John 21:1-14 It Is the Lord!

John 21:1-14        It is the Lord! (Lesson Notes - The Living Well)

“After these things” refers to what had happened in Jerusalem. After the week-long Feast of Unleavened Bread and after the resurrection appearances of Christ to both the women and the disciples, the eleven headed back north to Galilee. It is here that Jesus would meet them again to show Himself.

Early in the first century, Herod Antipas founded a city near the Sea of Galilee named Tiberias in honor of the Roman emperor who supported him, Tiberius. That name also became associated with the lake, especially by the time that the apostle John wrote his Gospel narrative.

We are invited into a story that begins with seven of the disciples going out fishing one night. Not even all of them are names, but we may be able to take a guess as to who they were as we consider the fact that many of them were professional fishermen while some were not. It is not odd that they went fishing. This is what they knew, they may not have had much else to do as they waited for Christ, maybe they needed some extra money, and people can always eat! Night was considered the best time for fishing, probably for several reasons, but mainly because they could sell the fish fresh in the market the following morning. Sadly, they fished all night but caught nothing.

Jesus appears on the shore and calls out to them, although they do not immediately recognize Him. The designation “children” is thought to be equivalent to calling them “friends” or “guys.” Of course, we have just been told that they have not caught anything so when Jesus asks if they have any food they necessarily reply, “No.”

The Lord tells the men to drop their nets on the other side of the boat. Why did they listen to what they considered a stranger? Maybe they still had a little bit of hope left, or maybe they figured, why not? Whatever the case, they listen to Jesus and throw their nets on the right side of the boat, and they catch so many that they cannot haul it in. Later we are told that it was 153 large fish.

After the large catch, John immediately recognizes that it is the Lord. As usual, John is quick to see spiritual significance, and Peter is quick to act. Peter hears John, throws his outer garment back on, and dives in the water to swim to Christ. They were about 200 hundred cubits from the shore, about 100 yards.

Jesus has placed a singular fish over the fire. It may have been a large fish, but He still invites the disciples to place on the fire some of the fish they had just caught and were towing in. As He had many times before, Jesus functions as the host. He breaks the bread (surely after giving thanks) and passes it to them. He also passes the cooked fish to them. The disciples know that it is the Lord, but there is still something different. They are still wrapping their minds around the Lord’s death, resurrection, and glorified body.

Matthew 28:11-20 The King: Given All Authority

Matthew 28:11-20        The King: Given All Authority        WC McCarter

The Quran is the only historically claimed document that denies that Jesus actually died on the cross. Every other document acknowledges that Jesus did in fact die by crucifixion on the cross. The Quran, of course, was written hundreds of years after Christ. One of my favorite people, an internationally known Christian apologist, scholar, professor, evangelist, and philosopher, Ravi Zacharias tells of a time that he sat down and had a conversation in Damascus, Syria with the leading Shiite cleric by the name of Sheikh Hussein. He says that when the over three-hours-long conversation had ended, the Muslim leader looked at him and said, “You know, Professor, I think that the time has come for us in the Islamic world to stop asking if Jesus Christ died and to start asking why.”

Everything about the Christian faith rests on the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day. Matthew has reported to us the narrative of the resurrection from the viewpoint of the disciples, and in today’s text Matthew gives us the story of what the chief priests and guards did about the resurrection. The guards were bribed by the chief priests to tell the people that they fell asleep, and the disciples of the Lord stole His body. The question that Matthew leaves us with is, Who will you believe? Which story do you find true? If you believe that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, then you will be compelled to submit to His Lordship and His commission to make disciples.

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A Fallacy is Fabricated (11-15)
Remember that everything took place just outside the city gates in a garden that was near Calvary. As the group of women went into the city to report to the apostles what had happened, the guards were also heading into the city to report to the chief priests what had happened. The stories are somewhat similar in the beginning but come to drastically different ends. Surely, both groups report the appearance of the angels and their subsequent fear. At that point the men passed out, but the women received a message from the angel and also encountered the Risen Lord.

These guards were apparently Roman guards delegated by Pilate to the Jewish rulers. This is probably the case because the Jews asked Pilate to secure the tomb (Matt 27:64), there was a Roman seal placed there (Matt 27:66), and the guards ultimately had to answer to the governor for what had transpired in the garden (Matt 28:14). If these were Jewish temple police, the Jewish rulers would not have had to bribe them but could have simply exercised authority over them and even threatened their lives.

We see that money can be an evil enticement. If a man has enough of it, he can do whatever evil he wills to do. The Jewish rulers paid 30 pieces of silver to Judas Iscariot to find the location where they could arrest Jesus. They bribe the Roman guards here with a large sum of money. They are confident that they can appease Pilate if the story gets back to him, presumably with money. Also notice the power of lies. When a man begins to lie, he must continue to the point that all he knows are lies. A person gets to the point that he/she is telling lies simply to cover up previous lies. The rulers set up false witnesses in Jesus’ trial, and now they seek to spread another lie about the empty tomb. When does it end? As God told Cain back in Gen 4:7, “Sin is crouching at the door, and it desires to dominate you.” These Jewish rulers were dominated by sin. They were full of corruption, lies, bribery, and rebellion. A heart full of lies and hands full of money are a catastrophic combination.

Is it not ironic that the very lie that the guards are told to say is the very thing that they were sent to the tomb to prevent?! Now, let’s think about this false report for a moment. If the disciples did plan to steal the body of the Lord, (1) they would have risked the threat of the Roman guards who would have put them to death for attempting such a thing. By the way, (2) the guards would have risked their own lives by falling asleep because sleeping while on watch was punishable by death. Not only would the disciples have had to deal with the guards, but (3) they would have risked their lives by breaking the seal on the tomb. Breaking a Roman seal was punishable by death. It was an offense against the Empire. Even if the disciples could get past the guards and risk their lives by breaking the seal, (4) there would have needed to have been a few men in order to open the stone door of the tomb. (5) They would not have taken the time to unwrap the Lord’s body and neatly fold the cloths to lay them in place. (6) What is the incentive for claiming the Lord was risen if you knew He had not? (7) What would the disciples have died (and many did) for what they knew to be a lie? (8) Why record that women were the first eyewitnesses and messengers of the Good News if women were not thought to be credible witnesses by the Jewish culture? When all of the facts are considered, THE BEST explanation is that JESUS was RAISED from the DEAD.

