Posts Tagged ‘crucifixion’

One of the last acts I performed as a member of Facebook was to follow a link to a blog post and read the blog post. It had something to do with Daniel 11 so I thought this would be a good thing–given that I am currently neck deep in a study of Daniel in preparation for weekly Bible school lessons and, further down the road, teaching it at a small undergraduate college nearby.

Then I got there.

I'm sure the blogger's intentions were good. Maybe not. Personally I think that if a person has to go to that much trouble to understand what Scripture is saying then the person probably has no idea what Scripture is saying. That's my opinion, but I'm pretty sure that the Bible can be understood on its own terms without the help of charts and graphs and overlays and all other such 'helpful' things. Take Daniel 11 for example which should be read closely on the heels of chapter 10 of Daniel.

Chapter 10 is a conversation between Daniel and one who 'looked like a man.' This one strengthens Daniel. Speaks to Daniel. And reveals things to Daniel. Chapter 10 is a prelude to what he says in chapter 11. It may well be helpful when reading Daniel 11 to think in big pictures instead of small pictures…that is, see the forest through the trees. There are trees and if we like it may prove a fun exercise to wander through the woods and attempt to identify all the different species of trees that we see, but there is a bigger picture in chapter 11 that the identity of one small tree cannot overshadow.

The cycle in chapter 11 goes something like this:

  • A king will rise up somewhere in the world.
  • This king will do as he pleases. He or she will do whatever necessary to gain and consolidate power for themselves.
  • This king will wreck the holy people of God.
  • This king will come to an end.

It is there. Over and over again it is there. 11:4. 11:6. 11:17-19. 11:20. 11:24. 11:26-27. 11:45. Everyone of these verses speaks to the downfall of some king who thought he was the cat's meow. Every single verse. Every king who has ever lived, every kingdom ever established on earth–all of them from the greatest to the least–comes to ruin.

It seems to me that this ought to give us pause for more than a moment. It seems to me that our reaction ought to be more in line with that of Daniel who 'trembled', who 'was overcome with anguish because of the vision,' and who 'mourned for three weeks, ate no choice food, drank no wine, and used no lotions.' I'm not sure this is our christian response when we see the world afire. Ours is typically not a response of repentance, but one of indifference. It starts with me.

I repent.

It seems to me it ought to give us pause to think about our own situation here in the United States because many Christians seem to think that somehow or other our kingdom is different. I think this is why we are fond of seeing the trees instead of the forest when we read Daniel. That is, if we can learn the true identity of the 'king of the North,' or the 'king of deception,' or the 'king of the South' as people who lived hundreds or thousands of years ago then, well, think about it: if that is the only thing true about Daniel's prophecy then it must not apply to our kingdom here in the USA, right? I'm sure it's important to know about Antiochus and Alexander and Ptolemy and the rest. That's the trees.

But don't you think it's also important to know who these people are in our world? That's the forest. And it seems to me that it is far more important to see the forest just now than it is to see the trees since, of course, we are living now and not then. Don't you think it is important, right now, today, to understand the fate of every single kingdom that has ever arisen on this earth? Doesn't this help us understand why now, even now, the world is afire with death, destruction, and hatred?

I'm thinking about my allegiance to Jesus. I'm thinking about how being a citizen of the USA affects my counter-cultural identity as a citizen of heaven–a much better country (Hebrews 11:16). I'm thinking that during this Lenten season, I need to reorient my eyes, my mind, and my heart so I will be guided by three passages of Scripture.

First, Hebrews 12:2: "…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." My vision needs to be clarified. My focus needs to be fixed. If the world is afire, I need to have a steady gaze. There is a greater joy than the shame of suffering. Jesus is at the right hand of the throne of God. All the kings of the world will come and go, but Jesus remains. (Which is a key to understand the entire book of Daniel.)

Second, Romans 12:1-2: "Therefore I urge you brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to daily  offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is true worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is–his good, pleasing, and perfect will." My mind needs to be clear and sober. My body needs to be holy and pleasing. If the world is afire, I must be ready to endure. Giving my body and mind to Jesus every day is the best way to be ready.

Third, Mark 8:34-35: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and the gospel will save it." I think we have to make up our minds whether or not we want to be Jesus' disciple. If we want to then Jesus tells us what being a disciple entails. Give up your life. Deny what the world tries to tell us our body needs. Take up your cross–which does not mean to simply endure the burdens and drudgery of life, although it means that as well–taking up your cross means head to Calvary with Jesus. Daily. Make the sacrifice. Daily. Give your life for something more than yourself. Lose your life for Jesus as he gave his life for you.

