Jacket - World-Hanger 2

Damaged © by Ross Cochrane using Blender 2.79 and GetPaint.net

Matthew 20:28 – EXCHANGED

 I didn’t notice it until now, but it is not what the salesperson told me it was, and it is not the size or color I asked forWhat was I thinking? This jacket I am wearing is far too small and far too dark and the lining is torn, and I want it exchanged. 

How fortunate. The same salesperson who sold it to me is still here. I show him the docket and ask him for a replacement, but I am told I am not entitled to one. 

“I beg your pardon,” I say, It is damaged, I don’t want it, it doesn’t fit me and is far too restrictive. I have no use for a small, ill-fitting, damaged jacket!” but he does not listen, even when I begin to raise my voice.

“Please don’t shout at me,” he says, making me feel bad“The sign says, (he points at the sign) NO REPLACEMENTS OR REFUNDS.”

I’m sorry,” I say, “but your sign means nothing, and you know that, by law, you must replace damaged goods. This is a major problem and I have a right to a replacement. I would not have bought this jacket if I had known it was damaged.” I can’t believe I bought it anyway. I don’t even like it. 

He smiles and asks to take a look at the jacket. I show him the torn lining and he says“It looks perfectly OK to me, and you have waited far too long.

shake my head and look him in the eye. “This jacket is obviously seriously damaged. I demand a replacement! He smiles again, sighs and relents. “Very well, take a look at the jackets and find one which is of the same value.”

I look at the other jackets only to find that all of them have increased dramatically in price, all of them are badly made, and all of them are far too small. I am starting to get annoyed and ask instead for a refund and when he says “No,” I threaten to go to Consumer Affairs. 

“Look,” says the shop owner“Since you have a docket, here’s what I will do. I will give you a repair notice and you can find anyone you choose to repair the jacket and I will pay the full price for the repair.” 

am suspicious, but I need a jacket and I leave the store feeling angry that I accepted having to wear something too small, but I find a store in the shopping center who does repairs and give them the repair notice and ask about my jacket. 

“Another one”, the shop owner says, “I’m sorry but we cannot repair your jacket. It is not worth the time or effort. It’s so badly made, it would only tear again. You have been duped and this repair notice is worthless. I am not willing to take the chance and bear the cost.” 

“I will find someone else who will repair it“. 

“You won’t find anybody else who is willing,” she says. 

I will contact Consumer Affairs,” I say. “And what did you mean when you said, ‘Another one’?

“Look around you”, she says, “Everyone has a jacket like yours.” 

I am just about to ask what on earth she is talking about when I look around at the other shoppers, only to find, to my horror, that everyone is wearing a jacket like mine. Is this a dream? It is hardly the fashion to wear damaged, ill-fitting garments. I am astounded. What is going on?   

Just then I see a man walking towards me who is NOT wearing an ill-fitting damaged jacket. His jacket fits him perfectly. It is tailored without flaws and made of the finest of fabrics and He really stands out in a crowd. I am extremely pleased for Him (well, perhaps a little jealous)

He notices me looking at Him and says, “Do you realize your jacket is damaged?” I am annoyed and a little embarrassed by this question (is it that noticeable?) but smile and say, “Yes, I am trying to find someone to repair it?” 

He says, “Your jacket is not designed to fit who you are.”

“Well, it seems to be the fashion, I say, looking around, “and it cost me a great deal.”

“The wages of sin is death,” He says. It looks like your jacket can be replaced, but not repaired. The shop assistant gives me a look as if to say, “I told you so.” 

He continues, “Here, let me take a look at your jacket. I’m a tailor. No harm in letting him look.

I can’t seem to get it off and feel foolish until He helps me. Then He takes off His own jacket and says, “Try mine.” I must admit, I would like to try on this beautifully made jacket, so I don’t refuse His invitation

Strange. He puts on my jacket as I try on His. 

“It fits you well.” He says. My jacket on Him looks grotesque. I can see all its flaws.   

“Yes, I can feel how comfortable it is.

It suits you,” He says. In fact, it was made for you. It is yours, a gift. You are a new person.

“I can’t afford such a jacket,” I protest, but when I look up He is walking away wearing my jacket and I try to say something but there are people with old jackets all over the place and I am distracted as I look at my new self in a shop windowA gift, He said…

Of course, you realize now that this is a parable.

Jesus exchanged my sin for His righteousness. He did not repair me. I do not have patches on my sinfulness. He doesn’t just stitch up my tatters. God sees me as forgiven because of what Jesus did for me on the Cross. Romans 5:1 (NLT) says, “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.”

Romans 13:12 (NLT) says, … clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. …” Galatians 3:26 (NLT) says I have “… put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. 

Matthew 20: 28 says For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom (substitute) for many.”

