The Jesus-statue in Rio de Janeiro. The statue is 38 meters high and stands on a hill of 710 meters.
The person of the Lord Jesus
In some areas people get regularly advertising sheets in the mail box concerning occult mediums. On payment such a medium ensures that all kinds of problems will be solved: Healing of sicknesses, riddance of examination fear, fast return of a beloved, etc., etc. But who reflects well about this, must come to the conclusion that something is not correct here. Suppose that a man has maltreated his beloved and that she has run off for this reason. If the occult medium provides then a fast return of the woman, then the maltreatment can be continued! This is not a good solution, because the sin problem has been ignored. Where people go beyond the sin problem there is always a false religion or another spiritual deception. Sometimes the deception is reinforced by the doing of miracles. But the devil, the major antagonist of God, can do also miracles. Miracles are never a proof, that something is according to God's will.
God is an omnipotent God. Everything what He wants He can do also. So He can, if He would want, overload everyone with great wealth and opulence. But He is also a holy God. He cannot pass over the sins of the people without reason. If someone in this earthly life has committed a crime or offence and is found guilty by the judge, then other people find it unrighteous, if the deserved punishment is acquited without reason. But one frequently forgets, that we people stand all guilty towards the celestial Judge. Because He Himself has made us, He has also all the right to be our Judge. And He sees and knows everything. If someone in this life has done something wrong, which is punishable for the earthly court, then there is always a chance, that the police does not find it, and that possible witnesses abandon the doing of a declaration or the starting of a lawsuit, to prevent costs and/or rigmarole. The guilty culprit goes then freely. But God sees everything and He condones nothing without reason.
And moreover God has other standards then people. If someone hates another, but abandons the committing of a real crime, to prevent prosecution, then he is not punishable according to the earthly right. Because he has done nothing (in practice). But for God hating another is already a crime. Furthermore it is for Him also a crime, if we have been negligent. If we do not help someone consciously, while it is our duty to do that, then we are also already punishable for Him. Furthermore it is according to God's standards also a sin, if we covet something, that does not belong to us. Also for this reason the tenth commandment of The Ten Commandments sounds: "You will not covet". God watches in fact our heart and judges us on the basis of what lives in that. This is because the evil is very first deep in ourselves. And if we let fester that evil as the cancer, then terrible things happen indeed. If we desire for example to possess something that is of another, and do not oppress that desire but nourish, then it goes early or late wrong and we assault that which is of that other.
The Good Samaritan. It is for God already sinful, if we do not help our fellow man, as we ourselves should want to be helped.
All in all our crimes and sins are in the light of God's absolute holiness so great, that everyone is condemnable for God. Instead of God's celestial glory we all deserve the hell. Concerning that the Lord Jesus spoke several times about "hell, the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched." (Mark 9:43 to 48). Many interpreters have done effort to explain this in an other way than it is written, because it is so terrible. But that is a fruitless way. It is just written so and it is a kind of ostrich politics not to want to see it. A danger becomes in reality never less if we are going to deny that danger.
Is there a possibility to escape the danger of the hell? Fortunately there is! Because a sacrifice has been brought for the sins. In the Old Testament of the Bible the people, who had sinned, must sacrifice a cow, sheep or other animal, to get discharge. This had a symbolic meaning. The sin of a man was as it were laid on the animal and the animal died then in the place of the man, as a punishment on the sin. But the sacrificing of animals could not really take away the punishment. And sometimes God swore also, that a certain sin would not be reconciled by an animal sacrifice (1 Sam. 3:14). Moreover later in the Old Testament in Psalm 40:6 is written: "You (= God) have not had desire to burnt offering and sin offering." How is that possible? In the following verses it becomes already more clear. There first of all stands: "Then I said: See I come; in the volume of the book it is written of me." Here is prophesied of the Lord Jesus, who would come later to bring the real sacrifice for the sins, namely by His own death on the cross. All former sacrifices of animals and sometimes of grain or fruit were only symbolic references to that real sacrifice.
