Sunday, February 28, 2016


What are you giving up for Lent? That's a question that you don't hear so often today.  As a child, I recall it being said many times. People made a point of giving up something for the duration of the Lenten season. Some decided to forsake sweets or their favorite food. Others decided to stop smoking during Lent.
The idea of giving up something for Lent is tied to the act of making a sacrifice. Making a sacrifice during Lent, as small as it might be, may help to remind an individual of the tremendous sacrifice that our Lord made for us on the cross at Calvary. 
When Jesus died on the cross, he made the greatest and the perfect sacrifice. He is the Lord, the creator of heaven and earth. And yet he allowed sinful, mortal men to beat him, spit on him, humiliate him, and finally to crucify him. A mere thought on Jesus’ part and his enemies would be vanquished.
We cannot truly comprehend the sacrifices that Jesus made for us. We may be able to imagine what it would be like to live in a run down, dilapidated old house in a dangerous part of town. But, can we ever imagine what it would be like to give up the glory and bliss of heaven for a life on this earth? We may be able to imagine what it would be like to be in a situation where we would feel helpless. But, can we imagine what it was like for Jesus, the all powerful God who has every angel at his beck and call, to not make use of those powers so that his enemies could bind and beat him, mock him and crucify him?
Understanding what Jesus went through is even more difficult when it comes to the guilt and punishment of sin. When Jesus came to this earth until he died at Calvary, Jesus bore the guilt and shame of ALL sins, for ALL people, for ALL time. They were on his shoulders, placed there by his Father. Isaiah tells us that "the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all." (Is 53:6)  In verse five, Isaiah says, "But he was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities...."  I can't imagine what that must have been like for our Lord to go through all of this.  We only get an indication of what it must have been like when Jesus cried out on the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mt 27:46)

Yes, Jesus' sacrifice was so complete, so amazing, so wonderful, that it is impossible for us to fully understand and appreciate all that he did for us. If giving up something for Lent helps us to focus on what Jesus did for you, great! We must never lose sight of our Savior’s amazing love for sinners and the sacrifice he made for us. To God be the glory.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Jesus’ amazing march to Jerusalem!

About 2,000 years ago a young man walked into the history books when he led his army on a 1,000 mile march from Greece all the way to India. If you wanted to travel that far in the US, you would have to travel from here to Milwaukee. Then you would have to get home again. This march wasn’t just impressive because it was so long but because it was unstoppable. Alexander didn’t just travel over 1,000 miles he fought his way. There was not a foe that could stop him. The only reason he didn’t go farther was that his soldiers became homesick and wanted to go back to Greece.
Alexander’s march was far-reaching in another way; some 2,300 years later it still affects us today. That’s remarkable when you consider the fact that Alexander never set foot in the United States. What happened was that he took the Greek culture and language wherever he went. The result was that it became the standard for the world much like English culture has today. Many of the words we use, like biology, philosophy, telephone, and microscope. Signs of the Greek culture can be found in almost every aspect of our life, from architecture to government. What’s even more impressive is that Alexander did all this by the age of 33. That’s why he is called Alexander the Great.
A little over 300 years after Alexander the Great died another remarkable 33 year old embarked on a march. Like Alexander’s march this one was unstoppable. While it was not nearly so long as Alex’s (only about 90 miles), it was far more important and far more difficult. It was the march or journey Jesus took from Galilee to Jerusalem and then on to the cross on Calvary.
As Jesus made his way from Galilee to Jerusalem for the last time, something unusual happened. We are told by Luke that the Pharisees told Jesus to leave Galilee for Jerusalem for Herod wanted to kill him. Herod and the Pharisees would get their shot at Jesus soon enough but not until Jesus was ready. He told the Pharisees “Go tell that fox, ‘I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.”
Jesus’ goal was to head to Jerusalem. He says, “In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day – for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem.” Each step he took brought him one step closer to the city where he would die.
So why did Jesus say he was going, “must go,” to Jerusalem. He was going there to die. We know the answer. It was his love for us sinners, his love for the lost. That’s why Jesus was marching to Jerusalem. Jesus knew what was going to happen. He knew the hatred that awaited him there. He knew all about the humiliation he would face. He understood the painful way he would die. He knew that his Father in heaven would heap on him the sins and guilt of all humanity. He knew the Father’s wrath would be poured out on his as well and he would endure the pain and torment of hell. Yet, Jesus kept going, going to Jerusalem and the cross. So great was his love for fallen mankind that he “must go” to the cross. Only then could his mission, the salvation of souls, be complete.

God’s love for you is still there. He loves us all, each and every one of us. In love he went to the cross. In love he comes to us through his Word with the message of salvation. In love he forgives our sin and gives us the gift of eternal life. Thank the Lord Jesus’ made that “march” 2,000 years ago.