21. Journey to the cross: The heart of tradition

During my teen years, as the traditional remembrances surrounding Easter
rolled around – Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Resurrection on
Sunday morning – it began to bother me that all of that simply didn’t jibe
with what I was reading in my Bible. Truthfully, it really bothered me. And
as usual, I wasn’t able to find anyone, including pastors, who could give me
a satisfactory answer.

My problem was this: If Jesus said he would be in the grave for three days and three nights (Matthew 12:40), why do we jump from the crucifixion on Friday to the resurrection on Sunday. No matter how I tried to rationalize that, it simply didn’t work. So for years I wondered: Why did Jesus say that?

I finally found the answer,  after my fibromyalgia diagnosis, during the time when I had no choice but to be still and let God teach me some things that I’d been too busy to pick up on earlier. Lo and behold, into my hands came a book titled, A Scientific Approach To Biblical Mysteries by Robert W. Faid (1993; Guideposts and New Leaf Press). And in Chapter 6 – under the presumptuous title, “When Was the Crucifixion? It Wasn’t on a Friday!” I found the answers I had been seeking for decades.

Once again we need to refer back to the fourth century and the Emperor
Constantine, who apparently forgot that Jesus himself was a Jew, because in
the year 325, he ordered all Jews to leave Rome. At that time, the Nicaean
Council ruled that Christians could have nothing to do with Jews, including
the celebration of Passover. Instead they instituted the pagan holiday known
as “Easter” to commemorate Christ’s death and resurrection in a non-Jewish
sort of way.

According to Jewish custom and the Gospel writers, here’s how it all went
down:

ON SATURDAY, (the Jewish Sabbath) Jesus entered Jerusalem on the colt of
a donkey in fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy (Zechariah 9:9). Christians
call this Palm Sunday.

ON SUNDAY, Jesus entered the temple and rebuked the moneychangers.

ON MONDAY, Jesus returned to Jerusalem and taught in the temple courts.
And Judas Iscariot promised to betray his Teacher for 30 pieces of silver,
fulfilling the Zechariah 11:12 prophecy.

ON TUESDAY, preparations were made for Wednesday’s evening meal,
called the Passover. So, Jesus sent two of his disciples to prepare a place for the
Seder, Tuesday’s ritual evening meal. (Christians call this the Last Supper.)

ON TUESDAY NIGHT after the Seder, Jesus and his disciples – minus Judas
Iscariot – went to pray at Gethsemene. Then they walked across the Kidron
Valley to an olive grove. Judas knew where they would be, and he led the
chief priests straight to Jesus. In the middle of the night, Jesus was arrested
for blasphemy, because he claimed to be the Son of God.

ON WEDNESDAY MORNING, Jesus was brutalized and sentenced to
death. He was nailed to the cross around 9 a.m.

ON WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON, Jesus died at 3 P.M. (Mark 15:33). His
body was placed in a tomb before sundown in accordance with Jewish law.

JESUS’ BODY REMAINED IN THE TOMB FOR THREE DAYS:
Thursday was Passover and people were not allowed to travel. Roman guards
stood in front of the tomb. Friday was an additional Sabbath, always observed
on the day after Passover, according to Jewish tradition. Saturday was a regular
Sabbath with travel restrictions.

ON SUNDAY travel restrictions were lifted. Visitors were allowed at Jesus’
tomb and they saw that it was empty, except for the linen shroud and the cloth
that had wrapped Jesus’ head.

I’ve come to terms with Christian tradition regarding the remembrance of Jesus’ last days and the celebration of his glorious resurrection. After all, Jesus is much more concerned about the sincere hearts of his fully devoted followers.

Have a blessed Resurrection Day celebration!

With love in Him,

Paula

20. Journey to the cross: John’s perspective on his best friend’s death

John was Jesus’ most trusted friend. He did not write his gospel account in first person (using the word “I”). Instead, when referring to himself, he wrote “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23, 19:26, 20:2, 21:20).