Although the facts prove that the lie is implausible, the Jewish rulers found themselves with only this option remaining. They do not even consider that what they were hearing may be true, that Jesus of Nazareth may have actually been raised from the dead. So, their utter rebellion forces them to immediately forge a lie to explain away what actually happened. This lie became the oldest alternative to the empty tomb known to man. It was circulated immediately after the tomb was found empty; it was known several years later when Matthew was recording his Gospel account; and it is even claimed today. Therefore, we are left with the question, Do you believe that Jesus was literally raised from the dead, or do you believe that His disciples stole His body? Consider the evidence and determine a conclusion. The body of Jesus was gone. We only have two options as to what happened.

The Risen Lord Meets His Disciples (16-17)
Matthew challenges us to make a decision about what happened to the body of Jesus, but his conviction is plain and certain. He knew Jesus to be alive. So, he picks up the narrative where he left off with the women telling the disciples that the Lord commanded them to meet Him on a mountain in Galilee. Verse 16 tells us that the apostles left Jerusalem, headed north to Galilee, and arrived at the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. We cannot know which mountain is referenced here. Mountains are seen in Matthew, and the whole Bible, as a place from which divine revelation comes forth and communion with God takes place. A special and significant thing takes place. The life and ministry of Christ has now come full circle. The Lord was raised as a boy in the region of Galilee, the majority of His earthly ministry took place in Galilee, and now He meets His followers one last time in the hill country of Galilee. This is significant because that region was known as “Galilee of the Gentiles.” Christ’s life and ministry have been showing all along, and now His commission makes undeniable, that what He has achieved is for all the peoples of the earth. Christ’s accomplishments are to be shared with people near and far, even to the end of the earth.

Jesus appeared before them, just as He said He would. When they saw Him, they worshiped but some doubted. The word “doubt” does not refer to unbelief. Many scholars translate this word as “hesitated.” As one commentator says, “[The word] refers not to intellectual uncertainty but to the disorientation produced by an unfamiliar and overwhelming situation” (France). Can you imagine how impressive and overwhelming this scene would have been? How do you respond to the Risen Lord when He appears to you on the mountain?

The Risen Lord Commissions His Disciples (18-20)
Jesus does not only show Himself, but He speaks. God has been speaking since the beginning of time. He wants to reveal Himself to us, and He wants to have a relationship with us. In keeping with the other resurrection appearance to the women, Jesus gives a command in this passage. The Risen Christ is seen as a Commissioning Lord. His command to the women was, “Go and tell. . . .” His command to His disciples on the mountain was in essence the same thing, Go and tell, that is, “Go and make disciples. . . .”

But notice what Jesus says first, in verse 18. Do you remember how the Bible starts in Gen 1:1? “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” This is an idiomatic phrase that refers to everything. Jesus says that all authority has been given to Him for all places. It is because of this authority that Christ can then command that His followers make more disciples of all the nations.

I fell into the trap of thinking that Jesus meant, As you are going into all the world, make disciples as if we only have to make disciples if we go or I’m only responsible for disciple-making right here where I am. That is not what Jesus said, and that is not what the original language conveys. There are two chief commands here, Go and Make; both are important and both are necessary. To fulfill the Great Commission, as it were, both must be undertaken.

The chief end of these two commands is that there may be more disciples. The Lord wants to see, and we do too, more and more folks coming under the power of His saving work and under the authority of His Lordship. The two chief functions of fulfilling this commission are baptizing and teaching.

Baptism, we learn from the New Testament, is what a person does when they repent of their sins and put their full faith in Christ for salvation. Baptism is what unites a person with the death and resurrection of Christ. We are united with the Triune God when we are immersed, which is why we are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. To be united with Him is to come into a relationship with Him, and it is to receive His accomplishments as your very own.

Teaching, we also learn from the Bible, is the primary business of the church. We are a people of the Book. Christ has made the leaders of the church “pastor-teachers” and “elders who labor in word and doctrine.” We are disciples, that is, learners. God is a speaking God, the God who reveals Himself. Therefore, we listen; we study; we meditate; and we grow. We devote ourselves to the detailed study of Scripture. We are equipped for life and ministry through an education in the things of Christ. The Lord commanded His disciples to teach all peoples, “to observe all things that I have commanded you.” All Scripture is God-breathed and has come from the Lord of glory. We do well to obey His commands and continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christ promises to be with us every step of the way, every moment as we Go and Tell. He wants us to make disciples, so He will empower, embolden, and equip us with everything we need to do so. Through it all, He will be present.

Conclusion and Christian Application
(1) Sin is crouching at our doors. We must deny it and put our trust in Christ. Let me finish the quote I started before as God spoke to Cain. He said, “Sin’s desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

(2) What will you do with the resurrection? Do you believe? Do you know why?

(3) If you believe that Jesus is Lord and God has been raised from the dead, you must heed His resurrection commission. We are a people who have been commanded to Go and Tell, to Go and Make.

Luke 24:25-27, 44-47 Lesson Notes

Luke 24:25-27, 44-47 (Isaiah 53:3-8) Lesson Notes
Isaiah 53 shows how the Lord had to suffer. As we have said in previous weeks, we know for certain that this was prophesied long before Christ was born.

*Read all of chapter 24. **Why were the disciples slow to believe?
***Have you ever been slow to believe?

These are two different resurrection appearances. The first is with two disciples on the road to Emmaus (seven miles west of Jerusalem). The second is in Jerusalem.

