“Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” (Ephesians 6:16)
We should be aware that satan has fiery darts with your name on them each day. However, God has given you a piece of armor to stop EVERY ONE of them, the shield of faith. Faith is total trust and dependence upon God. It is taking God at His Word. In this case, it is in full faith using the very truth of God’s Word as a shield from the darts that satan will throw at you. The words “above all” indicates to us that the shield of faith is a high-priority piece of armor.
Let’s think about how this would look in our daily lives. As you get in the car to leave for work, satan throws a dart of worthlessness at you. He tells you that you are of no value to God. Do you believe it? Does he get to write your reality? He should not! Instead of meditating on that dart satan has thrown, go to the Bible and see what God says about you. God says that those who are in Christ are indwelt by the Spirit of God and ARE the children of God. He says that His children are His workmanship, His masterpiece, His work of art. God views you as valuable! By faith hold God’s truth up as a shield against that dart of worthlessness.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1)
“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:” (Romans 8:16)
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
Every person is intrinsically valuable to God because He created them. Even though man sinned against Him and is separated from Him, God valued a relationship with mankind so much that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die in place of man. Jesus did not just die but rose again. He offers all who will believe on His name the total forgiveness of sin and eternal life. God thinks you are valuable!
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17)
Now it is time to take the shield of faith up in your hands!
The physical trauma of Christ begins in Gethsemane with one of the initial aspects of His suffering the bloody sweat. It is interesting that the physician of the group, Luke, is the only one to mention this. Luke’s biblical account tells of Jesus suffering, “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:44).
Though very rare, the phenomenon of Hematidrosis, or bloody sweat, is all documented. Under great emotional stress, tiny capillaries in the sweat glands can break, thus mixing blood with sweat. This process alone could have produced marked weakness and possible shock.
After the arrest in the middle of the night, Jesus was brought before the Sanhedrin and Caiaphas, the High Priest. One of the soldiers struck Jesus across the face for remaining silent when questioned by Caiaphas. The palace guards taunted Jesus to identify them as they each passed by, spat on Him, and struck Him in the face.
In the early morning, Jesus, battered and bruised, dehydrated, and exhausted from a sleepless night, is taken across Jerusalem to the Praetorium of the Fortress Antonia. It was there, in response to the cries of the mob, that Pilate ordered Bar-Abbas released and condemned Jesus to scourging and crucifixion.
Preparations for the scourging are carried out. Jesus is stripped of His clothing and His hands tied to a post above His head. The Roman legionnaire steps forward with the flagrum in his hand. This is a short whip consisting of several heavy, leather thongs with two small balls of lead attached near the ends of each. The heavy whip is brought down with full force across Jesus’ shoulders, back and legs thirty-nine times.
At first the heavy thongs cut through the skin only. Then, as the blows continue, they cut deeper and deeper into the subcutaneous tissues, producing first an oozing of blood from the capillaries and veins of the skin, and finally spurting arterial bleeding from vessels in the underlying muscles. The small balls of lead first produce large, deep bruises, which are broken open by subsequent blows.
Finally, the skin of the back is hanging in long ribbons and the entire area is an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue. When it is determined by the centurion in charge that the prisoner is near death, the beating is finally stopped.
The half-fainting Jesus is then untied and allowed to slump to the stone pavement, wet with His own blood. The Roman soldiers see a great joke in the provincial Jew claiming to be a king. They throw a robe across His shoulders and place a stick in His hand for a scepter. A small bundle of flexible branches covered with long thorns is pressed into the scalp of Jesus. Again there is copious bleeding (the scalp being one of the most vascular areas of the body). After mocking Him and striking Him across the face, the soldiers take the stick from His hand and strike Him across the head, driving the thorns deeper into His scalp.
Finally, the soldier’s tire of their sadistic sport and the robe is torn from His back. This has already become adherent in the clots of blood and serum in the wounds, and its removal just as the careless removal of surgical bandages, causes excruciating pain- almost as though He were again being whipped, and the wounds again begin to bleed. Jesus is then led off to be crucified. The heavy beams of the cross are then tied to His shoulders, and the procession of the condemned Christ, two thieves and the execution detail, begins it slow journey. The weight of the heavy wooden beam, together with the shock produced by copious blood loss, is too much. Jesus stumbles and lacerates the skin and muscles of His shoulders. Jesus tries to rise, but His human muscles have been pushed beyond their endurance.
