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“Oh, that my words were written! Oh, that they were inscribed in a book! That they were engraved on a rock with an iron pen and lead, forever! For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” Job 19:23-27

Have you ever thought about what words you would like to have inscribed on your tombstone? It may sound kind of morbid to speak about epitaphs on Easter Sunday but, in light of Jesus’ resurrection on the third day, it’s not morbid but a message of hope.

Whether or not it will happen, I don’t know, but I’ve always thought it would be nice to have these words from Job 19:25-27 etched into my headstone: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.”

Why, because death is not the end! You and I have hope! Because of the events of that first resurrection Sunday, we can be assured that we too will be raised up.

It is as St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming” (1 Cor. 15:23). Or consider Peter’s words: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet. 1:3-5).

Because Jesus did not stay in the tomb, because He rose from the dead on the third day, after suffering and dying on the cross to pay the just punishment for the sins of the world, because the tomb was empty when the women arrived to anoint the body of Jesus, because He appeared to the women, to Peter, to two on the road to Emmaus, to the eleven in the upper room and even to more than 500 people at one time – most of whom were still alive at the time of Paul’s writing (cf. 1 Cor. 15; Mark 16) – we have hope and the certainty of our resurrection on the Last Day.

Jesus said, “Because I live, you will live also” (John 14:19). Those words would mean little if Jesus did not rise from the dead. If Jesus did not rise bodily from the grave on the third day, we would still be dead in our sins and without hope (cf. 1 Cor. 15:17ff.). “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20). Jesus was “delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification” (Rom. 4:25). He paid in full for our sins and was raised up, showing that we are indeed justified and forgiven through faith in Him and that we too will be raised up on the Last Day when Christ Jesus returns!

Therefore, we can say with Job: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.” Though we die and decay in the grave, our risen Savior will raise up our bodies and we will see Him who died for our sins and rose again to give us life everlasting! Cf. 1 Thess. 4:13ff.; Psalm 16:11.

“I know that my Redeemer lives; what comfort this sweet sentence gives….”

O my risen Savior, grant that I live and die in the confidence which Your resurrection gives, and raise me up on the Last Day to the eternal joys of Your kingdom. Amen.

[Scripture is taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

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“His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.” John 12:16 (Read John 12:12-19)

Do you know what Palm Sunday and the events of that day are all about? Yes, you may know what happened on that day – how Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt and was hailed King of the Jews, but why? What does it all mean?

If you don’t know, you’re not alone. Jesus’ own disciples didn’t understand these things until after Jesus had risen from the dead and was glorified. As John writes, “then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.”

What was written about Jesus? From the Book of Zechariah, we see the ancient prophecy: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zech. 9:9). We see these very words fulfilled; the people shouted words of praise to Jesus as the Messiah and Savior of Israel. They hailed Him as their King. And, Jesus was riding upon a donkey’s colt, just as the prophecy said and similar to the way King Solomon was made known as the king of Israel (cf. 1 Kings 1:32ff.).

And what did they cry out? John tells us the multitude cried out: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ The King of Israel!” In Matthew 21:9, we read: “Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Hosanna in the highest!” Compare that to the words of Psalm 118:19ff. Hosanna, which is a call to the LORD to save now, together with the references to Son of David, King of Israel and He who comes in the name of the LORD is an acclamation of Jesus as the Messiah and promised Savior who would save His people and establish an everlasting kingdom (cf. 2 Sam. 7:16).

Thus, the events of Palm Sunday were a declaration that Jesus is the long-promised Messiah, the Son of David and King of Israel who would save His people and establish an everlasting kingdom. The people were calling upon Him to save them as God had promised. He was the one who would “redeem Israel From all his iniquities” (Psalm 130:8). And, this, just days before He was crucified and died for the sins of the world to provide that promised salvation!

And we too cry out: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ The King of Israel!” We pray that He would usher in the day of our salvation – the salvation he won for us upon Calvary’s cross. We long for Him to come again and enter into the gates of the New Jerusalem and establish His everlasting kingdom and be our God and King forevermore! Cf. Phil. 2:5ff.; Rev. 7:9ff.; 19:11ff.; 21:1ff.; 21:22ff.

Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the Highest! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! We praise You, Christ Jesus our Savior, and pray that You would come and establish Your everlasting kingdom and reign over us as our God and King. Amen.