Only Luke gives us the narrative of Jesus walking with the two disciples down the Emmaus Road. Jesus begins by rebuking these two men, calling them foolish and slow to believe. (Although the disciples question Jesus as to whether He was the only one in Jerusalem who had not heard what had happened, Jesus may have actually been the only one!) “The resurrection’s reality should not have been hidden” (Bock). They should have known this truth from the prophets. This goes to show us that we may miss what the Lord is going to reveal if we are not in His word. We gain understanding from the study of the writings of the prophets and apostles. I have said several times before that the disciples, and really all the Jews of the first century and even until today, had no category for a suffering Messiah. Jesus is now pushing them into the category. He is framing the discussion and showing them from the Scriptures how the prophets had foretold of a suffering Savior. Although first century Judaism did not expect a suffering Messiah, the OT prophets did anticipate One. For Christ to enter into His glory, He had to be raised from the dead. The resurrection and ascension have provided vindication and victory. He now reigns at the right hand of God while all His enemies have been made His footstool. “Moses and all the prophets” refers to all of the Old Testament. Jesus explained the things about Himself to them from the OT Scriptures. He was beginning to open the eyes that were shut. He will soon fully reveal Himself. (Did they realize it was Him in the way that He broke the bread, or did they at that moment notice His nail wounds?)

On a second occasion, Jesus makes clear that the OT had foretold all the things about His suffering, death, and return to glory. He also makes clear that He was also teaching these very things to His disciples during His ministry. What had come to pass was God’s plan. Here, the three divisions of the OT are noted: Moses, Prophets, and Psalms. The discussion involves the “Messiah” title and much more. Christ’s position, titles, work, and person are shown throughout the OT. “What the disciples could not grasp before the crucifixion and resurrection now becomes clear” (Bock). Notice that our minds have to be opened to understand the Scriptures. Christians have to engage their minds, and they are to love the Lord their God with all their mind. Like I said, they did not have categories for these things, so they had to be transformed by the renewing of their minds. These categories had to be forged and framed and formed in their minds. Many of the Jews thought that there would be a resurrection of the dead on the last day. Jesus shows how His was to be a quick resurrection (not allow your Holy One to see corruption). Men and women must repent for forgiveness of sins. They must change their minds about God, how they have behaved, how they are to be forgiven, and how they are to relate to Him. It all centers on Christ. Notice also the prominence of “preaching” and “all nations.”

The main point is: everything from the suffering of Christ to the universal proclamation of His name was predicted in Scripture. We should note the continuity of God’s plan in Scripture.

Luke likes to stress that all Scripture points to Jesus: Lk 24:45; Acts 17:2, 11; Acts 18:24, 28. “Luke sees continuity in God’s plan” (Bock).

John 20:19-31 Peace to You!

John 20:19-31    Peace to You!    Bible Study Notes (The Living Well)

On the same day that the women went to the tomb and Mary Magdalene saw and spoke with the Lord, another resurrection appearance occurred. This was the first day of the week, which is why Christians now worship on Sundays and not the Sabbath. In the evening some of the disciples were gathered in a room with the doors shut. They locked the doors because they had seen what the Jewish rulers could do, and they feared them. The reason that John tells us the doors were locked is not mainly to tell us that they were afraid, but primarily to show us the miraculous nature of Christ’s appearance. Just as Jesus’ body passed through the grave clothes and the closed tomb, He also passes through walls with closed doors.

“Peace” (shalom) was an ordinary Jewish greeting, but Christ gave it a much more significant meaning. Jesus transformed the term when He taught about His peace in the upper room, and when He reveals Himself after the resurrection, He uses the same greeting. Look back to (14:27 and 16:33). The animosity between God and mankind was now removed and put to rest. Through Christ, we now have peace with God (Rom 5:1-2). We were enemies, but have now been reconciled (Col 1:21-23).

What proof does Jesus give that it is really Him raised from the dead? What evidence can He show to assure them that peace has been attained? He shows the disciples the wounds from the crucifixion which were clearly seen on His hands and His side. Of course, the disciples were glad to see the Lord. Their grief has now been turned to joy, which is exactly what Christ intends to do among His people.

After showing them His scars, Jesus repeats His greeting to them with “Peace!” They can now see what it took to attain the peace that He was offering. It took His sacrificial death. Do you remember the words of the hymn, “Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary”?

The Risen Christ is often seen in His resurrection appearances as a Commissioning Lord. We carry on His mission of reconciling the world to God. We do so by preaching and sharing the Good News of what Christ has done on the cross. We make disciples of all the nations–baptizing and teaching them. The commission given in verse 21 is tied to the giving of the Spirit in verse 22. The scene was probably just as mysterious to the apostles as it is to us. What Christ does seems so odd. There is no doubt that it makes on think of the creation of Adam at the beginning of Genesis, but there is also the question of how this fits with the coming of the Spirit in Acts 2. What some scholars believe, and I think that I agree, is that Jesus is acting out a parable again which points to the fulfillment of His promises to send another Helper. Acts 2 is the fulfillment of what Jesus foreshadows in John 20:22. Thus, the disciples do not receive the gift of the Holy Spirit at that moment. They are still fearful later.

Verse 23 is part of the apostolic commission. Some argue, and I may agree, that this comes true in the preaching of the Gospel. The Gospel message demands a response, whether it be positive or negative. The message is life to some and death to others. It brings about repentance and forgiveness for some while it secures condemnation for others.

Thomas was not present when Christ first appeared to the disciples and there is no reason given. Can you imagine the jubilation that the other ten must have had as they told Thomas, but Thomas was on guard, he would not be gullible. This kind of doubt that Thomas displays is rooted in massive religious disappointment. He wants to know that this resurrected Jesus that the others are talking about is the same pre-death Jesus. He had followed this man for three years or so, devoted his life to this ministry, expected great things of Jesus and then he was left helpless as his Rabbi was nailed to a cross. He had heard the report of the other disciples, but that was not going to be enough.

As in verse 19 above, the disciples are once again in a locked room (and this time Thomas is with them). The door is locked again. They still fear the Jews. In His resurrected, glorified body Jesus has no need to open doors. Again, His greeting is “Peace!” Next something very personal happens. Jesus turns to Thomas to deal with him directly. He knows what Thomas has said. What does this demonstrate to us? (1) Jesus hears His disciples even when He is not physically present with them. (2) Although Jesus’ atoning work is complete He still ministers to His people. (3) Jesus will not lose any of all the Father has given Him. (4) Jesus’ continuous call is to believe.

