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The Trial and Mocking

“Let not those rejoice over me
who are wrongfully my foes,
and let not those wink the eye
who hate me without cause.
20For they do not speak peace,
but against those who are quiet in the land
they devise words of deceit.
21They open wide their mouths against me;
they say, ‘Aha, Aha!
Our eyes have seen it!’”
                                —Ps. 35:19-21 (cf. Matt. 27:24-34)

Jesus is on trial. He who calmed the storm and reached out and touched and healed lepers is on trial. Jesus could have answered as God had once before when He was questioned.

He could have said, “’Who is this that darkness counsel by words without knowledge?!” (Job 38:2). He could have said, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?! (v. 4). Do you make the sun rise? (v. 12). Can you send forth lightening? (v. 35). Do you give the horse his might? (39:19). Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars? (v. 26).

And yet the One who created the universe by the word of His power and holds it together (Heb. 1:3), is on trial and even mocked. And the people cry out: “Crucify, crucify Him!”

Jesus is hated without cause (Ps. 35:19; 69:4) and people are wrongfully His foe because He never did a single thing that was wrong (1 Pet. 2:22; Heb. 4:15; 1 Jn. 3:5). And so, because He has never done anything wrong, He is attacked with lies and words of deceit (Ps. 35:20; 69:4). Jesus’ accusers said, “Aha, Aha! Our eyes have seen it!” (Ps. 39:21). But they hadn’t. They hadn’t because Jesus was without sin.

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The Betrayal and Rejection

“Even my close friend in whom I trusted,
who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me”
                                                    —Ps. 41:9 (cf. Jn. 13:18).

 

Jesus came to His own people and they did not receive Him (Jn. 1:11). Jesus was hated, rejected, and persecuted (Is. 53:3; Jn. 15:18). His friends abandoned Him (Ps. 88:8, 18; Matt. 26:56), even after making a pledge of undying loyalty. Yet, even while He Himself was being betrayed He protected His friends (Jn. 18:7-8)

Jesus, as Hebrews says, can sympathize with us (Heb. 4:15). He knows what it is like to experience betrayal of the worst kind.

Jesus was troubled in His spirit because one of His dear friends would betray Him. And it’s no wonder that He was troubled. Have you ever been hurt by a close friend? It hurts.

Yet Jesus was betrayed, as the Scriptures said He would be (Jn. 13:18).

Judas, Jesus’ “familiar friend” (Ps. 55:13), betrayed Him with a kiss[1] (Matt. 26:48-49). Jesus used to walk with Judas in the very same garden in which He was betrayed (Jn.18:2-3). Jesus had also recently shared bread with Judas.[2]

Jesus felt the blow of a backstabber but His pain would be far worse than any knife could inflict.

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The Cleansing of the Temple

“For zeal for your house has consumed me,
and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.”
                             —Ps. 69:9 (cf. Jn. 2:13-17; Matt. 21:12-17)

 

That’s exactly what happened to Jesus. He was consumed by zeal for the LORD’s house.

Can you imagine the scene? The whole city was frantic with excitement and expectation as Jesus came into Jerusalem.[1] Many expected that Jesus would soon bring freedom from Roman oppression and establish a reign of peace. People expected Jesus to ridicule Rome and inaugurate the Jewish state. Jesus, instead, condemns what’s going on in the Jewish temple.

If Jesus’ actions are unexpected it is because of misunderstanding or lack of zeal on our part. What Jesus did is in full agreement with Scripture (cf. Jer. 7:11; Zech. 14:21). The temple was to be a house of prayer, not a “den of robbers” (Is. 56:7). Specifically, the house of prayer is supposed to be “for all peoples” (v. 7). Because of all the selling, however, the court of the Gentiles would have been so filled with commotion that neither Jew nor Gentile would have been able to pray without distraction.

Jesus has concern for the poor, the sick, and the outsider. Jesus stands up for them even to the point of experiencing opposition. “Christ does more than denounce injustice—he takes action against it.”[2] That is good news!

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The Hallel Psalms and the Supper

“Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory,
for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
2 Why should the nations say,
“Where is their God?”
3 Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases.
4 Their idols are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
5 They have mouths, but do not speak;
eyes, but do not see.
6 They have ears, but do not hear;
noses, but do not smell.
7 They have hands, but do not feel;
feet, but do not walk;
and they do not make a sound in their throat.
8 Those who make them become like them;
so do all who trust in them.
9 O Israel, trust in the Lord!
He is their help and their shield.”
                                          —Ps. 115:1-9 (cf. Mk. 14:26)

Psalm 115 is part of the Hallel Psalms. Hallel means, “praise.” Jesus would have sung the Hallel Psalms (Ps. 113-118) with His disciples on the eve of Passover.[1] Psalm 114 speaks directly of the exodus. From a New Testament perspective, we know that the salvation which began in Egypt would be finally filled in and through Jesus. 

