In Expectation

Waiting, anticipating, expecting, practically agonizing to be there, completed, perfected with Jesus Christ, never alone, surrounded by all who share in the sweet salvation and joy in the One who saved us!

This world is not my home, I’m just a-passin’ through.

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The Promised Superhero

 

Jesus is no pansy. His power makes even the physical achievements of Aquaman look like hopscotch and jump-rope.

I loves me a good superhero fantasy story, and Aquaman is right up there at the top of the list for me. But that’s entertainment, and Jesus is no fiction regardless of how badly you’d like to think so. Here are a few reasons why.

My blogging friend G.W. puts the Bible’s description of the Savior into a descriptive visual here, with Bible reference notes such as His feet being like bronze glowing in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of rushing waters: here’s G.W.’s post to which I refer.

The Lord Jesus Christ, freely offering huge love, forgiveness, and joy like none of us can experience here with imperfect humans, is not one with whom to wage war. One cannot win against Him if one tried, but when one knows Him and His love, there’s no reason to fight Him and every reason to adore Him.

“He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.” (Matthew 12:30)

We are all sinners and in need of Him to save us from the death sentence we all have. Don’t let death be the end for you. Believe Jesus died FOR YOU and rose again and you will have better life after your last breath here than the best you can ever imagine.

And on the topic of sin, here is an excerpt from G.W.’s post:

“The popular Christ being preached today (who says sin is okay if you were born that way) is not the Christ of the Bible, nor the Christ who will be our final Judge.”

For some reason, there is a big push toward accepting certain types of sin in society today, but the fact remains that we are all “born that way” – that is, born sinners, separated from God, in need of accepting His Son as Savior to reconnect us with Him.

Don’t accept sin. Accept Jesus!

Too many people have a wrong idea of what it means to accept Jesus, as they assume there is some kind of rituals or list of rules to follow, but that puts the job on THEM to try to save themselves, when the job is already done by Jesus and all they need to do is accept that fact. Then, yes, they should read about Him in the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, to know in better detail just what they were saved from, who did the saving and how, and what is going to happen next.

Truth can be stranger than fantasy.  I pray my readers understand the Truth about Jesus being THE real hero we all need.

 

That lonely, needy feeling

It doesn’t seem to be socially acceptable to shout out, “Hey, I’m feeling lonely and needy. Can someone please talk to me?”

But sometimes talking to someone is all it takes to not feel that way anymore. It doesn’t have to be a conversation about feeling lonely or needy. The connection itself, the interchange of words and thoughts, even listening to someone else talk about things that have nothing to do with your own problems, can be healing.

The opposite effect can result from reaching out and not connecting, though.

So, more often than not, I don’t even try. The risk isn’t worth it to me.

 

 

 

Discouraged or something

“Have I laboured all for nothing.
Trying to make it on my own.
Fear to reach out to the hand
Of one who understands me
Say ‘I’d rather be here all alone.’

It’s all my fault

I sit and wallow in seclusion.
As if I had no hope at all,
I guess truth becomes you
I have seen it all in motion
That pride comes before the fall.”

-From Jennifer Knapp’s “Whole Again”

Those words of a beloved song came to mind as I thought about how good it would be to reach out and be understood.

“Cheer up. Look on the bright side. Here’s what you need to feel better.”

Best intentions aren’t always a solution.

Sometimes a solution is not the answer.

Maybe there is a reason for the feelings. I believe I will know someday, and all these pains won’t even be worth comparing to the joy that is coming.

Until then, though, I ponder.

Why is understanding in such short supply? Or do I just not know where to find it or how to hunt for it?

So much in this life seems so complicated and only results in what feels like futility.

Maybe someone will think about me. Maybe someone will pray for me.

I think I need to go out for a walk.

Maybe I will think about eternity. Maybe I will think about the sunshine breaking through the clouds. Maybe I will think about mud.

Maybe I will think about this song:

(Jennifer Knapp’s “Whole Again” performed live, acoustic version)

 

Discouraged

“Have I laboured all for nothing.
Trying to make it on my own.
Fear to reach out to the hand
Of one who understands me
Say ‘I’d rather be here all alone.’