As doubtful as you want to picture Thomas, his answer at first sight is doubtless. It is a faithful response, but almost an overstatement for a Jew like Thomas. Yet, he quickly put a few things together about the divinity of Christ. Now after seeing (and possibly touching) the wounds of the resurrected Christ, Thomas quickly puts all of these things together and concludes as fittingly as a believer can: “My Lord and My God!”

Notice how verse 29 is connected to 28. This is how belief looks and sounds. This is what the reader is called to believe. The beatitude is this, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have confessed that Jesus is Lord and God.” That is the belief that a disciple must conclude. This beatitude is the second of the only two mentioned in John’s book (13:17). Blessed means happy, satisfied, and accepted by God. Not seeing does not diminish our happiness, satisfaction, or acceptance by God (1 Pet 1:8-9). The grammar links verses 30-31 with the preceding section. This is the message that is suggested: Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. Therefore this book has been recorded in order that many who have not seen will read and BELIEVE. Now the main goal seems to be to evangelize, yet there is a secondary goal which is to establish the faith of Christians. There were many other signs performed, but these select few are given.

Matthew 28:1-10 The King: Raised from the Dead

Matthew 28:1-10        The King: Raised from the Dead        WC McCarter

There are very few people, even scholars, who will deny that Jesus of Nazareth died and that His death was by crucifixion. This is a historical reality. The issue is how one may interpret that death. Yes, it was painful and ugly, but more than that, we believe that Jesus Christ was absorbing in His soul the sins of the whole world. His death was a sacrifice to pay the penalty for our sin as our substitute on the cross. So, we believe that Jesus died literally, physically, and historically, and His death was unique.

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The Sabbath would have ended at sun-down on Saturday evening which began the next day, that is, “day one” after the Sabbath (which is Sunday for us). As the sun began to come up on the first day of the week, a group of women went to the tomb. If we look at all the Gospel accounts, we see that a variety of details are given. Some even see contradictions. Yet, the accounts can easily be reconciled, which we will not do now, but we can realize that it was a group of women who went to the tomb, and Mary Magdalene played a key role in the narrative. After all, a woman would not have ventured outside the city gates while it was still dark by herself.

May Magdalene was the woman who had demons cast out of her by the Lord. She became a disciple of His and a supporter of His ministry along with several other women. We are even told that the group of women followed Jesus from Galilee down to Jerusalem in order to care for His ministry needs. They were at the cross, saw where they laid the body of the Lord, and went to the tomb in order to pay their respects on the first day of the week.

As they drew near the tomb, there was a great earthquake because an angel of the Lord descended from heaven. This was a surprising event that came with great awe and wonder. The women were taken by surprise the tomb open and an angel of the Lord. Now, let’s not be confused. The angel did not open the tomb to let Christ out, but to let the women in (and the apostles, and the whole world). The angel’s countenance (face) was like lightning which makes one think of Moses. After being in God’s presence, Moses was said to have horns of light radiating from his face. This was an angel of God who had descended which says so much. This is not a crime scene, but an act of God. The angel’s clothes were as white as snow demonstrating his purity and the holiness of God. Not only was the earth quaking, but the guards were also shaking. They passed out from great fear at what had just happened.

Surely the women were also afraid, but the angel says to them, “Do not be afraid.” There was no reason to be afraid. The angel meant no harm, and he actually had very good news to share with the women. He knew exactly who they were looking for, and he knew exactly what had happened. He said, “He is not here; He is risen, as He said.” Notice that he reminds them that Jesus had already foretold these things. In fact, Jesus had told His disciples that He would die and rise again on several occasions. The women could go in and see where the body had been, but it was no longer there. Next, the angel commissions the women to go and tell the apostles that Christ is risen.

So, the first eyewitnesses and testifiers to the resurrection event are women. This should not be understated. If someone were to make up a story like this, they would not make women the only eyewitnesses. Women were not even allowed to testify in a Jewish court because their testimony was considered untrustworthy by men (and men dominated the culture). Yet, the Lord chooses a group of women as His first messengers. Mary Magdalene and the others were the first to experience and share the Good News that Christ is risen.

Of course, the women are obedient to the command of the angel. As they are heading to tell the disciples, they are met by the Risen Lord. And what does He say? He says, “Rejoice!” It makes me think of the Easter hymn which says, “Rejoice! Rejoice! Oh, Christian, lift up your voice and sing eternal hallelujahs to Jesus Christ, the King!” They definitely had reason to rejoice! Christ was alive! Their Master was not in the tomb, nor was His body stolen. He was alive!

The women fall to the ground and worship the Lord. Jesus says the same thing that the angel had said (of course, the angel was delivering the message of the Lord), “Do not be afraid.” He also says, “Go and tell. . . .” The message was for the disciples to gather in Galilee, and they would see the Risen Christ there. We will talk about it at another time, but let me mention that Christ is now coming full circle by going to Galilee. He was raised in Galilee, mainly ministered in that region, and now, after the resurrection, He is returning there to show Himself to His followers and to ascend back to the Father. This is significant because Galilee was known as “Galilee of the Gentiles.” This is just the beginning of spreading the message of Christ death and resurrection from Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Conclusion and Christian Application

(1) We are people who believe and proclaim that Jesus of Nazareth died for our sins on a Roman cross and was raised from the dead on the third day afterwards physically, literally, and historically. This is the Good News of the Christian faith and Scriptures.

(2) “Go and tell” is the resurrection commission. Because Christ has accomplished so much through His death and resurrection, we are commanded to go and tell others the Good News. This is most remembered from Matt 28:19.

(3) Rejoice! Rejoice! Of, Christian, lift up your voice and sing!

John 20:11-18 Why Are You Weeping?

John 20:11-18    Why Are You Weeping?    Bible Study Notes (The Living Well)
Mary may have gone back to the tomb because she was overtaken by grief and did not know what else to do or where else to go. Another reason she may have gone back to the tomb was in the hope that someone may show up who could give her more information about what had happened.