If the world is afire, I had better make up my mind right now whether or not I want to be Jesus' disciple. And if I want to, then here's what I had best be prepared to do and how I best plan to live. Like Rick said in Sunday evening's episode of The Walking Dead, "we are the walking dead." We are.

So this Lenten season there is a lot of turmoil in the world. There's a lot of death. There's a lot of hatred. Kings are coming; kings are going. Empires are rising; empires are falling. Look at the forest…what looms on the horizon of our own nation? What preparations are you making should this great empire we live in here in the USA be the next kingdom to collapse under the weight of its own hubris?

Fix your eyes.

Offer yourselves.

Die with Jesus.

Daily.

God bless you on your Lenten journey. Come back often for more updates and reflections on this life with Jesus.

“Let me say one last word. The scandal of Christianity exists as a scandal only so long as we are full of ourselves. To believe in the cross of Christ no scandal for those who have seen how perverted is their own wisdom, the wisdom of natural man. It is the very corrective for this perversion of our sight, it makes us look straight again, who by sin have become cross-eyed. The foolishness of the gospel is divine wisdom to all those who have been healed of the perversion which consists in making man’s reason and goodness the judge of all truth, that perversion which places man instead of God in the centre of the universe. The gospel is identical with the healing of this perversion, which in its depth and real significance is diabolical. It is the victory of God’s light over the powers of darkness.”

Emil Brunner, The Scandal of Christianity, p 115 (4th printing, 1978)

Friends,

During Lent, I am preaching a series of sermons on the essential unity and oneness of the church, forged in the cross of Christ. I will be providing excerpts of those sermons here and also links back to my box.net account where they might downloaded in full. The sermons are drawn from 1 Corinthians. These sermons are born also out of the experiences of my current congregation and include historical references to the Restoration Movement church of which I am a member. The congregation is also reading a book called Together Again by Bob Russell and Rick Atchley. Thanks for stopping by. May you be blessed in the Lord’s Word. I will update this post each week. jerry

1. A Common Plea, 1 Corinthians 1:10-17

The problem is easily identifiable. People. People were the problem at Corinth. Their quarrels and schisms were nothing more than power plays, power grabs. They were the human attempts to accomplish something in the church that could not be accomplished by the means of power. Paul lays this out for the reader in verses 10-12. People were elevating other people over other people. It became a matter of territory, a war cry of ‘my guy is better than your guy’ or ‘my guy has more authority than your guy’ or, worse, ‘I was baptized by a guy who is far superior than the guy who baptized you.’ Paul is quick to the draw: Such an attitude in the church is wrong.

There were people who were trying to construct a church community on the basis of externals. In this case they were trying to build upon the idea that baptism by one person was more important than baptism by another. What ended up happening? Well, what happened was certainly not the betterment of the church, the growth of the church, the expansion of the kingdom, or the filling up of the cross. All these external building blocks did was contribute fuel to the quarreling and divisions that were and had formed in the congregation.

What we see here is a stark, cold reality. There will be times when we have issues in the church that cause us discomfort and pain. There will be times in the body when we, let’s not sugarcoat it: There will be times when we fight. There will be times when we simply do not get along. The apostle wisely confronts the issue right out of the box: I hear there are divisions among you. This shall not be because quarrels and divisions never get the church or those involved what they think they want or what they hope: power.

2. A Common Savior, 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5

You and I, we have this in common. We are bound together under the weakness of a foolish message, a foolish word. This is what he is saying here. One group looks for signs and wonders; another group looks for wisdom; but all that we have to offer is what God gave us: Christ Jesus crucified. This word is a stumbling block to some; it is foolishness to others; but this is all we have. We cannot preach or proclaim something we have not been given. (And as a side note, I would say that we need not offer anything else. The Gospel has more than enough to offend everyone.)

And this is the confounding part of our message: It is not our message. It is God’s message. It is his word to us and this is why Paul cannot speak of anything else: He has nothing else to say. This message goes out to the world and it draws in all the misfits and losers. “Think of what you were when you were called.” We were called. We were called. Then it says this: “God chose…” God did! Thank God that he did the choosing! He chose all the weak, broken, battered, un-things. He chose the despised things and gathered them all up and together he did this: “Because of Him you are in Christ Jesus.”

