Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Resurrection Hymn Based on Luke 24:44-49

Nearing the end of Luke. Just four more verses. The hymn below is based on Luke 24:44-49 and it is set to a familiar hymn tune that many people know, "For the Beauty of the Earth." Click on the link if you want to hear the tune.

[44] Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” [45] Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, [46] and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, [47] and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. [48] You are witnesses of these things. [49] And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

(Luke 24:44-49 ESV)


Praise the Lord the Risen King

To the tune: DIX For the Beauty of the Earth (http://www.opc.org/hymn.html?hymn_id=58). Based on Luke 24:44-49. Words: William Weber, 2012.

v. 1
Praise the Lord the risen King,
let all of the nations sing.
Praise the One who for us died,
for our sins was crucified.
Then was raised on the third day,
“He is Lord,” let all men say.

v. 2
Let the nations hear His Word,
and acknowledge Him as Lord.
He is living who was dead,
died and rose just as He said.
Praise Him peoples of the earth,
infinite is Jesus’ worth.

v. 3
Hear the Word that prophesies
of the suff’ring, risen Christ.
Seen in pattern, seen in type,
given when the time was ripe.
Hear the prophets and believe,
Jesus Christ as Lord receive.

v. 4
Spread the Word through all the earth,
seed that gives the second birth.
Pray for boldness to proclaim,
wondrous news in Jesus’ name.
For by grace our God forgives,
in His Son the dying live.

v. 5
Risen Lord, we need Your pow’r,
every moment, every hour.
Boldness to evangelize,
teach the nations and baptize.
Send Your Spirit from on high,
Father, Son to glorify.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Music as Proclamation, Thanks and Praise

I just finished John Kleinig's book entitled, "The Lord's Song:  The Basis, Function and Significance of Choral Music in Chronicles."  One of the points of his book is that the content of choral music at the temple was for proclamation, praise, and thanksgiving, with thanksgiving and praise as nearly synonymous.  What was sung was determined by its place in the ritual.  Interestingly, there was no music during the sin offerings, but song only began when the burnt offerings were burnt on the altar, which signified the Lord's acceptance of His people and His presence among them.

It seems to me that we can apply this to our context.  First, there needs to be more proclamation in our songs.  We need songs that have more content---songs that actually proclaim who the Lord is and what He has done for His people.  Too often today our songs tell us little about the Lord and His works and ways.

Second, we need to recover the public confession of sins and assurance of pardon followed by songs of thanksgiving and praise.  Jesus is our sin offering and burnt offering.  We are forgiven and accepted because of Him, and this must be our chief reason for praise and thanks.  Our songs should reflect this.  To ignore the sacrificial work Jesus accomplished for us through His death and resurrection is unthinkable, just as it was unthinkable to separate song from sacrificial offering in the temple.  And yet, it happens too often in contemporary churches.

Third, songs are not to be chosen for entertainment.  Rather, they must be chosen because they are appropriate to the dialogue of worship.  Jesus gave us the basic pattern of Word and meal for His liturgy.  Within this liturgy we hear the Lord's Word and respond with thanks and praise.  Therefore, the words we sing must either be God's Word to us (proclamation) or our words to Him (praise/thanks/petition).  Too often it seems that churches today just string together songs for no particular reason.  Instead of Jesus' Word and meal pattern, we have replaced His pattern with our own pattern of music and Word, leaving off the meal completely.

Interestingly, meals were eaten at the temple, for after the sin offering and burnt offering came the peace and thank offerings that included a meal.  The people ate with the Lord just as we eat with the Lord in an even greater way during the Lord's Supper.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Psalm 95 Sons of Korah




Sons of Korah - Psalm 96




Something to Keep in Mind as Election Results Near

The Christian life is a pilgrimage from earth to heaven. This pilgrimage was pictured for us in the Old Testament as the children of Israel left Egyptian slavery and headed toward the promised land. It was also pictured three times a year as the Jewish pilgrims traveled up to Jerusalem for Passover, Firstfruits, and the Feast of Booths. Finally, this pilgrimage was pictured for us as Jesus journeyed to Jerusalem and the cross and His return to His Father. Luke calls this return to His Father an exodus.

