Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Last Enemy

To Christians Palm Sunday (that's today) is the Sunday before the day we celebrate Easter or the resurrection of Christ. All four gospels mention this triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem the week before He is to die on the cross. You can read it in Matthew 21:1-9, Mark 11:1-10, Luke 19:28-38, and John 12:12-16.

And as we progress towards Easter or Resurrection Sunday, we ponder the work of God on our behalf. Who is this Jesus? And why is it so important to know? Looking at it from today's perspective, how could the death of a mere man on a cross 2000 years ago have any relevance to today's people? We're so modern. And self-sufficient. And so creatively inventive in all things. So what does Jesus have to do with any part of my life today?

During my childhood years we regularly attended Sunday school and church. I was baptized at age 9 and confirmed into the church at age 12. Our church held "Trinity" in its name. Our pastor spoke often of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. But while my heart was earnest and I vaguely affirmed that Christ's death on the cross was the place of the forgiveness of my sins, I had no idea of the divinity of Christ. I thought, regardless of hearing sermon after sermon, and lesson after lesson, that Jesus had his beginnings in the stable...and that He lived a perfect life so He could die and give us forgiveness. It was not until I was thirty years old was my attention drawn to John 1:1-5, 14 and to the Divinity of Christ...that He was there at creation (He was the Creator God) and that He had existed from before time (He was without beginning and without end). The Divinity, the Godhood of Christ, was the very heart, the very meaning, the entirety of the New Testament (as well as the Old Testament). And I had missed seeing it!

How could I have missed that, you ask? Surely our pastor(s) had covered that doctrine? Perhaps they did. Perhaps that was the Sunday I fell asleep on my mother's shoulder. Or perhaps I simply did not understand the scriptures if they were presented during confirmation. But God's timing is perfect and He surely did bring that to my understanding in due time.

God does that, you know. He reveals truth to you a bit at a time. It doesn't happen all at once. And that is how it has been with me.

I was brought to John 1:1-5, 14 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. Verse 14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth."

And also to Hebrews 1:1-3 "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.."

And again in Colossians 1:13-16 "For He (the Father) rescued us from the domain of darkness (from Satan), and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son (Jesus) in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him (Jesus) all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him. " And verse 22 "He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach."

How can I be holy and blameless and beyond reproach? Ahhh, that is the reason we celebrate the cross. It is there that that perfect man, Jesus, died my death. He took my sins upon Himself and died for them. And in return He gives me His righteousness. In other words, my sins were imputed (put on) Him and His righteousness was imputed (put on) me. It is as if my sin was His and His righteousness is mine. When we stand in judgment before God, it will be Christ's righteousness (given to us) that puts us in right standing before God and not our own works. That is good news, because our own works can never make us clean. Our sin separates us from God but Christ's work reconciles us and presents us "holy and blameless and beyond reproach" to the Father.

Next Sunday is Resurrection Sunday and we celebrate! As Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth (1 Corinthians 15:20-26) But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep (who are dead). For since by a man (Adam) came death, by a man (Jesus in his humanity) also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order; Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death."

Someday there will be no more death. And That is Good News!


cinnamongirl93 said...

Amen! Very well written and simply stated. Thank you for the great word!

Forrest said...

Great truth. I am not posting a comment to promote my own agenda "Grandma Whitestone," but I also recently wrote some similar thoughts on the work of our blessed Saviour. Your post is one of my favorite themes. Here's the link if you'd like to read it.

Thank you again for encouraging our hearts with THE TRUTH!