DiM | “Your Love Awakens Me” by Phil Wickham

Presentation1CCM Radio Edition.

May 10, 2016. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Your Love Awakens Me” by Phil Wickham which currently sits at #16 on the20theCountdownMagazine.

I have concerns regarding this artist and his music in general, though this song, lyrically, finds itself in the “middle” category. It’s very vague and it relies on the listener to fill in the lyrical gaps to piece together a message. That strikes me as mystical form and is a red-flag, so I had to read up a bit on the artist to get a better read on his doctrine. We’ll start with the artist then move to the song.

Phil Wickham is a “worship leader” in the seeker-sensitive sense. He grew up in an evangelical home and was propped up as worship leader at the young age of 12 (source). His musical influences include Keane and Coldplay, so his music goes for an ethereal musical quality. Lyrically, he’s right in line with the Bethel / Hillsong / Passion narrative of presence theology and emotional goo. In the announcement for his latest album, we see this come through in his claim of direct revelation that “God loves us”… because, you know, it’s not enough to hear the Preached Word of God or to read God’s Word to build your faith… you need a direct revelation for it to become real. /sigh.

“My friends, It’s hard to put into words how excited I am to share this with you. This is the cover of my upcoming record “Children Of God”. We officially began working on this record exactly one year ago today, and I am thrilled to announce that it will be released on April 8th, exactly 3 months from today. We poured our hearts and souls into this project over the past year, and I can’t wait to share thIS music with you all. A year and a half ago I lost my voice and was forced to get surgery on my vocal chords with the risk of not being able to sing professionally again. During the difficulty of that season, God spoke the simple yet massive truth into my heart that he loves me. That he loves us. That we are first and foremost His children. That whatever may come our way we are His children. That whatever we may be faced with we are His. Out of this new found sense of identity many of these songs were written. They are a response to His love, and a call to others who have lost sight of or have never heard this truth. We are His. we have nothing to fear. We have only hope in front of us. We are the CHILDREN OF GOD. -Phil” (source)

For a little more emotionally-driven narrative supposedly giving a “behind-the-scenes” look at the inspiration for his latest album, check out his Facebook page here.

That’s the background on this artist. He’s wildly popular in the seeker crowd, and really dresses the part of a seeker-mergent artist. Let’s give this song a listen and then examine the lyrics.

Official Lyric Video

Lyrics (via MusixMatch)

There were walls between us
And by the cross you came
And broke them down
You broke them down
And there were chains around us
And by Your grace we are
No longer bound
No longer bound
You called me out of the grave
You called me into the light
You called my name and then my heart came alive
Your love is greater
Your love is stronger
Your love awakens
Awakens
Awakens me
Your love is greater
Your love is stronger
Your love awakens
Awakens
Awakens me

Feel the darkness shaking
All the dead are coming
Back to life
Back to life
Hear the song awaken
All creation singing
We’re alive
Cause You’re alive
You called me out of the grave
You called me into the light
You called my name and then my heart came alive
Your love is greater
Your love is stronger
Your love awakens
Awakens
Awakens me
Your love is greater
Your love is stronger
Your love awakens
Awakens
Awakens me

And what a love we found
Death can’t hold us down
We shout it out
We’re alive
Cause you’re alive
And what a love we found
Death can’t hold us down
We shout it out
We’re alive
Cause you’re alive
And what a love we found
Death can’t hold us down
We shout it out
We’re alive
Cause you’re alive

Your love is greater
Your love is stronger
Your love awakens
Awakens
Awakens me
Your love is greater
Your love is stronger
Your love awakens
Awakens
Awakens me
Your love is greater
Your love is stronger
Your love awakens
Awakens
Awakens me
Your love is greater
Your love is stronger
Your love awakens
Awakens
Awakens me
Your love awakens me
Your love is greater
Your love is stronger
Your love awakens
Awakens
Awakens me

Discussion

Okay, so lyrically this song is a jumble of positive statements loosely connected in theme. The lyrical format is strongly mystical, repetitious… nonsensical, even. There is nothing being truly communicated here… just a string of platitudes. The statements being made in this song are mostly true, but slightly unbalanced in their presentation. It’s like talking about how wonderful it is when a father finds and rescues his lost child… without ever discussing the fact that the child was actually a teenager and had run away from home by stealing his father’s car in the first place.