[Scripture is taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

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“Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me.” Psalm 19:12-13

So many times, we do not even see or understand that we have sinned. We don’t recognize our faults and don’t realize that we are unclean before our holy God and deserving of nothing but His eternal wrath and punishment.

When we read and study God’s Word, it reveals our sinfulness. The Holy Spirit, who authored the Scriptures, shows us what God desires of us and reveals to us that we do not measure up and have garnered the wages of our sinfulness — eternal death and damnation!

That is why David, in Psalm 19, says, “Who can understand his errors?” and prays that God would cleanse him from his secret faults — faults that he does not even see in himself and recognize.

This is also what we do in our general confession when we ask God to forgive us all our sins of thought, word and deed, both sins of omission and sins of commission. We ask God to forgive us all our sins for Jesus’ sake: those we know and recognize as sin and even those sins we do not know and feel in our hearts.

And, we are assured that God, for the sake of Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross, forgives our sins and cleanses us from all unrighteousness (cf. 1 John 1:7 – 2:2).

Presumptuous Sins

David continues his prayer: “Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me.”

“What are presumptuous sins?” we might ask. These are those sins we know are wrong and contrary to God’s commandments and, yet, we willfully choose to go ahead and do them, presuming that God will deal with us in mercy and not condemn us for our wickedness.

John Bunyan (author of Pilgrim’s Progress) once referred to sin as “the dare of God’s justice, the rape of His mercy, the jeer of His patience, the slight of His power, and the contempt of His love.” And this is a fitting description of presumptuous sins. Those who commit them treat the blood of Christ, shed for the sins of all upon the cross, as a common and worthless thing to be used as a license to indulge in the sinful desires of our flesh (cf. Heb. 10:26-31). Presumptuous sins are, indeed, the “rape of His mercy” in Christ Jesus!

And, of course, the Scriptures warn against them, telling us that, if we go on sinning wilfully after we have learned of Christ, we should not expect to receive pardon and forgiveness through Christ’s sacrifice (Heb. 10:26-27; 2 Pet. 2:18-22). Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:9-11). To the believers in Ephesus, he wrote: “For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them” (Eph. 5:5-7). To the churches of Galatia, he wrote: “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19-21).

That is why David pays that the Lord would hold him back from following his own lusts and committing presumptuous sins. He recognized that His sinful flesh longed to plunge forward into sin and He needed God to hold him back from such sin and eternal ruin.

David adds, “Let them not have dominion over me.”

David knew well the dangers of presumptuous sin. Going against his knowledge of God’s commandments, he lusted after Bathsheba and committed adultery with her. Then, he tried to hide and cover up his sin and ended up murdering Bathsheba’s husband Uriah to do it. And, had God not sent Nathan the prophet to rebuke David and call him to repentance, he would have been lost forever! (Read 2 Samuel 11-12.)

Sin is deceitful and, once we give in to its desire, we easily become entangled and enslaved by it. We know it’s wrong to drink to excess or take mind-altering drugs but, once we give in, we find ourselves giving in again and again until we cannot stop. We know that sexual immorality, pornography and adultery are wrong but, once we give in just a little, we become addicted and enslaved. We know it is wrong to be dishonest in our dealings with others but one deception leads to another and another. We know we should take the time to hear God’s Word and worship and serve Him but, once we start neglecting to do so, it becomes easier and easier.

The apostle Paul wrote: “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?” (Rom. 6:15-16).

Thus, we pray with David, “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me.”

We ask God to graciously forgive all our sins — both those we know and those which are unknown to us — for the sake of Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross, and God pardons our sins for Jesus’ sake. And we pray that God would keep us back from following our sinful desires into presumptuous sins which so easily entangle and ensnare us and lead us away from Christ Jesus our Savior to our eternal ruin!

O gracious and merciful God, we have sinned in our thoughts, desires, words and actions. Some of our sins we know and recognize and others are known only to You. Forgive all our sins for Jesus’ sake. Cleanse our hearts and souls and make us acceptable in Your sight through the shed blood of Christ Jesus. Keep us back from presumptuous sins and do not let them gain the upper hand and rule over us. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

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Then Jesus said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come.” So the Jews said, “Will He kill Himself, because He says, ‘Where I go you cannot come’?” And He said to them, “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” John 8:21-24

What a terrible thing to die in your sins — to die and stand before the holy Judge of all still bearing the uncleanness and guilt of your sins! Yet, this is what was soon to happen to a great many of the Jews in Jesus’ day. Jesus warned them, “I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come” (John 8:21).