As we saw last week, when Peter and John looked in they saw the grave clothes of the Lord. When Mary looks in, she sees two angels. The appearance of these angels is significant. God means for us to understand that His power had been put on display. He was at work. It was not Rome, or the Jews, or some thieves, but God was present in this empty tomb event.

The angels ask Mary why she is crying. They are not trying to learn some information, but they are gently rebuking her. She had no reason to cry from their vantage point. Mary has still not moved beyond the thought that Jesus’ body has been taken away (maybe by some robbers). She tells the angels what she had told the disciples after the first visit to the tomb.

Next she sees someone else near the tomb. It is Jesus, but she does not know it. Maybe her eyes are filled with tears, and she isn’t seeing clearly; or maybe she is overtaken by grief and is not thinking straight. Another possibility is that Christ is veiling His form. There is a tension in many of the resurrection appearances. Jesus is often not immediately recognized (the following comes from Carson): the two on the road to Emmaus were kept from recognizing Him (Luke 24:16); the disciples in the boat on the sea of Tiberias did not recognize Him on shore (John 21:4); and Mary did not realize it was Jesus (here). Jesus’ body can be touched and handled (Luke 24:39; John 20:27); His wounds are visible (John 20:20, 25, 27); He cooks fish (John 21:9, 13) and eats it (Luke 24:41-43). Yet, in His resurrection body, He apparently passed through His grave clothes (John 20:6-8); He appears in a locked room (John 20:19, 26); and is sometimes not initially recognized.

Jesus rebukes her by asking the same thing as the angels, Why are you crying? He then asks a second question which invites her to consider what kind of Messiah she was expecting (Carson), Whom are you seeking? Mary had great devotion and loyalty to the Lord, but that meant nothing if she did not know who He truly is and what He was doing.

Even after meeting Him and hearing Him speak, Mary is still blinded and thinks that the man is only a gardener who was being friendly. She thinks that maybe He saw something or had something to do with the disappearance of the Lord’s body.

Remember with me what Jesus said in John 10 about a shepherd and his sheep. Jesus refers to Himself as the Good Shepherd, and His sheep know His voice (10:2-4; 11; 14; and 27). Jesus says, “Mary!” and she realizes who He is. She turns to Him and calls out “Rabboni!” which is the Aramaic word meaning Teacher. Aramaic was a common language related to Hebrew.

Apparently, Mary’s first reaction was to embrace Jesus, but He commands her to not cling to Him. I think what He means by “Do not cling to Me” or “Do not hold on to Me” is that Mary should not expect Jesus to stay for long in the present form. In finishing His mission, He must return to the One who sent Him, that is, God the Father.

Folks get confused about verse 17 because Jesus calls the Father “His God,” but Jesus is making a distinction here. He does not say “our God.” Instead, He says, “I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.” Jesus maintains a distinction between how He relates to the Father and how the disciples and all humanity relate to the Father.

Mary, of course, delivers this message to the disciples. She is one of the first witnesses to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The fact that all four Gospels discuss Mary Magdalene and other women as some of the first witnesses to the resurrection points to the historicity and authenticity of the stories because women were not allowed to provide legal witness in the first century, especially among the Jews. If you were going to make up a story, you would not choose women as the first to testify to the truth claim.

John 19:23-42 The King: Laid in the Tomb

John 19:23-42    The King: Laid in the Tomb            WC McCarter

How ironic it is to see the King crucified on a cross and laid in a tomb. God loves to turn the things of this world upside-down. We learn that His ways are far above our ways. As far as the heavens are above the earth are His ways above ours. We learn that the greatest of human wisdom is nothing compared to the foolishness of God. And it is the foolishness of preaching, and not just any preaching but the preaching of the cross, that brings life. Very few doubt that Jesus of Nazareth died on a cross. The question is, How do you interpret that historical event?

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They Took His Garments (23-24)
If you remember back to the footwashing scene in the upper room, you will remember that we were told that Jesus “rose from supper and laid aside His garments. . . .” I interpreted that passage as a foreshadowing of the cross. Here we see Jesus lay aside His clothes one last time in order to serve us. This is the One who said, “The Son of Man has not come to be served but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.” He is stripped down to nothing, and His clothes are distributed among the soldiers. The common practice was for the executioner(s) to take the clothes of the executed criminal(s). Not only does the Lord lay aside His clothes in service to mankind, but He lays aside His life in order to pay for our sins, and not only our sins but the sins of the whole world. He has laid aside His glory; He has laid aside His clothes; and He has laid aside His life. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for His friends. Yet, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

The soldiers decide to take the Lord’s garments, as if dividing the spoils of war, but think of what Christ would have freely given them if only they would have asked! The One they are abusing and putting to death is the One who can forgive them of their sins. He is the One who can give them living water that would quench their thirst forever. He is the One who gives true love, joy, and peace. He is the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep. From Him all blessings flow both in this life and into the next age. Come to Him all you who are weary and heavy laden, and He will give you rest.

Of course, the apostle wants us to know that something more is happening than simply the soldiers taking the Lord’s garments. They are actually fulfilling Scripture. Particularly, they are fulfilling the words of David in Psalm 22, which becomes a central prophecy for the cross.

That Disciple Took Her to His Own Home (25-27)
It is interesting that John shows us that there were four soldiers executing the Lord while four women looked on. There is a contrast. The original language basically says, “On the one hand, the soldiers did these things; on the other hand, there stood near the cross of Jesus [the four women].” Three of the four women were named Mary, but only two of the four are named here. The one that Jesus is concerned with at this point is His earthly mother. Even in His greatest point of suffering, He lovingly thinks of His mother and makes arrangements for her care. You may think that Jesus’ brothers have legal responsibility to take care of Mary, and that may be true, but Jesus is thinking of something else. He wants these two to care for each other, as mother and son, in their darkest hour. Jesus has been at the center of both Mary and John’s lives for years, and now He is being put to death. They are going to need to lean on each other. Christian people need one another. We have to support one another and encourage one another. We must weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. In our dark hours we lean on one another, and on our brightest days we celebrate together.