John testified to what he saw and heard during the seder meal that the Twelve shared at the beginning of that fateful night. He wrote down many of the hopeful and encouraging truths that Jesus shared at that gathering. Here are a few of the highlights …

  • [Jesus speaking] “‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.’

    Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’

    Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.’”  (John 14:1-7, NIV)

  • [Jesus speaking]  “’If you love me, keep my commands.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him,because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.  Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.  Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.’” (John 15-21, NIV)
  • [Jesus speaking] “‘All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.'” (John 14:25-27, NIV)
  • [Jesus speaking] ““I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble.But take heart! I have overcome the world.'” (John 16:33, NIV)

John was the only disciple who was with Jesus during His mock trials. He actually stood at the foot of the cross and watched as his best friend was dying a horrific death. Jesus charged John with the care of his mother before He died. Not His half-brothers. Not His half-sisters. Not His mother’s good friend. But His disciple, John. (John 19:25-27)

Here is John’s account of what he witnessed …

“So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull(which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).  There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle….

“When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.

“’Let’s not tear it,’ they said to one another. ‘Let’s decide by lot who will get it.’

“This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said,

‘They divided my clothes among them
    and cast lots for my garment.’ [Psalm 22:18]

“So this is what the soldiers did….

Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips.  When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other.  But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.  The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.  These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: ‘Not one of his bones will be broken,’ [Psalm 34:20] and, as another scripture says, ‘They will look on the one they have pierced’ [Zechariah 12:10].”

(John 19:16-37, NIV)

 

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT: I have a plaque on my wall that I treasure. It reads: “Every prophecy of God that spoke about the coming Messiah was perfectly fulfilled in Jesus Christ.”  To that I say, AMEN!

19. Journey to the cross: Peter’s good intentions

Peter was one of Jesus’ “favored” followers. He was chosen to be one of the inner Twelve apostles who stayed with their Teacher continually during His three-year ministry. He is known affectionately as “foot-in-the-mouth” Peter, because of the many times the gospel writers testified about his bold (and sometimes foolish) intervention into various situations throughout his journey with Jesus. 

But Peter was bold in other ways as well. For example, he was the only one of the Twelve who had enough courage to step out of the boat onto the turbulent lake and attempt to meet Jesus as He walked on the water toward them …

When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear.

But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’

“’Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’

“’Come,’ he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

 (Matthew 14:26-34, NIV)

*   *   *

Peter was also reprimanded by his Teacher numerous times. For example …

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’

Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.’

Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.'”  (Matthew 16:21-27, NIV)

*   *   *

But even though Jesus seemed incredibly harsh toward Peter, it was for good reason. He knew that His dear friend was destined to go through some terrible bouts of emotional and physical suffering later in his life, and there was only a short span of time to impress on him the importance of thinking like God rather than like a human!

For the sake of brevity, I’m going to paraphrase what happened with Peter after he was rebuked by Jesus.

  • During their time together in the upper room where Jesus and His Twelve commemorated the Passover seder together, the Savior foretold that all of His “flock” would soon scatter and leave Him. Peter boldly vowed that he would never “fall away” from dedication to His Teacher. But Jesus predicted that Peter would deny Him THREE times. (Matthew 26:31-35)
  • When Jesus was arrested, Peter drew his sword and cut of the ear of the high priest’s servant! Jesus rebuked him again and miraculously healed the man’s severed ear.  (Luke 22:47-53; John 18:1-11)
  •  At that point, Peter ran away with all the other disciples. But he and John followed at a distance to see what would happen to Jesus. John (a.k.a. “another disciple”) was allowed into the inner courtyard because he was known to the high priest. But Peter remained outside at the door. While he waited, he was asked TREE times if he was a follower of Jesus — and he denied it! (John 18:1-27)

The gospel writers didn’t record where Peter went from there. He is not specifically mentioned as one of the individuals who stood at the foot of the cross throughout Jesus’ crucifixion. But John did write about what happened AFTER the Son of God was raised from the dead. That’s because he wanted us to know that, despite Peter’s blunders, Jesus still loved him and was willing to forgive his lack of courage during the most challenging  part of their journey to the cross. 