I have exchanged death for life because the price was paid. The dark, ill-fitting, damaged-goods jacket of my sin was exchanged for the perfectly fitting jacket of His righteousness. 2 Corinthians 5:14-21 (NLT) says,  For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering (substitute) for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

Galatians 6:15 says we can be distracted by things that don’t really matter in life. It says, What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NASB) says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

The invitation to EXCHANGE is still available.

Pastor Ross

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Love,Judgment and Grace12

Love, Justice and Grace © Image created by Ross Cochrane using Blender Cycles

Matthew 20:28 – PRISONER EXCHANGE

Five Taliban leaders are released in return for the release of Bowe Bergdahl after he was taken hostage in Afghanistan. The Taliban negotiated a ransom price in the form of a prisoners exchange for Bergdahl. It is not uncommon in theatres of war to negotiate to secure the release of prisoners. Nevertheless, Bergdahl was subsequently judged by court-martial and sentenced for the crime of desertion from his unit before being captured.

A bridge in the shape of a Cross. God’s love on one side. God’s Justice on the other. The hostages of Satan are kept in the Slave Market of Sin. God’s Justice and God’s law demands the death penalty.

God’s love releases His sinless Son as a ransom. Jesus walks across the bridge to pay the price demanded by God’s Justice. He is subsequently judged by evil men and sentenced to die on a Cross. In exchange, all prisoners have the freedom to walk across the bridge to receive His life. Not all do.

Romans 5:10 (NLT) says, “For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of His Son while we were still His enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of His Son.”

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Love, Justice and Grace. Images and Animation © by Ross Cochrane using Blender 2.79

The Justice of God is satisfied by the death of the sinless Son of Man. The Love of God is expressed by granting life to the hostages of Satan incarcerated in the Slave Market of Sin. Satan, Sin, and death are defeated as Jesus rises from the dead. Those who have walked towards God’s love are no longer condemned. Those who choose to remain behind are already condemned.

John 3:17-18 (NLT) says “God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in Him. But anyone who does not believe in Him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.” 

Matthew 20: 28 says For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

The invitation of the Exchange remains open.

Pastor Ross

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The Wall © Animation (Instagram) and images by Ross Cochrane

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ONE SIDE 

We all co-signed the legal document. We all had a part in our politiciansbusiness managers, educators, scientists and religious leaders to endorse an executive order to build the wall.  

Yes, Governor Adam and his wife Eve sealed the act, so there is a precedent for wall buildingBut we were all there when, as an act of arrogant declaration of ushering in untold wealth and prosperity, they took a bite of the forbidden fruit. It was momentous and although they were deported for their actions, they changed the world and we successfully built the wall to keep God out.   

Jesus, the Substitute Terrorist 

Some say that Jesus has built a bridge and walks among us even now infiltrating our defenses and forming sleeper cells. Jesus the terrorist; a dangerous and unwanted criminal who will corrupt the minds of our children, radicalizing them to be subservient to His LeadershipWe built the wall to prohibit Him and His followers from having an influence on us. 

We must be vigilant. Most cells are inconspicuous enough and many remain dormant. But they can be activated unaccountably by religious zeal as they pray or listen to their preachers, and all of a sudden, they are making an impact on our way of life, threatening to sabotage our educational and social norms by proselytizing any who will listen, and destroying our cultural icons.  

There is nothing new here. The wall of China, castle walls, the walls of Jericho, the walls of Jerusalem, the Berlin wall, the Iron Curtain. They are all designed to keep us insulated and keep the enemy at bay. We like to hold onto our territory, secure our boundaries. We build fences around our houses. The curtain in the temple in Jerusalem was not enough to separate people from God.  . We need the wall! 

This isn’t about drugs and guns, because these we have already legalized. This is about blocking an invading enemyYes, it is a wall against the immigration of faith-based advocates of the teachings of the Bible and against the unwanted radicalization of our children by those who follow Christ, simply that.  

It’s all to do with what we want for our community. We don’t want Jesus or His kind of influence among us, telling us to repent with His message of servanthood. 

THE OTHER SIDE 

Two different worlds divided by a vicious, impenetrable barrierIt snakes its deadly pathway through humanity. The development of these malevolent blocks of sinful enterprise has placed a death penalty upon all born behind this Wall of ShameBehind this wall, we die to any sense of what is right and reveal only the arrogance of the human heart. It is an unhealed wound which magnifies the waywardness of the human soul. It is built from the gravestones of a lost world, a slave market of the human spirit.  

I was born inside the walled slave market. We all were. All the political and educational leaders, all the respectable people, all the non-respectable people, all the moral, immoral, amoral, religious, irreligious, non-religious, the educated and uneducated, the rich and the poor, every race and every gender preference.  

Although this wall brings to mind the schemes of Donald Trump, it is far more comprehensive; with global implications Its bars and barriers are constructed of human sin (Romans 3:23) which have separated humanity from God. Its foundation is laid with white-washed tombs because the penalty of our sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). It is constructed of our false trust in human righteousness ignoring that all of us have gone our own way (Isaiah 53).  