It is Finished (28-30)
Jesus could see that He had come to the point that would complete the divine plan of redemption. His mission was coming to an end. Jesus consciously and willingly fulfills both Scripture and the salvation plan.

Thirst would have been part of the torture of crucifixion, so this is not just some set up in order to fulfill Scripture. The physical and literal reality fulfilled prophecy. It may be that John is referring again to Psalm 22 as the psalmist says, “My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death.” He may also be referring to Psa 69:21 which says, “And for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” What is clear is that every part of Jesus suffering and crucifixion were part of the divine plan of God.

The phrase, “It is finished” makes us think back to 13:1 where we were told, “When Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” The phrase, “To the end” uses the same word as “finished” here. Jesus loved them to the fullest and when He died, He said, “It is fulfilled.” Notice that Jesus willingly gives up His life. He did not fight back or defend Himself when He was arrested in the garden, when He was taken from trial to trial, when He was beaten, or when He was nailed to the cross. He even said clearly in 10:17-18, “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” Now we hear Him say, “It is finished;” He bowed His head; and He gave up His spirit.

He was Already Dead (31-37)
The Romans would usually leave the bodies of those crucified on the cross until they died, and they would even leave their corpses there for days after. When they had a reason to get the bodies down quicker, they would break their legs so that they could no longer lift themselves up to breathe (not to mention more loss of blood). Because Jesus was crucified on Friday and the Sabbath was the next day, the Jews asked that their legs be broken so they would die sooner and their bodies could be taken down off of the crosses.

The soldiers broke the legs of both of the other men who were crucified on either side of the Lord. They did not need to break the legs of Jesus because they saw that He was already dead. How was it that Jesus died so soon? Well, probably because He had been flogged twice and because He gave up His spirit. Instead of breaking His legs, one of the soldiers puts a spear into His side. What is John emphasizing here? He is emphasizing that Jesus physically and literally died and that He died without a shadow of doubt.

The idea is questionable that John meant a greater symbolism by the detail that blood and water flowed from the Lord’s side. We cannot be sure that he meant anything special by recording this fact. If he did, the symbolism of blood in the Bible always refers to life, sacrifice, and forgiveness while water refers to cleansing and the Spirit. As the hymn says, “Jesus, keep me near the cross: There a precious fountain, free to all, a healing stream, flows from Calv’ry’s mountain” or another, “Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee; let the water and the blood, from Thy riven side which flowed, be of sin the double cure, cleanse me from its guilt and power.”

These things were heard, seen, and recorded by an eyewitness. John wants to make this clear to the reader. He tells us clearly and boldly that the witness is true, and he also gives us the purpose of this report: that we may believe. This is important for us to realize. Based on historical evidence and by faith we believe that what is stated here is true and accurate, and because of what we understand about the cross, we trust Jesus Christ with our lives. This is why a passage like Isaiah 53 is so important. The theology that we learn there interprets Calvary for us. We believe that Jesus died physically and literally, but that much more was actually happening. The Lord was absorbing the sins of the world in His sinless soul. His soul was made an offering for sin.

Two more Scriptures are referred to as being fulfilled by the events of the cross. Several people involved in the events surrounding the Lord’s death were saying and doing things that they did not even know was fulfilling Scripture. They were saying and doing things far beyond their own understanding. So, when the soldiers do not break the Lord’s legs and decide to put a spear in His side instead, they are fulfilling what the Old Testament said about the Messiah.

There They Laid Jesus (38-42)
This Joseph shows up in all four Gospels in connection with the burial of Christ. The other Gospel writers tell us that he belonged to the Sanhedrin, that he was rich, and that he was looking for the kingdom of God. He was known by the other believers to be a disciple of Jesus. Joseph kept his discipleship of Jesus a secret from the Jewish rulers, but he makes a bold and courageous move here to properly honor the body of Christ. Nicodemus was also probably a member of the Sanhedrin. He is the one who came to Jesus at night (John 3) to question the Lord. I think we see Nicodemus move from a seeker to a believer.

Isaiah 53 even speaks of the Lord’s burial in shocking clarity, “For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked—but with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth.”


(1) We believe that Jesus’ death was literal, physical, and historical, but, more than that, we believe that He was paying the penalty for our sins as our substitute. Like the sponge absorbed the sour wine for Jesus to drink, Jesus Christ was absorbing in His sinless soul the sins of the world on the cross. As Isa 53 says, “When You make His soul an offering for sin. . . .”

(2) He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

(3) We leave here today with heavy hearts after reading and discussing the death and burial of our Lord. Can you imagine what the disciples went through? They surely had turmoil of emotion and spirit. They could not understand that Jesus had to die and be buried. They could not understand what was happening on the cross. They simply believed that their Teacher and Lord was dead and gone.

To Judge or Not to Judge?

To Judge or Not to Judge?

Guest Article Written by Will Jacobs

Have you experienced a situation in which you lovingly sought to correct another Christian concerning a serious sin in their life, only to receive a most offended “Don’t judge me!”? The underlying assumption presupposes that condemning someone’s sinful actions disobeys Christ command to judge not that you be not judged (Matthew 7:1). Besides, didn’t Jesus say that one should remove the log from their own eye before pointing out the speck in another’s? Likewise, did he not tell the Pharisees, concerning the adulteress woman, “let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at he (John 8:7)?” But are these conclusions correct? Is it wrong for Christians to point out other Christians sinless lifestyles? How do we respond to Jesus’ words “judge not"?

As one studies the Bible it becomes clearly evident that the above responses to the issue of judging are sadly mistaken. The position that Christians are prohibited to admonish and rebuke one another’s immoral behavior results in a relative and subjective code of Christian ethics. That is, removal of spiritual accountability and church discipline allows for each individual Christian to live life in any manner he or she wishes. Furthermore, this illogical position goes contrary to the biblical position on the issue as we will see. The Bible speaks clearly on the Christian’s responsibility and obligation to hold each other accountable to the teachings of the Bible.

