CTT | “3 Days & 3 Nights”?

As frustrating as social media can become regarding matters of …well anything, there is no doubt near limitless opportunity to challenge our perceptions and doctrinal positions. If we are willing to do the work of a Berean, even holding our closest kept doctrines up to the light of Scripture for examination, and ask questions of our pastors and teachers, there is room for growth, even from discussions originating in social media.

During Holy Week, we shared a post that examined the timeline of Holy Week and the Passion of Christ. The timeline we shared was a Thursday evening Passover meal with Jesus and His disciples, the institution of the Lord’s Supper, His arrest, His trial through the night and into Friday morning, Crucifixion on Friday afternoon, burial before sundown Friday, Resurrection before daybreak on Sunday morning.

The primary focus of today’s CTT post is on the wording we find in Matthew 12:40. Let’s look at the verse in it’s immediate context and then we’ll explain the thought being conveyed in this passage, its wording, and how it reconciles with the rest of Matthew and the other Gospel Accounts of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Matthew 12:38-42 (ESV) | The Sign of Jonah

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher,we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold,something greater than Solomon is here.

So, the common objection we’ll hear from folks insisting on a modern, literalistic interpretation of this passage is something to the effect of, “hey, since Jesus listed days and nights here, He’s explicitly laying out 3×24 hour periods where He lay in the tomb”. We’re going to address this objection by looking at the following questions:

  1. How many times is this phrasing used to describe the burial of Jesus as opposed to the more general phrasing of “3 days” or “on the third day”?
  2. How did Matthew account for the timeline of the Passion of Christ? How about Luke, the physician?
  3. If the extra wording isn’t for specifying timing of the time in the tomb, why the extra wording? Where is the significance in this phrase to be found?

This will probably end up being a long post, but I want to cover these three points to the best of my ability. Please double-check my work (open Bible, not an open mind) and don’t hesitate to talk these issues over with your pastor. Please understand that due to my lack of training in Koine Greek, I’ll be making my arguments based on the ESV translation, trusting the scholarship of others to provide solid translations.

1. How is Jesus’ time in the tomb referenced?

There are a number of ways we could go about researching this question. Let’s begin with how many times Matthew refers to Jesus’ time in the tomb. Matthew references it 7 times. We’ve already seen the first reference in Matt 12:40. Let’s look at the other references Matthew makes:

Matt 16:21;17:23;20:19;26:61;27:40;27:63-64; (ESV)

Matthew 16:21(ESV) 21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.

Matthew 17:23 (ESV) 23 and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” And they were greatly distressed.

Matthew 20:19 (ESV) 19 and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”

Matthew 26:61 (ESV) 61 and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’”

Matthew 27:40 (ESV) 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”

Matthew 27:63-64 (ESV) 63 and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64 Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.”

Interesting, isn’t it? Now here we have Matthew talking about Jesus being raised “on the third day”, “in three days”, “after three days”, and we have a reference to being in the heart of the earth for 3 days and 3 nights. Matthew didn’t only record what Jesus said of Himself, He also recorded what the people remembered, the unbelievers and the enemies of Jesus, this is how they remembered it and we see how they hurled these words back at Jesus as an insult to Him. When we start looking to the other Gospel writers, we’ll see another 10 mentions of Christ’s death and resurrection, with a mixture of these same reference points of “in three days”, “on the third day”, and “after three days”. So what are we seeing here? Is this a discrepancy in the amount of time Jesus spent in the tomb? No. This reflects the fluid nature of how time is referenced in the culture of the day. Clearly Matthew, who was writing to the Jews, had no issue whatsoever using the various references to time without a problem. A point that is clearly made in the Matt 27:63-64, where if we applied our modern-day, down-to-the-minute specificity of time keeping we’d say, “hey, bozos, if you’re trying to prevent an event that happens after 3 days, why would you only place guards until the start of the third day?”