But the wall humanity has built to keep Jesus, the refugee, out, far from enslaving God, has enslaved ourselves 

Jesus, the Substitute Refugee 

Romans 5:8 (NLT) says, But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” 

Jesus, born of a virginthe only free person who ever lived, came into the world outside the walled slave market of our sin. He built a bridge and walks among us and invites us to follow Him. God became a man and offers us eternal life. 

To purchase my freedom I needed someone outside the wall to pay the ransom price, but the ransom price was deathoffered to God to satisfy His justice and wrath against my sin.  

I am eternally grateful that Jesus paid the price and died on the Cross to purchase my freedom from the penalty of my sin. He paid the full ransom price with His own death so that I could live in freedom. was the refugee without a home and Jesus welcomed me into His Kingdom. Matthew 20: 28 (NLT) says Jesus came  to give His life as a ransom for many.” He became a substitute for me. 

Romans 5:10 (NLT) says, “For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of His Son while we were still His enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of His Son.” 

The Cross became a battering ram to open the way to God. There is a God-sized gap in the wall of every human heart. He invites those who will exercise faith to walk through itand to implore our world to   

Tear down this wall!” 

Pastor Ross 

Cross=Love. Press for instagram Animation © Image and Animation above by Ross Cochrane

Matthew 20:28 – RANSOM

The greatest expression of Christ’s amazing love is intrinsically woven into the Cross of Christ. The ransom He paid for us is like a beautiful, precious blood-red ruby sweeping its reflections across our lives and dancing its light into our hearts.

I have been ransomed with such a treasure as this. My sins separated me. The cost was the death of Jesus Christ to free me and return me to a relationship with God.

Pastor Ross

Chosen 6

Authority and Identity © Images created by Ross Cochrane

Matthew 20:25-28 – AUTHORITY AND IDENTITY

He was an arrogant, overweight tyrant, angry and loud, whose throne was a wheelchair. His bass-baritone voice rang out through the Aged Care Kingdom over which he thought he presided. A self-made millionaire, he still ran his business from his phone, barking his orders out in quick succession and with an abusive tongue.

He was dying of an aggressive cancer, and its poison had intruded into his heart and words. Although tears betrayed his deepest fears when I prayed with him, around others, his fears only served to steel his desire to exert his authority with offensive and cruel vitriol.

In Australia, at present, we have a Prime Minister, a man whose title historically exemplifies the Christian standard of service to his country. The so-called debates in Parliament show a group of people intent on wielding their authority. There appear to be no ministry officials here, only children expressing their indignation. Have we kept the term minister without the outworking of its essential function?

When James and John ask Jesus for roles of authority and power in the coming kingdom, they are not thinking of ministry. Are the other disciples indignant because of the arrogance of their request or jealous?

Jesus calls them together and says, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, (Matthew 20:25-26 NLT).

Is Jesus taking a Socialist or Communist kind of approach? To reduce all ranks to their lowest common denominator? Isn’t being an Apostle in the Church of higher rank than others in the Church? Wasn’t Timothy given authority to be a Pastor in a Church?

The emphasis is not so much on the rank but on how that authority is exercised.  Rulers have authority. This is not in dispute. Flaunting that authority or misusing it usurps its purpose because the influence of authority is designed by God to be exercised with a servant heart.

A sceptre, crown and throne make no difference to the heart of a true servant king and it is not the outward accompanying accoutrements of authority that are to be despised. It is attitudes such as indignation, pride, greed and personal status for the sake of lording it over others that are sinful.

Jesus now sits on a throne at the right hand of the Father but it in no way counters His choice to be a servant of all. In fact, His Kingship is expressed in service.

A time is coming when Christ as a conqueror smashes Satan’s hold on the world and those who wield the power of evil motives will be judged decisively. Servanthood in no way diminishes the King exercising the righteous judgment of God.

Yet God chooses to exercise Judgment by first offering Love to a lost world. Without it, we would be left destitute and without hope.

The Servant King is not a doormat, but one who truly expresses the love of God. The gentle lamb is not diminished by also being the Lion of Judah. Gentle Jesus, meek and mild is not an accurate statement of servanthood. There is much strength when the greatest expression of the heart is servant love.

It is from such a servant King, Lion and Lamb, God almighty yet Son of Man, that we find our identity. My authority comes from servanthood and loving others, which only enhances whatever status I may or may not have. Looking at life through the eyes of a servant to the Servant King changes my perspective.

Matthew 20:27-28 (NLT) says “… whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

Pastor Ross

Matthew 20:24 – WHEN NOT TO PRESS SEND

Send7

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When you know that pressing send will cause a rift in the relationship © Images and Animation by Ross Cochrane

When a colleague, with no thought of careful collaboration, left me out of a decision-making process and went ahead with a choice I would certainly not have made, I felt indignant. I felt left out. Consultation would have been preferred.

