The Sufferings of Christ

The sufferings of Christ on the cross brought an end to the elaborate (but futile) Old Covenant sacrifices for sin and guilt. And they bring sinners to God.

Today’s Reading

Ezekiel 40; First Peter 5

Selected Verses

And in the vestibule of the gate were two tables on either side, on which the burnt offering and the sin offering and the guilt offering were to be slaughtered.  Ezekiel 40:39

So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed.  First Peter 5:1


In Ezekiel’s vision of the new temple, God took him into the inner chamber where there are tables for the washing and slaughter of the various kinds of sacrifices: burnt, guilt, and sin offerings.  Such was the enormity of the sin of God’s chosen people that He commanded the sacrifices to be repeated over and over with no seeming conclusion.  Sin and sacrifices were the way of life on a daily basis.  Talk about life on an endless treadmill!

Would there be no deliverance from the sin or the futility of the animal sacrifices?  Yes, indeed, there would.

Peter witnessed that deliverance accomplished by the sufferings of Christ.  The Apostle knew what those sufferings meant. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” he wrote (First Peter 3:18).  Christ’s sufferings meant that a sufficient offering had finally been made.  Christ suffered once for sins.  His one offering was sufficient because He was righteous. No other person and no sacrificial animal could accomplish what His sufferings accomplished which was to bring unrighteous people to God.

Peter counted himself as one of those unrighteous people graciously brought to God.  He lived out the rest of his life and ministry in the light of the cross of Christ.  When he appealed to the elders among his readers to be faithful and humble shepherds of God’s flock, he did so as one who had never lost sight of the reason for Jesus’ sufferings.

Think about it

Have you grasped the meaning of the sufferings of Christ?  Leave aside any effort to earn forgiveness through any merit of your own, or any feeble offerings to God.  They cannot suffice.  Only the One who suffered for His people on the cross can bring us to God.  Trust in the sufferings of Christ.

Healing for Sin-sick Souls

Sin causes pain and death, but the sinless Lord Jesus Christ’s pain and death resulted in a full and final cure for the iniquity of His people.

Today’s Reading

Jeremiah 7-8; First Timothy 2

Selected Verses

 For the wound of the daughter of my people is my heart wounded;
I mourn, and dismay has taken hold on me. Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of the daughter of my people not been restored? Jeremiah 8:21-22

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. First Timothy 2:5-6


Jeremiah was in grief over the sin of Judah. He had a message. It was from God. It was true, but it gave him no joy. He had to proclaim to the people their sin and failure. No wonder people called him “the weeping prophet.” Sin has painful consequences for unrepentant sinners, but also for those who love them and can only watch them spiraling down into judgment. Jeremiah loved his fellow countrymen. He could call them to God, but he could not heal them when they refused to listen. In those days, Gilead was an area east of the Jordan known for its medicinal products. [1]  The prophet longed for some balm or ointment to cure the sinful populace.

I remember an old spiritual we sang in my childhood. The refrain is:

There is a balm in Gilead
to make the wounded whole,
there is a balm in Gilead
to heal the sin-sick soul.

Amen! Paul had the happy work of proclaiming that there is healing in our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the One who gave Himself as a ransom. Our High Priest Jesus is the mediator between God and men. He took our sin upon Himself, dying on the cross, rising again, sending forth the Apostles to spread the news, and ascending to the right hand of God. Jesus cures not merely the physical body but the “sin-sick soul.”  Jeremiah longed to find such souls. But he found hard hearts, unreceptive to his diagnosis of their need.

Think about it

If you are sin-sick, find healing in Jesus who gave Himself for such as you.  [See Mark 10:45; Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 1:18, 19].

[1]  Reformation Study Bible, note on Jeremiah 8:22, page 1276

Why did Christ Die?

There are several correct answers to “why did Christ die?” but one very wrong answer is “so we may sin freely.” Here is an important correct answer.

Today’s Reading

Psalms 75-77; Romans 6

Selected Verses

For not from the east or from the west
and not from the wilderness comes lifting up,
but it is God who executes judgment,
putting down one and lifting up another.
For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup
with foaming wine, well mixed,
and he pours out from it,
and all the wicked of the earth
shall drain it down to the dregs.  Psalm 75:6-8

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4


The Psalms frequently address the contrast between the wicked and the righteous.  The wicked are under God’s judgment although they may appear to be successful for a time (Psalm 73).  God is the One who lifts up and puts down people on earth.  He is a holy God Who will ultimately bring justice through His judgment.  There can be no escape from justice.