The pattern, therefore, for Christians in this world is a journey through a place that is not our home to our home above where Christ is. In such a journey, we cannot expect to fit in with the manners, customs, and values that prevail. After all, we are pilgrims, strangers, and exiles. We may even have to suffer with Christ in such a world that is not our home.

As Christians, then, we should keep this in mind with the upcoming election. While we can and should participate in the political process hoping for an outcome that is best for America and in accord with Christian values, we may not get that outcome. Win or lose, we need to remember that we are passing through, and that our true home is above where Christ is seated as Lord. Only at His return will His exiled people be at home and receive the glory and honor that they now lack in a world that is not their true home.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Risen Lord! --- hymn based on Luke 24:36-43

A hymn I just finished based on this passage from Luke:

[36] As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” [37] But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. [38] And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? [39] See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” [40] And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. [41] And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” [42] They gave him a piece of broiled fish, [43] and he took it and ate before them.
(Luke 24:36-43 ESV)

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He’s Risen from the Dead, He is the Great I AM

To the tune: DARWALL’S 148TH (http://www.opc.org/hymn.html?hymn_id=845).  Based on Luke 24:36-43.  Words: William Weber, 2012.

v. 1
He’s risen from the dead,
He is the great I AM.
He took our human flesh,
became for us the Lamb.
He takes away our guilt and sin,
believe in Him, O don’t delay!

v. 2
Eyewitnesses believe,
who saw that He was raised.
They touched and they beheld,
their hearts with joy amazed.
Put doubts away, the witness true,
receive the news, believe today.

v. 3
His teaching we receive,
and so with Him we eat,
the priv’lege of belief
with Christ to eat and drink.
So lift your hearts, our flesh and bone
is on the throne and life imparts.

v. 4
He gives us grace and peace,
He makes us right with God,
He gives to us release,
forgiveness through His blood.
Our Lord is raised, He gives us joy,
our tongues employ, let Him be praised.

v. 5
The risen Lord is here,
though He is now unseen.
He takes away our fear,
and gives to us His peace.
Be not afraid, with Christ we died,
with Christ we rise, with Christ remain.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hating the God of the Old Testament Tantamount to Hating Jesus

From Inside the Actor's Studio:

Himself - Host: You've said on occasion that you love God because he's so deliciously evil. 
Seth MacFarlane: [as Stewie; gleefully] Mmm, oh, he's a bastard! 
Host: Really? 
Seth MacFarlane: [as Stewie] He's

 a wicked bastard! The things he does; let me tell you. Have you read the Old Testament?
Host: Yes.
Seth MacFarlane: [as Stewie] Good Lord, there's some fucked-up shit in there!

I was flipping through the stations and ran across this exchange. It seems that people have contempt for the God of the Old Testament. But if they hate the God of the Old Testament, they also hate Jesus Christ, for Jesus claimed to be the God of the Old Testament in flesh and bones.

Jesus makes this claim in many places but in Luke 24 He makes this claim by calling Himself, I AM, which is the personal name of the God of the Old Testament. In the context of His resurrection, Jesus challenges His disciples to see and touch Him and makes His claim to be the God of the Old Testament in flesh and bones by calling Himself, I AM. As Arthur Just says, "The same I AM who became flesh, was condemned, beaten, and nailed to a cross now is physically raised from the dead and remains the eternal I AM."

The problem for most people with the Old Testament God is that He is holy and punishes human rebellion and sin. In other words, He keeps His words to Adam and Eve, "In the day you eat of it, you will surely die." His word is proven true every time another human being dies.