It’s all my fault

I sit and wallow in seclusion.
As if I had no hope at all,
I guess truth becomes you
I have seen it all in motion
That pride comes before the fall.”

-From Jennifer Knapp’s “Whole Again”

Those words of a beloved song came to mind as I thought about how good it would be to reach out and be understood.

“Cheer up. Look on the bright side. Here’s what you need to feel better.”

Best intentions aren’t always a solution.

Sometimes a solution is not the answer.

Maybe there is a reason for the feelings. I believe I will know someday, and all these pains won’t even be worth comparing to the joy that is coming.

Until then, though, I ponder.

Why is understanding in such short supply? Or do I just not know where to find it or how to hunt for it?

So much in this life seems so complicated and only results in what feels like futility.

Maybe someone will think about me. Maybe someone will pray for me.

I think I need to go out for a walk.

Maybe I will think about eternity. Maybe I will think about the sunshine breaking through the clouds. Maybe I will think about mud.

Maybe I will think about this song:

 

 

This is the Gospel

I am sharing this from a fellow WordPress blogger. I am glad to see someone else who understands it’s not about a list of sins separating us from God, but sin itself IS separation from God, and only acceptance of what His Son did for us by giving His life will connect us to Him the way He intended.

A quote from the blog entry:

It isn’t so much a list of violations that Paul is talking about here; it is the very condition of being in rebellion against God that he is talking about.

https://wp.me/p1V2TT-3up

About God…

The following was written by my friend Ivor, who wrote it for one of his other friends. I share it here with his permission. If you have any questions that I can’t answer, I will pass them on to him.

Please allow me to put together a picture of what God has shown me in His word that He wants:

And before I do that let me say why I believe that there even is a God.

Even if it is just for the sake of discussion, I like to acknowledge that it may all be not true and when we die it will be lights out, done, over.

There are many that cling to that idea as I’m sure you know.
These are people that want to live for themselves and not be answerable to God, so they just do away with God in their own mind.

A more sober person is willing to give things a more open and sincere look.

The case for God is strong but nobody can prove His existence.

Again, the case is strong, the evidence is compelling, but yet we believe in God because we decide to, and we believe that, based on the evidence, we have made an intelligent life decision, thus one big step in faith. (If you want any more discussion on this please say so.)

God created man for love and fellowship with Him. As you know, actual love is not possible when one is held totally subordinate to the other, so God turned man loose so that man could make choices.

Since then, God has been trying to get our attention and draw each of us into a love relationship with Him. (The Bible is essentially a love letter to us from God that pivots on John 3.16*)

God knows man and all elements of the life of men and God says the gate is narrow (to Him) and few there will be that find it.

The problem:

The problem is that none of us is perfect so we all have done things that are not okay with God.

God is perfect, Holy, and cannot accept sin or sinful people, so He devised a plan that included a perfect sacrifice for all the sins of anyone that believes and trusts in the Sacrifce to make them presentable to the Father.

The Lord Jesus died on the Cross to accomplish two simple things:

1) Pay for our sins
2) Win our hearts

However, if it does not do the second, it does not do the first. It’s that simple.

There is absolutely nothing that we can do to win God’s favor but to accept God’s provision for our redemption and deliverance.

God wants us to have a turning point – a moment when we cease from our own efforts and waywardness and shift our hope and confidence to the Lord Jesus once and for all.

Below is a prayer that contains the elements listed in Scripture for immediate salvation.
This is a once in a lifetime prayer and if spoken from the heart with sincerity will assure one of salvation and it will likely make a monumental change in one’s life.

“God, I come to you in the Name of Your Son Jesus Christ. You said in Your word that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10 : 13). I am calling on Jesus right now. I believe He died on the cross for my sins, that He was raised from the dead on the third day. Lord Jesus, I am asking You now to come and live within me as Lord and Savior and help me be what you want me to be.