And this is the message: It is the same for everyone. We preach Christ crucified because we cannot preach anything else. We are bound together in this common Word, by this common Savior. We preach Christ crucified and some will stumble, others will scoff, but all will be called. But we have only one message to proclaim

3. A Common Truth, 1 Corinthians 2:6-16

Apart from the Spirit of God there is no communication between Gospel and human. Apart from the Spirit of God there is no growth into maturity. Without the Spirit of God the very truth we claim to have in common is incomprehensible. But for all this, Paul writes, ‘we have the mind of Christ.’ We. We. We have the mind of Christ. The Spirit Paul said earlier who searches the mind of God and reveals his thoughts to us is in us and has revealed to us the mind of Christ. This is the Spirit in us. In We.

Is it any wonder that the apostle is frustrated with this church? Paul writes that we have the very mind of God, revealed to us by the Holy Spirit of God, the deepest mysteries of the heavens are ours in Christ, it is the power unto salvation…and we? We are bound together in Christ and by His Spirit. Those who love God are those who have been brought into fellowship and who have received the wisdom of God as revealed in the cross of Christ…and we?  Those who have submitted and acted unto the obedience of the message spoken have understood the deep things of God, have heard things spoken that the wisest and most advanced among the human race cannot fathom, are those who are among the wisest fools on the planet…and we?

“There are quarrels among you.”

And do you think the apostle was disappointed? And do you think God is?

4.  A Common Gospel, 1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Third, see the grace of the Gospel (8-9). The grace of the Gospel is that it may accept us as we are, but it doesn’t leave us that way. This is what he said in the sixth chapter: “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” Yes we might sing ‘Just as I am’ but our song of triumph is something more like, ‘He’s changing me.’ Takes us from persecutors of the church and makes us into promoters of the church.

5.  A Common Mission, 1 Corinthians 3:1-23

Why would nations want to flow to a place that is ravaged by the same problems that men in the flesh are ravaged by? We can go anywhere for quarrels and jealousy and division. Where can people go for unity, oneness, and brotherhood?

We are the temple of God which means that we are the habitation of the Holy Trinity—the essence and completeness and perfection of Unity and essential oneness. So when we are jealous and when we quarrel do we seriously consider God among us? God in us? And when we are jealous and quarrel and follow mere men do we consider how we are destroying God’s temple? What do you think it means that we ‘destroy’ the temple of God?

God’s temple is holy. We are the temple. We are holy. How can God make other holy people, add to his holy temple, when we are acting in a manner that is contrary to a holy God? God’s spirit lives in us so how can we act and live and behave in a manner that is contrary to the Spirit of God? The temple is the very place where the Oneness of God is on display before the world. What does the world think when they see a divided temple, a divided church? A divided God?

6. A Common Bond, Ephesians 4:1-16

Fifth, again Paul states that the purpose behind such gifts is that the church might grow up into Christ. This is really the only sort of maturity that is required or necessary or the goal. He writes, “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the head, that is Christ.” You see, our goal is Christ. He is the goal of the unity we are preserving, he is the maturity of the unity we are preserving. We are not growing up into some man made idea of what it means to be one and unified and united and whole. We are growing up into a Spirit driven, grace provided, Christ called, humanly preserved unity and oneness.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Friends,

This is part 10 of my current series of sermons 90 Days with Scripture. In this sermon from Mark 15, I begin by doing a short survey of the previous 9 sermons before offering a few thoughts on Mark 15. The sermon takes about 25 minutes and ends by wondering how it is that Jesus dying on the cross gives us any hope that God’s promise of New Covenant, New Heavens and New Earth, and Crushing the Serpent (among other things) can actually be brought about. And yet, that is the manifold witness of the New Testament: Jesus’ death does all that and much, much more. There is a lengthy quote from NT Write’s book Surprised By Hope in the conclusion. I have included a link to the manuscript at box.net below.  jerry

You can download here: Jesus, pt 3: Mark 15

Or listen online using the inline player below:

Subscribe in a reader

Part 1: Genesis 3, Where it All Went Wrong
Part 2: Genesis 12:1-9, A Blessing for All People
Part 3: Exodus 7-12 (a), Freedom For God’s People
Part 4: Exodus 7-12 (b), Freedom For God’s People, b
Part 5: 2 Samuel 5-7, The King
Part 6: Isaiah 60-66, The New Heavens and New Earth
Part 7: Jeremiah 31, The New Covenant
Part 8: Matthew 1, Jesus pt 1
Part 9: Luke 1-2, Jesus pt 2
Part 10: Mark 15, Jesus, pt 3

Other download options are available through feedburner and archive.org.