But, thankfully, this God is also gracious and loving, so much so that He Himself took our human flesh and came to die the death we deserved because of our rebellion and sin. At the cross the holiness and love of God embraced. The holy God of the Old Testament, the I AM, becomes the Savior. If we accept the resurrected I AM, Jesus, as Lord and Savior, then we can be forgiven of even the hatred and blasphemy that comes out of the hearts of people like Seth MacFarlane and us. Instead of hating God, we can love and adore Him for both His holiness and His love, which were both demonstrated supremely at the cross.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Illusion of Death?



I saw the above words on a sign at the local Christian Science church today. Isn't it amazing how people continue to buy the lie of the serpent in the garden: "You will not certainly die!" (
Genesis 3:4). If death is an illusion, then why do we have an obituary page in the newspaper, cemeteries scattered throughout our communities, and grief at funerals?

No, death is real, tragically real. Death separates us from people we love. Death is the specter always present even when times are good, for we know that nothing can last because of death.

While we can easily dismiss the false teaching of Christian Scientists as out of touch with reality, our society tends to act as though the words of the enemy of souls is true. While we may not call death an illusion, we deny death, preferring not to talk about it or see it. We tend to act as if we will live here forever, when the truth is our life is very short and could end at any time. We act as though dead relatives are with us in spirit, when the truth is they are gone. And, if we tend to deny physical death, even more, we deny spiritual death, which is God's displeasure for eternity.

Most of our worries in life are related to the fear of death in some way. Our fear of a poor economy is ultimately a fear of death. Why do we fear the loss of a job? We can trace our fear back to death, for without a job we won't be able to eat and care for ourselves and others we love, and the end result of this lack is death. Even our inordinate longing for the approval of man is ultimately a fear of spiritual death, for approval from others can help us suppress our need for the approval of God. When we hear people say, "Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die," again we see the fear of death, for this motivation is based on death and leads to all sorts of dissipation and the chase after sinful pleasures.

How, then, do we overcome the fear of death that lies behind all the actions of human beings? The answer is that we cannot overcome the fear of death unless we are joined by faith to the One who overcame death through His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. He alone can give us eternal life. He alone can make our physical deaths a transfer into true life in the joyful presence of the Lord and Source of Life.

The world is a sad place because of death. Sure, there are good gifts and good times in this life. And yet, death will destroy all good gifts and good times. We need eternal life---life that will never end. This life is found in forsaking the lie of the devil, and believing the truth of the Son of God, who said, "The thief [the devil] comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." Until we forsake the deadly voice of the serpent and listen with faith to the voice of the Son, we will continue to live in the fear of death, and will not know true life--life to the full---the life Jesus described when He said, "Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent."

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Simplicity of Word and Meal

Sunday evening I went to Grace Baptist Church in Papillion, Nebraska. While I am not a Baptist and hold to a paedo-baptism view, the Sunday evening service at Grace is so refreshing in its simplicity. Basically the service follows the Word and meal pattern that Jesus gives us in Luke's Gospel. The teaching prepares us to meet with Christ in the meal. And, the music is not utilized as if it also was a sacrament. I am always taught and fed by Christ when I go to the evening service at Grace Baptist. It is too bad that so few Christian churches follow the Word and meal pattern Jesus gave us for use on the Lord's Day.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Attitude and Prayer for Lord's Day Worship

One more hymn on this important passage in Luke.  Christ's teaching on the road to Emmaus and His revelation of Himself in the breaking of bread is the climax of Luke's Gospel.  It points us to the pattern of worship for His church, which is Word and meal.  

The hymn below has to do with our attitude and prayer as we come to the Divine Service of worship.  We come to be taught by Christ Himself and to commune with Him.  We need humility and submissiveness to receive His words and learn from Him, for we are by nature proud and stubborn, trusting in our own wisdom.  But if we will receive with meekness the Word which He implants, then we are invited to commune with Him in the meal, which is symbolic of the communion we can have with the risen Christ at all times, not just in the Divine Service on the Lord's Day.