At Golgotha, the beam is placed on the ground and Jesus is quickly thrown backward with His shoulders pressed against the wood. The legionnaire feels for the depression at the front of the wrist. He then drives a heavy, wrought iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. Quickly, he moves to the other side and repeats the action, being careful not to pull the arms too tightly, but to allow some flexion and movement. The beam is then lifted in place at the top of the posts and the titulus reading “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” is nailed in place.
The left foot is pressed backward against the right foot, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of each. As Jesus pushes Himself upward to avoid the stretching torment, He places His full weight on the nail through His feet. Again there is the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the metatarsal bones of the feet.
As the arms fatigue, great waves of cramps sweep over the muscles, knotting them in a deep relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push Himself upward. Hanging by the arms the pectoral muscles are paralyzed and the intercostal muscles are unable to act. Air can be drawn into the lungs, but not exhaled. Jesus fights to raise Himself in order get one short breath. Finally, carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream, and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically, Jesus is able to push Himself upward to exhale and bring in the life-giving oxygen. Hours of this limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, searing pain, as tissue is torn from His lacerated back as He moves up and down against the rough timber.
Then another agony begins. A deep crushing pain deep in the chest as the pericardium slowly fills with serum and begins to compress the heart. The compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood into the tissues- the tortured lungs are making a frantic effort to gasp small gulps of air. The markedly dehydrated tissues send their flood of stimuli to the brain. Jesus gasps, “I thirst” (John 19:28).
Jesus can feel the chill of death creeping through His tissues. With one last surge of strength, He once again presses His torn feet against the nail, He straightens His legs, takes a deeper breath, and utters His seventh and last cry, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46).
Apparently to make double sure of death, the legionnaire drove his spear through the fifth interspace between the ribs, upward through the pericardium and into the heart. Immediately there came out blood and water. We, therefore, have rather conclusive postmortem evidence that Jesus died, not the usual crucifixion death by suffocation, but of heart failure due to the shock and constriction of the heart by fluid in the pericardium.
Thus we have a glimpse of the manifestation of evil which man can exhibit toward man and toward God. This medical description of what Jesus endured on the cross is apt to leave you hopeless and depressed. How grateful you can be that, “He Did This Just For You” showing you a glimpse into what God did to win your heart.
By Truman Davis, M.D., M.S. From Arizona Medicine, March 1965
As I consider the goodness of God in the midst of 2020, I am amazed. Yes, this year has been difficult, and, no, I do not have my head buried in the sand. I mean it when I say, “God has been good!” He has shown Himself more than able to overcome fear and bring peace. He has proven (again) that He is faithful even when disappointments mount. He has shown Himself to have all power against that which threatens. Allow me to give some specific praise to the Lord.
First, I want to thank the Lord for His salvation. The confident assurance of the forgiveness of all sin and eternal life is a blessing that is beyond compare. God provided this to me when I was twelve years old as I recognized my sinfulness, Christ’s righteousness, and accepted what He did for me at Calvary. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.“
Second, God’s protection has been real both spiritually and physically. I think of all that has happened in 2020. The Lord allowed my wife and me to travel to India and return right before all the lockdowns. He protected us on that trip as well as opened our eyes to the vast need of the Gospel in India. Throughout the year, whether in trips or day to day life, He has granted protection. “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: For thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8) Beyond the physical, there was spiritual protection. I cannot remember a season of life that had more intense spiritual warfare than this year. Yet, God has again proven Himself to be infinitely more powerful than the god of this world—who is a defeated foe. 1 John 4:4 reminds us, “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”
Third, I have said that whatever brings us closer to God is ultimately a good thing. Well, the challenge of 2020 has been a good thing in this way. God has taught me (is teaching me) the importance of prayer. Prayer is a declaration of dependence upon God. I am learning just how true our Savior’s words were when He said, “Without me ye can do nothing.”
Fourth, God saw fit to challenge me in my faith in a very meaningful and specific way this year. I was at a point where I thought I was going forward in faith, but my thinking and even my words were not faith-filled. I was living in respect of what I could see physically. God used a businessman to rebuke and encourage me in the matter of the fear of the Lord—living in respect of God, His holiness, and His ability. God cannot be put inside a box. He is not confined to work within the guidelines of what I have experienced, what I see, or how I think. Honestly, this is still a learning journey that I am on, but God has specifically worked in my life and I am thankful! I preached a message that flowed out of what God was doing in my heart entitled Those that Fear the Lord.
Fifth, I had been praying for a second vehicle. My family and I were getting by with one vehicle for several years, and it was getting to be very difficult. In September, the Lord answered that prayer specifically and provided a vehicle. This is a tangible thing, but I am thankful for a second vehicle!