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT: Read John’s description of the scene between Jesus and Peter by the Sea of Tiberias after His resurrection (John 21), and connect the dots between Peter’s THREE denials and Jesus’ THREE declarations of forgiveness and commission of service.

A blessed Easter to you!

18. Journey to the cross: The Judas connection

I saw “Jesus Christ Superstar” at an outdoor amphitheater back in the mid-1990’s. No one had prepared me for what I witnessed. I just sat there — off to the side — and wept. The next day, someone explained to me that the story was told “through the eyes of Judas Iscariot.” And I wept again.

For those who have never heard the biblical account, here are portions of Matthew’s testimony and John’s testimony concerning the relationship they observed between the Savior and His betrayer …

 

Testimony from Matthew, the tax collector chosen by Jesus to be one of the Twelve …

[Before the last supper gathering] “Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests  and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver [Zechariah 11:12]. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.” 

(Matthew 26:14-16, NIV)

 

Testimony from John (Jesus’ most trusted friend):

“… many of [Jesus’] disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’

 “Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, ‘Does this offend you? Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.’

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

“’You do not want to leave too, do you?’ Jesus asked the Twelve.

Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.’

Then Jesus replied, ‘Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!  (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)  

(John 6:66-71, NIV)

*   *   *

[Jesus speaking at the last supper with the Twelve] “‘I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: “He who shared my bread has turned against me [Psalm 41:9].”

“’I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.’

After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, ‘Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.’

His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved [John, Jesus’ best friend], was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, ‘Ask him which one he means.’

Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, ‘Lord, who is it?’

Jesus answered, ‘It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.’  Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot.  As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.

So Jesus told him, ‘What you are about to do, do quickly.’ But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.” 

(John 13:18-30, NIV)

 

*   *   *

[After the last supper, then prayer in the Gethsemane] When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it.

Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.

Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, ‘Who is it you want?’

“Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.

“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.)  ‘If you are looking for me, then let these men go.”  This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me. [John 6:39]”

Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)

Jesus commanded Peter, ‘Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?’”

(John 18:1-11, NIV)

*   *   *

Matthew recorded what happened to Judas after he led the detachment of soldiers and officials to Jesus …

Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed. So they bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor.

When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. I have sinned,’ he said, ‘for I have betrayed innocent blood.’

“‘What is that to us?’ they replied. ‘That’s your responsibility.’

So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.

The chief priests picked up the coins and said, ‘It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.’ So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day.  Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: ‘They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price set on him by the people of Israel, and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me. [Jeremiah 18:12; Zechariah 11:12-13] ”

 

*   *   *

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT: Judas sold out his Teacher and friend for thirty pieces of silver — the price of a slave in that culture at that time in history. After Jesus was arrested, Judas had second thoughts and threw the money into the temple before hanging himself in despair.

Over 500 years before Jesus was born, the prophet Zechariah foretold this: “I told them, ‘If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.’ So they gave me thirty pieces of silver.

“And the Lord said to me, ‘Throw it to the potter’ — a handsome price at which they priced me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord to the potter.” (Zechariah 11:12-13, NIV)

I call that a “prophecy connection” and proof that the Lord God orchestrated all the events that will eventually lead to everlasting life with Him for those who believe the truth about Jesus Christ, “Superstar”!

 

 

 

17. Journey to the cross: The scheme against Jesus

For many believers, Jesus has the reputation of being soft and against conflict of any kind  However, if you read the gospel accounts of His ministry, you’ll find that this simply isn’t so.  As a matter of fact, the Son of God seemed to go out of his way to boldly criticize and irritate the religious and political authorities of His day. Here are a few examples …

 

“Some Pharisees and teachers of the Law [of Moses] said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you.’

