Jesus’ Last Day: Sunday, April 5, A.D. 33

YESTERDAY WAS A DAY of reconciliation. Intimacy with the Father was restored. The curse was reversed. Life was restored. Prior to their disobedience, Adam and Eve were in constant fellowship with God in the Garden of Eden. They basked daily in His manifest presence, created in the image of God. But because of their sin, access to God was no longer a simple matter. It would require an intercessor, who is Christ our Lord. God foreknew the difficulties we would have with obeying Him—how we would become lost in our appetites; worshipers of self. Paul said God chose us even before the foundation of the world; that we may become holy and blameless before Him. In His love and mercy, the Father predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of the Father’s will (Eph. 1:4-5). Through Christ, we are transformed—we move from paradise lost to paradise found. The veil between us and God hanging in the temple was torn the moment Jesus died.

John chose to start his Gospel with, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:1-4). John wants us to see there is only one story: the story of Jesus Christ. John shows us the thread of redemption that begins with God shedding the blood of an animal in the Garden of Eden to fashion clothes for Adam and Eve and runs through history to the shedding of Jesus’ blood on Calvary. Sin left us in a helpless, hopeless situation, cut off from the Tree of Life, wandering aimlessly while yearning for something we can’t quite identify. Our sense of what that “something” truly is has been difficult to discover. It is only God who can cause us to be satisfied and fulfilled.

Isaiah 52:13 to 53:11: a prophecy of the coming Messiah that begins and ends with the voice of God.

The death of Jesus Christ fulfills a number of Old Testament prophesies. The most comprehensive prophesy comes from Isaiah: “He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, yet we esteemed him stricken [as if] smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds, we are healed” (Isa. 53:3-5)[italics mine]. The name Isaiah means, “The Lord is salvation.” How cool is that?! This passage is often called the “fifth Gospel.” John MacArthur calls it the Gospel according to God. MacArthur writes, “It contains in microcosm the whole range of redemptive truth.”1 It is the keystone that supports the remarkable thread of redemption running from Genesis to Revelation.

God, in His gracious mercy, provides a way back from our exiled state; back from our disobedience, betrayal, and treason, to a restored relationship with Him through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus breaks the bondage of sin. Now, we are under God’s grace, and our faith in the cross of Jesus Christ is the only thing that redeems us and sets us on the path to spiritual reformation. Yesterday, our pastor referred to four essential “gardens” in his message. The first is the Garden of Eden, a garden of spiritual perfection prior to sin, where Adam and Eve enjoyed intimacy with God Almighty (Gen. 2:8-10). Then there is the Garden of Gethsemane where Christ is arrested and taken for trial and execution (Matt. 26:36). Jesus is laid to rest in a tomb owned by Joseph of Arimathea—a luscious garden tomb (John 19:41). Lastly, there will be a New Garden of Eden when Jesus returns with His saints and establishes a new heaven and new earth (Rev. 22:1-2).

Christianity requires us to see by faith and not by sight. Peter says Jesus “…has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet. 1:3b-5). Seeing is not believing when it comes to the gospel. We must believe before we see. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” [italics mine]. Faith is certainty, proof, assurance, and conviction. Meriam-Webster defines conviction as “2 a : a strong persuasion or belief, b : the state of being convinced.”2 Old Testament saints had a forward-looking in the coming of Christ. New Testament saints have a backward-looking faith in Jesus as the Messiah It is by this faith alone that mankind has salvation.

Regarding our being saved by grace alone, Paul wrote, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Eph. 2:8-9) [italics mine]. Jesus said to the woman who washed and anointed His feet that it was her faith has saved her (Luke 7:50). Grace alone means that God saves us through Christ not because of who we are or what we do, but because of His love and mercy. Our best efforts can never be good enough to earn salvation. In fact, God gives us a measure of faith that allows us to trust Him. We cannot even give credit to ourselves for our faith. Our response to God’s initial measure of prevenient[fn1] grace opens the door to faith. We could never have come to God on our own merits. Paul says we must never nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, based on merit, then Christ died for no purpose.

Steven Barto, B.S. Psy., M.A. Theology

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture references contained herein are from the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Holy Bible.

1 John MacArthur, The Gospel According to God: Rediscovering the Most Remarkable Chapter in the Old Testament (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2018)16.
2 Meriam-Webster Dictionary,

[fn1] Prevenient grace is the grace of God in a person’s life that precedes conversion. The original expression (Latin, gratia praeveniens) literally means “grace that precedes.” The English expression comes from an archaic usage of the word “prevenient” meaning “preceding.”

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