The Final Temptation - Part Two

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The Final Temptation - Part Two

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Part one of this two part series covered the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and how He could have saved Himself by just giving into the temptations of the crowd and Satan by coming down from the stake. It also covered the fact that had that happened, there would be no salvation for any of us. We are continuing here with a more in depth look at that sacrifice.

Atonement and transformation

The Lord Jesus Christ became a fleshly human being in order that He might be sacrificed as the Lamb of God to atone for the sins of all mankind (John 1:29 John 1:29The next day John sees Jesus coming to him, and said, Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.
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) thus making it possible for those who repent to be transformed and go on into eternal life. This is what the Passover portrays: the sacrifice of the Lamb of God to release us from the penalty of death. There is absolutely no other way in which men may escape the grasp of eternal death and be led on through the resurrection and transformation into the eternity of God.

The frivolous nonsense of Easter bunnies, Easter eggs and the observance of Easter Sunrise avails nothing more today than in ancient times. They simply perpetuate the fertility rites and sun worship practiced for centuries before the coming of Christ. These aspects of counterfeit religion were carefully inserted by Satan to deceive and mislead mankind.

The Lord's mission has always been to use this brief span of God-given time to make mankind fit for eternity. From the Garden of Eden and the confrontation with Satan in the guise of a serpent, through the raging waters of the Flood when only eight human beings survived, to the rescue of a lowly people from slavery that they might become a model nation and on then to Calvary and His barbaric crucifixion, always the Messiah's purpose remained resolutely the same - to lead mankind into the realm of God and everlasting life. He sits now as our High Priest and Intercessor at the right hand of Almighty God the Father in Heaven, but He will return accompanied by His saints, to establish the Kingdom of peace and plenty over all nations on Earth.

As it is written, so shall it be done, and nothing can stop it. It was written that Messiah should die a vile, tortured death, despised of men, so disfigured as to be hardly recognizable as a man (Isaiah 52:14 Isaiah 52:14As many were astonished at you; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:
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and chapter 53).  Jesus Christ Himself would not bring it to a premature end, knowing full well what was at stake for all of humanity. The invitation to come down off the cross to demonstrate His divine power and snatch glory from the jaws of death was dismissed without a word.

The inspired apostle Paul put it this way in his scholarly exposition to the Hebrews: 'But we see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.' (Hebrews 2:9 Hebrews 2:9But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
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) 'that through death He might destroy him who has the power of death, that is the Devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage' (Hebrews 2:14-15 Hebrews 2:14-15 [14] For as much then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; [15] And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
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). Jesus did not seek escape, neither would He seek to snatch glory for Himself among men. The easy way out was not for Him – such was the in-depth enticement Satan had tempted Him with even as He began His arduous ministry three and a half years earlier, when He was physically exhausted after forty days of fasting (Matthew 4 and Luke 4).

However, the god of this world did not confront Jesus directly this time, but chose rather to get at Him by infecting people with a spirit of derision and challenge, thus subtly suggesting another way as a natural, logical response, giving a false hope. Had Jesus responded in the way that the cunning Devil desired, then not only would the Lord's mission have been aborted, but He would have effectively put Himself under that devious adversaries sway! (Romans 6:16 Romans 6:16Know you not, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness?
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). He would have disobeyed His Father, the Almighty God, and thus have sinned. He could then have paid the penalty of death only for himself as a man and we would have no hope of a Savior!

Jesus Christ of His own self did nothing, but submitted His mind and body always to the Spirit of His Father in Him (John 5:19 John 5:19Then answered Jesus and said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father do: for what things soever he does, these also does the Son likewise.
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, John 5:30 John 5:30I can of my own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not my own will, but the will of the Father which has sent me.
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and John 8:28-29 John 8:28-29 [28] Then said Jesus to them, When you have lifted up the Son of man, then shall you know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father has taught me, I speak these things. [29] And he that sent me is with me: the Father has not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.
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). So He taught us to pray always to our Father in Heaven, and in absolute faith He, died for our sakes. 'Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself . . . who, for the joy that was set before Him endured the stake, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.' (Hebrews 12: 2-3).