How Blessed We Are to Listen

To the tune: AURELIA The Church’s One Foundation (http://www.opc.org/hymn.html?hymn_id=682).  Based on Luke 24:13-35.  Words: William Weber, 2012.

v. 1
How blessed are we to listen
to Christ our risen Lord.
We hear His voice through Scripture,
and faithful teachers’ words.
To see His grace and glory,
in every single page, 
it is the wondrous priv’lege
of those who walk by faith.

v. 2
O Christ, the Key to Scripture,
Your Word to us unlock,
for through Your Word You lead us,
O Shepherd of the flock.
We need illumination
to see You in Your Word,
O may our meditation 
be pleasing to You, Lord.

v. 3
O Christ, before Your presence,
we come to You to learn,
and like the first disciples,
O cause our hearts to burn.
Enflame with love that sees You, 
and burn up unbelief,
and when Your Word is planted,
grant hearts that will receive.

v. 4
O Christ, Your Word prepares us
to take Your kingdom meal.
O make Yourself known to us,
in sign and seal reveal.
Come meet with us, Lord Jesus,
You died and then You rose.
O may Your risen presence,
to humble hearts disclose.

v. 5
The Word without communion
has not achieved its aim.
It’s meant to lead to Jesus,
communion in His name:
to know our gracious Father,
to know His glor-ious Son,
to know the Holy Spirit,
the bless-ed Three in One.

v. 6
So come and meet here with us,
O Christ, our risen Lord.
You suffered as was written,
for us Your blood was poured.
And by Your Spirit lift us
around Your heav’nly throne,
that we might truly worship,
and know You as Your own.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Liturgy's Pattern of Word and Meal --- a hymn based on Luke 24:13-35

Luke 24:13-35 is the climax of Jesus' table fellowship which is supposed to set the pattern for the Divine Service or liturgy as Christians gather together on the Lord's Day. Jesus' table fellowship consisted of three things: His teaching, a meal, and His presence. This pattern is supposed to continue in His church. Sadly, the meal is not given weekly as it ought to be in the majority of churches. Sadly, the teaching is often unfaithful to our Lord. And, when the meal is not given and the teaching is unfaithful, how can our Lord bless us with His risen, life-giving presence, for we grieve His Spirit. We need to recover Luke's table fellowship which sets the pattern for Christianity's traditional two part liturgy of the Service of the Word and the Service of the Table.

Walk With the Lord Though He Is Now Unseen

To the tune: NATIONAL HYMN (http://www.opc.org/hymn.html?hymn_id=218). Based on Luke 24:13-35. Words: William Weber, 2012.

v. 1
Walk with the Lord though He is now unseen,
for He is risen and He reigns supreme.
The Lord will teach and He will catechize,
and in His name His people are baptized.

v. 2
Jesus a prophet mighty in His deeds,
much more He is the Lord who has redeemed.
He had to suffer as the prophets said,
He bought us with the precious blood He shed.

v. 3
He comes a Stranger in a world of shame,
rejected by the rulers of this age.
But with the Father, who exalted high,
receive as Lord and long to glorify.

v. 4
Come suffer with your Savior and your Lord,
for in this world He’s hated and ignored.
But He received the name above all names,
how blessed are they who by His grace He claims!

v. 5
He gives us food along the pilgrim way,
heavenly bread He gives us day by day.
He knows about our trials in this life,
He will sustain us in the midst of strife.

v. 6
How blessed are we by Jesus’ Word and meal.
By these our Lord sustains us and He heals.
Our parents ate of the forbidden tree,
but now we eat the sacred mystery.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Lord's Supper as a Meal of the New Creation

Arthur Just
"The meal of broken bread at Emmaus reverses the first meal, the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Through the meal distributed by the risen Christ, eyes are now opened to see in Jesus the Seed of the woman promised in Gen. 3:15. The disciples will be sent to proclaim this message throughout the creation. The table at which they now sit is the messianic table because, as they recognize, the Messiah is present with them at this table. Just as Adam and Eve's eating of the forbidden fruit was the first recorded meal of the old era of creation which fell into sin, so this meal at Emmaus takes place on the first day of the week, the start of God's new creation in Christ." 