My annoyance found expression in a long email spelling out my simmering anger over the decision. This was my area of ministry! Why was I was ignored, passed over, left out entirely? I spelt out why I would not have made the decision. I was about to press the send button…

A. Carson observes:“One of the ironies of language is that a word like ‘minister,’ which in its roots refers to a helper, one who ‘ministers,’ has become a badge of honour and power in religion and politics.”

Matthew 20:24 (NLT) says, When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant.

Salome had asked for places of honour for her sons, James and John in the coming kingdom.

It seems the first shall be last and the last shall be first lesson had made no impression upon the disciples. Not for James or John and not for the other disciples. The other disciples were indignant. Were they jealous of the forthright nature of Salome, James and John, there blundering ability to express what everybody is secretly thinking?

The indignation of the “ten” displayed the same spirit if not the same motive as the request of the sons of Zebedee. No matter how justified they thought they might be, it had the capacity to cause a rift

What comes first, an argument or a relationship? Always a good question to ask. A rift in the relationships of His disciples is not what Jesus wants, especially at such a crucial time as this, just before He goes to the Cross.

And it is this interaction with the disciples that Jesus uses to tell them about what it really means to be a follower of Christ. The perspective He imparts gives voice to the heart of the importance of relationship.

When other people trigger off the worst in me, will I make a choice about how I respond? Will I be restrained by wisdom in my emotional responses to what other people say and do? Most of all, will respond to what Jesus is saying for my life? Will I hear His voice above the voices of others? 

I decided not to send the email. Better to calm down and preserve the relationship with my colleague by talking it though personally … later. 

Pastor Ross

The Holy Grail6

Quest for the Holy Grail © Image created by Ross Cochrane using Blender and Paint.net

Matthew 20:20-23 – A QUEST FOR THE TRUE HOLY GRAIL 

Simple but beautiful. Filled to the brim. Sought after through the centuries. Desired by the infamous SS and the Catholic Church alike, legends have developed about its whereabouts; is it in the caves of Montsegur, France or hidden somewhere in Oxford England or in a Chapel in Valencia Cathedral in Spain?

We all know that Indiana Jones found it in the caves of Petra and Dan Brown informs us with arrogant certainty, despite his distorted historical evidence, that it was a person, not a cup. He assures us it was not made of the wood of a Carpenter, clay from the earth, or silver and gold with embedded emeralds and precious stones, but of flesh and blood. He could be right in one respect, so let’s begin the quest for the true Holy Grail by reading from an ancient book which gives us clues …

COME, … 

Then the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, comes to Jesus with her sons. She kneels respectfully to ask a favor” (Matthew 20:20 NLT).

Mark calls her Salome. John calls her Jesus’ mother’s sister. Matthew calls her, the mother of the sons of Zebedee rather than the wife of Zebedee. It’s obvious that Zebedee hasn’t been involved in this favor-seeking exercise and that Salome has raised these sons of thunder by herself. Perhaps Zebedee has died and is no longer in the picture at all.

So James and John are full cousins of Jesus. They feel connected to Jesus by family. They are ambitious, looking for personal reward and special honor, a cup running over with power and prestige, but do they expect success without sacrifice? The Holy Grail comes with an adventure and a price.

 WITH RESPECT …

Salome bows before Jesus as a king, but her understanding is limited to an earthly kingdom and her ambition for her sons crowds out any understanding of the cup for which she asks.

The brothers are willing to let their mother approach Jesus with this request. Do they think that Jesus would favor her more? All three of them have obviously spoken about this in private before coming to Jesus.

 AND ASK … 

“What is your request?” He asks. She replies, “In Your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor next to You, one on Your right and the other on Your left (Matthew 20:21 NLT).

Perhaps they think they have earned the right of positions of authority when Jesus, as the Messiah, takes up His role as King of Israel. Surely they can drink from the Holy Grail; the cup of power?

After all, James and John (and Peter) were present at the Transfiguration of Jesus and when Jairus’ daughter was raised from the dead by Jesus. Surely that counts for something?

Adam Clarke suggests that Salome, James and John were thinking in terms of a new Sanhedrin being formed and they would be the supreme dignities in the great Sanhedrin. The prince of the Sanhedrin (Ha-Nasi) sat in the midst of two rows of senators or elders; on his right hand sat the person termed Ab (the father of the Sanhedrin); and on his left hand the Chacham, or sage. These persons transacted all business in the absence of the president. The authority of this council was at some periods very great, and extended to a multitude of matters both ecclesiastical and civil. These appear to have been the honors which James and John sought. (Adam Clarke’s Commentary.)

It is clear that Salome, James and John are interested in status rather than service, homage rather than humility, recognition rather than reaching out, power rather than God’s purposes, authority over rather than assistance to others. They wanted more to lord it over others than to love others in humble recognition of their worth to God.