Always for His glory!

Friends,

A few years ago, I became weary of the Purpose Driven Life. We had gone through the program at my church, read the book, preached the sermons. When it was all done, I felt no better and our church did not grow. I felt dirty for using someone else’s sermon outlines. (My content stuffed around someone else’s outlines.) About the time we were going through that series, a couple of books were published that had a remarkable effect on my discipleship. One was Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places by Eugene Peterson and the other The Cross and Christian Ministry by DA Carson. I also read The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer and several others. I began to see, in book after book, something I had not noticed before and something that seemed terribly absent from PDL: It was the cross. It was painful, to be sure, to see my entire ministry turned upside down, my discipleship in Christ radically altered, and my understanding of Scripture forever changed. I had missed it; I had missed the cross. Thus I began a great quest. I started saving quotes and poems and other items about the cross (One file ended up with 27 single spaced 10-point font pages of notes and quotes from biblical commentaries, authors like Annie Dillard, John Stott, DA Carson, Eugene Peterson, James Montegomery Boice, CS Lewis, Bernard of Clairvaux, Martin Luther, and poets like Bob Dylan, Thomas Merton, Jeremy Camp, and more. And that is not all. ). I started reading with a critical eye. The Father began to change me. Somehow, I had missed the cross. This reading, combined with intense study of Scripture (in particular the book of Matthew) and prayer and the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to Christ all over again for the first time. Thus was born The Crucifixion Driven Life which was my response to my congregation after I led them through PDL. This is the first sermon from that series, January 1, 2006. It runs 35 minutes or so. I have others that I will be posting as time permits and, also, as I did with the series on Daniel, I will be posting links to the manuscripts at box.net. Thank you. jerry

Listen here: The Crucifixion Driven Life Begins at Birth, Matthew 1:18-25

Or use the inline player below:

Subscribe in a reader

Other download options are available through feedburner and archive.org.

Always for His glory!

Friends,

Today’s quote builds on the Crucifixion Driven Life theme I began a couple of days ago. Today’s quote is from James Montegomery Boice:

The Centrality of the Cross by James Montgomery Boice

…if the death of Christ on the cross is the true meaning of the Incarnation, then there is no gospel without the cross. Christmas by itself is no gospel. The life of Christ is no gospel. Even the resurrection, important as it is in the total scheme of things, is no gospel by itself. For the good news is not just that God became man, nor that God has spoken to reveal a proper way of life for us, or even that death, the great enemy, is conquered. Rather, the good news is that sin has been dealt with (of which the resurrection is a proof); that Jesus has suffered its penalty for us as our representative, so that we might never have to suffer it; and that therefore all who believe in him can look forward to heaven. …Emulation of Christ’s life and teaching is possible only to those who enter into a new relationship with God through faith in Jesus as their substitute. The resurrection is not merely a victory over death (though it is that) but a proof that the atonement was a satisfactory atonement in the sight of the Father (Rom 4:25); and that death, the result of sin, is abolished on that basis.

What a beautiful thought. Praise God for his victory in Christ!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Friends,

Back in 2006 I preached a series of sermons I called ‘The Crucifixion Driven Life.’ This was my take on the popular 40 Days of Purpose that everyone was raving about at the time. We did the 40 Days of Purpose in my congregation and it was not quite as fun as I had hoped. Anyhow, shortly after we did the program I became very disillusioned with the nature of the program and shortly thereafter abandoned any hint that I had participated in the program. The main problem I had was that while there are a lot of good ideas in the program itself, the manner in which Scripture was used to arrive at those points was rather frustrating and disconcerting. Not only that, but it was the first time in my life I ever used sermon outlines that I had not prepared myself. I wrote my own sermons, but I built them around the 40 Days outlines. I am offering this as a public confession.

Anyhow, I’d like to use this blog for a couple of weeks to start publishing the majority of what I learned during the course of the 10 weeks that I preached on this subject. What I learned was simply amazing and thoroughly revolutionized my faith. What the Scripture says about the nature of what I have called the Crucifixion Driven Life is, beyond doubt, stunning. And what is more is that it stands in stark contrast with the American Driven Life of much of Western Christendom.

So I will be posting here, over the next couple of weeks or so, much of the material that I wrote, collected, and preached during this sermon series. I have quotes and sermons and I will also be including a few Skycasts–mp3’s of the sermons I preached. (Also, as with the sermons on Daniel posted last week, I will upload these sermons and Powerpoint presentations to my box.net account. This can be accessed from the widget on the left sidebar or via the links I provide.