I repent of my sins and surrender myself totally and completely to you. I accept You and confess You as my Lord and Savior. Thank you for making me a new person and forgiving me of my sins, In Jesus Name, Amen.”

When this is settled we can move forward into life in God which is different for each of us and how to find fellowship with the the rest of God’s family.

I am but a bystander as this is strictly between you and God.

*John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Where Could I Go?

I was accused by a beloved family member of having apathy toward her when she was angry at me and another family member. The truth is, however, that my aloofness was a defense mechanism. I do not wish to fight, no matter how one tries to bait me.

A man used to bait me to fight, over and over, for the sake of his ego. It nearly destroyed me.

I will not go back to taking the bait.

And so who can I talk to when things like this happen? I don’t want to trouble my friends and other family with the details, for they can only understand so much, though I do talk with them a bit about it.

In the end, but even in the beginning, the One who hears my woes is the One who already knows: my Lord, my Savior, my dearest Friend… Christ Jesus.

I say, “Thank you, God, for being my comfort in time of sorrow.”

These lyrics permeate my being while I sit in a rocking chair in front of the wood-fired cookstove, waiting for the oven to come up to temperature so I can put Pigs In Blankets in to bake before I drop exhausted into my own blankets.

“Where Could I Go But To The Lord”

Living below in this old sinful world
Hardly a comfort can afford
Striving alone to face temptation’s call
Where could I go but to the Lord

Where could I go, where could I go
Seeking a refuge for my soul
Needing a friend to help me in the end
Where could I go but to the Lord

Neighbours are fun I love them every one

We get along in sweet accord
But when I pass the chilling hand of death
Where could I go but to the Lord

Where could I go, where could I go
Seeking a refuge for my soul
Needing a friend to help me in the end
Where could I go but to the Lord

Life here is grand with friends I love so well
Comfort I get from God’s own Word
But when my soul needs manna from above
Where could I go but to the Lord

Where could I go, where could I go
Seeking a refuge for my soul
Needing a friend to help me in the end
Where could I go but to the Lord

Where could I go, where could I go
Seeking a refuge for my soul
Needing a friend to help me in the end
Where could I go but to the Lord
Where could I go but to the Lord

And the story on the song’s writing:

http://dianaleaghmatthews.com/where-could-i-go-but-to-the-lord/#.W6SCuuoTFGo

Amish Man Finds God

The following is the testimony of a man named Eli Lee. Eli was raised in an Amish community, but he found the teaching to not be in line with God’s Word.

I don’t know Eli. Never heard of him till today. But I believe I will meet him, and all others throughout history who have put their trust in Jesus as Savior, someday, in heaven.

Here is Eli’s story:

. . . . . .

From July 11, 2017

I was born and raised in the Amish culture. Growing up, I don’t ever remember desiring not to be Amish. I sincerely thought that being a part of the Amish was the only way I would have a chance to go to heaven one day.

When I was twenty years old, I married my wife, Leah. God then blessed us with eight wonderful children.

As an Amish man, I was very zealous about my religion and tried my best to live according to the rules and what I understood of God’s Word. I was involved in enforcing the excommunication of several people in my community because they claimed they could be sure that if they would die, they would go to Heaven. These people believed that salvation had nothing to do with following the Amish rules, which was not a permissible way of thinking.

My dad was a bishop, so it was very important that all his children remained loyal to the religion; we did not want to disgrace him. Every morning and every night, my whole family would get down on our knees, and I would read the mandatory prayers out of a prayer book just like my dad had taught me to do. I was doing well until I got sick at the age of thirty.

I became so sick that I couldn’t work. My wife and I spent all our time and resources over the next three years trying to figure out what my medical problem was, but the doctors and hospitals were unable to figure it out. I finally gave up on the doctors and told my wife that there was no point in continuing like this. If I was going to die anyways, I didn’t see the point of doing so in a way that left a large amount of debt for my family. For this reason, I quit going to my appointments.

We had a small home business that manufactured wood products. Since I couldn’t work and had to rely solely on hired help, the business began to go downhill. As a result, our finances were getting tight. One day, after realizing that we only had enough food in the house to last a few days, I went out and tried to work despite my health condition. I overdid things and ended up sick again and in bed for a week.