 WITH THE RIGHT MOTIVES …

Jesus isn’t willing simply to grant any such request. Neither does He for us, but He gives us opportunity to verbalize what we are thinking in order to correct us and guide more surely towards His purposes so that we ask aright.

Lord, guard what I ask of You. Help me to be discerning.

James 4:3 (NLT) says, ” … you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.  And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.” 

Indiana Jones learned that penitent man kneels before God, and Salome also kneels respectfully before Jesus. The difference is that her request of power for her sons is not a request of a penitent heart.

Help me not only to submit to You respectfully in my actions but also in my motives.

You encourage me to come, even if I have it wrong, to ask for Your cup, but help me to ask aright.

I want to bring You honor in my life, but it is tinged with sinful attitudes at times. I know I love the praise of others far too much. There are times when I am way out of my depth and let You down because of my pride and selfishness.

But You invite me to find Your will for my life, things that will make a difference in Your kingdom, neither above or below what You intend for my life, to drink from the cup. Keep me engaged with Your purposes, listening for Your correction and willing to change and grow.

 AND SEEK TO UNDERSTAND …

Salome is the mouthpiece for selfish ambition, but you will notice that Jesus shifts the answer to her sons and to us.

“You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink?” “Oh yes,” they reply, “we are able!” (Matthew 20:22 NLT).

Here is the Chalice of Christ, the Holy Grail! A bitter cup of suffering, not what I immediately associate with God’s favor, especially if I crave position, power and influence.

Apparently, criminals were at times made to drink poison and assassinations could be made by spiking wine with poison, but this cup of suffering was spiked with the poison of my sin and just as deadly.

This was not a cup of sweet wine offered to Jesus to celebrate His status. But a bitter cup of deep suffering to demonstrate His Servanthood

James and John could not endure such a poisonous potion of suffering due to their arrogance and pride, and it was these very sins, among others, that soured the very cup from which Jesus tasted. It was for their sins and my sins that He would die.

Jesus encourages me not be too quick in saying I am able when I am clearly NOT. He doesn’t simply say “No!” But as He questions me through His Word, He gives me the opportunity to respond, no matter how arrogantly to Him, and then He brings correction and further understanding so that I can adjust the tenor of my prayers according to His purposes.

 AS YOU DRINK …

Jesus tells them, “You will indeed drink from My bitter cup. But I have no right to say who will sit on My right or My left. My Father has prepared those places for the ones He has chosen (Matthew 20:23 NLT).

Jesus is patient, direct. James and John would indeed drink the bitter wine from this Holy Grail. What did He mean? And does He expect me to suffer also?

James will die by the sword. (Acts 12:2). Was the cup for him the cup of martyrdom? Tradition says John was tortured, then banished to the Island of Patmos. Was that his bitter cup? Can I expect a gruesome end on this quest for the Holy Grail?

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Cup of Christ or Cup of Judgment © Images and Animation by Ross Cochrane

 FROM THE CUP OF CHRIST, …

According to Dake, 12 cups are given figurative meaning in the Bible, but I think they can be reduced to perhaps 4. The key cups are of judgment, salvation, suffering, and communion. 

  1. THE CUP OF JUDGMENT ON THE WICKED

Psalm 75:8 (NLT) says, For the Lord holds a cup in His hand that is full of foaming wine mixed with spices. HE POURS OUT THE WINE IN JUDGMENT, AND ALL THE WICKED MUST DRINK IT, draining it to the dregs.” 

The Cup of Judgment is eternal death. Romans 6:23 (NLT2) says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

2. THE CUP OF SUFFERING ON THE CROSS

Jesus speaks in Matthew 20:22 (NLT) of the bitter CUP OF SUFFERING I am about to drink?” 

It is as if Jesus takes the Cup of Judgment of the wicked from me and gives to me the cup of Eternal Life (Salvation). He drinks my cup of death and I drink His cup of life. 

3. THE CUP OF SALVATION FOR THOSE WHO BELIEVE

David says in Psalm 116:13 (NLT), I will lift up the CUP OF SALVATION and praise the Lord’s name for saving me.” 

4. THE CUP OF THE PASSOVER CONFIRMING THE COVENANT 

The Passover cup confirms that I am forgiven. In Matthew 26:27-28 (NLT) Jesus took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is My blood, which CONFIRMS THE COVENANT between God and His people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many.”

How can I or anyone possibly DRINK THE BITTER CUP OF CHRIST? How can anyone really share in the suffering of Christ? 

When Jesus concedes that James and John will suffer also, is He is talking about identifying with His death, just as followers of Christ do each time they celebrate Communion?

Dan Brown almost got it right. The Holy Grail does involve a person; Jesus Christ Himself. The cup represents His death for me. My quest is reached …

 BY DYING TO SELFISH DESIRES, …

Romans 6:6 (NLT) speaks about sharing in the suffering of Christ. “We know that our old sinful selves were CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.”