Sixth, this year God has helped my son, Jason, with his speech impediment. God used our doctor, speech therapy, and the tireless efforts of my wife to help Jason begin to speak more clearly. It has been a huge blessing to watch him gain confidence as people can understand him as he talks.
Seventh, family is very precious. There have been times this year in the midst of all the chaos that the dinner table has been a place of refreshment. You might wonder how dinner with five littles can be refreshing. There is nothing like the carefree conversation and laughing of children. I thank the Lord for the blessing of family. I thank Him for granting my wife and me young hearts to raise for His glory.
Eighth, I praise the Lord for my wife. This year has drawn us together so much more because this year has drawn us toward our Lord. I cannot express the blessing of a godly wife who continues to follow Christ. I have seen how her Shepherd has led and grown her in her faith and confidence. She is my best friend and my partner in the work of the Lord. I praise the Lord.
Lastly, my church family is an unbelievable blessing to me. This has been a trying year for churches. However, we have experienced the grace of God together. God has used this year to draw us closer together. He has grown our faith. He has lifted us above fear and chaos to walk closer with Him. He has added to our number. He is opening hearts to His working and genuine Christian connection. He is restoring our broken and messy lives. It would be very hard to fully express how I feel, but I would not trade the world for the blessing of being a part of a church family that is growing together in the Lord.
In every generation since Jesus walked on earth, there has been a spiritual battle surrounding the church of Jesus Christ. satan hates the work of the church because it is a work that directly opposes his purposes. satan wants nothing more than to seduce as many people into thinking they can live life as they please and apart from Jesus Christ and yet spend eternity in the presence of God. satan desire for people to be convinced that sin is not that bad, hell is not real and there is no real judgment day coming.
The work of the church is simply the continuation of the work of Christ while He was here on earth. Mark 1:38 says, “And he [Jesus] said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth.”
After Jesus arose and before He returned to Heaven, He instructed believers to preach the Gospel everywhere. Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
Contrary to what some in high offices are saying, the church, the preaching of the Gospel and the salvation of souls is essentialwork. Whether that happens in a safe drive-in service, over livestream, via video, via text, letters, phone calls, Zoom or FaceTime, the church (believers) must preach the Gospel in our day. Why? Jesus told us in Mark 8:36 “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” What good is your achievements (status, health, financial) in this life if you spend your eternity apart from Christ in hell.
In the book of Acts, the church began to get comfortable. Rather than taking the Gospel into all the world, they stayed in Jerusalem. They were not motivated. The were had become stagnant. God allowed persecution to scatter them and the Bible tell us in Acts 8:4 “Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.”
This is not a time for the church to wring its hands, to be silent or to draw back in fear. While we must honor those who are in authority over us, we must continue the work of Christ—preaching the Gospel. We must be faithful to deliver the Good News in every way available.
satan thinks he has slowed the spread of the Gospel through COVID-19. Jesus has promised that in every season that the church of Christ will continue to be built by Christ and upon the deity of Christ in face of opposition and persecution. Matthew 16:18 “And I [Jesus] say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
There is no doubt in my mind that more opposition to the work of Christ will come in our day. 2 Timothy 3:12 assures us, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” However, because we are on the side of Christ, nothing will prevail against the church of Christ…we have His promise. satan thought he had won the victory over Christ at Calvary, yet on Sunday morning our Savior stepped out of the tomb in divine demonstration of His overwhelming power over sin, death, hell and satan.
May the church of the living God take courage. Our Savior is risen and we partner with Him in His essential work in the world today.
On Wednesday of the Passion Week, Jesus is spending the final hours before His arrest with His twelve disciples. Very difficult days were ahead for them as their faith would be severely tested. Before all this, Jesus brought them to a quiet place, alone in an upper room where He celebrated the Passover with them and tenderly demonstrated some very important lessons.
In tonight’s Growth Point Service at watchGBC.com, we will look at Christ’s time in the Garden of Gethsemane as well as His arrest. Thank you for following the Easter Journey! We hope it has encouraged you!
In recent days we all have had our lives disrupted. Stores, restaurants and places we normally would visit are closed or greatly restricted leaving us with no option but to be home more. I am reminded that after busy seasons of ministry and activity, Jesus often led His disciples into a desert place away from everything for reflection, rest and prayer. Though we all look forward to this crisis passing, perhaps we should look at this as an opportunity to find a place away from everything to reflect, rest and draw closer to God. I wanted to suggest some books, internet radio stations and even a college course that might help you get the most out of this time at home.