The Gift of Salvation (Salvation Part I)
By Jennifer Miller
What does a relationship mean to you? Is it one-sided or a mutual love and respect for the other parties involved? Why do so many claim to have a personal connection with our Lord, yet fail to commit to that relationship? Is it mere profession for an unknown or hidden agenda or is it coming straight from our hearts? We will look at all of this and so much more, but before I delve deeper into this, I wanted to share with you the reader about a gift we neither earned nor deserved, but were extended grace, nonetheless.
We begin by remembering the greatest love story of all time. A love so deep that could not be achieved without the hand of God. It is more than the sacrifice one made for atonement. It is the sending of a Savior to save the world and to reconcile us with God. Walk with me for a moment and remember…
Last month we celebrated Resurrection Day in which our Lord and Savior Jesus rose from the dead. He paid the ultimate price when He sacrificed His life so that we could be reconciled to God. I put a lot of value into Holy Week each year. I take each day and reminisce about what happened over two thousand years ago. The timeline of events for Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday. I am ecstatic when Jesus makes his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, but sad to say this was to fulfill prophecy and the joy would soon diminish. I can just imagine the enthusiasm of the crowd as they toss their coats over the colt that He rides upon on the path honoring His arrival into the great city. Everyone is overjoyed that he has arrived. The week starts off so promising and yet darkness will soon make an appearance that will casts a shadow over the remaining days of the week By Monday one can see His righteous anger on display when he overturns the tables on the moneymakers in the temple. Men who were determined to make a profit and forgo the respect of Our Father’s House. Jesus is bold and calls them out on their hypocrisy. Tuesday starts off with Jesus going to the Mount of Olives to pray. Jesus passes by a withered fig tree which produces no fruit, and He speaks to the disciples about the importance of faith. Faith without works is indeed dead! He begins the Discourses at the Mount and foretells the destruction of Jerusalem and end of the age. He does this through parables and symbolic language/signs about end times events which include His second coming and the final judgment. Meanwhile the chief priests and elders were challenging His authority. They plotted to arrest Him and sought after someone to lead them to him. Judas, one of his disciples, sold his soul to them for the price of thirty pieces of silver. By Thursday He asks several disciples to go to the owner of the inn and to prepare the room for the Passover dinner. A somber turn in events is revealed. Several lessons are learned during that dinner. Jesus begins by washing the feet of His disciples. He shows through this humble act of service, how believers should love and treat one another. The feast begins and it was here that Jesus would fulfill the meaning of Passover by sacrificing his body and blood. He foreshadows his death and mentions again the sacrifice that will be made. He states that someone will betray him this night. As they looked around at each other the lessons were just beginning. It was here that He began the Lord’s Supper and instructed them as to what this meant. The body would be broken, and the blood would be shed for the ultimate sacrifice. The Lord’s Supper represents to us the followers to do this act of faith in remembrance of Him and His sacrifice. As they shared bread amongst themselves, Jesus foretold that the bread represented His body that was to be sacrificed. As He passed the glass of wine around and asked them to sip it for it will represent the shedding of His blood for us. He then said He would not partake of this again until He returns for His church. Confused and not understanding the full meaning of this sacrifice, they partook in this supper. He also called Peter out who stated that he would never leave Christ but Jesus stated that Satan was fighting hard for Peter. He told Peter before the rooster crows thrice he would have denied Jesus three times. He begins the night with some powerful lessons for them to remember and the foretelling of the fulfillment of prophecy.
After the meal they left to go to the Garden of Gethsemane. It was here that Jesus prayed so hard to God the Father so fervently that his sweat became like blood drops. Later that night Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss to signal the Sanhedrin whom to arrest. The night gets much worse. Caiaphas (the High Priest) and the Sanhedrin question Him intensely – trying to hold His words against him. Peter during this time denies Jesus thrice and the rooster crows. He weeps at when he realizes that he denied Christ.. Pilate questions Jesus and though he finds no reason for his death, he washes his hands of the matter and obliges the people who were calling for His crucifixion.
The gloomy Friday approaches and Jesus endures so much pain. The crowd was incited to turn against him and call for his death. He was scorned, mocked, beaten, falsely accused, and abandoned by the people. After the trials he was sentenced to death by one of the most horrible methods at the time. At the cross soldiers spit on him, cast lots for his clothes, and pierced his head with a crown of thorns. To add insult to injury they had Jesus even carry His own cross until he was unable to do so and then they had Simon from Cyrene finish the long journey by carrying the cross for him. At Calvary they nailed our King to the cross. They offered him gall when he was thirsty and continued to taunt him and even utter for him to save himself if He was the Son of God as he claimed. Yet Jesus, turned the other cheek and asked God to forgive them for they knew not what they did. He committed His spirit into God’s hands, breathed His last breath and then died. To make sure that he was dead they pierced his side and the blood and water emptied out.
Joseph of Arimathea took the body down and placed Jesus into the tomb he purchased for His body. Guards were set in front of the tomb and the day of preparation for the body was at hand.
Ah but Sunday was coming, and it would bring joy out of the sorrow. Mary and others arrived early to embalm the Lord, but He was not there. They wept for they did not know where Jesus’ body was, but an angel appeared to say Jesus was not there. He announced that He is risen. They ran to the disciples to tell them what they saw, and they too ran to the grave to check on this.
God wants us to make an unconditional sacrifice, but mankind wants to set his own conditions to do so. We look at the best interest or convenience for ourselves; thus, not honoring His will.
My next blog will delve into the precious gift and grace and what it means. God bless!