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GOD’S WORD FOR APRIL 7 ~ ~ Ps 22:7 ~ ~ “All those who see Me ridicule Me; They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, ‘He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him; Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!”

Yesterday we talked about the darkness on the day of Jesus’ crucifixion. We saw the spiritual side of those three hours. Now we’ll take a look at how that day affected those watching.”

When the darkness fell, and Jesus said, “My God,My God why have you forsaken Me?” The Father had forsaken Him, in a sense. He had to turn His back on Him when He cut the leash on the devil for the judgment on sin, but, His Love for His Son never waivered. Jesus couldn’t feel it, He couldn’t see it, but it was there. Demonic blindness covered His fleshly mind, but the Love was right there all the time, along with the judgment on the sin that Jesus embodied.

That’s how it is for unbelievers, how it was for us before we saw the Truth. They’re in darkness and can’t feel His Love. Many are trying to earn their way to His heart, while keeping Him at arm’s length in their rituals and good works. He still loves them with an eternal Love, but their religious blinders, or worldly blinders, or personal blinders, keep them from seeing the Love and the Light.

Sadly, the Father will eventually have to turn His back on some of them too, as He did for the sin that Jesus took on, even though He loves each one. There is still a small amount of time. We must pray for blinders to fall off and the Father to call them to the Son.

People who are not yet saved will judge people by how “good” they are in life. Let’s look at the people who were watching Jesus suffer on the cross, and see them through the Father’s eyes.

Let’s look at Mary, the mother of Jesus. Worldly speaking, there was no finer woman than Mary. She grew up in a strict and loving Jewish home, was chaste, humble and caring. Besides carrying the perfect geneology to mother the next King of Israel, she must have seemed very good to the Father too, or He wouldn’t have chosen her to bear and raise the Savior of the world, and the King.

And I’m sure when she got to heaven, her rewards were great. Did she get to heaven? Of course, we don’t know for sure about anyone, but if she did, was it because she was the “Mother of God”, as she’s been dubbed?

We assume she went to heaven, but not because of being chosen to bear the earthly body of the Savior, nor for her bloodlines. She was an instrument of God’s plan, but she was after all, a sinful human being like every human being. When Jesus told John to care for her, He knew that John would take her to the upper room with the disciples, if she hadn’t been a part of it before. She would wait with the other followers of Jesus, for the Holy Spirit to come. She went to heaven by asking the baby she bore on earth, bear her into heavenly places as her Savior and Lord.

Now, let’s look at the two thieves:

They both snarled and growled at the Savior along with the pharisees, and the gullible citizenry. The first one apparently kept it up until he had no more strength to lift himself for a breath to spew out another insult, but the second one saw something in the Savior. That fact probably hurled him into the ring with Jesus, but he didn’t seem to mind. He stopped the insults and listened and watched, as best he could under the circumstances. Then he took the plunge. After all, what did he have to lose? And he won!!! Jesus embraced him with His words of love and acceptance, which must have made him want to dance on the nails!!!! But, what were his qualifications to gain heaven? He wasn’t even in the same zip code as Jesus’ mother, and certainly not the pharisees, or even the Roman soldiers. He was just a punk thief, and rebellious at that. But He rested his hopes on Jesus alone. This is something his friend didn’t do, couldn’t do, because he refused to see the Light, despite the fact that he must have heard the success his friend had with talking with Jesus.

Jesus told the repentant thief that he would be with Him THAT VERY DAY in paradise. He didn’t tell him he had to go to purgatory first. He would be a classic case for purgatory, given his sins. He may have done much more than petty thievery—even murder. Still, no purgatory,~ ~ instant forgiveness.

The Centurion:

The Romans couldn’t care less about the religious problems of the Jews. Although the centurion probably secretly wondered why this non-criminal was being killed as a criminal instead of being stoned as the Jews do with religious criminals, it wasn’t his problem. He had a job to do, and that was to kill painfully and slowly. But he was the boss of the job. He had lots of time to watch, and watch he did. When the darkness came, he didn’t panic. He had to make sure things stayed under control. He was strong. He was stern, and he was manly!!!! Nothing was going to go wrong on his watch, or heads would roll, and they wouldn’t be his!!! But, in spite of all this self reliance, pride, and determination to make a name for himself, much like the second thief, he saw something in this man that was different. He eventually voiced his opinion too, which would have dropped the jaws of many people listening:

Mark 15:39

So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!”

Luke 23:47

So when the centurion saw what had happened, he glorified God, saying, “Certainly this was a righteous Man!”

I wonder if this is the centurion of Luke 7 with the sick servant whom Jesus cured from a distance?

I wonder if he was the one in Acts 22 and 23 who seemed to be pulling strings for the church? We don’t know, and we don’t know for sure if the centurion who was in charge of the crucifixions actually made the commitment to Jesus as Savior and Lord, but if He did, it wasn’t because of his strength, position, determination, or manliness, but IN SPITE of those things, humbling himself before the Lord of Lords.

Joseph of Arimathea:

Then there was Joseph of Arimathea who gave up his tomb for Jesus and prepared His body for burial. Nothing is said of him before Jesus’ death, but he probably would have known Nicodemus, whom Jesus spoke to about being born again and, in fact, Nicodemus helped him with the burial. Joseph had a high position on the council of the temple. Religious man, he was, and that was well known. He didn’t take that to the bank of heaven though, because it wouldn’t be cashed there. He probably knew of the corruption of the leaders of the Jewish religion, and saw the Light shining through in this new Teacher in contrast to that darkness. He bowed to the King of Kings and threw his robe and jewelry to the wind as he followed the Savior in humility.

Matthew 27:57

Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus.

John 19:38-39

And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.

Mark 15:43

Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.

With this cross section of bystanders, we see the common thread on both sides. The pharisees and the first thief, as well as many of the common people and Roman soldiers, crowded onto the wide road leading to destruction due to religion and self pride.

But the narrow road was being walked by those who could turn a blind eye to their own goodness, possessions, talents, and strength, and offer the Savior only their sins, so He could make them white as snow!!!

Isaiah 1:18

“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.”

That day changed everything ~ ~ ~ EVERYTHING ~ ~ ~ There never was a way to be saved, for 4,000 years, until that ONE DAY. Today is the day of salvation. Tomorrow will be too late.

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