The Bible is clear that Christians are to hold each other to spiritual and godly standards of moral conduct. The same Jesus who said that we are not to judge also gave commands to confront Christians who are living immorally. In Matthew 18:15-20 Jesus prescribes how the church is to go about dealing with someone who sins against another. The person who has been sinned against is to go and confront them about their sinful behavior. If the person does not repent, then they are to take two to three others with him and confront the person a second time. Finally, If the person still refrains to change they are to be taken in front of the church and given an opportunity to repent. If the person still refuses to change then he is to be released from the congregation.

The apostle Paul provides a case in point in the book of 1 Corinthians 5. Apparently a son was having sexual relations with his father’s wife and the church of Corinth was condoning the behavior. The response from Paul may seem shocking to some. He plainly states that the church, rather than condoning the sinful activity, should be mourning the immoral behavior. But that’s not the shocker. What appear harsh are the words that follow.  Paul states that in his absence he had already cast judgment (same word that Jesus used in Matthew 7), not just on the situation, but on the “one who did such a thing.” Later in the passage Paul states some additional shocking words:
9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

This passage seems to go contrary to the way that most think about judging. In my estimation the contemporary church flips this logic on its head. We do a fine job of judging the un-churched but stray away from confronting the immoral behavior of the Christian, stating that it is wrong to judge each other. Contrarily, the apostle Paul states that we are not to judge those outside the church but are to judge those inside the church. Paul’s reasoning seems rational. The foundational reason we are to take serious the sins of Christian’s inside the church is because sin in the church affects the health of the entire church. Thus, Paul says in verse 6 “do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” In other words, sinfulness within the church doesn’t just affect the person sinning; it also affects the health of the church as a whole. Therefore, when sinfulness is brought into the church the church has an obligation to confront it, and remove it so as to not be affected and ultimately damaged by its disease.

Although judging is obligatory upon the church toward Christians who live openly and habitual sinful lifestyles, it should always be done in love and with the hope of reconciliation. In the passage mentioned earlier in Matthew 18 Jesus concludes his thought with a very familiar (and usually misinterpreted) passage: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Here Jesus is referring to one who repents of his sinful ways and reconciles with the brother he sinned against. The entire reasoning behind church discipline is for reconciliation. Similarly, Paul in 1 Corinthians 5 is not pictured as a bully thrashing all Christians with shortcomings. In fact, Paul mentions elsewhere that “all have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23),” and even referred to himself as the “chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15).” Paul’s hope in confronting the young man in 1 Corinthians 5 was that he would ultimately see his sin, repent, and be reconciled to the church (see verse 5). Elsewhere Paul calls for church discipline and confrontation to be done in gentleness, “brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness (Galatians 6:1).” This word “gentleness” is a medical term and was used in reference to mending a broken bone. Thus, we as Christians must confront, but do so with the utmost gentleness and love.

As Christians we are called to love one another. But, love involves telling each other the truth and drawing each other’s attention to sinful behavior that we may be blinded to. In doing so, we not only help the individual who is blinded to their sin (see James 5:19-20), but also protect the Church body from sin leaking in (1 Corinthians 5:6-8). Ultimately, our hope is that we are continually being reconciled with one another and with God our father.

Have you ever experienced a situation like the one described above? What do you think of the conclusions made here; do you think Christians have a place for judging each other?

John 20:1-10 He Must Rise Again

John 20:1-10        He Must Rise Again        Bible Study Notes (The Living Well)

John sets the scene for us telling us that it is the first day of the week, it is early, and it is still dark. Mary Magdalene is seen as going to the tomb in order to pay respects to the crucified teacher. This Mary has not been seen very much in John’s Gospel, but we know some things about her from the other Gospel accounts.

Mary Magdalene:
(1) Her name is Mary and she was from Magdala in Galilee.
(2) Somewhere in the region of Galilee she met Jesus who cast out seven demons from her, and she then began to follow Him (Luke 8:1-2).
(3) She had joined a group of women in following Jesus to Jerusalem to care for His ministry needs (Matt 27:55-56).
(4) When the apostles had scattered, she was still seen at the foot of the cross (Mark 15:40; John 19:25).
(5) She also observed Jesus’ burial (Mark 15:47).
(6) We know that she witnessed events surrounding the resurrection (John 20).
***John tells us that Mary was the first to find the empty tomb; she was the first to report it; and she was the first to meet the risen Lord.

Mary sees that the stone has been rolled away which was obviously possible, but not an easy task to do. Not just anyone could open the heavy, rolling stone door. It appears that she leaves immediately to go tell the apostles. She misses the details that the other two find when they get there.

She runs to tell Peter and the Disciple Whom Jesus Loved (John). These two are seen as leaders, go-to men for the group. What is Mary’s report? “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” Who is the “they”? She must be referring to the Jewish rulers, the opponents of Jesus. She uses the plural term “we” which conveys to us that she was not alone. A woman would not travel outside the city walls while it was still dark all by herself. There was a group of women who had gone to the tomb.

Peter is, of course, the first to jump up and leave while John follows behind him out of the door. John is apparently in better shape and more speedy as he arrives at the tomb first. Although John arrives first, he does not go in, but only looks from outside. As he stoops to look in, he sees the linen cloths lying there (19:40). This is puzzling, huh? Peter is not afraid to run right in. He sees the linen cloths lying there as well and the handkerchief which had been around the Lord’s head was laying separately and was folded. The language of the passage is that the cloths were “lying there” as if they were lying flat where the body of the Lord had been laid. This does not look like a crimes scene, does it? There’s nothing chaotic.

John went on in as well, and when he got to take in the whole scene, he believed. What did he believe exactly? We cannot be sure. It seems that maybe he believed what Mary said, that someone had taken the body. Yet, that does not it with what we know about John and his Gospel account. John has been the one all along who has shown more faith than the others. John was beside the Lord at the last supper and at Calvary for the crucifixion. The term “believe” has a strong sense in this Gospel. It almost always refers to a deeper trusting in Jesus. What we can say about this is that John believed that something different had happened although he did not yet fully understand the biblical and theological significance of the event as verse nine says. He was on the path to clarity and full understanding in faith.

