Adoring God

The Heavens Declare

The Son of God most High now hangs cursed for the sins of his people on a tree, suspended between the same heaven and earth he created. And in response, the heavens who before wept for the sins of man with a flood, now drape themselves in black garments of mourning for the murder of their Maker, and the earth quakes under the weight of his accursed cross. The sun turns its eye from beholding the Lamb of God, brutally mutilated by his enemies, by transforming the day into night. For the one who spreads out the heavens as a curtain (Ps. 104:2), the heavens, in turn, spread out a curtain of darkness between his holy manhood and the wicked eyes of men. 

And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst, (Luke 23:44-45).
The enemies of Christ, those scribes and pharisees that wanted him silenced, were ever taunting him to give them a “sign from heaven” – some miraculous indication that he was truly the Son of God (Matt. 12:38, Luke 11:29). Of course, as Luke describes them, this was an “evil generation,” for if they had truly wanted to see and believe, Jesus gave them more signs and miracles in his brief earthly ministry than could be recorded by man (John 21:25).
But even aside from his many miracles, what better “sign from heaven” could they ask for than his creation, the heavens themselves? (Ps. 19:1). God himself said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs…” And the apostle John in the first chapter of his gospel makes it plain that the Word that became flesh before their eyes was the same who was “in the beginning with God,” and that “all things were made by him,” (John 1:1-3). Further, his creation as witness to divine power and majesty was common in the Old Testament, as Moses often called upon “heaven and earth to witness against Israel,” (Deut. 30:19), and the psalmist refers to the moon as “a faithful witness in heaven,” (Ps. 89:37).
The Son of God most High now hangs cursed for the sins of his people on a tree, suspended between the same heaven and earth he created. And in response, the heavens who before wept for the sins of man with a flood, now drape themselves in black garments of mourning for the murder of their Maker, and the earth quakes under the weight of his accursed cross.
The sun turns its eye from beholding the Lamb of God, brutally mutilated by his enemies, by transforming the day into night. For the one who spreads out the heavens as a curtain (Ps. 104:2), the heavens, in turn, spread out a curtain of darkness between his holy manhood and the wicked eyes of men.
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Pilate Uses the Wrong Water to Be Cleansed

Pilate would gladly be free from the blood of the innocent Christ, so not only does he wash his hands, but he says of himself, “I am free.” But a basin of water from the local spring can do nothing to free us from the stain of sin. The only effectual cleansing for a heart racked by sin is the washing of water by the word (Eph. 5:26). We must personally partake of the Water of Life if we desire to be thoroughly clean and truly free.   

And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go.(Luke 23:22).
How often are we backed into a position of choice between taking our stand alone with Christ or succumbing to the jeering crowd making a mockery of our God? At this mock trial of Christ before the people, with Pilate occupying the judge’s seat, he finds himself in a similar predicament. He must either condemn this Jew whom he believes to be innocent or identify himself as an enemy of Caesar. That is precisely the choice put to him by the religious leaders who initially brought Jesus to Pilate, “He that makes himself a king as this man does is an enemy to Caesar, and if you let him go, you are not Caesar’s friend,” (John 19:12).
Pilate is afraid of either choice and would happily spare both Jesus and Barabbas, but that choice is not an option. And so, he chooses to spare himself rather than Jesus. The religious leaders brought Christ to trial out of envy (Matt. 27:18), and Pilate delivers him over to the executioners out of fear. Pronouncing Christ’s innocence and publicly washing his hands of his blood guiltiness only serves to secure his own eternal condemnation, for innocence either absolves the prisoner or condemns the judge. To say, “Take him and crucify him,” and yet, “I find no fault in the man,” (John 19:6; Luke 23:14) turns the point of Pilate’s sword into his own heart and makes the bench the bar.
With his wife’s dream and our Savior’s confession on the one side (Matt. 27:19), and the people’s willful violence and the threat of being identified as Caesar’s enemy on the other, Pilate’s soul is bound for destruction. How soon does he discover that his own conscience is a worse enemy than Caesar? Guilt at once kindles in the heart both shame and horror (Matt. 27:24), and it is so fierce a fire that the basin of water before him cannot put it out. For what can a little water in a bowl or even Jordan’s floods do toward washing those stained hands that had the power to release innocence and yet chose not to (John 19:10)?
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Forsaken by All

David is not afraid though ten thousand should hem him in (Ps. 3:6) because the Lord sustains him. But let God even ever so little withdraw his support (Ps. 55), and fearfulness overtakes him and dread overwhelms him. It is clear that this man after God’s own heart has so little heart of his own when left to himself. God sometimes lets us fall so we can clearly see in whose strength we stand. He allows us to see the hand that holds us, to let us know that without him we are but men (Ps. 9:20). 

Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me, (John 16:32).
True friends multiply joy as well as lessen misery. Some of Christ’s truest friends on earth were his faithful apostles. But in his time of greatest need, the prophet Isaiah describes the Lord’s experience, “ I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me,” (Isa. 63:3). And in Psalm 69:21, “I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.” In his time of extreme human need, Christ’s closest companions actually desert him rather than support him.
How truthfully he could say, “I came to my own, and my own would not receive me.” He came to the Jews, his chosen people, and they accused him of being a glutton, a winebibber, a blasphemer, and even Beelzebub himself (Matt. 11:19). In his own province in Galilee he is disregarded and disesteemed (Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:4). He comes to Jerusalem, whose inhabitants are enlightened by his sermons and amazed by his miracles, and still they break his heart. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered you… but you would not,” (Matt. 23:37). And that’s not all, for when he is arrested, Jesus is accused of treason against Caesar, sedition against the Law, enmity against the temple, and blasphemy against God. But this is not all.
When you look more closely, you find that many of his own disciples (2 Tim. 4:10) return to the love of this present world. “Many,” the text says in John 6:66, “drew back and walked no more with him.” But will his closest friends leave him too? Before they have said, “Master, to whom should we go? You have the words of eternal life.” And yet, when the sun beats hottest on them, how soon are they all withered. One betrays him, another swears against him, but all forsake him.
What does it mean that his own apostles forsake him? Scripture asks that if the light itself becomes dark, how great is that darkness? If the salt of the world loses its saltiness, how can it be effective? (Matt. 5:13).
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