Posts Tagged ‘Cross’

THE CHOCOLATE EASTER STORY

Happy easter everyone!

I was talking to my friend Bob (84 years old) the other day and he said that Easter reminded him of chocolate so that got me thinking about chocolate and Easter eggs.

Chocolate Easter eggs. Why?

The earliest Cadbury chocolate eggs were made of ‘dark’ chocolate with a plain smooth surface and were filled with sugared almonds. The earliest ‘decorated eggs’ were plain shells enhanced by chocolate piping and marzipan flowers. Like this…

So I thought we could go on a bit of an EGG HUNT to discover the meaning of Easter for us, by telling the EASTER STORY WITH CHOCOLATE AND EASTER EGGS.

Hidden in the scriptures for all to discover is the first egg.

 

 

 

 

  1. THE EGG OF HEAVEN

Egg of Heaven

Here is a chocolate egg called “HEAVEN”. It’s described as a Creamy swiss milk chocolate coating with a gorgeously soft dark hazelnut truffle center. Someone said “if there’s no chocolate in heaven then I’m not going”

But over 2000 years ago Jesus brought a message of hope and love to the world at easter. He talked about the Kingdom of Heaven.

So the first egg on our egg hunt is heaven. Since we are on an egg hunt, let me ask you a question. Are you “as sure as eggs” that you are going to be with God in heaven?

If God were to ask you, “why should I let you into my heaven?” What would you say?

If you are not as sure as eggs what the answer is to that question, then the good news of Easter is worth finding. And this Easter egg hunt will be worthwhile.

Did you know that the bible tells you that you can be as sure as eggs that you will go to be with God in heaven?

1 John 5:13 in the bible says “these things I have written to you . . . That you may know that you have eternal life . . .” 

The egg has always been a symbol of the gift of new life,

The bible says, “. . . The gift of God is eternal life…” (Romans 6:23).

If I gave you a gift of an Easter egg today I wouldn’t expect you to pay for it or try to earn it. It’s free, and heaven is also a gift, and like any other genuine gift, it is not earned or deserved.

You probably thought that getting to heaven involved you living a good life and doing good deeds. 

Actually, no amount of personal effort, good works, or religious deeds can earn a place in heaven for you.

Ephesians 2:8,9 in the bible makes it very clear. It says “God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”

Since heaven is a gift, what stops us from getting into heaven?

To find some clues for the answer, you will need to find the next Easter egg on this Easter egg hunt.

 

A true Easter hunt has to include talking about

  1. THE BAD EGGS

Bad Egg.jpg

Bad Egg © Ross Cochrane

The TRUE EASTER STORY has some BAD EGGS.

So who are these bad eggs?

 

 

 

 

JUDAS

Judas the Bad Egg.jpg

Judas was a Bad Egg. He made a deal with the Jewish leaders. He wanted to have a Nest Egg for his retirement. They gave him 30 pieces of silver to betray Jesus and he led a crowd armed with swords and carrying torches. The mob included soldiers to arrest Jesus. Judas arranged a signal for them and he betrayed Jesus with a kiss, the traditional greeting of the day.

We think of Judas now as the Rotten Egg of the dozen disciples, disliked now by everyone because of his sin, his betrayal of Jesus and his bad Egg-sample.

 

 

 

 

 

PETER

Peter.jpg

But even Peter was a sinner. Peter claimed he would follow Jesus to his death, but when people started asking if he knew the man who was arrested, he must have had scrambled eggs for brains because he denied he knew Christ three times before the rooster crowed twice.

 

PONTIUS PILATE

Pontius Pilate

The Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate tried to walk on eggshells and please the people but he couldn’t wash his hands of the sin of crucifying Jesus.

 

THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS AND THE MOB

Sinful Mob

The sinful mob, egged on by the religious leaders ensured that Jesus was handed over to be crucified. They all had hearts like hard boiled eggs.

 

US

Us

But the bible says it was not only Judas and Peter and Pilate and the Jewish leaders and the mob who were sinners.

The Bible says we are ALL SINNERS. Romans 3:23 in the Bible says “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” We are all Bad Eggs when it comes to our sin.