A few days later, my wife had to run an errand, so I was lying on the couch alone. I realized that I couldn’t take it anymore. I cried out to God and told him that I didn’t understand what was going on. I knew that His Word said that He would take care of his children, but I didn’t feel like he was taking care of me. Because of this, it made me begin to question whether I was his child or not.

I continued talking to God and gave my wife and children to Him. I told Him that I would trust Him to somehow take care of them because I was physically unable to do so and could not bear to continue seeing them go hungry. I also gave my business into His hands. I asked that He either make it become successful again or “run it to the ground,” so I could quit worrying about it.

As far as myself, that day, I asked God to forgive my sins, and then I begged Him to take my life. I told Him that I was tired of living and felt worthless here on Earth. I did agree that if there was still something He wanted me to do on this Earth, I would be willing, but I would need patience to endure whatever it was that I needed to go through until I got to that point. I asked that He put His Holy Spirit in my heart, so that I could better understand what His will was for my life.

As I finished up my prayer, I cried myself to sleep.

When I woke up a couple of hours later, I got off the couch and felt so light that I had to look down to make sure my feet were on the floor. I also felt an incredible peace like I had never experienced before. I knew that God has heard my prayer and that I was now in unity with Him. I realized that He had forgiven me of my sins, and that He had given me salvation.

At the time, I did not know what being saved was, but I knew deep down that I was born again. I also knew that God had given me salvation as a gift, and that it was not something that I would receive at the end of life only IF I followed the rules of the church well enough like I was always taught.

Later that same day, I walked to the neighbor’s house, who had a phone with an answering machine. As I was checking my business messages, I saw that one had come in. The message was from a customer, who wanted to order about $7,000 worth of material. I immediately began to weep and worship God because I now knew that not only had He forgiven me from all my sins and made me His child, but He had also taken over our business and finances.

Something else happened that day that I was totally unprepared for. The Holy Spirit now lived in my heart, and He immediately began working. I kept thinking about the newfound salvation that God had given to me as a gift. I knew that if anyone would find out that I now believed in this way of faith, I would immediately be in trouble with the church; this thought troubled me.

I had an unrelenting urge to know God better and to know God’s heart, though, so I pushed those fears aside and started reading the Bible more than I had ever done before. As I read the Bible, the Holy Spirit gave me understanding, and I began to gain meaning from scriptures I had never understood before.

The more I read, the more inconsistencies I found in the teachings of the Amish church. Now, instead of the Amish teaching me, the Holy Spirit was teaching me. It was so refreshing to receive insight from the Spirit, but again, it troubled me because it kept pointing out more and more errors of the religion that was so dear to me.

It soon became evident that there was a big cross road ahead for me. If I kept believing the things that the Spirit was revealing to me, I knew that I would get in trouble with the church. And, on the other hand, if I continued believing the things I was taught by the church, I would have to be disobedient to the Holy Spirit. I didn’t dare to talk to my wife about the turmoil going on inside me either because I knew that she would immediately get scared and run to the preachers to tell them about what I was believing. Then, I would be excommunicated and separated from my family.

After some time, I became deeply distressed. One day, I fell on my face before God and said, “God, I do not know what’s right anymore. At first, I had been convinced that I was hearing your Holy Spirit direct me, but now I’m not beginning to question if maybe it was Satan’s voice I was hearing instead. I have no one to talk to because I have lost confidence in the Amish preachers, but I need to know if this is you that is teaching me these things.”

As I continued with my prayer, I told God about a man I knew in the city that was a Christian counselor. Even though I didn’t know if this man was truly a believer or not, I knew that God could make even a donkey speak, and God laid it on my heart to visit and give it a try. I trusted God to put the words that I needed to hear into the man’s mouth.