The Cross is mentioned, that’s good. Grace is mentioned. But the message of the Gospel isn’t clearly conveyed. Given Wickham’s seeker-mergent style, we see the focus of the outcome of all that the Cross brought us remains emotional. …then my heart came alive.

The song can be somewhat rescued via sound doctrine, but the mystical nature still remains and I don’t think it is particularly helpful for mass consumption. For today’s post, I’d like to read how the Apostle Paul encouraged the Ephesians in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We’ll start in Eph 2 and read through Eph 3:13, because I think this covers the territory that the song mystically tries to manage.

Ephesians 2:1-3:13 (ESV)

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.

The riches of Christ are unsearchable… they cannot be discovered introspectively, they are revealed to us in Scripture. The foundation of the Church isn’t direct-direct revelation, it is the foundation laid by the Apostles and the Prophets with Christ Jesus as its cornerstone. The foundation has been laid, and we are being built on that firm foundation into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit of God… God is doing the building. He isn’t laying any new foundations, we are being built on the foundation that has already been laid. Sola Scriptura.

Romans 10:5-17 (ESV) | The Message of Salvation to All

For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For“everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Conclusion

I urge my brothers and sisters in Christ to exercise Biblical discernment and caution regarding the music of Phil Wickham. The mysticism is problematic. The artist’s theology is problematic. The lyric in this song is salvageable with proper Biblical teaching, but it does not stand on its own. It’s a bit of a muddled mess.

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.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “Cornerstone” by Hillsong Worship

Presentation1Evangelical Worship Edition.

February 25, 2016. Today we are taking a look at songs we’ve not yet covered on the Popular Songs list at WorshipTogether. We’ll be looking at “Cornerstone” by Hillsong Worship. It’s not a new song, but it’s probably going to be one of Hillsong’s most enduring songs. Once we’ve rounded out the list of Popular songs on this site, our Evangelical Worship Edition will start looking at the “New Songs” list.

Hillsong Worship. Hillsong church is a house of heresy. It is an enemy to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Brian Houston is a false teacher, a wolf in the pulpit. Brian and his fellow preachers twist the Scriptures for shameful gain. Everything that comes out of this “ministry” is suspect. Having said that, this song is salvageable in that when the proper theology is applied to the song, there is some merit in its lyric. This song being played in a Hillsong affiliated church? Not good. This song being played in a doctrinally sound church for corporate worship? Potentially beneficial.

Music Video (Live at RELEVANT)

 

Lyrics (via WorshipTogether)

Verse 1
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and  righteousness
I dare not trust the  sweetest frame
But wholly  trust is Jesus’ name

Chorus
Christ alone, Cornerstone
Weak made strong in the Savior’s love
Through the storm He is Lord
Lord of all

Verse 2
When darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil
My anchor holds within the veil

Verse 3
When he shall come with trumpet sound
Oh may I then in Him be found
Dressed in His righteousness alone
Faultless stand before the throne

Writer(s): Edward Mote, Eric Liljero, Jonas Myrin, Reuben Morgan
Ministry(s): Hillsong
CCLI #: 6158927
Scripture Reference(s): Psalm 118:21-23, Isaiah 28:16, Matthew 21:41-43

Discussion

Let us begin by taking a look at the cited Scripture References.

Matthew 21:41-43 (ESV)
41 They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.”

42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:

“‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’?

43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.

Here Jesus is referring to a couple of Scriptures. I want to expand the references a bit for the sake of context. These are clearly pointing to Christ.