Because so many of His Jewish hearers saw no need to repent of their sins and trust in Jesus as their Messiah and Savior, they would die in their sins and face the eternal wrath and condemnation of God. Where Jesus was going — to the right hand of God the Father in heaven (cf. John 14:1ff.; Eph. 2:20f.) — they would not be able to come! Instead, they faced a Christless eternity and the everlasting torments of hell!

Again, Jesus warned them, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24).

Jesus’ words still ring out today! Many are headed to an eternity of everlasting punishment for their sins. Unless people repent and turn to God’s Son, Jesus Christ, who was lifted up on the cross to suffer and die there for us and bear the full punishment for our sins and the sins of the whole world, they will die in their sins and face the holy God in their own uncleanness and guilt!

What about you? Will you die in the guilt of your sins and face the eternal wrath of an angry God? Or, will you, by the grace of God, turn to Jesus and receive His full and complete forgiveness for your sins and enjoy the everlasting blessings of life in heaven with Him?

The Bible tells us: “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Hebrews 9:27-28).

Jesus has already died and paid in full for your sins. His resurrection on the third day is proof that God accepted His death as full payment for the sins of the world (cf. 1 Cor. 15:3,4; Rom. 4:23-25)! Why die in your sins and be condemned of God? Turn in faith to Jesus and His shed blood and be forgiven and saved (Cf. 2 Cor. 5:19-6:2)!

O dearest Jesus, have mercy upon our wayward hearts and draw us to You that we might not enter into eternity bearing the guilt and condemnation for our sins, but have, instead, the assurance of forgiveness and life everlasting for the sake of Your holy and precious blood, shed for us upon the cross. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

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“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:17-20

Some in Jesus’ day misunderstood and thought that Jesus was trying to throw out all that is taught in the Old Testament Scriptures because He offered forgiveness and life through faith in His name. Unfortunately, some today assume that Jesus’ teaching does away with the Old Testament and makes these Scriptures obsolete and unnecessary for Christians. Many even believe and teach that one can be a Christian and disregard some or all of what the Bible teaches. This couldn’t be further from the truth!

It is as Jesus said: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” Jesus, the long-promised Messiah and Savior, came to fulfill all that is taught in the Old Testament, not to destroy it. Not the smallest letter (jot) of the Law or the smallest part of a letter (tittle) in the Scriptures will pass away until all is fulfilled.

Thus, Jesus went on to say: “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Thus, it is a grave offense to break even the smallest commandment in the Scriptures and teach others so. Those who do so will be excluded from God’s kingdom. And, as a study of the Scriptures will reveal, the righteousness which God demands is far greater than the outward righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. It far exceeds the righteousness of the churchgoers of our day who depend on their own righteous works and deeds.

The Scriptures demand perfect righteousness of heart, soul and mind (cf. Lev. 19:2; Matt. 5:48). The Scriptures demand a holy life in thought, word and deed — righteousness which we do not have and cannot attain by our own attempts to keep God’s Law (cf. Rom. 3:19-20).

But Jesus came to keep every commandment of the Scriptures perfectly for us. He regarded the Scriptures as the very Word of God and was obedient to every teaching of the Law and the Prophets! He fulfilled all and regarded all as absolute truth. He fulfilled the righteous demands of the Scriptures for us.

Jesus also, as prophesied by the Law and the Prophets (the Old Testament Scriptures), took our place under God’s Law and took the guilt and punishment of our sins upon Himself, that we might have forgiveness and life through faith in Him and His blood shed for us upon the cross (cf. Isa. 53:6).

And these same Scriptures declare to us Christ’s full atonement for our sins and the acceptance and pardon of a merciful God for Jesus’ sake (Cf. 2 Cor. 5:18-21; Rom. 3:21-28; 4:3-8; 5:18ff.)! They offer to us the imputed, perfect righteousness of Christ Jesus that we might stand in God’s judgment through faith in Jesus’ name.

Dear LORD Jesus, holy Son of God and true man, our Savior, thank You for fulfilling for us the perfect righteousness taught and demanded in the Holy Scriptures, and thank You for bearing upon the cross the full and just punishment for all our sins and then rising again to grant us forgiveness and life — perfect righteousness — through faith in Your name. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

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