--Arthur Just from his commentary on the Gospel of Luke

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Resurrection Hymn and Devotion from Luke 24:1-12

[24:1] But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. [2] And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, [3] but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. [4] While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. [5] And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? [6] He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, [7] that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” [8] And they remembered his words, [9] and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. [10] Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, [11] but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. [12] But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.
           
(Luke 24:1-12 ESV)

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There are a number of important themes in this passage.  One theme is that the words of Jesus and Scripture must interpret the death and resurrection of Christ.  The bare facts of Christ’s death and resurrection do not interpret themselves.  The Word of God (Jesus’ words and Scripture’s words) is needed to interpret these events.  The disciples were puzzled and confused by the event of the cross.  In order to understand its significance they needed to be enlightened by the Word of God and illuminated by the Spirit.  This is true of all of God’s acts, but is especially true of the cross with its degradation and shame.

A second theme is the new creation.  All of the Gospels emphasize the transition from the darkness to light on the day of Christ’s resurrection.  Combined with the dual mention of the Sabbath in verse 56 and verse 1 in the Greek, the impression is given that we have moved from the darkness of the old covenant to the brightness of the new, that a new day is dawning that will never end.

A third theme is the vanity of seeking life in someone or something other than our resurrected Lord.  This is hinted at in the angels’ words in verse 5: “Why do you see the living [One] among the dead?”  How foolish we are to seek our life, our identity, our security, our happiness in this passing world.  The night is ended!  The old era is over!  The new age is here, so seek the resurrected Lord and live!

A fourth theme is the exodus theme.  The exodus theme occurs in Luke 9 at the transfiguration.  In the passage above, this exodus theme is alluded to in the appearance of the angels and their dazzling apparel.  Notice the similarities between Luke 9 and Luke 24:

Lk. 9:30: And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah…
Lk. 24:4: (and) behold, two men stood by them… 
Lk. 9:29: And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white
Lk. 24:4: two men stood by them in dazzling apparel


The first allusion is identical in the Greek language of the New Testament.  The second allusion uses the same word in Greek to describe the clothing: astraptw but adds the prefix ex  in Luke 9:29 to indicate that Jesus’ apparel was even brighter than the angels.  In the exodus theme, the Lord redeems us from sin and slavery and brings us to himself so that we might live near him.  This is exactly what Jesus has done in his death and resurrection.

The final theme is the importance of Jesus’ words in our walk with him.  Although the night is ended and the new creation is here, we still live in a world of darkness, for the world has not accepted Christ as Lord and Savior.  Our three enemies, the world, the flesh, and the devil, are still active.  In order to walk with Christ we must discern the false voices of the world and our own sinful nature through which the enemy speaks, and heed only the voice of Christ.  Walking with Jesus requires us to believe and meditate on his Word.  It is through Scripture that we are able to stay close to Christ in a dark world, still full of ignorance, confusion, rebellion and death.  Although this world is dark and full of sorrow, we can know resurrection life and joy as we live near to Christ through his words.
           