This first quote is from one of my favorite writers and preachers, DA Carson. This particular quote is culled from his book The Cross and Christian Ministry:

What it means to be ‘spiritual’ is profoundly tied to the cross, and to nothing else. More precisely, to be spiritual, this passage, is to enjoy the gift of the Holy Spirit—and this means understanding and appropriating the message of the cross, ‘God’s secret wisdom.’…The Spiritual person is simply a believer, one who has closed with the message of the cross. In deed, those who are most mature are most grateful for the cross and keep coming back to it as the measure of God’s love for them and the supreme standard of personal self-denial….[U]ltimately wisdom is from the world and is opposed by God, or it is God-given and tied to the cross. There is no middle ground. Those who try to create some middle ground by imitating the Corinthians—who confessed the Jesus of the cross but whose hearts were constantly drawn to one or another of the public philosophy and values of the day—will gain nothing but the rebuke of Scripture.—ibid., 62

Here is another quote from Carson from the same book:

Paul is not so naïve as to think that every Christian should, ideally, suffer the same amount. In fact, in one passage he testifies to his willingness to take on a disproportionate share of suffering, so that others might be relieved. But what is at stake, for Paul, is a fundamental stance, a way of looking at things…We follow a Crucified Messiah.All the eschatological promises regarding the new heaven and the new earth, all the blessings of sins forgiven and of the blessed Spirit of God, do not negate the fact that the good news we present focuses on the foolishness of Christ crucified. And that message simply cannot be effectively communicated from the haughty position of the trumphalist’s condescension. Until the end of the age, we will take up our cross—that is, we will die to self-interest daily—and follow Jesus. The less any society knows of that way, the more foolish we will seem and the more suffering we will endure. So be it; there is no other way of following Jesus.—ibid., 107-108

I’ll post a little more later as time allows. Enjoy these quotes, there’s much more to come.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Friends,

Here I am again, overwhelmed at how freely flows the pen of the masters. I lament that we no longer live in a day and age when people are moved by such profundity–preferring instead to be captivated by smooth, earthly philosophies; guilt trips that impose on the grace of God. Here is Spurgeon, with whom I have not spent a great deal of my leisure time, but one who certainly understood well exactly what our culture continues to miss: The triumph over all the ills of our culture and world has already been declared in the Cross!

To the eye of reason the cross is the centre of sorrow and the lowest depth of shame. Jesus dies a malefactor’s death. He hangs upon the gibbet of a felon and pours out his blood upon the common mount of doom with thieves for his companions. In the midst of mockery, and jest, and scorn, and ribaldry, and blasphemy, he gives up the ghost. Earth rejects him and lifts him from her surface, and heaven affords him no light, but darkens the mid-day sun in the hour of his extremity. Deeper in woe the Saviour dived, imagination cannot descend. A blacker calumny than was cast on him satanic malice could not invent. He hid not his face from shame and spitting; and what shame and spitting it was! To the world the cross must ever be the emblem of shame: to the Jew a stumbling-block, and to the Greek foolishness. How different however is the view which presents itself to the eye of faith. Faith knows no shame in the cross, except the shame of those who nailed the Saviour there; it sees no ground for scorn, but it hurls indignant scorn at sin, the enemy which pierced the Lord. Faith sees woe, indeed, but from this woe it marks a fount of mercy springing. It is true it mourns a dying Saviour, but it beholds him bringing life and immortality to light at the very moment when his soul was eclipsed in the shadow of death. Faith regards the cross, not as the emblem of shame, but as the token of glory. The sons of Belial lay the cross in the dust, but the Christian makes a constellation of it, and sees it glittering in the seventh heaven. Man spits upon it, but believers, having angels for their companions, bow down and worship him who ever liveth though once he was crucified. My brethren, our text presents us with a portion of the view which faith is certain to discover when its eyes are anointed with the eye-salve of the Spirit. It tells us that the cross was Jesus Christ’s field of triumph. There he fought, and there he conquered, too. As a victor on the cross he divided the spoil. Nay, more than this; in our text the cross is spoken of as being Christ’s triumphal chariot in which he rode when he led captivity captive, and received gifts for men. Calvin thus admirably expounds the last sentence of our text:—”the expression in the Greek allows, it is true, of our reading–in himself;the connection of the passage, however, requires that we read it otherwise; for what would be meagre as applied to Christ, suits admirably well as applied to the cross. For as he had previously compared the cross to a signal trophy or show of triumph, in which Christ led about his enemies, so he now also compares it to a triumphal car in which he showed himself in great magnificence. For there is no tribunal so magnificent, no throne so stately, no show of triumph so distinguished, no chariot so elevated, as is the gibbet on which Christ has subdued death and the devil, the prince of death; nay, more, has utterly trodden them under his feet.”