Psalm 118:19-24 (ESV)
19 Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the Lord.
20 This is the gate of the Lord;
the righteous shall enter through it.
21 I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
22 The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Isaiah 28:14-17 (ESV) | A Cornerstone in Zion
14 Therefore hear the word of the Lord, you scoffers,
who rule this people in Jerusalem!
15 Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death,
and with Sheol we have an agreement,
when the overwhelming whip passes through
it will not come to us,
for we have made lies our refuge,
and in falsehood we have taken shelter”;
16 therefore thus says the Lord God,
“Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion,
    a stone, a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation:
‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’
17 And I will make justice the line,
and righteousness the plumb line;
and hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and waters will overwhelm the shelter.”

These passages are being cited in context. That’s impressive to me. These passages point to the work of Jesus Christ in His first advent. These were not purely prophetically pointing forward, but we have also what the Apostles taught regarding Christ as the cornerstone. We’ll get to the song lyric in a bit, but I want to discuss the picture of Christ as the Cornerstone and a Firm Foundation.

Cornerstone and Firm Foundation of What?

That’s the big question. In the Old Testament they would have assumed a new Temple of God, maybe even a New Kingdom. We who belong to the New Covenant understand that all of these are true and they find their fulfillment in the Person and Work of God the Son, Jesus Christ. The writer of Hebrews goes to great lengths to flesh out how the Old Covenant foreshadowed pointed to, was fulfilled in, and replaced by Jesus Christ the Messiah. There is no longer a physical Temple in Jerusalem, so this isn’t a work being made by man. Instead, the foundation and cornerstone refer to the Church, the Body and Bride of Christ.

Ephesians 2:11-22 (ESV) | One in Christ
11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

Amen! We are the Body of Christ, we stand on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets (the Divinely Inspired Scriptures, the Written Word of God) with Christ as its cornerstone. And in Christ we are being joined together and growing into a holy temple a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. Notice how this New Testament teaching in no way undermines the prophetic passages in Psalms or Isaiah… everything points to Christ and His Person and Work.

The Lyric of the Song

There are several lines in the song that convey parts of the Gospel for those with eyes to see and ears to hear. It isn’t clear enough (in my opinion) for the unbeliever to hear the Gospel, but as I said earlier when sung within the context of a biblically-sound church, it can be profitable for encouragement.

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness…
I rest on His unchanging grace…
may I then in Him be found dressed in His righteousness alone…

These lines put together a picture of the Promise of Salvation because of Christ’s penal substitutionary atonement for our sin. When we stand before the Throne of God, by faith we will not be standing on our own righteousness, but we will be dressed in His righteousness. Praise the Lord!

Another line I really love in this song is “My anchor holds within the veil”. In its best light, it’s an artistic reference to Hebrews 6. Let’s take a look.

Hebrews 6:13-20 (ESV) | The Certainty of God’s Promise
For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

The Person and Work of Jesus Christ is the assurance of our salvation. Praise the Lord.

A call to discernment

Now, with all of the good found in this song, why didn’t it earn an approval? Because for all of the good that can be found in the song, it has to be properly aligned with Scripture for the message to come out clearly. Hillsong doesn’t preach a christocentric Gospel. Hillsong preaches man-centered false theology. Hillsong doesn’t hold to the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Hillsong promotes, encourages, and blesses modern-day false prophets. They don’t rebuke self-appointed apostles. Hillsong promotes a form of christianity that circumvents the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets and preaches a different christ, a different cornerstone, a different spirit, a different gospel. Their Presence theology encourages a mystical and emotional direct connection to the spirit apart from the clear teaching of Scripture. So in that sense, they aren’t singing the same confession of scriptures we’ve just worked through.

Edit: I completely dropped the ball in this review when I failed to search for these lyrics in hymnals. “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less” by Edward Mote, 1797-1874. The Lutheran version doesn’t have the refrain added by William B Bradbury’s “Solid Rock” (reference). So that is why this song is so much better than most of what Hillsong puts out… Hillsong didn’t write it so much as repackage it, dropping a verse and changing the Refrain into a full chorus.