           
Christ Is Risen, Christ Is Risen

To the tune: STEPHANOS (http://www.opc.org/hymn.html?hymn_id=53).  Based on Luke 24:1-12.  Words: William Weber, 2012.

v. 1
Christ is risen, Christ is risen,
risen from the dead.
First He suffered, then came glory,
as He said.

v. 2
In the deepest dawn of morning,
see the place He lay.
He is gone for He has risen,
brand new day.

v. 3
Jesus, living Lord is risen,
seek Him and His life.
He’s the King who is immortal,
God and Christ.

v. 4
You will find the Lord who’s risen,
not among the dead.
Faith will rise and feed upon Him,
living Bread.

v. 5
Jesus’ exodus is over,
He was dead, now raised.
He has brought us to His Father,
give Him praise.

v. 6
Night is gone, this age is ended,
turn redemption’s page.
By these things our Lord now brings the
coming age.

v. 7
Live in Christ, don’t heed the darkness,
live in light of day.
Hear His Word, believe, receive it,
walk by faith.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Jesus' Sabbath Fulfillment --- devotion and hymn based on Luke 23:50-24:13

[50] Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, [51] who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. [52] This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. [53] Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid. [54] It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. [55] The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. [56] Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.
            On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.
            [24:1] But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. [2] And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, [3] but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
           
(Luke 23:50-24:3 ESV)

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Luke marks time carefully during his account of the death and resurrection of Jesus, because a great transition is taking place as we move from the old covenant to the new covenant and the arrival of the kingdom of God.  On the day of Preparation (v. 54), which was the day before the Sabbath, our Lord accomplished our salvation.  This day of Preparation began with the Passover meal (Jewish days began at sundown) and ended with Jesus laid in the tomb to rest on the Sabbath.  What an incredible day it had been with the last Supper, arrest, trial, crucifixion, miracles, and burial of Jesus!

The hymn below begins with praise for this wonderful work our Lord accomplished on the day of Preparation, and then focuses on the Sabbath and its significance.

The Sabbath has been fulfilled by Christ (verse two of the hymn).  The Sabbath was a sign of the old covenant according to Exodus 31:12-17.  By his obedience to the Father and his willingness to suffer the penalty of the covenant on our behalf, Jesus has fulfilled the old covenant.  This is the basis of our justification, for all of Christ’s obedience and his work on the cross is credited or imputed to those who believe in Him.  How blessed we are to be justified, forgiven and declared righteous on account of Christ!

Jesus also fulfills the Sabbath in a different way.  Just as in the creation God rested from his work on the Sabbath, so Jesus rests from his work of new creation in the tomb.  By linking the burial of Jesus and Sabbath rest, Luke is showing us the significance of Jesus’ work.  Jesus has brought forth a new creation which will soon dawn with his resurrection.  This new dawn will grow ever stronger, for Christ has ushered in the eternal Sabbath day! (verses 3-5).

Verse seven makes one more point about Christ’s fulfillment of the Sabbath.  The Sabbath commandment in the old covenant had two components: rest and worship.  On this day the Jewish people were to rest from their work, but they were also to worship together.  Jesus fulfills both aspects of the Sabbath.  First, by fulfilling the old covenant  through his obedience, his burial fulfills the rest aspect of the covenant.  Second, Jesus also fulfills the worship component, for he alone was and is the true worshiper of God.  He always did the things that are pleasing in the Father’s sight.  His perfect worship as one who shared our humanity is imputed to his people.

Finally, verse six applies all of this to us.  Christ’s fulfillment of the Sabbath teaches us to rest from our evil ways and to trust in Him.  Our old nature has been buried with Christ in the tomb, and we are raised with him to new life.  Each day, therefore, we should live a life of repentance and trust.

O Praise the Lord the Work Is Done

To the tune: DOWNS (http://www.opc.org/hymn.html?hymn_id=57).  Based on Luke 23:50-24:3.  Words: William Weber, 2012.

v. 1
O praise the Lord the work is done,
all preparations made. 
The cross by Jesus has been borne,
and in the tomb He’s laid.

v. 2
The Sabbath is by Christ fulfilled,
the covenant He kept.
He paid its awful penalty,
His death the death of death.

v. 3
His Sabbath rest our Lord now takes,
redemption’s work is done,
and from His rest He soon awakes,
the resurrected Son.

v. 4
The new creation now is here,
for Jesus has been raised.
The old has passed the new appears,
rejoice and give Him praise.