So, we’ve demonstrated how the Gospel accounts treat all presented phrasing as equally descriptive of the time Jesus spent in the tomb. Those who seek to delve into various theories and algorithms to try to reconcile all of these times to fit our modernist accounting of time do so NOT to reconcile the scriptures with each other, but simply to modernize the time keeping, and undermine the Scriptures in the process. So how should we treat the Jewish accounting of days? We should accept that the Scriptures are sound. The death and burial of Jesus was a VERY public event, during the feast of unleavened bread. Jerusalem was packed with people. His death and resurrection was easily falsifiable yet no one proved the Apostles false. Secondly, we do have extra-biblical resources for learning how the Jews accounted for days, hours, months, and years. In our modern culture, we have standardized time such the length of an hour or a day remains fixed, regardless of the sunrise/sunset. In Jewish culture, the standard was sunrise and sunset as observed by certain people. The length of a day and that of an hour varied throughout the year (source). The idea of converting references to “3 days” to exactly 72 hours is a modern concept that we need to resist applying to Scripture. Even when we see “3 days and 3 nights”, but we’ll talk more about that in point 3. Any part of a day was called that day. In fact, the only place in the whole Bible that refers to “half days” is in Revelation 11:1-14, where John is sharing the vision of the Two Witnesses who die and are raised up in 3 and a half days.

2. Matthew’s Timeline of the Passion of Christ, and Luke’s account of how Jesus referenced on the road to Emmaus

Okay, so we already pointed out how Matthew’s account uses various references to the 3 days of Christ’s death and resurrection. What I’d like to do now is work through Matthew’s account of the timing of the death and resurrection of Jesus to really drive home the point that Matthew wasn’t confused or internally inconsistent. Now, another thing worth noting is that the 7 days of the week having names didn’t fully take until about the 3rd or 4th century A.D. The Jews only had one day of the week that was named, and that was the Sabbath. The days were numbered 1 thru 7, with the seventh day being the Sabbath.  If you’d like to read through the Matthew account and build the timeline yourself, simply open your Bible to Matthew 26 through 28. For our purposes here, I want to highlight specific passages working from the resurrection backward.

Resurrection Day

Matthew 28:1-2 (ESV) Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.

Okay, so the empty tomb was discovered by the Marys toward the dawn of the first day of the week, the day following the Sabbath. Matthew gives us a very precise record of which part of which day this event took place. The Sabbath had ended roughly at sundown on what we’d call ‘Saturday night’, and the empty was discovered early in the morning on what we call Sunday. Incidentally, this is why the Church meets on Sunday rather than keeping Saturdays… because we now are part of the 8th day, the Lord’s Day after His Sabbath rest from all of His previous work, the “it is finished” on the cross. Since the resurrection takes place on the first day of the week, it counts as a full day, the third day. We already see that the Sabbath was the second day, but let’s see what Matthew records for that day.

The Sabbath of our Lord and Savior

Matthew 27:57-66 (ESV) When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb. The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.

Folks like to mess around with this day and try to insert days before and after this day to stretch out timelines. I don’t think there’s any legitimacy to this, particularly within Matthew’s account. We see Jesus buried, the next day the guard is put in place until the third day, and the next day (after the Sabbath) the tomb is empty. Three days accounted for by Jewish reckoning with the Sabbath in the center. Where folks play with dates is by first insisting that Preparation Day has to be a certain date, and then they start to squeeze in narratives between verses to justify their fixed dates.

Now what we have here is Jesus being crucified on the day of preparation, before the Sabbath, before the First day of the week. Jesus had a truly rough day which didn’t start on the day of preparation, but on the first day of the feast of unleavened bread, the day the Passover Lambs were slaughtered. So let’s go there in Matthew’s account.

Jesus Keeps Passover with the Disciples

Matthew 26:17-19 (ESV) Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?” He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’” And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover.

Okay, so Matthew (writing to a Jewish audience) didn’t explain the significance of the first day of Unleavened Bread. I get this detail from Mark’s account Mark 14:12 (ESV) And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” That fixes the Passover to that evening after they slaughtered the Passover Lamb, where the LORD then institutes the Lord’s Supper, Judas runs off to betray Jesus… and sometime later returns and Jesus is arrested and is immediately taken to trial throughout the night (where Peter betrays Him 3 times before the rooster crows). Once day breaks, Jesus stands before the Roman courts as the Jews push for Rome to crucify Jesus. This is a very tight timeline, and it is of the Passover leading into 3 days: (Passover Thursday), Friday, Saturday (Sabbath), Sunday.

Regarding the 3 days, I’d like to take a moment to turn to Luke’s Account of the Resurrection and the Emmaus walk found in Luke 24. Please read the full chapter, but we’ll pull some selected texts to focus on the timing of events.