What Scripture would they believe? Let me offer just a few: Ps 16:10; Isa 53:10-12; and Hos 6:2. The "Scripture" may refer to specific Scriptures such as these or to the Old Testament Scripture as a whole.

What were the disciples left to do, but go home after this?

John 19:1-22 The King: Crucified on the Cross

John 19:1-22      The King: Crucified on the Cross             WC McCarter

After looking at Isaiah 53, we now have a prophesy of what Jesus would do, we have a theology to understand the cross, and we have vocabulary with which we can discuss the crucifixion. Let us now turn to John’s description of the actual and historical suffering, crucifixion, and death of Jesus Christ and interpret it through the lens of Isaiah 53. A verse from the third servant song appears to be very relevant today. It comes from Isa 50:6.

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Scourged, But Innocent (1-4)
Jesus was flogged severely. Sometimes this was done as a punishment and then the man would be freed, and other times it was done as part of the crucifixion process. Men would sometimes die from the flogging. The Romans intended to take the person to the brink of death. The whip had pieces of bone and metal in the tips. Apparently Pilate had Jesus flogged in order to appease the Jews so that he could let Jesus go because He found Jesus to be innocent. Maybe the Jews would think it was punishment served, or maybe they would have sympathy on Jesus once they saw Him. Of course, they thought neither.

The crown of thorns, purple robe, and the repeated praise were to mock Jesus. Thorns were the punishment for sin in Genesis, and now we see thorns placed on His head (our punishment, as it were, placed on Him). The beatings continued even after the scourging as the soldiers continued to mock Him. Jesus suffered greatly.

It is interesting that Pilate says that he found no fault in Jesus although he had already had Him scourged. Pilate made a statement of innocence to the Jewish leaders all the way back in 18:38. The only explanation that works in my mind for why Pilate had Jesus scourged although he believed Him to be innocent is that Pilate was trying to release Him, but the Jewish pressure was mounting all the more.

We Have a Law (5-7)
Jesus was then presented to the crowd, surely in a horrible looking state. Pilate's words ironically sound like Zec 6:12, “Then speak to him, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, saying: ‘Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH!
From His place He shall branch out, and He shall build the temple of the Lord.’” Like the High Priest before him, Pilate is speaking truth that is beyond his own comprehension. He says more than he knows about Jesus.

Crucifixion was universally known as the worst and cruelest way to die. The Romans almost never put their own citizens to death this way. Pilate's statement to the Jewish leaders is probably sarcasm. They brought Jesus to him for trial, but they were not willing to accept his judgment. He says that Jesus is innocent, and if the Jews think He is guilty, then they ought to put Him to death themselves.

Their "law" must be Lev 24:16, “And whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall certainly stone him, the stranger as well as him who is born in the land. When he blasphemes the name of the Lord, he shall be put to death.” The charge against Jesus by the Jews is that of blasphemy.

This verse offers us an understanding of the term “Son of God.” To claim that title was to claim divinity, even the Jewish rulers knew this. They called Jesus blasphemous because they did not think He was divine. For those who say that Jesus never claimed to be divine, they are completely mistaken. He claimed this for Himself, and the Jewish rulers testified that He did. The real question is whether or not the claim is true. The Jewish rulers did not think so. Thus, they called Him blasphemous and had Him put to death. Christians throughout the ages have believed that the claim was/is true. Jesus is God.

You Are Not Caesar’s Friend (8-12)
Pilate was more afraid than ever at this point. This was an even bigger deal than he first expected. He hears that Jesus claimed to be the divine, and he meets Jesus face-to-face. He is really beginning to wonder about all of this. What does Pilate do? He tries to flex-his-muscles, as it were. The Roman official thinks he has a lot of authority, power to release and power to crucify, but he is not the ultimate authority. Honestly, I feel like Pilate is quite weak here. He is powerless in the face of the Jewish authorities. He will not be without sin, but his sin is far less than that of the Jews. Pilate was set up by them.

And, thus, the next phrase proves my point. Pilate tried to release Jesus, but the Jews backed him into a corner. They seem to blackmail him by saying that he was no friend of Caesar's if he released Jesus. They then make Jesus out to be a treasonous rebel who has set Himself up as a King opposed to Caesar.

Crucify Him: King of the Jews (13-22)
Pilate sits on the judgment seat to rule on this matter, and he basically has no options (from a worldly, political point of view). He had Jesus out there for all to see as well. This was Friday, the day of preparation of the Passover (meaning the day of Passover week to prepare for the Sabbath). Pilate mockingly says, Here is your king! The Jews reply, away with Him! Crucify Him! Pilate replies sarcastically, shall I crucify your king? And the high priests declare that they have no king but Caesar. (And, think, they accused Jesus of blasphemy!). So, Pilate delivers Jesus over to be crucified, thinking that he has no other choice but to appease the Jewish rulers or else face political consequences.

Jesus carries His own cross outside the city to the site called the place of the skull where He was crucified between two criminals with a sign above Him saying that He was King of the Jews. A placard fastened to the cross was common and stated the criminal's offense. From John's perspective, and ours, it is ironic because He is King, but Pilate probably did it to get back at the Jewish leaders who pressured him into this judgment. It was one last jab at the Jews from Pilate. The chief priests were not happy with the inscription, but Pilate did not change it.


(1) The people’s rejection of Jesus as Christ and as divine was clear and emphatic. They wanted nothing to do with Him. They wanted to rid the world of Him. They saw Him as a nuisance, instigator, blasphemer, and more. We now see the words of John chapter one play out: “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” and also John chapter three, “the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”

(2) Think of the theology and language we have from Isaiah 53 which we can use to interpret John 19: [A] “He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” [B] “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” [C] “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” [D] “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth.”

(3) The cross is the center of our life and faith. What happened at Calvary is our salvation. We must accurately understand that event and be able to explain it to those that are open to the Gospel message.