Conclusion

This is lyrically the best song I’ve reviewed coming out of Hillsong Worship. It’s vagueness is salvageable by sound doctrine, and exploitable by heretical teaching. This is a bit of an anomaly for music coming out of one of the major heresy houses (Hillsong, Bethel, IHOP, etc). That doesn’t mean we should be okay having it looped ad finitum to whip the congregation into an emotional frenzy, but it can be properly used for Biblical Worship. Please exercise discernment in how this is used, and ensure the congregation understands the connection of the Temple to Jesus Christ.

Jude 24-25 (ESV) Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 27:57 thru 28

bibleLet us continue our walk through the Gospel According to Matthew. Last week we worked through Matthew 27:11-56.

Last week’s look within Matthew 27 took us from Pilate to the Cross. Today we’ll be closing out the Gospel According to Matthew. It’s been a long journey through this Gospel, and I’ve really enjoyed our time in the Word these several weeks.

Matthew 27:57-28:20 (ESV)

Matthew 27:57-61 (ESV) | Jesus Is Buried

57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud 60 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. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.

Matthew 27:62-66 (ESV) | The Guard at the Tomb

62 The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 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.” 65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.

Notice how the chief priests and the Pharisees still insist in their unbelief that Jesus was an impostor. Their motivation is one of fear and envy, though. Notice that they were not the least bit comforted for having put a blasphemer to death (such was the false-accusation against Christ). Had their actions been borne of faith in a Living God, what would they have to fear of an “impostor”? But they lacked faith, and the god they served was not the One True GOD. As Jesus told them directly, they served their father the devil, who was a liar from the beginning.

John 8:39-47 (ESV) | You Are of Your Father the Devil
They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

And now these schemers find themselves in opposition to the Son of God. They now scheme to prevent the prophecy of Christ’s Resurrection from coming to pass… as if the will of men could in any way hinder the Will of God. These men have deluded themselves into projecting onto the disciples some scheme of stealing the body and claiming the resurrection. The protection they set in place is overkill for preventing a band of Galileans from stealing a corpse… yet it is a pathetic attempt to stop the Hand of God.

Matthew 28:1-10 (ESV) | The Resurrection

28 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. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.

The guards fainted. It is so frustrating to hear modern-day false prophets/teachers speak so flippantly about encounters with heavenly beings. Now, as for the women, the angel told them not to be afraid and gave them the good news of His resurrection. Yet, as they departed they were still with fear and great joy. Interesting how such seemingly opposing emotions can coexist for a time. Clearly the fear experienced was as great as the joy brought by the good news. Notice here that Jesus appears to them again to tell them “Do not be afraid”. That’s awesome. Jesus showed up, while they were on their way filled with fear and joy, to comfort them and confirm the word of the Lord spoken to them by an angel.

Matthew 28:11-15 (ESV) | The Report of the Guard

11 While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers 13 and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.

And still not a hint of repentance to be found. Truly these chief priests and the elders were condemned in their unbelief. A miraculous sign, and angelic being, and an empty tomb in keeping with the prophecy of Jesus concerning His own death and resurrection was performed in front of a most hardened and credible witness… the very guard they put in place to secure the tomb… and their hearts remained of stone. Indeed this lie persists unto this day, in many forms, some even within groups claiming to be the church, denying the real death and bodily resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, our atoning sacrifice.

Matthew 28:16-20 (ESV) | The Great Commission

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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,20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

At this point, Matthew has presented the story of Christ’s fulfillment of the prophecies of the Messiah to his Jewish audience. Where other writers share more of what takes place after the resurrection, Matthew sums it up rather quickly and then closes with what we refer to as the Great Commission. The Apostle Paul summed up the sequence of events succinctly in his letter to the Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 15:1-11 (ESV) | The Resurrection of Christ

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

Indeed we can rest assured that the account of His death and resurrection is credible, reliable, and true.