He answered, ‘A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign!’”  (Matthew 12:38-39, NIV)

*   *   *

 “Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: ‘Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.’ (Luke 12:1, NIV)

*   *   *

“Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now I am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. … When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell you the truth, you do not believe me! … The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.’”  (John 8:42-45, NIV)

*   *   *

“One day as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple courts and proclaiming the good news, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, together with the elders, came up to him. ‘Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,’ they said. ‘Who gave you this authority?’

He replied, ‘I will also ask you a question. Tell me: John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin?’

They discussed it among themselves and said, ‘If we say, “From heaven,” he will ask, “Why didn’t you believe him?” But if we say, “Of human origin,” all the people will stone us, because they are persuaded that John was a prophet.’

So they answered, ‘We don’t know where it was from.’

Jesus said, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.’

*   *   *

“Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill him.” (Matthew 26:3-4, NIV)

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT: 

Jesus said:

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn

‘a man against his father,
    a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
   a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.‘ [Prophesied in Micah 7:6]

“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”  (Matthew 10:34-39, NIV)

Do you believe it?

 

16. Journey to the cross: Jesus’ end times time line!

Jesus foretold the fall of the temple in Jerusalem …

 

“Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. ‘Do you see all these things?’ he asked. ‘Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.'” (Matthew 24:1-2, New International Version)

In 70 A.D. Roman legions destroyed the Second Temple. EVERY STONE WAS “THROWN DOWN” in an effort to plunder the gold that had melted in between the cracks after they set the building on fire!

 

It is not clear how long it was between Jesus’ prophecy concerning the temple and His response to the disciples’ question, but apparently the issue had been weighing heavily upon their minds. Jesus gave them this non-specific timeline …

 

“As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. ‘Tell us,’ they said, ‘when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’

“Jesus answered:

  • ‘Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, “I am the Messiah,” and will deceive many.
  • ‘You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.
  • ‘Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.
  • ‘Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.
  • ‘At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.
  • ‘Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.
  • ‘And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.’

 

Then Jesus got down to business! Here is what the Son of God foretold will happen JUST BEFORE HIS SECOND COMING …

 

“’SO WHEN YOU SEE standing in the holy place [THE TEMPLE] “the abomination that causes desolation,” spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand* — THEN let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers!

“‘Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.

“’If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but  for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.

“‘At that time if anyone says to you, “Look, here is the Messiah!” or, “There he is!” do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.

“‘See, I have told you ahead of time.

“’So if anyone tells you, “There he is, out in the wilderness,” do not go out”; or, “Here he is, in the inner rooms,’” do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.

Immediately after the distress of those days

‘the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’[Prophesied by Isaiah and Joel]
“’Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.  And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.’  [THE “RAPTURE”?] (Matthew 24:3-31)

 *   *   *

* The words of Daniel that Jesus was referring to can be found in Daniel 9. They are passionately debated, so I will let my readers decide for themselves what Jesus was saying when He specifically added them into His “end of days” prophecy. The prophecy says this: “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ [“Sevens” means seven years.] It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’In the middle of the ‘seven’  he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” (Daniel 24-27, NIV)

The Complete Jewish Bible says it a little differently — or a lot, depending on how you look at it: ” “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and for your holy city for putting an end to the transgression, for making an end of sin, for forgiving iniquity, for bringing in everlasting justice, for setting the seal on vision and prophet, and for anointing the Especially Holy Place. 25 Know, therefore, and discern that seven weeks [of years] will elapse between the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Yerushalayim until an anointed prince comes. It will remain built for sixty-two weeks [of years], with open spaces and moats; but these will be troubled times. 26 Then, after the sixty-two weeks, Mashiach will be cut off and have nothing. The people of a prince yet to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary, but his end will come with a flood, and desolations are decreed until the war is over.  He will make a strong covenant with leaders for one week [of years]. For half of the week he will put a stop to the sacrifice and the grain offering. On the wing of detestable things the desolator will come and continue until the already decreed destruction is poured out on the desolator.”

*   *   *

 

Then Jesus added this commentary …

“‘Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it [the end of days] is near, right at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.

