulers and the people—everyone else.
They all cry out together. This is a universal, unanimous verdict from people of every walk of life and social class. Everyone cries out: “Get rid of Him!” Five days previously, crowds had hailed Jesus as a king; now, crowds are calling for His blood.
In Acts 3 v 13-15, Peter places the blame squarely on the crowd. Speaking to the men of Israel, he says:
The God of our fathers has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life.
Why? Why do they call for His death so viciously? Surely there is some mob mentality there—people do crazy things when the crowd is going in that direction. Perhaps there is a sense of disappointment with Jesus. This guy obviously isn’t the king who is going to overthrow Rome. He’s a fake; he’s a phony.
But perhaps there is something deeper going on, because in that shout we see most clearly the natural state of man. We are, at our core, God’s enemies. There, in the howling hatred of the crowd, we see something of our natural attitude towards God. When it came down to a choice, they prefer to have a murderer live among them rather than God Himself.
Human beings simply can’t be neutral towards God. There is no middle ground. He is perfectly holy. We were created to know Him and enjoy Him and obey Him and worship Him and be satisfied in Him. But we have all rebelled against that. We have all looked for fulfillment and joy in other places. We have invested our lives in the pursuit of wealth and power and pleasure. We have done whatever seemed right to us rather than what God has told us is right.
And so now we are God’s enemies. We are rebels against Him and He is a threat to our way of life. He stands between me and my desire to run my world the way that I want to. And every time I decide to live my way instead of under Jesus’ rule, I am wishing He did not exist; that He were dead.
Do you think you would have been different from the people in the crowd that day? Can you hear your own voice calling for Jesus’ death? I can see my own face in that mob. The tragedy of our race is that every human being has divine blood on their hands. The wonder of history is that the divine Son shed His blood for this same human race.
Extract taken from Passion p76-77
More than an Example
When we think about what Jesus endured in the Garden of Gethsemane for us, we see a wonderful (and challenging) example of how we ought to live. We see that we should pray when we are facing difficulties. We see that we should obey even when we are facing a great cost. As we see Jesus waking up His disciples and encouraging them to pray instead of blasting them for failing to keep Him company, we see that we need to be patient with those who let us down.
Jesus is a fantastic example for us, in fact the best example ever. But if that’s all we take away from this passage, we have completely missed the point—because Jesus doesn’t kneel there in that garden primarily as your example. If you walk away from these verses thinking that you just need to try harder so that you live like Jesus, you will be absolutely crushed. You cannot do it.Read More
Extract taken from The Third Day
On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?’
He replied, ‘Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, “The Teacher says: my appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.”’ So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.
When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, ‘Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.’Read More
I had such hopes, such dreams for this prophet from Nazareth. I had thought that he would make the world a better place for me. And last Sunday, just a few short days ago, I thought my dream was coming true. I followed him into Jerusalem. He was hailed as a king. Palm branches were waved, hosannas rung out on the breeze. I've never experienced anything quite like it.
After three years of wandering from one desert town to the next, finally his hour had arrived. Conquest, power, status, wealth were in his grasp. And I would be there - at his side - reaping the rewards of my faithful service over the last 36 months. I could almost smell the riches in my future.Read More
The On to a Good Thing Easter Special!
1. Passion ebook - just £2.99!
2. Together for the Gospel Audio Recordings
3. Five Helps for Your Holy Week
Five John Piper articles related to the Easter season.
4. Songs for Easter from Mars Hill Music
Dustin Kensrue at The Resurgence shares some songs for Good Friday and Easter.
5. New Easter devotional: The Last Days of Jesus
Devotional readings on the death and resurrection of Jesus from Aaron Armstrong.
6. And finally...
This week's video of the week, in case you missed it, ‘The Third Day Trailer’:
Found something that you think should make it on to the On to a Good Thing round-up? Send it to: email@example.com
Some people see Jesus' death as a historical footnote, buried in the past. Christians understand it is much more than that and know it has transformed their future. But often we don't realise how much Jesus' last day should change our present too.
Passion by Mike McKinley wipes the dust off the familiar events of Christ's final day, showing just what a difference the cross makes to everyday life.
McKinley writes with a warm, easy style, explaining Luke’s account of the Passion clearly and showing us how, so often, our hearts are the same as those who Jesus met on that day. The questions at the end of each chapter help us to think through where the book really needs to impact our day-to-day thinking and living.
Read more and get the ebook HERE for just £2.99 until midday on Thursday. Use code pass0414 at the checkout.