Luke 24:1-3 (ESV) But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

Luke 24:9-12 (ESV) and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

Luke 24:13-27 (ESV) That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

Luke 24:30-31 (ESV) When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight.

Luke 24:36-49 (ESV) As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them. Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

The first day of the week, was the third day, and the Christ had risen on that third day as it was Written.

3. Why the extra wording?

Okay, so why the extra wording in Matthew 12:40? Let’s reread the passage in its context.

Matthew 12:38-42 (ESV) Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher,we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold,something greater than Solomon is here.

Notice I chose to highlight different portions of this passage this time around? That’s because this is the purpose of the extra wording “three days and three nights”. Matthew isn’t sharing extra insight on the timing of Christ’s resurrection, he’s quoting Jesus’ words of rebuke against the scribes and Pharisees. Matthew is connecting for us that Jonah foreshadowed Christ. The men of Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah, and these scribes and Pharisees murdered Him. This isn’t the only time Matthew records this point. It happens again in chapter 16, but this time Matthew doesn’t draw out the teaching.

Matthew 16:1-4 (ESV) | The Pharisees and Sadducees Demand Signs

And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed.

The point of the extra wording was for the hearers in that day and for us who read it now to reflect back on the Old Testament Account of Jonah. No doubt this was part of the teaching Jesus did on the road to Emmaus as He taught them from the Scriptures to see how everything pointed to Christ’s death and resurrection. Matthew is the only Gospel writer to use this expanded connection to Jonah with the phrasing of the three days and three nights. We can replicate the timelines in Mark and Luke. John takes a different approach in his account, and we might take some time to work through his account in another CTT post down the road.

Conclusion

Scripture interprets scripture. We let the clear passages teach us how to understand the unclear passages, and we let the text do the teaching. The Scriptures don’t need our help, we just need to read them and trust that God the Holy Spirit will grow our faith through the hearing (reading) of God’s Word. We need to be careful with how we try to force verses to reconcile with our modern-day paradigms, for in so doing we run the risk of completely disregarding the harmony of the scriptures in favor of our own machinations.

Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV) Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Friday Sermon | The Passion of Christ

imagesI hadn’t planned to post anything for Good Friday, but Worldview Everlasting (WEtv) posted 2 videos this week that were so full of awesome teaching that I simply had to share it. These are short videos and I will not be adding much text to this post. My encouragement to you dear brothers and sisters in Christ is to spend time in God’s Word and attend whatever services your local church holds this weekend (vespers, sunrise service, etc.) to be fed the Word of God. This holiday isn’t about the abominable bunny, it is about the beautiful exchange of your sinfulness for Christ’s righteousness by His Finished work on the cross.

Update: After this post was posted, WEtv put out another amazing video that simply had to be added to today’s post.

Timeline Events of Holy Week – Pr Bryan Wolfmueller

 

One Lamb for All – Pr Matt Richard

 

The Full Suffering of Christ

Psalm 22 (ESV) | Why Have You Forsaken Me?
To the choirmaster: according to The Doe of the Dawn.
A Psalm of David.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.
Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried and were rescued;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
“He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;
let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”
Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.
On you was I cast from my birth,
and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
Be not far from me,
for trouble is near,
and there is none to help.
Many bulls encompass me;
strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.
I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.
For dogs encompass me;
a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet—
I can count all my bones—
they stare and gloat over me;
they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.
But you, O Lord, do not be far off!
O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
Deliver my soul from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dog!
Save me from the mouth of the lion!
You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!
I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
For he has not despised or abhorred
the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to him.
From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord!
May your hearts live forever!
All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before you.
For kingship belongs to the Lord,
and he rules over the nations.
All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
even the one who could not keep himself alive.
Posterity shall serve him;
it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn,
that he has done it.

Conclusion

Today we remember the most terrible and beautiful day recorded in history. This is the very center of the Scriptures, the Written Word of God. In closing, I’d like to remind our readers of the forgiveness of God and of the call to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, baptizing and teaching all that Christ had taught… what we now have in Scripture.