Sin can include things like betrayal, and lying or evil thoughts, but mostly it means not being willing to obey God’s purposes for our lives.

None of us are Good eggs, no not one. None of us can get to heaven by ourselves because of our sin. We cannot save ourselves. None of us are perfect enough for heaven. Our sin is egg-sposed and the question is – is there any egg-scape.

The good news is that the whole point of Easter is hope. In spite of our sin, the next egg on our egg hunt tells us a little bit more about the real hope of the Easter Story.

 

  1. OUR EGG-STRAORDINARY GOD

God.jpg

 

GOD IS LOVE

God is merciful, and therefore doesn’t want to punish us for our sin.

This is because  “ . . . God is love (1 John 4:8). And He says, “ . . . I have loved you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).

 

 

 

GOD IS JUST

But the same bible which tells us that God loves us, also tells us that God is just and therefore must punish sin. He says in Exodus 34:7 (NLT) “but I do not excuse the guilty.”   

And Ezekiel 18:4 (NLT) “for all people are Mine to judge—… and this is My rule: the person who sins is the one who will die.”  

God loves us but doesn’t love our sin and must judge us.

So, is there any egg-scape?

The problem of our sin is “a hard egg to crack,” something we can’t solve, or deal with.

But our eggs-tremity is God’s opportunity

God solved this problem for us by the next egg in our egg hunt. The most important egg of all, that tells us the egg-ceptional message of Easter. 

So where is our next Egg? Or more accurately WHO is the next egg?

 

  1. JESUS – THE ONLY TRULY GOOD EGG

Jesus

Who is He? The Bible tells us clearly that He is the infinite GOD-MAN.

“In the beginning was the Word (Jesus). . . and the Word (Jesus) was God. And the Word (Jesus) was made flesh, and dwelt among us . . .” (John 1:1,14).

Jesus refused to walk on eggshells with people. He told it like it was. When He came to the temple in Jerusalem and found it had become a marketplace, He chased away the money changers and overturned their tables.

Jesus Christ came to earth and lived a sinless life. He was the only really Good Egg, but while He was on earth, What did He do?

 

HOT CROSS BUN = DEATH OF JESUS

The Hot Cross Bun at Easter reminds us that Jesus died on the Cross to pay the penalty for our sins.

He was crucified between two thieves. The Jewish rulers and the Roman soldiers mocked Him.

Jesus died and was buried in a borrowed tomb.  

That’s what we remember on GOOD FRIDAY.

 

EASTER EGG = RESURRECTION

But the Easter egg for Christians is a symbol of the tomb and when we crack open the egg like this one, it represents the empty tomb of Jesus.

Jesus rose from the dead. Early on Sunday, the women went to the tomb and found the stone rolled away and the tomb was empty. Angels told them that He had risen from the dead. Mary saw Him face to face and thought he was the gardener.

They ran and told the disciples. Later, Thomas, who was a bit of an egghead, said he wouldn’t believe unless he had scientific evidence. But he ended up with egg on his face when Jesus appeared to him and asked him to touch the wounds in His hands and side.

What’s all this got to do with the price of eggs?

Easter eggs are a symbol of hope and new life. Today billions of people all over the world believe that by dying and coming back to life Jesus gave people the chance to know God in a personal way.

What does Easter mean for our lives? 

Jesus Christ bore our sin in His body on the cross and now He offers you eternal life (Heaven) as a free gift.

There’s only one way to receive this gift.

And this gift is received by Faith.

 

5. FAITH – PUTTING ALL YOUR EGGS IN ONE BASKET

Faith

Easter tells us about the only time when it is absolutely safe to “to put all your eggs in one basket”, and that’s when we trust, rely on and cling to one person, Jesus, for our eternal security.

Saving faith is putting all your eggs in the one basket. Trusting in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life. It means resting on what he has done rather than in what you or I have done to get us into Heaven.

Acts 16:31 says “. . . Believe (trust) on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved . . .”

The question that God is asking you now at this Easter Service is would you like to receive the gift of eternal life?

THE COMMITMENT EGG

So here’s what we are going to do.