‘Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left.  Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.   [THE “RAPTURE”]

“’Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.‘” (Matthew 24:32-44)

 

Letting YOU decide  …

(But please notice that the Isaiah / Joel prophecy which so many people are pointing to currently — because of the blood moons that will be appearing in 2014 and 1015 — is positioned after the appearance of the abomination that causes desolation AND the great distress (the “great tribulation”). And it comes before the rapture of “the elect.”)

 

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT: Seriously, I don’t believe you need anything more to think about.  ;  )

 

15. Journey to the cross: Foreshadows

Any writer of fiction knows that weaving “foreshadows” into a story makes it stronger and more believable, especially when it comes time to reveal the ending. The “Jesus story” takes full advantage of that technique. The difference is that it is NOT fiction.

The obvious FORESHADOWS are in the form of ANCIENT PROPHECIES that have found fulfillment in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

Less obvious FORESHADOWS are concealed within the ACTIONS and WORDS of JESUS during the three years of his ministry. Since we have the advantage of hindsight — unlike His those disciples who knew Him personally — we can recognize many of the “clues” that the Lord God saw fit to give us in advance of important events. . . . 

1. JESUS WAS DESIGNATED “THE LAMB OF GOD”:  Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, was the first to recognize and declare that Jesus IS “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). As He hung on the cross from 9 am to 3 pm, the Passover lambs were bound and waiting to be slaughtered to remove the past sins of the Jewish people.

2. JESUS WAS TEMPTED BY SATAN AND PREVAILED: Satan’s goal is to derail God’s plan to save individuals from spending eternity with him (Satan). The devil tried many different ways to make that happen (see Luke 4), including tempting the Pharisees and teachers of the Law of Moses to arrest and kill the Son of God. But Satan didn’t “get it” — that Jesus’ death would result in eternal life with God for all those who believe in Him . God’s plan ended as he had ordained it “from the creation of the world” (John 17:24-26).

3. JESUS TAUGHT ABOUT THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF ACHIEVING PERFECTION: Jesus said, “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). But His teachings often seemed impossible to accomplish! Like measuring sticks, His words were meant to show people how very small we are and how BIG God is! Without Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and following resurrection, it is impossible to be like God! (See Hebrews 2.)

4. JESUS RAISED SELECTED PEOPLE FROM A STATE OF DEATH: Jesus demonstrated that He IS God by raising numerous people from the dead. Most notable was a man named Lazarus. Lazarus had died and been in his tomb for four days when Jesus arrived and said, “Lazarus come out!” And Lazarus did, foreshadowing the fact that Jesus’ resurrection would be accomplished by God, just like that of Lazarus! (See the details in John 11:1-44.)

5. JESUS FORETOLD DETAILS CONCERNING HIS OWN DEATH AND RESURRECTION: THREE TIMES, Jesus told His disciples that He would be arrested and crucified and on the THIRD DAY He would rise. (Matthew 16:21, 17:22-23, 20:18-19) … And that’s exactly what happened!

6. JESUS GAVE A TIMELINE OF END TIMES EVENTS: In Matthew 24, Jesus gave an outline of what would happen in the future at the time of His second coming. In Revelation 6, Jesus also gave corroborating details to His best friend John that parallel what He said in Matthew 24!

7. JESUS PREDICTED HIS DISCIPLES’ BETRAYAL: Jesus said to those closest to Him: “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered’ [foretold by Zechariah 13:7]” (Mark 14:27). When Jesus was arrested, all of His followers ran away. Only John returned and followed Jesus complete journey  to the cross!

 

Jesus knew what was going to happen to Him. He knew how brutally painful death by crucifixion would be. In His humanity, He pleaded with His heavenly Father to take away “the cup” that would be His to drink — in other words, the horror of the torment His human body was about to suffer. But then He said: “Yet not what I will, but what you will”  (Mark 14:36).

 

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT: Jesus “foreshadowed” that “the gate is broad and the road is wide that leads to destruction, BUT small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14).

 

Do you believe it?