We people get discharge of all our sins, if we put our confidence on the Lord Jesus and His sacrifice. Johannes 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (Faith and confidence are similar in the original Greek language). But this faith is never only a superficial matter of the mind, such as when one believes something that is in the newspaper, and further passes to the order of the day. For that reason the Lord Jesus just spoke in Matthew 7: 21: "Not every one who says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of my Father which is in heaven." Just for this reason our confidence on the Lord Jesus implies that we give our life to Him. He may then determine furthermore what happens in our life. In that way He becomes our Lord.
"Was that suffering of the Lord Jesus just so particular?" some people say or think. This is because we are nowadays no longer familiar with the phenomenon crucifixion. People who lived in the time of the Lord Jesus knew much better what it implied, because the Romans applied it rather much. It was a dreadful torment. The convicts were whipped firstly. With that they were tied up naked with the hands above the head to a pile. Next they were beaten with a whip which was equipped with lead balls, small bones and shards. The skin was torn firstly. One continued the beating just so long until also the muscles were damaged and the victim hung exhausted on the ropes in a pool of blood.
Next the condemned was detached and dressed and the crossbeam of the cross was laid on his torn back and shoulders. He had to carry that to the place of the crucifixion. We read of the Lord Jesus that He dropped down under the weight of the beam and that someone else was forced to carry that beam for Him. Eventually He arrived on the place of the execution. That place was not called for nothing Golgotha, which means "Place of skulls".
There he was again entirely undressed, thrown on its torn back, and nailed down to the crossbeam. Large nails were driven between the wrist-bones, what gave a violent sharp pain. Then he was pulled up on the crossbeam along an already upright standing pile. The whole weight came now hanging on the nails, what gave again a dreadful pain. Then his feet were nailed down to the cross.
But the worst for the crucified was the tightness of the chest. The muscles and tendons in the arms pulled so hard on the rest of the body, that he could not breathe properly anymore. The lack of air became so severe, that he pushed himself upwards on the nails in his feet. Then he could breathe still a moment. But then the pain in his feet became so unbearable, that he lowered himself again. Thus he wrestled up and down in an atrocious death agony. His sweat and blood dripped along his body. In its nudity he was moreover a ridiculous spectacle for his enemies. Also there was an unbearable thirst and a terrible headache. After a course of time the heart started to give up. There rose a so called "decompensatio cordis", by which fluid came into the lungs. That is called pulmonary oedema. By the increased tightness of the chest which followed, he had more need yet to push himself upwards on the nails in his feet. Then he still could get a bit of air, although with dreadful pain. But the body weakened and the pushing upwards was after some time no longer possible. Eventually the convict died by suffocation.
In the Bible (John 19: 32) we read that the Roman soldiers broke the legs of the 2 others, who were crucified with the Lord Jesus. Why did they do that? They did so to ensure that the crucified could no longer push themselves up on the nails in their feet. Then they died within fifteen minutes from lack of air. Thus the Romans did the Jews a favour. For the Jews did not want, that the bodies would hang on the cross on the Sabbath. And the Sabbath began already when it became dark, after the previous day.
This was also in accordance with the Jewish law. We read in Deuteronomy 21: 22 and 23:
22. And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree:
23. His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.
So a hanged is a curse before God. That is: The hanged is accursed by God. Thus the Lord Jesus was accursed by His heavenly Father, to redeem us from the curse, that we had earned by our sins. Besides the legs of the Lord Jesus were not broken, because at that time he had died already. Thus the prophecy of the Old Testament was fulfilled. In Exodus 12: 46 and Numbers 9: 12 is written, that the Jews were not allowed to break a bone of the paschal lamb. This had a prophetic significance. Thus also from the Lord Jesus, referred to by the paschal lamb, no bone would be broken.