Galatians 2:20 (NLT) says MY OLD SELF HAS BEEN CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Am I willing to die to my pride daily and give my life in serving Jesus, no matter what the cost? Help me to do so, Lord.

In Luke 14:25-34 (NLT), Jesus again speaks of me sharing in His suffering. He says, ... if you do not CARRY YOUR OWN CROSS and follow Me, you cannot be My disciple.

In Luke 9:23-26 Jesus said, If any of you wants to be My follower, you must give up your own way, TAKE UP YOUR CROSS DAILY, and follow Me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake, you will save it. 

… AND IDENTIFYING WITH CHRIST, …

Paul, writing to the Philippians in Philippians 3:8 (NLT), spoke of his own experience, saying Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and BECOME ONE WITH HIM.” 

Jesus used James’ and John’s response as an opportunity to teach them what it means to be on a quest for the Holy Grail: to be a follower of Christ. Servanthood comes before Status. Only then could they understand that sitting in places of power with Christ must be seen from a totally different perspective.

Ephesians 1:20 (NLT) says

I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe Him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and SEATED HIM IN THE PLACE OF HONOUR AT GOD’S RIGHT HAND IN THE HEAVENLY REALMS.”

 THEN YOU WILL BE BLESSED BEYOND MEASURE …

Drinking from the Bitter Cup of the Holy Grail (the cup of Christ) is closely associated with being seated in places of honor with Christ. In the light of all that Christ has done for me, Ephesians 2:4-8 (NLT) makes more sense. It says,

But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For He raised us from the dead along with Christ and SEATED US WITH HIM in the heavenly realms because we are UNITED with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of His grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all He has done for us who are UNITED with Christ Jesus. God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.”

 AS YOU SERVE THE SERVANT KING.

When Jesus spoke of sharing the cup of His suffering, I think He was referring not only to James being beheaded (Acts 12:2) and John being exiled to Patmos (Revelation 1:9) but he was inviting them and me to share in what led Him to the Cross; His willingness to do whatever it took to see others saved from the power of sin and death.

My quest for the Holy Grail is to be crucified with Christ or united with Christ which means to have His mission no matter what the cost. To serve in its fullest measure. If I identify myself with Christ I will identify with Him in His death and resurrection and sit with Him, united in His Purposes.

Simple but beautiful. Filled to the brim. Who is willing to drink?

John 12:26 (NLT2) says, Anyone who wants to be My disciple must follow Me, because My servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves Me.” 

It is not so much that I have the honor of sitting with You, but that You have humbled Yourself to sit with me. It is not about a quest to find the Holy Grailbut about drinking from the cup of Eternal Life already offered. It’s not about me asking You for favors but about me choosing to serve You. That blows my mind. I am servant to the Servant King.

Pastor Ross

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The Sting of Death © by Ross Cochrane

Matthew 20:19 – JESUS, WHAT WAS THE POINT OF RISING AGAIN? 

Matthew 20:19 (NLT) says, “Then they will hand Him (Jesus) over to the Romans to be mocked, flogged with a whip, and crucified. But on the third day He will be raised from the dead.” 

1 Peter 3:18 (NLT2) says, Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but He died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but He was raised to life in the Spirit.”  

I am left with important questions which needs to be answered, because the Bible says Jesus died and rose again for my sake. 

Jesus, why did You rise again from the dead? What did it achieve? What was the point? How is Your resurrection related to me? 

For me, those questions have been answered clearly and consistently throughout the BibleJesus has already responded to me through His Word. He says… 

1. SO YOU CAN BECOME A CHILD OF GOD (NEW BIRTH) 

1 Peter 1:3 (NLT) says, All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by His great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, 

Hebrews 2:9-10 (NLT2) says Yes, by God’s grace, Jesus tasted death for everyone. God, for whom and through whom everything was made, chose to bring many children into glory. And it was only right that He should make Jesus, through His suffering, a perfect leader, fit to bring them into their salvation. 

John 1:12 (NLT) says, But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God.” 

In John 3:3 (NLT) Jesus spoke to Nicodemus and said, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” 

“What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. …” 

Jesus replied… “Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’”  

2. SO YOU CAN BELIEVE WHAT THE SCRIPTURES SAY ABOUT ME 

In John 2:19-22 (NLT2) Jesus says, “All right, destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” “What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?” But when Jesus said “this temple,” He meant His own body. After He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered He had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said.”  

3. TO GIVE YOU VICTORY OVER THE POWER OF SIN AND DEATH  

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O death, where is your sting © by Ross Cochrane (press on image to view animation)

The sting of death is sin. It is like the sting of a scorpion that lasts for eternity, but Jesus conquered death and sin through His resurrection.   

Romans 3:23 (NLT2) says, For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”  

Romans 6:23 (NLT2) says “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”  

1 Corinthians 15:1-58 (NLT2) says, Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and He was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said … “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” For sin is the sting that results in death, … But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  

Jesus didn’t deserve to die because He never sinned. He died for us to pay the penalty for our sin. 