I called the man’s number and made an appointment to go see him. I intentionally made the appointment at a time I was delivering things to my customers, so no one would know that I had gone to talk to him. I had convinced myself by this time that he was going to tell me that Satan had deceived me and that I needed to return and believe what I was taught from childhood. I just couldn’t imagine that God would want to have me choose my newfound faith and chance being separated from my wife and my children.

I didn’t get very far into telling this counselor my troubles when he surprised me by starting to praise God. After a few rounds of him praising God, I became a little irritated, and I asked him why he was praising God. He replied by saying that he was praising God because he could see that the Holy Spirit was at work in my life. I responded by asking him how he knew that this was the Holy Spirit and not Satan deceiving me.

Immediately, the counselor saw the seriousness of the situation, and he began asking me some more questions like, “Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?” And, “Do you believe that Jesus Christ has died for your sins?” And, “Do you believe that Jesus rose again and went to heaven?”

My answers to all of his questions were, “Of course I believe that!” It was then that he got his Bible out and turned to first John where it talked about testing the spirits to see whether they are from God. He pointed out the fact that every spirit that confesses that the Jesus Christ is Lord is a spirit that is truly from God.

I soon realized that I was trying to convince him and myself that I was not being led by the Holy Spirit because of my desire to remain Amish. After I realized this, I got up and left.

Before meeting with the counselor, I had promised God that I would believe what he said. Even though a piece of me was relieved after talking to him, a piece of me was now also deeply distressed because I knew what lie ahead for me.

I went home, and I thanked God for answering my prayer. I felt much better at the time, but after about three weeks, the same doubts returned that I had before I went to the counselor. I prayed to God asking that he forgive me for doubting him, but in my mind, this was just too serious of a matter to be mistaken about. Not only did my eternal future rely on me making the right decision, but the souls of my wife and children were at stake as well.

Because I knew that God was not a God of confusion and that he was not a God that wanted to separate families, I began praying that God would begin working on my wife’s heart. I knew that I could not convince my wife to believe one way or another, but I knew that if this was really a God-led thing, He could lead and teach my wife in the same way that He led and taught me.

I agreed with God to talk to my wife about my newfound faith. I told God that if she agreed with me that salvation was by faith, then I would know that it was from God and would not doubt it again. However, if she would get scared and not believe that salvation is by faith, then I was going to throw the whole idea out knowing that it was all a lie from Satan; I would go back to believing what my father and the church had taught me.

After talking to God about my plan, I felt some peace but was also afraid of what might happen; this fear kept me from talking to my wife for about two or three more weeks.

Finally, I gathered up the courage and sat down to talk to her. I started with some of the smaller areas of indifference, and she agreed that what I said was right, so I kept talking. As I continued, I saw that she kept agreeing, and finally, I was able disclose everything to her including my belief that salvation was a gift from God by grace, not something that we may or may not receive after a lifetime of obeying the rules of the church. To my surprise, she agreed with that too!

At this point, I began weeping and praising God. I now knew without a doubt that God was truly teaching me, and that he had been working on my wife’s heart as well. From that day until this very day, I have never again doubted whether it was God or Satan that was working on me; I know that it was God all along.

My wife and I ended up spending most of the day talking about what our future and the future of our children would look like. We talked about what life might be like in the big, scary world that lay outside of the secure walls of our Amish religion. We knew without a doubt that as soon as they found out about our new beliefs, we would be excommunicated from the religion we had grown up in and separated from our parents and our siblings for the rest of our lives.

We also knew that as soon as anybody would find out, we would be bombarded by preachers and our parents about having been deceived. We would be told that unless we would repent, we would go to hell for eternity. Because of this, our plan was to not tell anybody what we believed for a couple of years; this would give us time to study the Scriptures and be able to defend what we believe.

I soon decided that I wanted to begin praying to God from my heart with my whole family. After talking to my wife and getting her consent, I talked to the children about it and forbid them to tell anybody that we prayed that way. I knew that if anyone found out that we were praying without the approved prayer book, we would be commanded to stop immediately or once again, be in danger of excommunication.