Without Blemish

The temptations that He suffered were of a magnitude scarce understood by mere men: yet we must strive to understand by inspiration of the Holy Spirit which our Father offers to all whom He calls to repentance and oneness with Jesus Christ. Few looked to Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God even though John the Baptist proclaimed Him as such. The innocent lambs which were sacrificed at Passover had to be unblemished and so Jesus had to be perfectly sinless in order to be acceptable as the ultimate sacrifice for mankind. But immoral men insinuate that He gave way to vulgar dreaming even as He presented Himself as the most Holy sacrifice of all time! It is not only preposterous, but utterly contemptible.

Christ came to Earth exactly as was predicted of Him in amazing detail by the prophets, and suffered ignominious death as the Savior of mankind. But then that wonderful truth was largely obscured by a blanket of religious beliefs borrowed from Babylon, woven together by Satan, the Adversary and temporary god of this world. That fiend may not yet realize it but, in a manner of speaking, he was held up on that stake like the serpent on the pole in the wilderness, and his power of death is effectively annulled in those who truly believe in the teachings of Jesus and His Father (Numbers 21:8-9 Numbers 21:8-9 [8] And the LORD said to Moses, Make you a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looks on it, shall live. [9] And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it on a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.
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and John 3:14-15 John 3:14-15 [14] And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: [15] That whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
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). Jesus Christ was resurrected from the tomb to an eternal spirit life as the first of mankind to do so.

All Things to All Men

Pontius Pilate, the Roman Procurator, was an astute administrator who despised the vain, self-serving priests who ruled the affairs of unfortunate Jews in his day, but exactly why he caused the inscription 'Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews' to be placarded over His head at the crucifixion we don't know. It was clearly offensive to the chief priests who immediately petitioned him to write something else (John 19:19-22 John 19:19-22 [19] And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. [20] This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was near to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. [21] Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. [22] Pilate answered, What I have written I have written.
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).

It is significant that Pilate caused the inscription 'King of the Jews' to be written in three major languages so that most people might be able to read it. Latin, Greek, and Hebrew were the major languages in Palestine back then, and scholars have since realized how this trilingual inscription provided an apt summary of Jesus Christ's role as the Son of God history seems to indicate it was customary that a placard summarizing the nature of an executed man's crime might be affixed above his head.

Latin was the official language of Rome, the seat of government. Greek was the language of written culture and science and Hebrew was the language of many of the people around Palestine including the learned teachers representing the temple elite. Jesus was proclaimed King in all three.

He could not save Himself because to do so would have condemned all mankind to everlasting death. He suffered that agony and humiliation to save even His tormentors. He came in love to save us all, not Himself. In His total submission to gross crucifixion, He laid bare the all-loving heart of God, who gave His only begotten Son so that we might not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16 John 3:16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
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). It was not the heavy iron nails that pinned Jesus Christ to the cross, but the unbounded love of God that kept Him up there, racked with pain, despite every inducement to come down – which He had the power to do will at exactly the right time! But for six long hours, from the time of the Morning Sacrifice at 9 a.m. to the time of the Evening Sacrifice at about 3 p.m. (the time when the paschal lambs were slain for Passover at the temple (Exodus 12:6 Exodus 12:6And you shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.
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) our Lord hung in disgrace with all of mankind's sins heaped upon Him.

At last, with His dying breath, He could say, 'It is finished' (John 19:30 John 19:30When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
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). 'It is finished!' the most crucial undertaking in all history was totally fulfilled, the greatest of all battles won and so it was at once the victor's cry and a great sigh of relief. The most severe trial of all time was over, the all-important sacrifice had been made, and mankind's future in the Kingdom of God was now possible.

But that is not the end of the story: Jesus Christ will, in God's time, return to shake up this tired old planet, put Satan out away and usher in the thousand year paradise of His millennial reign. Even so, come Lord Jesus. Amen.

To find out more, request the free Bible study aid: Jesus Christ: The Real Story