2 Corinthians 5:21 (NLT2) says “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”  

And through these scriptures, He says to me that He was raised from the dead… 

4. SO THAT YOU CAN LIVE ETERNALLY WITH ME 

There is no condemnation for those who have trusted in Christ. 

In John 11:25-26 (NLT2) Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in Me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in Me and believes in Me will never ever die. …”  

Romans 5:10 (NLT) says, For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of His Son while we were still His enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of His Son.” 

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (NLT) says, … Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive His new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.” 

I can only respond to what Jesus did for me by praying, Lord, thankyou for dying for meThankyou for rising again and conquering sin and death. Help me to share the reasons for Your death and resurrection to others. 

I love You, Lord, because You first loved me. 

Pastor Ross 

 

Matthew 20:17-19 – JESUS, WHAT WAS THE POINT OF DYING FOR ME? 

Matthew 20:17-19 (NLT) says As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, He took the twelve disciples aside privately and told them what was going to happen to Him. “Listen,” He said, “we’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence Him to die. Then they will hand Him over to the Romans to be mocked, flogged with a whip, and crucified. … 

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Reflecting on the Crucifixion – © Photo by Ross Cochrane

Jesus knew that He would be betrayed by friends, Romans and countrymen. Condemned unjustly, He would die a cruel death.   

Isaiah 53:3-12 (NLT) gives an incredible prophecy. It mirrors the words Jesus shared with His disciples about His death. It says, He was despised and rejected – a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on Him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. … He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. He was pierced … crushed … beaten … whipped … He exposed Himself to death … He was buried like a criminal; He was put in a rich man’s grave. 

I am left with important questions which need to be answered because Isaiah also says that He died for me. 

Jesus, why did You choose to die for me? What did it achieve? What was the point? 

For me, those questions have been answered clearly and consistently throughout the BibleJesus has already responded to me through His Word. He says… 

  1. BECAUSE LOVED YOU AND WANT YOU TO SHARE MY LOVE  

 

Key of Life

Cross = Love. Key of Life – © Image Created by Ross Cochrane

Ephesians 5:2 (NLT2) says, He loved us and offered Himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. 

Romans 5:8 (NLT) says, “God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” 

2. I AM THE ONLY ONE WHO COULD SAVE YOU 

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One Way © by Ross Cochrane

In John 14:6 (NLT) Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.” 

Hebrews 2:10 (NLT) says, “… And it was only right that He should make Jesus, through His suffering, a perfect leader, fit to bring them into their salvation.”  

Luke 19:10 (NLT) says, “For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” 

1 Peter 1:18-19 (NLT) says, For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.” 

Romans 10:9-10 (NLT) says, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” 

1 Corinthians 1:18 says, “The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.” 

3. TO BREAK THE POWER OF THE DEVIL, SIN AND DEATH  

Wrecking Ball 1

Breaking down the walls © by Ross Cochrane

Hebrews 2:14 (NLT2) … For only as a human being could He die, and only by dying could He break the power of the devil, who had the power of death …”  

Romans 8: 1-2 says, So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. 

4. TO SET US FREE FROM THE FEAR OF DYING 

 

Hereafter

Hereafter © by Ross Cochrane

 Hebrews 2:15 (NLT) says, “… Only in this way could He set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.  

5. TO FORGIVE YOU AND TAKE AWAY YOUR SINS AND THE PENALTY OF YOUR SIN

 

Do we live in a Just World?

JUSTICE AND GRACE © by Ross Cochrane

Hebrews 2:17 (NLT) continues, “Then He could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people.…”  

Romans 3:23-24 (NLT) says, For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in His grace, freely makes us right in His sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins.” 

Isaiah 53:3-5 (NLT) says, He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses He carried; it was our sorrows that weighed Him down. And we thought His troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for His own sins! But He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. …  

All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on Him the sins of us all …  

1 Peter 2:24 (NLT) says, He personally carried our sins in His body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By His wounds you are healed.” 

Ephesians 1:7 (NLT) says, He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins.” 

6. TO HELP YOU IN TIMES OF SUFFERING AND TESTING  

What happens when my world falls apart

What Happens When my World falls apart? © Ross Cochrane

Hebrews 2:18 (NLT)says, “…Since He Himself has gone through suffering and testing, He is able to help us when we are being tested.”  

7. TO UNITE YOU AND BRING YOU INTO RELATIONSHIP WITH ME 

Cross = Love. Jesus Loves Us

Cross = Love. Jesus Loves Us and Wants a Relationship with Us. © by Ross Cochrane

Ephesians 2:13-18 (NLT2) says, But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to Him through the blood of Christ. For Christ Himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in His own body on the cross, He broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in Himself one new people from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of His death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. He brought this Good News of peace to you ..Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.” 