Oh, thank God for the cross. This is why I love Forsyth, Wells, Bonhoeffer and Spurgeon. These men are and are not afraid of the cross. The understand deeply our utter hopelessness apart from it. They understand well that our triumph is the triumph of Christ alone. I hope that our generation will soon awaken to the Cross we have so frequently neglected.

Soli Deo Gloria!

jerry

Friends,

It has always been a popular thing to make movies about Jesus. Mel Gibson made one and so have many others. Now it turns out that Muslims are getting in on the action. This link connects to an interview with an Iranian man who made a film about Jesus ‘from a Muslim point of view’:

A new movie in Iran depicts the life of Jesus from an Islamic perspective. “The Messiah,” which some consider as Iran’s answer to Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ,” won an award at Rome’s Religion Today Film Festival for generating interfaith dialogue.

The movie will be adapted into a television series to be shown on Iranian TV later this year.

Filmmaker Nader Talebzadeh spoke to ABC’s Lara Setrakian in Tehran.

There is so much wrong with this man’s understanding of Jesus and Christianity that I hardly know where to begin so I will restrict myself to a few observations:

The gist of what his movie is about is this: virtually everything, according to him, is left the same. The glaring exception is the crucifixion of Jesus. He said:

NT: We are talking about the same beautiful man, the same beautiful prophet, the same divine person sent from heaven. In the Koran, it emphasizes maybe three main points: about the birth, about the fact that he was not the son of God, and then, that he was not crucified. The rest is [the same] Jesus … the sermons, and the miracles, and the political situation.

NT: The virgin birth was the same. The difference in the Koran, God says Jesus was saved. Instead of having him hung and crucified, the person who betrayed Jesus was crucified. This is how the Koran sees it, through the Gospel of Barnabas.

LS: So, you gave the alternate ending.

NT: Yes, two endings. I thought, the Christians, when they see it, it’ll be important for them. [In the Koran] God says, emphatically, he was not crucified. Somebody was crucified in his stead. In the Gospel of Barnabas, there are explications of this. The majority of [Muslims] say the one who betrayed Jesus [was crucified]. 

This is exactly why the Koran is not the Word of God in any sense whatsoever. The crucifixion is not only Biblical, Theological, and Necessary, but it is historical. 

If this is what he put in his film, then he did not make a movie about Jesus of Nazareth. If this is his film, then he is not making a film that is worth anything. If this is what he put in his film, then it has nothing to do with Christians, Christianity, the church of Jesus Christ, Christ of the Scripture, Jesus the Son of God. It is another piece of Satanic propaganda (see below) intended to accomplish no meaningful purpose in this world. It matters little what the Koran says about Jesus because what matters is what the Christian Scriptures say about Jesus and they declare emphatically that Jesus was crucified. History declares that Jesus was crucified. It matters nill if the Koran or the Muslim respect Jesus and Mary. Jesus didn’t come to earth for mere respect. I don’t know why Christians would want to see a movie that has effectively removed any possibility of salvation because that is the state of the Christian if Christ has not been crucified. If Jesus has not been crucified then he has not been resurrected. If Jesus has not been resurrected from the dead, then Christians are without hope. We may as well party it up if Christ has not been Resurrected from the dead. (See the Scripture quote from Corinthians below.)

He goes on to answer a question concerning the sort of feedback he has received from Christians:

NT: Many thought this film is a good step for serious inter-religious dialogue. Many of them liked it — seeing the Koran-based ending. And I was very happy that the practicing Christians were very happy with the film. I have never found one case among practicing Christians who are offended [by the movie].

Well, since he has not ‘found one case among practicing Christians who are offended’ let me be the first! I will gladly be the first to announce without reservation that this film is blasphemous! There is no Koran based ending to the Gospel. The Gospel and the Koran stand in complete opposition to one another. There is only the Gospel ending to the Gospel. What the Koran does not understand is that our sin must be dealt with and if it has not been dealt with, and is not dealt with in the death of Christ then we, and all of humanity from the beginning until the end, are simply obligated to be 100% obedient to the law. (And no one is nor can anyone be.) In other words, if we are not justified by the death of Christ then we are without hope in the world. Law cannot be a substitute for grace. I am offended because in creating a Christ in his own image, this man is attempting to rob the world of the only hope it has to be lifted out of this abomination of sin we call happiness.

So if there is no death of Christ as this man is purporting in his film, then exactly how will we be saved from our sins? There can be no dialogue. I’m not so much offended or outraged as much as I am saddened. I’m not shivering with anger as much as I am shuddering with fear at the consequences for humanity if Christ was not crucified. I am saddened because this sort of teaching takes away all hope of eternal life, all hope of rescue from sin, all hope of resurrection, all hope of escaping the penalty of sin–death. There can be no alternate ending to the story of Jesus. The only ending is an empty tomb that he Resurrected from after he was crucified.

Now, there are two stories in Matthew’s Gospel that at first appearance may not have anything in common. Here they are. The first is from Matthew 4 where Jesus is being tempted by Satan. The second is Jesus’ first announcement of his impending crucifixion and Peter’s response.

8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9″All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

10Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'”

11Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. (Matthew 4:8-11)

Next, Matthew 16:

21From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

22Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

23Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

24Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 27For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. 28I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” (Matthew 16:21-28)

What these stories have in common is this: both the Devil and Peter were attempting to persuade Jesus to avoid the cross! Even back then the idea was to create a cross-less Jesus! Muslims preach the same thing: A Cross-less Jesus. The filmmaker says, in response to a question about the Mel Gibson film:

NT: We were almost finished filming when Mel Gibson started shooting. I saw the film, and it’s the first time the Gospel of John has ever been depicted. It was nice. But it was the wrong story. In my film, I respect that common belief with all the good intentions the Christians have … according to what Islam says. Yet, Jesus, at the night of the last supper, ascends to heaven [without being crucified]. A beautiful man, a beautiful prophet. Why should he be bloodied that way?

Well, the reason is simple: To save humanity from sin, its guilt and its power. That’s why he was bloodied ‘that way.’ If Jesus ascended to heaven without being crucified then we are hopeless. It is not the wrong story: It’s the only story! It’s the only hope we have! Oh Lord have mercy! Here’s what the apostle wrote:

1Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

. . .

12But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

20But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:1-7, 12-28)

There is so much wrong with what that man (the Iranian filmmaker) is saying that it boggles the mind. But I’m not raising a voice of protest. No, I’m raising a cry of mercy. I’m crying out to the Lord for the poor souls who will see this film an accept it as truth. There is only one Gospel and there can be no other versions of it warned the apostle. Those who publish alternative Gospels are, according to the apostle, anathema; condemned.

Only the death of Jesus Messiah provides sufficient atonement for the sins of this world’s inhabitants. If Jesus has not been crucified, he is not the Messiah. And if He is not the Messiah, the Son of God, then we are without hope–that is, the entire world from the beginning until the end. What a sad, sad story this is. I pray this film will be a failure. I pray it will be rejected. I pray it will be destroyed before it is ever shown to anyone. I pray for the Muslims who think that their system of works righteousness is superior to the free gift of God’s grace in Jesus Christ.

Soli Deo Gloria!

PS–The article mentions something called ‘The Gospel of Barnabas.’ For more information in this ‘Gospel’ (and why it is not a Gospel) click here. The article concludes:

The Gospel of Barnabas is not an authentic Gospel of Jesus. The author does not understand the language, history or geography of the 1st century A.D., and there is no ancient evidence for the book. The internal evidence of the book suggests it was written in the 14th century and there are Muslim scholars who agree with this dating. The book is a rewrite of the Biblical Gospel most likely by a Muslim who wanted to portray Jesus as a Muslim who taught Islam and predicted the coming of Muhammad. This type of rewriting has been done elsewhere by Muslims in the Gospel According to Islam. This type of behaviour is disgraceful, and it is disgraceful for Muslims to continue to publish, promote and distribute this false Scripture.

John 19:28-42 (90 Days with Jesus, Day 85)

Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips.When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.

The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.” Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

What are we to make of all this? Jesus is thirsty. Jesus declares ‘it’ is finished. Legs being broken. Spears being brandished. Water and blood flowing. Garden tombs. It is quite a detailed explanation of someone’s death. Obviously, or perhaps not to some, the person who wrote these words was there and witnessed it. He is not inventing a story to gore us or bore us. He is giving us his testimony of what happened that day to the man Named Jesus.