John 21:15-19 (ESV) | Jesus and Peter
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Matthew 28:16-20 (ESV) | The Great Commission
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “Watch the Lamb” (1986)

trebleclefThis weekend is Easter weekend… the label we’ve given the weekend that we remember Christ’s substitutionary death on the Cross, where He bore the full brunt of God’s Wrath in our place, so that by His Blood we might find forgiveness of sin.

Today, we will take a look at an older song (1986) and music video. It might even be considered a “Throw-Back Thursday (TBT)” occasion. However, I do need to make one thing absolutely clear. This is not an endorsement of the musician, Ray Boltz. I was deeply grieved at the news that Ray decided to embrace the sin of homosexuality and leave his family to live with another man. In grade school, I really enjoyed his music. Then there was the news that he resumed his career in 2010 with an album that was gay-affirming. Ray Boltz has abandoned repenting for this sin and now encourages others to follow suit in unrepentant sin. Today’s post isn’t about Ray Boltz, it’s about a good song he once wrote about the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Official Music Video

[youtube https://youtu.be/UNT1AThOgME]

Lyrics (via MetroLyrics)

Walking on the road to Jerusalem
The time had come to sacrifice again
My two small sons, they walk beside me on the road
The reason that they came was to watch the lamb

And they said, “Daddy, Daddy, what will we see there?
There’s so much that we don’t understand”
And so I told them of Moses and father Abraham
Then I said, “Dear children, watch the lamb”

There will be so many in Jerusalem today
We must be sure the lamb doesn’t run away
And I told them of Moses and father Abraham
Then I said, “Dear children, watch the lamb”

When we reached the city, I knew something must be wrong
There were no joyful worshipers there, no joyful worship songs
And I stood there with my children in the midst of angry men
Then I heard the crowd cry out, let’s crucify Him

We tried to leave the city but we could not get away
Forced to play in this drama, a part I did not wish to play
Why upon this day were men condemned to die?
Why were we standing here where soon they would pass by?

I looked and said, even now they come
The first one cried for mercy, the people gave him none
The second one was violent and he was arrogant and loud
I still here his angry voice screaming at the crowd

Then someone said, “There’s Jesus”, I scarce believed my eyes
A man so badly beaten, He barely looked alive
Blood poured from His body, from the thorns upon His brow
Running down the Cross, falling to the ground

I watched as He struggled, I watched Him when He fell
The cross came down upon His back, the crowd began to yell
In that moment I felt such agony, in that moment I felt such loss
Till a Roman soldier grabbed my arm and screamed
“You, carry His cross”

At first I tried to resist him, then his hand reached for his sword
So I knelt and took the Cross from the Lord
I put it on my shoulder and we started down the street
The blood that he’d been shedding was running down my cheek

They led us to Golgotha, they drove nails deep in His feet and hands
Yet upon the Cross I heard Him pray, “Father, forgive them”
Never have I seen such love in any other eyes
“Into Thy hands I commit my spirit”, He prayed and then He died

I stood for what seemed like years, I’d lost all sense of time
Until I felt two little hands holding tight to mine
The children stood there weeping, I heard the oldest say
“Father please forgive us, the lamb ran away”

“Daddy, daddy, what have we seen here?
There’s so much that we don’t understand?”
So I took them in my arms and we turned and faced the Cross
Then I said, “Dear children watch the lamb”

Songwriters
RAY BOLTZ

Published by
Lyrics © BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

Discussion

The song is written from the perspective of Simon of Cyrene, the one who carried the cross of Jesus to Golgotha.

Mark 15:6-22 (ESV) | Pilate Delivers Jesus to Be Crucified

Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them. And he answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up.11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. 12 And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do withthe man you call the King of the Jews?” 13 And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” 14 And Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.” 15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

Jesus Is Mocked

16 And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters), and they called together the whole battalion. 17 And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. 18 And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19 And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him.

The Crucifixion

21 And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. 22 And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull).

He is mentioned in each account. Let us continue on in the Luke account.

Luke 23:26-34 (ESV)

26 And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus.27 And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. 28 But turning to them Jesus said,“Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him.33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said,“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.

Luke 23:44-46 (ESV) | The Death of Jesus

44 It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.

As the song draws to a close, we see the lamb that the children were to keep watch over for the Passover, was replaced by the Lamb of God, who came to take away the sins of the world.

John 1:29-34 (ESV) | Behold, the Lamb of God

29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.

