Wise Words : Easter

I have been reading John Pipers book called The Passion of Jesus Christ; Fifty Reasons Why He Came To Die. It has been an encouraging read in getting my head wrapped around why Jesus had to die and what is the big deal about Easter in the Christian faith. I have put the opening scripture that John Piper starts his book off with and then added part of the introduction. You can download this book for free at John Piper’s web site. I hope where ever you are in your faith journey that this book will encourage you.  I know it has been encouraging me!  If you are just checking Jesus out, this is a great philosophical read.  I hope you have a wonderful Easter.  He has risen, conquered sin and death for you and for me.  Jesus did not save us when we had it all together, but he died for us while we were living in sin.  He loves you and me.  There is nothing, not one big bad thing in your life that Jesus’ blood can not wash away.  He loves you, right now, the way you are.  He is our righteousness.  He stands at our door and knocks, if you open the door, he will come in.

Below is the scripture and the introduction to John Piper’s book.  If you don’t have time to read it now, find a minute this week to curl up with a cup of coffee and read this if you can.  It’s so good.

TO
Jesus Christ

Despised and rejected by men
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief . . .
we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned every one to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth. . . .

He was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people. . . .
There was no deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him;
he has put him to grief.

The prophet Isaiah
Chapter 53, Verse 3-10

INTRODUCTION

The Christ, the Crucifixion,
and the Concentration Camps
The most important question of the twenty-first century is:
Why did Jesus Christ suffer so much? But we will never see
this importance if we fail to go beyond human cause. The ultimate
answer to the question, Who crucified Jesus? is: God did.
It is a staggering thought. Jesus was his Son. And the suffering
was unsurpassed. But the whole message of the Bible leads to this
conclusion.

God Meant It for Good
The Hebrew prophet Isaiah said, “It was the will of the LORD to
crush him; he has put him to grief” (Isaiah 53:10). The Christian
New Testament says, “[God] did not spare his own Son but gave
him up for us all” (Romans 8:32). “God put [Christ] forward . . .
by his blood, to be received by faith” (Romans 3:25).
But how does this divine act relate to the horribly sinful actions
of the men who killed Jesus? The answer given in the Bible is
expressed in an early prayer: “There were gathered together
against your holy servant Jesus . . . both Herod and Pontius Pilate,
along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever
your hand and your plan had predestined to take place” (Acts
4:27-28). The depth and scope of this divine sovereignty takes our
breath away. But it is also the key to our salvation. God planned
it, and by the means of wicked men, great good has come to the
world. To paraphrase a word of the Jewish Torah: They meant it
for evil, but God meant it for good (Genesis 50:20).
And since God meant it for good, we must move beyond the
question of human cause to divine purpose. The central issue of
Jesus’ death is not the cause, but the purpose—the meaning. Man
may have his reasons for wanting Jesus out of the way. But only
God can design it for the good of the world. In fact, God’s purposes
for the world in the death of Jesus are unfathomable. I am
scraping the surface in this little book as I introduce you to fifty
of them. My aim is to let the Bible speak. This is where we hear
the word of God. I hope that these pointers will set you on an endless
quest to know more and more of God’s great design in the
death of his Son.

What Does the Word PASSION Mean?
We associate at least four things with the word passion: sexual
desire, zeal for a task, an oratorio by J. S. Bach, and the sufferings
of Jesus Christ. The word comes from a Latin word meaning suffering.
That is the way I am using it here—the sufferings and death
of Jesus Christ. But it relates to all the other passions as well. It
deepens sex, inspires music, and carries forward the greatest cause
in the world.

How Was the Passion of Jesus Unique?
Why did the suffering and execution of a man who was convicted
and condemned as a pretender to the throne of Rome unleash, in
the next three centuries, a power to suffer and to love that transformed
the Roman Empire, and to this day is shaping the world?
The answer is that the passion of Jesus was absolutely unique, and
his resurrection from the dead three days later was an act of God
to vindicate what his death achieved.
His passion was unique because he was more than a mere
human. Not less. He was, as the ancient Nicene Creed says, “very
God of very God.” This is the testimony of those who knew him
and were inspired by him to explain who he is. The apostle John
referred to Christ as “the Word” and wrote, “In the beginning was
the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through
him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. . . .
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen
his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and
truth” (John 1:1-3, 14).
Then add to his deity that he was utterly innocent in his suffering.
Not just innocent of the charge of blasphemy, but of all sin.
One of his closest disciples said, “He committed no sin, neither was
deceit found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:22). Then add to this uniqueness
that he embraced his own death with absolute authority. One
of the most stunning statements Jesus ever made was about his own
death and resurrection: “I lay down my life that I may take it up
again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own
accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take
it up again. This charge I have received from my Father” (John
10:17-18). The controversy about who killed Jesus is marginal. He
chose to die. His Father ordained it. He embraced it.

His Passion Was Vindicated by the Resurrection
Because of this unparalleled passion, God raised Jesus from the
dead. It happened three days later. Early Sunday morning he rose
from the dead. He appeared numerous times to his disciples for
forty days before his ascension to heaven (Acts 1:3).
The disciples were slow to believe that it really happened. They
were not gullible primitives. They were down-to-earth tradesmen.
They knew people did not rise from the dead. At one point Jesus
insisted on eating fish to prove to them that he was not a ghost
(Luke 24:39-43). This was not the resuscitation of a corpse. It was
the resurrection of the God-Man, into an indestructible new life.
The early church acclaimed him Lord of heaven and earth. They
said, “After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right
hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3). Jesus had finished
the work God gave him to do, and the resurrection was the proof
that God was satisfied. This book is about what Jesus’ passion
accomplished for the world.

The Passion of Jesus Christ
Fifth Reasons Why He Came to Die
John Piper
Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2004 p. 11-14)

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