The Hallel Psalms were probably the last psalms Jesus sang before His suffering and death (Mk. 14:26). Jesus would have sung Psalm 115 knowing that He was Himself definitively showing God’s glory, love, and faithfulness. It is amazing also that Jewish people concluded the Hallel Psalms with the prayer:

“From everlasting to everlasting thou art God; beside thee we have no king, redeemer, or savior; no liberator, deliverer, provider; none who takes pity in every time of distress or trouble. We have no king but thee.”[2]

Truly! Apart from Messiah Jesus, there is no “no king, redeemer, or savior; no liberator, deliverer, provider.”

As we see in Psalm 115, idols are inept but God is a God of steadfast love and faithfulness. Whereas idols are inept God is involved. In fact, so involved that He came to this broken world in the form of Jesus Christ.

Idols are silver and gold but God came in flesh. Jesus has a mouth and with it, He spoke words of life. Jesus has eyes, and He saw this broken world and wept. Jesus has ears, and He heard the world’s bitter cries. Jesus has a nose, and He smelled the putrid smell of death. Jesus has human hands, and they were pierced. Jesus has feet, and they carried a cross, and were pinned to a cross. Jesus has a throat, and with it, He cried out: “my God, my God, why have Thou forsaken Me?!”

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The Triumphant Entry

“This is the gate of the LORD;
the righteous shall enter through it.
21 I thank You that You have answered me
and have become my salvation.
22 The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
23 This is the LORD’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day that the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
25 Save us, we pray, O LORD!
O LORD, we pray, give us success!
26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!
We bless you from the house of the LORD.
27 The LORD is God,
and He has made His light to shine upon us.
Bind the festal sacrifice with cords,
up to the horns of the altar!
28 You are my God, and I will give thanks to You;
You are my God; I will extol You.
29 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good;
for His steadfast love endures forever!”
                                   —Ps. 118:20-29 (cf. Matt. 21:1-11)

In Matthew’s passage about the Triumphant Entry, he quotes from and links to Psalm 118. It is likely that Jesus sang this Psalm, along with the other Hallel Psalms (Pss. 113-18), with the disciples after He instituted the Lord’s Supper (Mk. 14:26). That’s not surprising since Psalm 118 highlights God’s steadfast love and has many Christ connections. 

Psalm 118 talks about the gate that the righteous enter through to go into the presence of God (v. 20). That is not a gate that we can open on our own because we cannot be righteous on our own (Rom. 3:10). Actually, the Bible says even the best we can do on our own is like filthy rags (Is. 64:6). We need the righteousness of Jesus Christ (Heb. 10:19-22). Jesus is the gate that gives us access to God the Father (Jn. 14:6), He is the one that makes us righteous. 

Jesus was the rejected stone (Matt. 21:42) but He is the Messiah, the cornerstone (Ps. 118:22). All promises rest upon Him (2 Cor. 1:20). When Jesus made His way to Jerusalem, the people cried out: “Hosanna! Save us, we pray, O LORD!” (Matt. 21:9). The people spoke better than they knew. They cried out to Jesus who is God in flesh to save—and He soon would. He would fulfill their prayer to save by answering the next cry of the crowds, that He be crucified.

The Psalm says, “The LORD is God, and He has made His light to shine upon us” (Ps. 118:27). Truly. God in flesh dwelt among us. And yet He was the “festal sacrifice” (v. 27). Jesus is finally triumphant not by overthrowing the Roman government but by overthrowing Satan, sin, and death through His death and resurrection.  

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An Easter Devotional

I wrote the blog series, “Psalms of our Suffering Savior,” to help us “remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead” (2 Tim. 2:8).

It is to be used devotionally leading up to Easter (Resurrection Sunday). It is a 12-day devotional that starts with the Triumphant Entry and goes through to the Ascension of Jesus Christ.[1]

In these devotions, we’ll be looking at Psalms that express Jesus’ experience. Jesus “saw in the experiences of David the pattern, writ small, of his own calling.”[2] And as Jesus said, in Luke 24:44 “the Psalms must be fulfilled.”[3]

These devotionals will help us see how it is that Jesus fulfilled the Psalms.[4] And it is quite amazing to see.

Remember many prophets and righteous people longed  to see what you see” (Matt. 13:17)! So, let’s intentionally celebrate and “remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead”! 

If you’re interested in this devotional series, like the Facebook page here or follow the blog via email (look to the right under the search bar) and receive the devotionals that way.

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“Lower Still” by My Epic

Look, he’s covered in dirt
The blood of his mother has mixed with the Earth
and she’s just a child who’s throbbing in pain
from the terror of birth by the light of a cave

now they’ve laid that small baby
where creatures come eat
like a meal for the swine who have no clue that he
is still holding together the world that they see
they don’t know just how low he has to go
Lower still

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