Until Next Week

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be looking at foreshadowing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ found in the Old Testament as we move into advent season and Christmas. I’m not yet sure how our Gospel Wednesday will proceed after this holiday season, but we will continue spending time in God’s Word and sharing it with the readers of this blog.

Jude 1:24-25 (ESV) | Doxology

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Amen, indeed.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 27:11-56

bibleLet us continue our walk through the Gospel According to Matthew. Last week we worked through Matthew 26:30-27:10.

Last week’s look at the remainder of Matthew 26 flowed into the beginning of 27 so that we could close the loop on Judas. His life ended in a repentance that only led him back to the murderous, unbelieving chief priests and elders who paid Judas to betray the Christ. Judas then took his own life in condemnation. The witness of the Gospel accounts confirms Judas, the betrayer, did not truly repent and indeed died in his unbelief.

Matthew 27:11-56 (ESV)

As we continue working through Matthew 27, we see Jesus standing before Pilate. There were legal limits imposed upon the Jews as a result of the Roman occupation. Crucifixion was a Roman form of execution, not a Jewish one, so these chief priests and elders sought the most destructive, painful, and disgraceful form of execution in the known world, and they needed Rome to do it.

Matthew 27:11-14 (ESV) | Jesus Before Pilate

11 Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You have said so.” 12 But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” 14 But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

Jesus was innocent of every charge. His silence was a necessary part of His obedience to God the Father unto death. The fact of the matter is this: Jesus couldn’t be guilty of blasphemy because He is, in truth, God the Son. Jesus is the pure and spotless Lamb of God.

Matthew 27:15-23 (ESV) | The Crowd Chooses Barabbas

15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. 16 And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. 17 So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18 For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. 19 Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.” 20 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” 22 Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” 23 And he said, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”

Your flesh chooses sin, it doesn’t choose Jesus the Christ, Son of the Living God. It is corrupted by sin and drawn to itself rather than to God. Here, the chief priests and the elders have led Israel to destroy the Son of Man. Unjustly. Praise be to God for His Grace and Mercy in allowing this to happen, so that by His stripes, we are healed from our death and sealed with the promise of new life in the Resurrection. I know, I’m getting ahead of myself, but I can’t help it.

Matthew 27:24-26 (ESV) | Pilate Delivers Jesus to Be Crucified

24 So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” 25 And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” 26 Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.

I wonder if Pilate modeled the ceremonial hand washing of which the chief priests chastised Jesus and His disciples for skipping before eating (Mark 7:1-8). The Tradition of the Elders had invented ways of washing off the uncleanliness that may have been transferred onto them from those in the market place, so that they would not be made unclean in eating with unclean hands. None of it is Scripture, it’s from the so-called Oral Tradition (Pharisaical). Interesting how even in being dead in sins and trespasses, we have an inkling of an understanding that we need to have our sins and transgressions (Baptism) but this is a work that God must do for us, not one that we can do for ourselves. Pilate is no more innocent of blood for having washed his hands than the elders who seek His crucifixion. It is eerie to see the people declare boldly, “His blood be on us and on our children!” No doubt this pierced the hearts of all who listened on the day of Pentecost when Peter declared the following:

Acts 2:22-23 (ESV) “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.

Peter points out that the Jews crucified Jesus by the hands of lawless men (the Romans who are not under the Mosaic Law). Yet, God in His Mercy and Grace to His creation… made this the very means by which our sins and transgressions are washed away… by the Blood of Jesus… shed on the Cross.

Matthew 27:27-31 (ESV) | Jesus Is Mocked

27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. 28 And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.

Matthew 27:32-44 (ESV) | The Crucifixion

32 As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross. 33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 34 they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. 35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots.36 Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. 37 And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”38 Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. 39 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads 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.” 41 So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, 42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.

Matthew 27:45-56 (ESV) | The Death of Jesus

45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”47 And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.”48 And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.