Isaiah 53:11-12 (NLT) says, “… And because of His experience, My righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for He will bear all their sins. I will give Him the honours of a victorious soldier, because He exposed Himself to death.  

He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.” 

8. TO GIVE YOU THE GIFT OF ETERNAL LIFE 

Jesus Loves Me!

Golden Thread on the Gift of Eternal Life © by Ross Cochrane

John 17:1-3 (NLT2) says,  He (God the Father) gives eternal life to each one You have given Him (God the Son)And this is the way to have eternal life—to know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the One You sent to earth …”  

9. TO COMPLETE THE PURPOSES GOD GAVE ME TO DO 

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Completing the Work of the Cross © Image by Ross Cochrane

John 17:4-5 (NLT) says, “… (Jesus) brought glory to You (God the Father) here on earth by completing the work You gave Me to do. Now, Father, bring Me into the glory We shared before the world began.  

10. TO MODEL THE PRINCIPLES OF SERVANTHOOD 

Servant Leadership

Servant Leadership © by Ross Cochrane

Philippians 2:5-8 (NLT2) says, You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” 

Pastor Ross 

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Shards of Pain © by Ross Cochrane using GetPaint.net

Matthew 20:18-19 – FACING THE FUTURE

The nausea became too much and I found myself looking into a bowl for several times that day. I thought it must be some gastric bug, but it wasn’t. I admit that my prayerlife was focused on myself that day. “Lord, please heal my body! 

The pain started last Saturday, slowly at first and then it cut deep into my lower stomach in an arc with surging intense bursts (and I had been looking forward to a restful weekend).  

No position in bed on Saturday night would give enough opportunity for sleep and by Sunday I was feeling miserable. No Church, even though my son was preaching. I decided to email my boss and let her know I would not be coming in on Monday. 

By Monday with no respite from the pain I was wondering what was going on; a hernia perhaps, a blockage of some sort and my mind even entertained bowel cancer (as you do)?  

My wife drove me to my doctor, Dr. James. After some painful prodding and questioning, he said, I suppose you expected me to give you a script for chemist shop drugs that will give you relief while I spend another day running some tests. But instead, I am sending you to the emergency department at the Seventh Day Adventist hospital with a suspected Appendicitis attack. They will do the tests much more quickly. I am sure it is to do with your appendix.” My day had changed yet again. We went straight to the hospital.  

From the moment I entered triage, I was treated with such respect and care, starting with Tony, the triage nurse and so many others. They encouraged me to ask my questions. From the ward’s person, to the trainee doctor, Kevin, to nursing staff and the surgeon, Dr. Barto, everyone was so understanding and explained each step. Through all this, my wife, Julie, was there to support me.  

The tests were fairly clear. “You will have the operation to take out your offending appendix at around 7 pm”, said the surgeon, Dr. Barto.  

 

The emotional and mental pain begins for Jesus as He turns towards Jerusalem, knowing exactly what He will go through. He gathers His disciples. He describes what will happen. Unlike me, no care and respect is given. He will be betrayed, condemned, mocked, flogged and crucified with no-one to support Him.  

What anguish must have accompanied this disclosure to His closest friends, but even they seem to show Him no understanding. Instead, they vie for authority in the coming Kingdom with no inkling of comprehension of the concept of servanthood.  

 

There was a space at 4 pm and I was wheeled through the corridors to the operating theatre, and for me, the next thing I remember is waking up in the post-op area and wheeled back to a beautiful room on the 9th floor where I felt euphoric from the anaesthetic and the comforting presence of God and my wife.

 

The offending appendix, I discovered, had been gangrenous. I am grateful to God that when I was helpless, there were those who treated me with care and respect and excellence. I woke the next day to the soft rays of a sunrise through my window.  

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I received care and healing and respect. Jesus received contempt and abuse and disdain. I cannot imagine the torment of inflicted pain that would crush my spirit and body to the point of death. He died, surrounded by the severity of hardened soldiers instead of trusted friends to support Him. They spoke of places of authority at His right and left hand but in the end, they ran away.  

He told them He would rise on the 3rd day. How simple that sounds but in rising again He would wrench the very hatred from a world of sinful opposition and give each mocking face an opportunity to find their way to God through Him. He gave respect where there was none, love where there was only derisive laughter.  

He woke, not like me, from a drug-induced euphoria on a hospital bed, but from the dungeons of death and a stone slab, with a startling rush of breath into His lungs, victory clasped like a scepter in His hand.  

The gangrenous sin seeping its poison in the world with its blackened tendrils of death was cut away and thrown into the void, the offending stench replaced with a sweet-smelling incense to those who put their trust in Christ. 

A gangrenous appendix operation fades into insignificance as I take hold of You, my risen Saviour and grasp just a glimpse of what it must have meant for You to share this disclosure to Your disciples. All I can do is be committed to You who knows the path ahead, even through the valley of death, and enjoy the life you have gifted.  

Pastor Ross