Impression of the crucifixion. Abandoned by God and people.... For decency some clothing has been drawn. The reality was more horrifying.
Although also other people had to undergo the death by crucifixion, the suffering of the Lord Jesus was unique however. The heaviest of all was to Him the spiritual suffering. As Son of God He had a perfect love bond with His heavenly Father. Everything that He wished He received, even when He lived as a man on earth. By the power of God He healed sick people, raised the dead and expelled demons. He even commanded a storm to lie and it happened immediately. And now He was totally left by God. Under that He suffered most. Eventually He cried out: "My God, my God, why did You forsaken Me?"
But short time before His death God gave to His Son the strength yet to exclaim: "It has been accomplished!" All this the Lord Jesus did for us people, in order that we could be reconciled with God and could obtain the eternal life, in inexpressible glory!! May it be also for you??
The Lord Jesus did not stay in the misery. When He died the misery had passed for Him. And after 3 days He rose from the grave. God raised Him from the dead and healed His body, although the holes in His hands and feet remained, as a proof for His followers. Forty days afterwards He ascended to heaven. His disciples saw it and looked long at Him, until a cloud made Him invisible for them. That Ascension had been predicted in the Old Testament already too. Daniel 7:13 and 14 tells about His entry in heaven:
13. I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought Him near before Him.
14. And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
That Ancient of days is God. He is called so here, because He has been always there.
Some people see the Lord Jesus as an ordinary man. But an ordinary man can never endure the punishment for the sins of all people! The Lord Jesus is in essence God Himself. It is difficult to understand for our human mind how this is possible, but the doctrine of the Trinity tries to make it clear. One states thereby that there are three separate Persons within the one divine Being: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
The apostle John calls the Lord Jesus "the Word". He says (John 1:1): "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Thus here the Lord Jesus is called God.
Besides, already in the Old Testament is spoken about the divinity of God the Son. Isaiah 9: 2 and 6:
2. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
6. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light.
Since so much glorious things were predicted concerning the coming Messiah (= Anointed; coming kings were anointed king in that time) the Jews, who were familiar with the Old Testament of the Bible, could not believe, that their Messiah had to go through a hell of suffering. As a result, most of them were also not able to acknowledge Jesus, the man from the village Nazareth, as their Messiah. But these Jews took other prophecies too little into account, for example Isaiah 53: 5 and 6:
5. "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all."
Instead of a suffering Messiah the Jews expected a royal bruiser, someone who would expel the hated Romans out of the country and would restore the kingdom of Israel. But the Lord Jesus came to this earth to do something, that was much more important yet: To give reconciliation between God and people. God is the Almighty. He can give us people infinitely much more than the autonomy of an earthly kingdom. But it is always the sins of the people, by which there is a blockade between God and us. Christ just came to remove that blockade. Thus the way was made free for us people to get part of God's endless love, goodness, joy and glory! If we just open ourselves for it. In Revelation 22:17 is written: "And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."
The statue of the Lord Jesus in Rio de Janeiro can help us to be reminded of Him. But we may never adore a statue, as so frequently has been done by people. A statue is and remains a dead thing. But the living God always sees and hears us, either we walk outside or for example pray to Him in an inside room with closed doors and windows! And why would we fail to do that, if we know that He has given His life for us in His infinite love?
If a man comes to faith in the Lord Jesus the Holy Spirit comes to live in him or her. That Spirit wants to help us then to know God the Father and His Son increasingly. Then we are going to learn also more and more what God's will for us is in this life. Also we can receive then in our hearts an inexpressible delicious peace and delight, which goes far above the human intelligence! This can even happen while our life circumstances are still very heavy. John Bunyan for example was imprisoned because of his faith. But God blessed him so much with celestial gladness, that he poeticized:
For though men keep my outward man
Within their locks and bars,
Yet by the faith of Christ I can
Mount higher than the stars.
..... higher than the stars ..... The Celestial City with the river of the water of the life.