51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54 When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

55 There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, 56 among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

Truly this is the Son of God! The detail of the curtain of the temple is vitally important. The significance of this is something the Jewish readers of Matthew’s account would have recognized immediately. Being a Gentile, I’m very grateful for the writer of Hebrews expounding on this for us so beautifully. If you wish to understand the covenants, read through Hebrews as a single document. In the interest of time, we’ll read through portions pertaining to the curtain of the temple and the significance of its rending at Christ’s death on the cross.

God’s Promise to Abraham

As Christians we are made sons of Abraham by faith, into the Promise that God made to Abraham after he did not withhold his son, his only son Isaac.

Genesis 22:14-18 (ESV) 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.” And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 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, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”

We’ll be revisiting this passage as a foreshadowing of Christ in the Old Testament in the weeks following our closing of the Gospel According to Matthew. But this is the backdrop for what we will  now read in Hebrews.

Hebrews 6:13-20 (ESV) | The Certainty of God’s Promise

13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” 15 And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. 16 For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. 17 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. 19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

The writer of Hebrews is delineating the Mosaic Covenant from the New Covenant of Christ’s Blood, so in this next portion where he writes “the first covenant” he’s referring to that of Moses.

Hebrews 9:1-10 (ESV) | The Earthly Holy Place

Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness. For a tent was prepared, the first section, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence. It is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a second section called the Most Holy Place, having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation.

Hebrews 10:1-4 (ESV) | Christ’s Sacrifice Oncefor All

For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Hebrews 10:12-14 (ESV) But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

Hebrews 10:19-25 (ESV) | The Full Assurance of Faith

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Amen. The rending of that curtain isn’t just about showing God’s power, but about the end of the first covenant… because it was now superseded by the Blood of Jesus Christ and His finished work on the Cross.

Until Next Week

Next week we’ll be working through the remainder of the Gospel According to Matthew. I do hope you join us for that. In the meantime, spend some time in the Word and in fellowship with the Body of Christ. Love God, Love Neighbor, repent and be forgiven in Jesus’ Name.

Jude 1:24-25 (ESV) | Doxology

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Amen, indeed.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 26:1-29

bibleLet us continue our walk through the Gospel According to Matthew. Last week we worked through Matthew 25.

Last week’s look at Matthew 25 ended with Jesus closing out His answer to the disciples’ question, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3b). The disciples had come to Jesus privately for this lesson. Jesus wasn’t speaking to the multitudes here.

Matthew 26 (ESV)

Matthew 26 (ESV) | The Plot to Kill Jesus

When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.

Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.”

Jesus tells the disciples plainly that He would be delivered up to be crucified. Now, maybe the disciples struggled to understand how or why the Romans would crucify Jesus on account of the chief priests and the elders. Maybe they couldn’t see the chief priests going for a Roman style of execution for an offense to them. We don’t know because it’s not written in here. We do know that despite all of His warnings and statements, they weren’t intellectually or emotionally prepared for what was about to take place. I praise God that Faith is not dependent upon our intellect or emotions. God knows their hearts… and He preserves them through the storm they are about to experience.

Beginning in verse 3, we have a scene change in Matthew’s writing. We move away from Jesus and His disciples and we are let in on the plotting of the chief priests and elders. Now, Jesus told His disciples that He was to be crucified. The plot is to secretly arrest and kill Him. They decide to wait until the end of the Passover to enact their plan.

Matthew 26 (ESV) | Jesus Anointed at Bethany

Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” 10 But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me.12 In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.

Okay, so here to get a sense of what was going on at this event, we need to do some cross-referencing. Mark’s account adds some details but mostly follows Matthew’s account here. Biblical scholars attribute Mark’s account to those of the Apostle Peter’s teachings. The account found in John focuses a little more on the woman and her actions than Mark and Matthew. John also gives some insight into the motivations of one who was most offended by the act.