The Gospel Preached with Boldness

Acts 4:1-12 (ESV) | Peter and John Before the Council

And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.

On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed,10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

To God be the Glory, Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

 

Abraham and Isaac | Pointing to the Cross

??????????Today, I wanted to share a wonderful look at Genesis 22, where God tests Abraham. Those of you who attend a foundational, bible-teaching, church should already have been presented with this view of the story. However, as society and the evangelical community drifts further and further away from bible teaching, I think we should take some time to check it out now.

Genesis 22 (ESV)

1 After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

His only son Isaac? Why is God ignoring the fact that Abram had already fathered Ishmael by Hagar? Abram was 86 years old when Ishmael was born. God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, and Sarai’s name to Sarah 13 years later. God’s covenant with Abraham (circumcision) was established when he was 99 years old. At the time of their circumcision, Ishmael is referred to as Abraham’s son. So is this a contradiction? Absolutely not. Let’s look at what God said of Ishmael specifically regarding God’s covenant with Abraham for all of mankind, His Promise of the Messiah.

Genesis 17:15-21 (ESV) 15 And God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16 I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” 17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!” 19 God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. 20 As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation. 21 But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year.”

God was very clear about Isaac being the son of Promise, the son with whom God will keep His covenant with Abraham. Yes, He heard Abraham’s request for Ishmael to be blessed, and Ishmael was blessed (while still being a wild donkey of a man…). But Sarah was upset when she witnessed Ishmael laughing at Isaac, and implored Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away.

Genesis 21:10-13 (ESV) 10 So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac.” 11 And the thing was very displeasing to Abraham on account of his son. 12 But God said to Abraham, “Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named. 13 And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring.”

God does make a nation of Ishmael. However, God’s promise to Abraham, for his namesake, for the lineage of the Messiah, is through Isaac, not Ishmael. Therefore, with respect to God’s promise to Abraham, God’s covenant with Abraham, there is only one son, Isaac. There is no “back-up”… plan B was rejected before plan A was even implemented. No turning back. Therefore, when God told Abraham to sacrifice “his only son”, He wasn’t miss counting offspring, He was letting Abraham know that He was fully aware that Isaac was the sole bearer of Abraham’s namesake, the only son by which God declared His promise to Abraham. This is significant, because what follows next points directly at the cross.

John 3:16-18 (ESV) 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Praise the Lord. Next, let’s take a look at where God send Abraham for the sacrifice, to the land of Moriah, to a mountain He will show Abraham. Now, this is long before the captivity in Egypt, the Exodus, and the Law of Moses. Before Israel is lead into the Promised Land. Before King David and King Solomon. But notice the location of where King Solomon built the Temple of the Lord:

2 Chronicles 3:1 (ESV) 1 Then Solomon began to build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to David his father, at the place that David had appointed, on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.

How cool is that? Even more interesting, is that if you’ll remember your history, when the Second Temple was built (after the Babylonian exile), the Temple remained in the same place, and maintained its same dimensions, but Herod wanted to make it more grand in nature, so he widened the temple mount… essentially creating a plateau of the hills around Mount Moriah, so that the Temple Mount was extended around the Temple. Jesus was crucified outside the city, on a hill of Moriah… where Abraham was lead to sacrifice “his only son” as a burnt offering to the Lord God. Let us continue on with the story.

Genesis 22:33 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” 6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. 7 And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.

Isaac carried the wood for the burnt offering, the sacrifice. We read in  John 19:16b-17 (ESV) “So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, 17 and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha.” Praise the Lord.

Genesis 22:9 When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

Now here, we have the provision of God. God provides the sacrifice. Yes, Jesus was born of a virgin, and was fully man, the offspring of Abraham provided by God. God intervened so that mankind might by saved, spared from the judgement. Have you ever wondered about the crown of thorns they placed on Jesus head? Notice the ram provided by God as a substitutionary sacrifice on man’s behalf, is caught in a thicket by his horns.

15 And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven 16 and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, 18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”

We see here that God is again letting Abraham know that the Messiah is coming from his offspring because he obeyed the voice of the Lord God. Praise be to our Lord and Savior. In closing, I’d like to borrow from the Apostle Paul’s closing of his letter to the Romans:

Romans 16:25-27 (ESV) 16 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

May the Lord bless you and keep you,
In Him,

Jorge