There are some significant features to this story. I’d like to focus on one in particular. Jesus said, “It is finished.” Then he “bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” To make this short: No one took the life of Jesus. One cannot steal what is given. Jesus gave His life; he determined when ‘it’ was finished. What we see here is the picture of Jesus who was in control even when He was dying; even when the moment of his death arrived it was so by his own determination.

To whom was Jesus talking, or shouting, when he, with wet tongue and throat, shouted, “It is finished!” Was he praying to God? Was he telling those who were witnessing the crucifixion? Was it just the work of justification, or was it all of Scripture that was finished? Whatever it was, and to whomever he said it, isn’t it satisfying to know that it is finished? Isn’t it satisfying, relieving, to know that there is nothing more that we need to do or that we can do? Isn’t it satisfying to hear those words, to read those words, to meditate on those words of Jesus and know that He has done the Work from start to finish? Isn’t it humbling to know that there is nothing we can add to this work? Isn’t it amazing to know that from generation to generation people will read these words, “it is finished,” and know that for all time the work is done?

Another important aspect of these verses is the importance their author gives to the Scripture. I sometimes think that in the Church we don’t consider the Scripture well enough. We like to pay it lip-service and maybe quote it here and there. Maybe we even believe that it has something to say to us about some aspect of our lives. But here we see Jesus controlling himself in such a way, controlling the events in such a way, that what was fulfilled in his life was Scripture and not his own desires or ambitions.

The Scripture said that Jesus would be thirsty, not have any broken bones, and would be pierced. Jesus knew these things and made a conscience decision to proceed. His ambition was to fulfill Scripture which means, in short, that Jesus lived and died his life with a complete sense of doing the will of God. Scripture means the ‘Old Testament,’ spoken by God through the Prophets. It means that Jesus lived his life and died his life with the sole ambition of Proving God’s Word to be true. He deliberately did things ‘so that Scripture would be fulfilled.’ He left nothing out of the equation.

Doesn’t it make you wonder about our own lives? Don’t you wonder sometimes if we are living our lives in accordance with the Scripture? Don’t you wonder if we are conducting ourselves in such a way that God is justified even if we are not? Jesus’ death accomplished our salvation, but Jesus’ death also justified God. The cross means that no one can accuse God of being unfair, unjust, or uninvolved. “So the justification of God is not given us by Christ; it isChrist; who under the judgment from man took His native place as the judge of all the earth, justifying the God of holy love in His justification of all the world.” (PT Forsyth, The Justification of God, 187)

I want to live with that sort of ambition. I can’t justify the world, and I cannot justify God. But what I can do is live my life in such a way that God is, in a sense, justified. In other words, I can live in such a way that doesn’t contradict what God has said: I can live His truth. I want to live my life out of the ambition that the only thing that matters is demonstrating by my words, my conduct, my deeds that God is Right and Just.

Finally, let there be no mistaking this point: Jesus died. He gave up his Spirit. The Blood and Water flowed. The Spear was driven into His side. They took his body down. They wrapped his body. They put His body in a nearby tomb. The people who participated in these activities knew that Jesus was dead. Pilate knew. The soldiers knew. Joseph knew. Nicodemus knew. The disciple testifying knew. No one was in any doubt that Jesus was dead. They wrapped him in cloths, placed him in a tomb with about 75 lbs of spices, and left. There is simply nothing else to say about this scene: Jesus was clearly, without a shadow of doubt, dead.

What Christians believe is there is some connection between ‘It is Finished’ and ‘They placed him in a tomb.’ There is some connection between the work being done and Jesus having died. But what I suspect happened that day is that people saw Jesus placed in a tomb and thought: We are done with that! And so went on the Day of Preparation—preparing for something. But did they know what?

It’s easy to put Jesus in the tomb and forget about Him. It’s easy to seal the tomb with a large rock and think that just another man has been crucified and buried. Even all the cloths and the 75 lbs of spices speak to this thought: They expected a body to rot. They were not expecting Sunday. They had life to get on with: “Break the legs, get them dead, put him in a tomb so we can get on with Preparation Day.” Little did they know that they were totally unprepared for what God had planned. Sometimes I think Christians are the same way. Jesus died and ‘it is finished.’ Then he is prepared for burial, placed in a nearby tomb, and forgotten. Sometimes I think that we are content with the work of Christ being finished in the sense that we get lazy about what he has begun.

Jesus finished something that day when He bowed his head and gave up his spirit, of this there is no doubt in my mind. But Jesus also began something that Day. It is this beginning that we too often fail to bear in mind.

Soli Deo Gloria!