John 12:1-8 (ESV) 12 Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”

A couple of notes here, the tracking of time looks like a conflict between John and Matthew (six days vs two days), but in neither account do we have an exact reference point to when the “passage of time” clause comes in. We know Passover. John says that Jesus entered Bethany six days out and Matthew says that Jesus told them He would be crucified “after two days the Passover is coming”. Neither account is slavishly following a chronological timeline. We don’t need it here, since we know the Passover and we have what is being taught by the events we have recorded. As for the anointing of the Head vice the anointing of the Feet of Jesus, it was most likely both. It was customary to anoint the head with oil, yet in those accounts we see Jesus referring to her act as anointing His body. A pound of ointment is a lot of oil. The difference in John’s account, I think, is because this act of humble worship isn’t the norm. We see throughout John’s account of the Gospel the focus on the Deity of Jesus and the heart of worship. John gives us the purpose of his account of the Gospel in John 20:20-31:

John 20:30-31 (ESV) 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

John’s account begins with the Deity of Christ and carries that not throughout. Mary was indeed anointing His body for burial, but she also worshiped at His feet. John’s gospel was probably written much later than Matthew’s, and to an audience that is less Jewish and more Gentile Believers. We return to Matthew’s account now, where we’ve been operating under the notion that his target audience was primarily Jewish Believers.

Matthew 26 (ESV) | Judas to Betray Jesus

14 Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.

Matthew 26 (ESV) | The Passover with the Disciples

17 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?” 18 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.’”19 And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover.

20 When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. 21 And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” 23 He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” 25 Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I,Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.”

Matthew’s account makes a bit of an aside letting us know that Judas had gone to the chief priests offering to betray the LORD for a fee. When the time comes to reveal Judas to the other disciples as His betrayer, notice we see a similarity to Matt 18:7 (ESV), “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!”  Here, Jesus affirms that whatever transpires next will be according to the Will of God, what has already been Written of Him… but the vessel or agent of this betrayal is doomed. The pronouncement of judgement against Judas is striking. Judas doesn’t stand as the example of one who is shaken in the faith, or overcome with fear, doubt, or anxiety… we’ll see that later. No, Judas is the example of the false teacher, the false prophet who teaches for shameful gain what should not be taught.

Matthew 26 (ESV) | Institution of the Lord’s Supper

26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

There is a tendency these days for Christians to think that the Passover (Exodus 12) Meal became the Lord’s Supper. That is not what is happening here. The Passover points to Jesus Christ. They were indeed gathered for the Passover Meal. During that meal, Jesus then institutes something new. The New Covenant of the Blood of Jesus. This covenant is superior to the Old Covenant, of which the Passover was a major part. The New Covenant had done away with the need for yearly sacrifice, for Christ is the Perfect and Final sacrifice (Hebrews 8-9). I would love to discuss this institution of the Lord’s Supper further, but doing so would cut along denominational lines (Lutheran, Reformed, Baptist, Methodist) so I leave this to you to search out and discuss with your Pastors/Elders. For now, let us close by looking at what is taught in Hebrews 8-9.

Hebrews 8 (ESV) | Jesus, High Priest of a Better Covenant

Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man. For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.

For he finds fault with them when he says:

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord,
    when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel
    and with the house of Judah,
not like the covenant that I made with their fathers
    on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.
For they did not continue in my covenant,
    and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord.
10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
    after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws into their minds,
    and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God,
    and they shall be my people.
11 And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor
    and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
for they shall all know me,
    from the least of them to the greatest.
12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,
    and I will remember their sins no more.

13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

Hebrews 9 (ESV) | The Earthly Holy Place

Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness. For a tent was prepared, the first section, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence. It is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a second section called the Most Holy Place, having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.

These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, 10 but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation.

Redemption Through the Blood of Christ

11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come,then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.16 For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. 18 Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. 19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” 21 And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. 22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

23 Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Until Next Week

Next week we’ll be working through the remainder of Matthew 26. As we closed today with the Gospel, we will also close next week’s study with the Gospel. We are working through some of the toughest passages of the Gospel According to Matthew. It seems we will be pressing into the Advent season by the time we close out our study of Matthew. Until next week, remain in the Word and stand firm in the Faith.

Jude 1:24-25 (ESV) | Doxology

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Amen, indeed.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge