As I was up before sunrise this morning, I gazed at the full moon in the western sky – the last full moon of winter. I could not help but think of the next full moon, the first of the spring season marking the coming of Easter.
My mind went back two thousand years and thought of Jesus seeing His last winter moon. Did He think, “Only one more full moon before the cross.”?
During Christ’s last moon cycle before His crucifixion, He raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-46).
Christ had brought others back from the dead, but Lazarus was unique. The others Christ raised had only been deceased a few hours, but Lazarus was in the grave four days before Jesus arrived (John 11:17). One reason I think Lazarus’ resurrection occurred so close to the death of Christ is that Jesus wanted it fresh on everyone’s mind that He has power over the grave.
None of us can keep our spirit in our body one minute longer than God determines, and we all will face the grim reaper at one time or another. Ecclesiastes 8:8, “There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it.”
Jesus has power over the grave because He is life. John 14:6, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
Jesus is not only life; He is the creator of life. John 1:3, “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”
Jesus is God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:1,14).
The followers of Jesus witnessed Him curing all types of physical ailments, leprosy, broken limbs, internal bleeding, and scores of others. They also saw Him casting out demons. They watched as He walked on water. They were there when He walked into that graveyard and yelled, “Lazarus, come forth.” The power of the voice of God. I wonder if any of those at Lazarus’ resurrection ever realized that if Jesus had said, “Come forth” instead of “Lazarus come forth,” every dead person within His vocal range would have risen. On second thought, maybe every person who had ever died would have risen.
Within one moon cycle, the conspiracy bringing Christ to His death on Calvary would be complete.
Before the crucifixion, Pilate, the Roman Governor, ordered Christ to be scourged. The Romans commonly used a cat-of-nine-tails to scourge their criminals. The cat-of-nine-tails was a whip with nine strands of leather. Embedded in the leather were pieces of glass, iron, stone, and other sharp cutting material. The whip would dig into a person’s back and around to the front, into the chest and abdomen. Since the things interwoven into the leather would dig into the flesh of the punished, the soldiers would need to yank to remove the whip. The yanking would rip and tear the flesh. Once removed, another lashing came. The Gospels do not tell us how many lashings Jesus received. Because of Deuteronomy 25:3, many believe He received thirty-nine lashes from the cat-of-nine-tails. Still, the Romans were not obligated to heed Jewish law.
We know that Jesus lost a lot of blood by the time the spikes went through His hands and feet to hang Him on the cross. Isaiah 53:2 informs us that when He hung on the cross, “he hath no form nor comeliness.” In other words, you could not tell it was a man that hung up there. After the scourging, Jesus was not strong enough to take His cross up Golgotha’s Hill, as the Romans compelled Simon the Cyrene to carry Jesus’ cross. Another sign He was weak because of the loss of blood.
A few days after His death, Christ rose Himself from the dead. No Apostle came to the tomb and proclaimed, “Jesus come forth!” None of them needed to because Jesus is the resurrection. John 11:25, “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.”
These are extraordinary claims – to be the resurrection, the creator, God, and life itself. All these claims are true, and Jesus is even more than these. His death and resurrection make Him the Saviour. His sinless blood is the only sacrifice that can wash your sin away.
Easter is three days after the next full moon. Did Jesus look at that full moon and think of what was ahead of Him? Do you ever think about who He is and what He has done? If not, hurry up. The moon is starting to wane.
Preacher Tim Johnson is Pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County, Indiana. His weekly column “Preacher’s Point” may be found at: www.preacherspoint.wordpress.com