Jesus Christ came to bring grace and truth (John 1:17).  The truth is we are all sinners. We should drink to the dregs the cup of God’s wrath.  But the grace of Christ is that instead of us drinking the cup Jesus drank it for us (Matthew 26:36-46).  Now we, who believe in Him, have been buried with Him by baptism into His death.

Paul anticipated some readers thinking that they may sin to the max since they had been freed from judgment by Christ’s death.  That is to miss the message entirely.  Grace is given to us not so we may sin freely but so we may live in newness of life for God’s glory.  If we have died with Christ, His death is our death, and we are now freed from sin to live a life that reflects our belonging to Him.

Think about it

Are you learning to walk in newness of life as an obedient servant of righteousness?  Does your life show you are His and that you are grateful for what He did?  That is why He died, so take care how you live.

Two Kings; Two Offerings

Today we read about two kings in Jerusalem.  Both made offerings for sin.  But one offered animals and the other offered Himself.

Today’s Reading

1 Kings 6-7; Luke 23:27-38

Selected Verses

Thus all the work that King Solomon did on the house of the Lord was finished. And Solomon brought in the things that David his father had dedicated, the silver, the gold, and the vessels, and stored them in the treasuries of the house of the Lord. I Kings 7:51

There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.” Luke 23:38


Solomon spared no expense in building and furnishing the temple of God in Jerusalem. As you read the details of the construction, the quality of the materials, and the description of the workmanship, you have to marvel at the care that was taken. The building was not for common use nor for a common person. It was to be for the God of glory and majesty. It was to be the permanent site of the sacrifices offered to Him and the home of the Ark of the Covenant where God would meet the high priest on the Day of Atonement.

The dedication of the completed temple was undoubtedly the finest hour in the golden age of the United Kingdom of Israel. So it comes as a jolt to turn to Luke and read about the crucifixion of the King of the Jews, Jesus Christ. It also occurred in Jerusalem, not far from the second temple (Solomon’s temple was burned during the Babylonian captivity 2 Kings 25:9).

The sinfulness of mankind and the mercy of God stand here side by side in stark contrast. On that most awful day, the crowd gawked at Jesus. The rulers scoffed at Him. The soldiers mocked Him.  Meanwhile, He prayed, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Above His head, they hung a sign, “This is the King of the Jews.”

Solomon and his temple had not failed. That building met all expectations. But it wasn’t enough.   The offerings in the temples pointed to the true Offering that would be made not by a king but of the King, Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, the perfect offering for sin.

Think about it

If you are a believer, your King offered Himself that day in your place. Be amazed.

The Father’s Delight in the Son’s Death

Does it cause God anguish when He punishes evil?  Is it possible He felt delight as  He poured out wrath on His own Son?  The answer may surprise you.

Today’s reading

Deuteronomy 28; Mark 15:27-47

Selected Verses

And as the Lord took delight in doing you good and multiplying you, so the Lord will take delight in bringing ruin upon you and destroying you. And you shall be plucked off the land that you are entering to take possession of it. Deuteronomy 28:63

And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last.  And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.  And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” Mark 15:37-39


Moses described the seemingly endless ways Israel would suffer if they disobeyed God’s law, if they were not careful to obey it all, and if they did not “serve the Lord [their] God with joyfulness and gladness of heart” (Deut. 28:47).  Their suffering would be through loss of crops, famine, mental anguish of all kinds, national humiliation, family breakdown, and (shudder) cannibalism.

Israel did fail to obey God.  Israel did suffer the consequences predicted.  But the ultimate suffering came not upon the nation but upon the Messiah, God’s own Son Jesus Christ. He bore the full weight of God’s wrath for His people.  Jesus suffered for their sin.  God the Father willed that His Son should bear this.  It is accurate, although shocking, to say that God the Father delighted to bring ruin upon His Son thus vindicating His holiness and just wrath.

Think about it

So fully did Jesus’ death satisfy the wrath of God that the temple curtain separating the people from the Holy of Holies, wherein was the mercy seat, was torn in two.  In Christ God made the way for all His people to come into His presence and to receive mercy.

What a great salvation Jesus’ death purchased for us!  How delighted was God to open a way for His people to come into His presence!  Let these truths grip you afresh today.

Handling Overwhelming Guilt

Who of us has not broken a solemn vow of some kind?  Where can we go with our overwhelming guilt?  In Christ there is an answer.

Today’s reading

Deuteronomy 23-25; Mark 14:51-72

Selected verses

If you make a vow to the Lord your God, you shall not delay fulfilling it, for the Lord your God will surely require it of you, and you will be guilty of sin.  But if you refrain from vowing, you will not be guilty of sin.  You shall be careful to do what has passed your lips, for you have voluntarily vowed to the Lord your God what you have promised with your mouth.  Deuteronomy 23:21-23

And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept. Mark 14:72


The Mosaic Law held the Israelites up to high and noble standards of integrity and social concern.  There were numerous laws protecting the needy from exploitation by the wealthy.  Here we see a law concerning the making and keeping of vows.  Vows were made freely, before God, but once made they had to be kept.  People were not to swear casually, but to take seriously their commitments.  No cheap talk.  A man’s word was his bond.

Peter broke his vow to Jesus, to stand by Him even if it cost him his life. He shamelessly denied the Lord.  Peter was not the only one, but Mark gives us a close up of Peter’s cowardice and remorse.  The grief Peter felt when he heard the rooster and remembered Jesus’ words is palpable.

Think about it

Certainly we see the breakdown of vow keeping in our society.  We can’t trust each other. It’s easy to break commitments. We are quick to file suits but slow to keep promises.  Married couples divorce as if no binding vow had been made.

Who of us has not broken a solemn vow of some kind?  Who of us cannot identify with Peter’s rash vow and thoughtless lying to save his skin?  Peter could not keep his vow, not even for one night.  He needed an innocent Lamb to die for his sin, the broken vow and a million other transgressions.  So do we.  Jesus did that on the cross.

Do not get stuck in endless remorse and weeping.  Trust Christ, who bore our sins in His body on the cross. In Him we become forgiven vow-breakers. We even become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Paid in Full

Today’s reading:

John 18:19-20:23

My selection:

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30

For more reflections on this passage, see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

A Death to End Death

Today’s reading:

John 11:17-12:50

My selection:

 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs.  If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”  But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all.  Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.”  He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation,  and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.

John 11:47-52

For more reflections on this passage, see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Lessons from Mount Moriah

Today’s reading: II Chronicles 1-3; John 12:1-19

Then Solomon began to build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to David his father, at the place that David had appointed, on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.                                                   II Chronicles 3:1

17 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. 18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign.                                        John 12:17-18

Mount Moriah is significant in biblical history. We hear about it first when Abraham went to that location to offer his son, Isaac, in response to God’s command (Genesis 22:2). A thousand years later, David buys property from a Jebusite named Araunah or Ornan (his name is recorded both ways) in order to make an offering there to avert the plague, he had brought upon the nation by taking a census. In today’s reading, we learn that the location of that property is none other than Mt. Moriah.  It becomes the location of the temple which Solomon built.

Long before Jesus’ time, the first temple (Solomon’s) had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in the Babylonian invasion and rebuilt. The second temple is the one which is mentioned in the gospels and which Jesus cleansed (John 2:13-17), but it was in the same location, Mt. Moriah. That temple was also destroyed by the Roman general Titus in 70 AD.

After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He rode into Jerusalem and was proclaimed King of Israel by the crowds. John points out that it was because of the resurrection of Lazarus that the crowds came to see and hail Jesus.  All this is occurring in the vicinity of Mt. Moriah and the second temple, soon to be destroyed.

Mt. Moriah had significance because the events that occurred there showed the need for an offering for sin to satisfy the just wrath of God. Abraham learned that God would provide His own sacrifice for sin. David learned that the punishment for his sin demanded an offering. Jesus offered Himself as the ultimate offering. He referred to it when He cleansed the temple of money changers and sellers of sheep, oxen, and pigeons. “Destroy this temple,” He told the Jews, “and in three days, I will raise it up.” (John 2:19). He was, of course, referring to His body, His crucifixion, and His resurrection. (John 2:18-22)

Don’t miss the importance of the lessons taught on Mt. Moriah.