After making the decision to pray to God from our hearts instead of the prayer book, things felt a lot more pleasant; I felt that I had someone I could always talk to. I continued to pray that if the time came that God wanted us to speak up and be open about our new beliefs, that he would give us the courage to do so as well as give us the words to speak.

Even though we knew a lot of scripture from our upbringing, it didn’t necessarily mean that we knew what it meant. Reading the Bible was like taking the words of God and pouring them through the sieve of the Holy Spirit to see what came out on the other side. There were many times that I would quote a scripture, and as I heard myself saying it, I knew that what I had always been taught is not what it really meant; it had been taken out of context. I felt like I almost had to relearn what the Scriptures meant for the second time.

A few months passed. One Sunday, after church, the men were all sitting in a room visiting, and a young man started asking questions about going to heaven, about the church rules, and about the Bible. As I sat and listened to one of the elders give this young man all of the wrong answers and take Scripture out of context, I had a really hard time being quiet.

After thinking about it for a minute, I decided to not say anything and just sat back and listened instead. The young man was desperate for answers, though, and was not easily convinced because he had seen some things in the Bible that didn’t match up with what the rules of the religion said.

After listening to the Amish elder deceive the young man for about twenty to thirty minutes, the Holy Spirit finally took control of my mouth. I started asking this elder some questions about the things that he had said.

I heard myself saying things like, “Look at that scripture that you quoted; the verse before that says this ______________,” or “The verse after that says this _____________ and this ______________,” which, in most of the cases, completely destroyed his argument. I also began saying, “If what you said is true, what does this verse mean?” I heard myself quoting scriptures with references that I didn’t even know exactly where to find but that I knew were there.

Needless to say, the elder had a choice to make. He could either admit that he was wrong or try to defend himself. He decided to try to defend himself, but the Holy Spirit kept giving me Scriptures and truth to use in combat with his arguments, so his defense didn’t work. Soon, the elder became very angry and cursed me in front of everyone. Immediately afterward, everybody went home to their own houses.

That very week, the elder that argued with me went to the preachers and demanded that I be excommunicated right away. One of the preachers had been sitting in on the conversation that Sunday afternoon, and he didn’t think that I had said anything wrong.

Nonetheless, I was soon called in for a meeting, where I was asked all kinds of questions about what was said on the day of the argument. As I recalled the discussion, I was able to explain the true gospel to all of the religious leaders in the meeting.

The elder did not relent from his anger and decided to write a letter to the bishop and demand that he excommunicate me. Because of this, a few weeks later, a whole van load of bishops and preachers came from Pennsylvania, and they called me to another meeting. This time, again, the Holy Spirit took control of me and used me to quote scriptures and to explain salvation by grace to all those in attendance.

At the end of the meeting, the head Bishop told me that although he couldn’t really say that what I was saying was not true, he knew that it was not the way that our forefathers had taught us. I asked him what he was going to believe, what he knew to be true or what the forefathers taught him. He responded by saying, “Our forefathers taught us that we cannot leave this kind of talk alone, because if left alone, it causes much disunity and division in the church. So we don’t know any better than to do what our forefathers have taught us. If you are not willing to let go of your ideas of salvation, we are going to have to excommunicate you.”

I told them that there was no way that I was going to agree to the idea that it was not the Holy Spirit that had saved me and that was teaching me the truth, because if I did, I would be blaspheming the Holy Spirit. They then excommunicated me and my wife, since she too stood by my side and believed in Salvation by faith alone.

After the bishop quoted his memorized speech and a scripture about giving us over to Satan to destroy our flesh, I looked at them all and said, “You have taken it upon yourselves to fight against the Spirit of God, but I’m going to pray for you.” With that, they all hung their heads, turned around, went out to their buggies, and left.


This testimony has been published with permission from the owner.

. . . . . . . . . .

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Behold The Man Upon The Cross

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Jesus Christ having lived and been crucified is an established historical fact, verified even by secular historians. The question, though, is why did He suffer such a cruel death?

The short answer is (and if you say this yourself and believe it, you are saved): “He died for me, and He did not stay dead.”

That is a loaded statement, but those who want to know more will find out. For the long answer, read the Bible and talk to God about understanding it. He wants you to know Him.