v. 5
O see the light of early dawn,
eternal Sabbath day.
For from the tomb His body gone,
He’s risen from the grave.

v. 6
Come rest from all your evil ways,
and trust in Jesus Christ.
He is your Sabbath all your days,
your King who’s good and wise.

v. 7
True worshiper are You, O Christ,
and our true Sabbath rest.
You kept the law to justify,
and joined to You we’re blessed.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Three Miracles at the Cross --- devotion and hymn based on Luke 23:44-49

[44] It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, [45] while the sun's light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. [46] Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. [47] Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” [48] And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. [49] And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.
                                      
(Luke 23:44-49 ESV)

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Three miracles occur in this passage.  The first miracle is the supernatural darkness from the sixth hour (noon) until the ninth hour (3 p.m.).  Since the Passover occurred during a full moon, it is impossible to explain this darkness by an eclipse.  This darkness was a supernatural darkness, a miracle of God.  A number of secular sources make mention of a strange darkness that took place at this time.

The second miracle was the tearing of the curtain of the temple.  This curtain divided the holy place from the most holy place.  The curtain’s dimensions were quite large.  It would have been impossible for men to tear this curtain apart from a 30 foot ladder and lots of time for cutting the thick fabric, all while priests were on duty who considered the temple sacrosanct!  It is not a surprise given this momentous event of the torn temple curtain that many of the priests became obedient to the faith after the resurrection of Jesus: “And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7).

The third miracle was the conversion of the centurion, who went from a man who mocked and crucified the Son of God, participating in humanity’s greatest crime, to a man who praised God and made a true confession of Jesus.

What is the significance of each of these miracles?

The miracle of darkness was creation’s witness to the momentous event of the cross.  It was almost as though the creation was mourning the death of God’s Son (verse one of the hymn below---see also Amos 8:9-10).  Darkness also is a symbol of God’s wrath in the Old Testament, and so it set the scene appropriately as the Son of God bore the judgment and wrath of God that we deserved (verse two below---see also Zephaniah 1:15).

The miracle of the curtain’s tearing signified that the way was now open for us to come into God’s presence.  In the Old Testament, the way into the holy of holies was closed to all the people, except to the high priest who was allowed to enter once a year through the blood of sacrifice.  But now things have changed for those who belong to Christ.  Through His shed blood we are brought near to the Father, so that we can have communion with the Father through the Son (verse three and four below).

The final miracle in our passage is the miracle of conversion.  At the cross we have seen, first, a hardened criminal converted (Luke 23:39-43), and now we see a hardened soldier converted.  This is the miracle that all of us need, for all of us are born estranged from God because of our sin.  Apart from God’s saving work in our hearts, we have no interest in his Son or his salvation.  Our ears are shut, our eyes are blind, our hearts are dead to the true God, apart from the saving power of God.  Verse six of the hymn is requesting this mighty work of grace in our lives and in the lives of others.

Creation Mourns the Bitter Day

To the tune: ST. ETHELDREDA (http://www.opc.org/hymn.html?hymn_id=467).  Based on Luke 23:44-49.  Words: William Weber, 2012.

v. 1
Creation mourns the bitter day,
as darkness shrouds the land.
The righteous Son is put to death,
He dies as it was planned.

v. 2
A day of darkness, gloom and wrath,
as Jesus takes our place.
The judgment of our sin He bore,
that we might know God’s grace.

v. 3
The temple curtain torn in two,
the way to God is clear.
Christ’s body has been giv’n for us,
His people are brought near.

v. 4
How blessed we are to be in Christ,
who once were far from God.
For to the Father we have come,
through Jesus’ precious blood.

v. 5
And like the Son now we may trust
the Father’s will and ways.
Into His hands we can commit
our lives and all our days.

v. 6
Our Father, send Your grace to us,
and make Your face to shine,
that Jesus Christ be known on earth,
our hearts to Him incline.
            

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