Tag Archives: Substitutionary Atonement

What Made Jesus Weep

One of the hardest things we have to do as followers of Christ is keep the reality of eternity ever before us. Heaven seems so glorious…yet so far away, and Hell seems so impossibly horrendous that it is hard to think sustained thoughts about either destination.

And since we have a hard time reckoning with the reality of eternity, we naturally have difficulty generating a concern for the plight of the lost. Oh, it hits us sometimes with force, but for the most part we are perfunctory about it – we know we need to share the gospel. We know we need to be faithful witnesses. We need to love the lost more dearly, but too often our hearts are cold.

Enter Luke 19.

It begins with the story of Zacchaeus, a short, rich man who was desperately lost, but who nevertheless had an interest in Jesus. Jesus knows about this, and invites himself over for lunch, and before the day is done, the Lord declares that we will be meeting the tax collector in heaven:

“Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham.” Luke 19:9 (ESV)

And then Jesus gives us deep insight into his mission and purpose:

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10 (ESV)

We may have a hard time generating a heart for the lost, but Jesus did not as it was His very mission and purpose. And this same heart is displayed clearly when He finally returns to Jerusalem and surveys the crowd…

And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it… Luke 19:41 (ESV)

Jesus loves the individuals (Zacchaeus), and He loves the multitudes, and so, as in all things, He provides a wonderful example. But Jesus’ example here (and elsewhere) can put us under the pile, making us feel guilty for not measuring up to His high standard…which of course, we don’t.

And of course, we never do. We fall short in our heart for the lost, and we fall short in everything else, but here is where we remember that our hope is not in Jesus as an example to us, but a substitute. As Christians we are “in Christ”, and our ultimate hope is that He is our righteousness. Our record is spotty, but His is perfect, and because we are in Him, not only does our sin go on Him at the cross, but His righteousness becomes ours, as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:21…

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)

And here’s the wonderful thing, knowing that Christ’s perfect standard of righteousness substitutes for our sinful record fills us with a peace and joy that ultimately leads us to live more righteously, to serve more wholeheartedly, and especially, in the case of the lost, to love more dearly.

This is the message of Jesus, and that is the reason we call it…good news.


For tomorrow, Tuesday, July 28th: Luke 20



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Posted by on July 27, 2015 in Uncategorized


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He’s So Heavenly Minded…

(Hey Inspired Readers, please take note that I posted Matthew 11 a day early.  Click here to read that post.  In the meantime, here’s Matthew 10!)

“He’s so heavenly minded that he’s no earthly good.” You ever heard that one? If you have I hope you didn’t buy it. In fact, it’s impossible to be too heavenly minded. There is of course, a false spirituality that some people have, but this is not heavenly mindedness. It is pride or egotism, or even insecurity or a host of other sins, but it is not heavenly mindedness. That’s something you cannot have enough of. And having an eternal mindset is one of the great keys to living the Christian life.

C.S. Lewis put it this way in his writing, The Joyful Christian…

“If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.  It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this (the reality is that many of us are so earthly minded we are of no heavenly or earthly good).  Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’; aim at earth and you will get neither.”

According to Mr. Lewis, it’s all in what we are aiming at. And everything (finances, relationships, work, you name it) gets “fixed” with the proper target of heaven in our sights.

And so, as Jesus is preparing to send his disciples out on the great preaching journey of Matthew 10, He tells them to keep their eyes on eternity. Specifically, in verses 31 – 33, he says this will be the key to overcoming one of the great sins of the human race: the fear of man.

“So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”

Matthew 10:32-33 (ESV)

There is coming a day, Jesus says, when you will want Him to identify you…by name. You will want Him to speak your name before His Heavenly Father. Think about that day, Jesus says, when the days on earth come that you are tempted to deny your association.

Outright denial is one thing, an action pointing to the fact that you are not really His. If that is your lot, then fear not, there is time to repent. Do so, now. But what if you look back on your life and realize that you have been imperfect in your acknowledgment of Jesus? What if there have been too many days when you have shrunk back from raising your hand as a Christian? Well, this is where another motivation for identification with Jesus comes in – for this preaching trip in Matthew 10 would only be the first of many for Peter and his brothers. In days to come, they would travel the world with the glorious gospel of substitutionary atonement:

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

1 Peter 2:24 (ESV)

He has paid for your fear and weakness, and this is another reason to give it up for boldness in His great cause.  That’s heavenly mindedness that will take you all the way home.


Friday: Matthew 12 – what after all is this unpardonable sin?


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Posted by on January 14, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Living the Perfect Life

Imagine living a life where you never messed up, where everything you did was right and true. Imagine living a life where you never sinned.

Such a life would be full of peace and joy. And we know why, right?  Because sin causes such pain, doesn’t it? Just think back to the Holidays that weren’t so long ago: That Thanksgiving meal which became so uncomfortable because of the shouting match between the two sisters…would have never happened, and the turkey would have tasted so much better. Or consider the dreaded credit card bill which is now on its way to so many homes because, among many other things, Mom and Dad felt such need to get little Suzy the latest and greatest dolly with all the clothes and houses. And the idolatry that led Suzy’s momentary joy has stolen away the lasting joy of her parents.

Without sin there would be none of this…just tasty turkey and stuffing…and blessed contentment.

And such was the life of our Lord Jesus, alluded to verse 15 of Matthew 3…

But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. (ESV)

The context is with the crowds on the banks at the Jordan River, when John balked at baptizing the Lord. And why did Jesus insist that John baptize Him? Because it was the right thing to do. Glorious. This was the every-moment life of our Lord, at every turn making the right move, saying the right thing.

Oh, there was pain in Jesus’s life, mind you, the pain of seeing others hurting, the overall pain of existence in a fallen world. But never any of the existential angst you and I deal with every day from our own folly and sin. What a life of peace and joy, always doing the Father’s will, always walking down the clear path and staying out of the ditch.

Never any emotional or physical pain from sin…that is, until Calvary. And then…it was complete and total, absolutely overwhelming pain. There on the cross He felt the pain of the broken relationships of a million turkey dinners, all at once. There on the cross, He experienced the shame and regret of a million bad financial decisions. And more, of course. There was physical pain too, but the worst of it was not the agony of the torturous cross. The worst of it was the agony of the Father’s face turning away from One now so completely…sin.

And all so that if we would place our faith in Him, we might receive His record of “fulfilling all righteousness”…and the glorious peace and joy that accompany it.

Tuesday, January 6: Matthew 4


Posted by on January 5, 2015 in Uncategorized


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