Other than the Bible, which admittedly can be hard to understand when one is new to it, the best book I have found for explaining the whys behind Jesus being crucified is Who Moved The Stone by Frank Morris. It is available online for free in .pdf form, but I prefer a book I can hold in my hand.

Anyway, I am getting away from the intent of today’s blog entry, which is to share an article across which I stumbled yesterday.

The author mentions the movie “The Passion of the Christ”. I, too, wept as I watched it in a theatre in the early part of 2004. The thought “He died for me” made me turn my face away and bury it in my hands. I could not view the depicted agony. I already knew the why behind it.

Now, here is the article, published just yesterday by Greg Morse, Content strategist at desiringGod.org

~~~~~~~~~~

On Good Friday, we celebrate the saddest day in history.

Blood streamed down his face. Massive thorns stuck to the head of their Maker. Groans of agony came from the mouth of him who spoke the world into being. The soldiers beat him. They flogged him. They tortured him.

As he inched through the streets of Jerusalem, his cross pressing into his lacerated back, many shuddered at him. The face of God, which Moses could not look at and live, could no longer even be recognized as human (Isaiah 52:14). Women hid their children from the bloody mass of flesh before them. Men taunted him. Soldiers clubbed him. Angels shrieked in horror.

Every prophecy about his suffering was being fulfilled. By judgment and oppression, he was taken away. His sheep scattered when their enemies struck him. One of his own sold him and betrayed him with a kiss. He found no rest as they beat him, spit on him, and mocked him through the night. In the morning, he gave his back to those who struck him, his cheeks to those who plucked his beard.

He stepped forward to Calvary as a lamb to the slaughter.

His Love Was Rated-R

I remember the first time I watched The Passion of the Christ fourteen years ago. The sight of Roman ninetails sinking their claws into his back seemed to pierce my soul with Mary’s (Luke 2:35). The blood. The screams. The anguish. I could never again thoughtlessly tell others that Christ died for them. The scene forbade cliché. It was grizzly, ghastly, gruesome — rated-R.

I rarely cry, but as I watched Jesus shed his blood all over the Roman courtyard, I could not help but weep. As they held the nails over his hands and feet — his mother watching him — every swing of the hammer pierced my heart. Only the heartless could watch unfeelingly. Has there ever been a more tragic scene?

I did not consider his wounds enough. I did not weep over his suffering as often as I felt I should have. But how does Jesus respond to me, and people like me, who take Good Friday to grieve over his unbearable sufferings? Two thousand years ago he said to those weeping for him that day, “Weep not for me; weep for yourselves.”

Silence on the Set

Of the many horrors of Calvary, one that was especially acute was the shame of it all (Hebrews 12:2). His was a public execution. The condemned usually were naked. To add to this, the prophecy reads, “All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads” (Psalm 22:7). It is one thing to suffer; another to do so before a whole nation as they ridicule you.

But mockery was not the only sound made on his behalf. A host of women trailed behind him, lamenting the expiring prophet. They followed Jesus’s drops of blood — as so many of us do today — with drops of tears.

But upon hearing their sobs, Jesus, battered and broken, turned his face towards them and spoke these gracious, yet shocking words: “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children” (Luke 23:28).

This part of the passion didn’t make the movie.

On that first Good Friday, Jesus turned to his loudest sympathizers — those who are not cursing him, mocking him, but wailing on his behalf — and silenced them. He commands their tears escort him no further. He opts to press into the night without their mourning.

Weep Not for Me

Jesus did not need their tears two millennia ago, and as unpopular as it may be, Jesus does not need our tears today. And this fact owes to us seeing his passion through the eyes of faith.

Weep not for me, he said. As if to say,

I am saving my people. I have prayed, tender souls, and know my Father’s will concerning this cup — shall I not drink it (John 18:11)? My hands willingly grasp this wood because my food is to do my Father’s will (John 4:32, 34). And his will is glorious: he sent me to serve and give my life as a ransom for my people. My body is broken, and my blood is spilled for you (Luke 22:19–20). Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. Do not weep over the labor pains that give birth to your salvation and unshakable joy (John 16:20–22).

