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) 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 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) '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). 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). 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 5:30 and John 8:28-29). 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 and John 3:14-15). 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).

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). 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) 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). '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