Weep not for me, as if to say,

I am not a helpless victim. I am a warrior-king with thousands of angels at my beck and call (Matthew 26:53). One word from me and this horror would end. One word from me and Rome would be destroyed. One word from me and all would be eternally condemned. But I was sent to save the world, not condemn it (John 3:17). Trust that no man — or army — can steal my life from me. I lay it down of my own accord, and I will take it up again (John 10:11–18).

Weep not for me, as if to say,

I am conquering. You see my heel being bruised and you mourn — but look through the eyes of faith and see the serpent’s skull trampled (Genesis 3:15). Although I walk as the Lamb, I conquer as the Lion — the predator, not the prey, will hang on the cross (Revelation 5:5–6). I am a King who shall rule the universe from a tree. And I shall make this cross my scepter. As they lift me up, I thrust my enemies under my feet as a footstool (Psalm 110:1). My triumphal entry is followed by a triumphal exit. Why should you weep over my hour of glorification (John 12:27–28)?

Weep not for me, as if to say,

Sunday is coming. I have said repeatedly that in three days I shall rise (Matthew 16:21; 17:22–23; 20:18–19). Although today is full of unutterable darkness, unimaginable pain, unthinkable terror, Sunday is coming. My Father’s perfect hand is crushing me, evil men are murdering me, my disciples have fled from me, but truly I tell you, Sunday is coming. Joy is set before me and empowers me to endure. A crown awaits me. An endless celebration awaits me. My blood-bought people await me. Eternal glory awaits me. My Father awaits me. Weep not for me.

Weep for Yourselves

Jesus does not stop their tears completely but redirects them: “Do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.” God’s wrath will soon visit the people for their sin. The nation that rejected her Messiah — not Jesus — is to be pitied.

“Behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’” (Luke 23:29–30)

“Weep for yourselves,” as if to say,

I can bear my cup, but you cannot bear yours. Rome will kill your children before your own eyes. The beast you conspire with today will surround you tomorrow. Your anguish will be so severe that it is better to collect these tears in a bottle to save for that dreadful day.

My sufferings will end at death; yours may not. Many of you will cry for the mountains to cover you, but that can only spare you from the judgment of Rome — it cannot spare you from the judgment of God. The hounds of his justice do not stop at death. He is God of both the living and the dead (Acts 10:42). Vengeance is his; he will repay (Hebrews 10:30). And it is a fearful thing to fall unshielded into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31).

Weep for your sins. Gentle daughters, useless are the tears that fall on my behalf because of suffering but never fall because of sin. Many weep over my suffering, but not the sin which caused it. The horror you see before you is my becoming sin for my people and bearing the wrath they deserve, that they should have my righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). If you weep, better to weep over the lust that hammers the nail deeper, the lie that sticks a thorn in the brow, the cowardly duck that makes a gash upon me, the prideful strut that keeps me upon Calvary’s path.

It Was My Sin

I watched The Passion of the Christ each year for four years — being moved every time to tears — all while I was not truly born again. And I thought myself better for crying, as if my sins would be passed over if I had tears painted on my doorpost. It did not take a regenerate heart to weep over the sufferings of Jesus — our world is full of unbelievers who cry over sad things — but it did take a regenerate heart to mourn over what I rarely really mourned over: my sins (James 4:8–10).

And those who witnessed Jesus’s execution two thousand years ago didn’t see their sins in the cross either: “Who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?” (Isaiah 53:8). The horror stayed “over there,” while they remained innocent bystanders. They missed the point and beauty of the cross. They cried and cried, but had not love. Until we can truly sing, “It was my sin that held him there, until it was accomplished,” we weep for him in vain.

We should weep indeed at the foot of the cross, but not with pity. With faith. Those tears don’t dry up the Monday after Easter. Those tears mourn over the sin that nailed him there. Those tears sing over him as our conquering King. And those tears celebrate his death until he returns.