If you would like to put your faith in Christ alone this Easter, you can go to God in prayer right now. You can receive His gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ right now.

“For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, … For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:10,13).

If you want to receive the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ, then I encourage you to pray this beautiful Easter prayer right now. In fact, why don’t you all repeat these words after me?

“Lord Jesus, thank You for Your gift of eternal life. I know I’m a sinner, and do not deserve eternal life. But You loved me so much, that You died and rose from the grave, to purchase a place in Heaven for me. I now trust in You alone, for eternal life, and I repent of my sin. Please take control of my life, as Lord of my life. Thank you so much!”

If this prayer is the sincere desire of your heart, look at what Jesus promises to those who believe in HimI tell you the truth, anyone who believes in Me HAS ETERNAL LIFE. (John 6:47).

THE FAMILY SIZE EGG

“But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on His name”(John 1:12).

EASTER IS YOUR SPIRITUAL BIRTHDAY—a day you will always want to remember! A day when new life was hatched in you. The Bible speaks of those who receive eternal life in these words:

They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. (John 1:13).

The Good News of Easter is that GOD SOLVED THE PROBLEM OF OUR SIN. 

This is EGG-CELLENT, EGG-CITING AND EGG-STAORDINARY news! It is EGGSTRA-SPECIAL for us! Easter is not just another EGG-CUSE for CHOCOLATE!

Easter is more than a beautiful story, it’s the promise of life and eternal glory

Easter is the only time when it’s perfectly safe to PUT ALL YOUR EGGS IN ONE BASKET by Trusting in Jesus alone for our eternal salvation.

So GET CRACKING. Have a SPEGG-TACULAR, EGG-CEPTIONAL and Happy Easter.

HE IS RISEN! 

Pastor Ross

 Chess King.jpg

Rebels Without a Cause – © Photo manipulation by Ross Cochrane (Morguefile.org, Blender.com and GetPaint.net)

Psalm 2:1-4 – REBELS WITHOUT A CAUSE – an exercise in meaninglessness

“Why are the nations so angry? Why do they waste their time with futile plans? The kings of the earth prepare for battle; the rulers plot together against the Lord and against His anointed one. “Let us break their chains,” they cry, “and free ourselves from slavery to God.” But the one who rules in heaven laughs. The Lord scoffs at them” (Psalm 2:1-4).

SCOFFS?

Strange to think of God as scoffing. Not a word we use much because it means “to speak to someone or about something in a scornfully derisive or mocking way”.

So this verse says that God is mocking them, ridiculing them, sneering at them, being scornful about them, treating them contemptuously, jeering at them, making fun of them, dismissing them. These are hardly expressions we imagine being used or associated with God toward us, even if we are trying to rebel against Him.

It seems that such an expression of scornful derision, though rarely used of God, is born out of the absolutely ludicrous nature of the opposition of rebellious people against His purposes. Their sentiments are so utterly unwarranted and so frantically senseless as to be ridiculous, meaningless. God laughs at such a revolt against Him (see also Psalm 37:8-13). Perhaps that’s the closest term that can be used for us to understand how He responds.

BOUNDARIES

James Dean embodied a teenage “rebel without a cause”; frustrated, isolated and desperate to prove himself, disillusioned with life and a loner. On screen and off he considered life was an experiment, and after his fatal car crash, even the homosexual community claimed him as a “poster boy”.

But discovering your identity does not have to be violent and reckless. It can be an exciting journey of discovery where boundaries are recognized rather than violated.

I never want my grandkids to assume that my beliefs and values and expectations must automatically be accepted, but I do want them exposed to the values and principles of the Bible. I don’t want them to miss exploring the frontiers of all God intends for their lives, and I am not foolish enough to tell them that there are not going to be consequences for the choices they make in life. When we choose to cross borders that God does not intend for us to cross, we enter into “crash and burn” territory.

Life always has it’s God directed boundaries, and there is freedom within those boundaries to make all the choices that lead to a complete life and rich blessing.

Psalm 1 is a case study of those who delight in what God wants for our lives. Psalm 2 is a prophecy about those who are rebels without a cause and defy what God wants for our lives. Psalm 1 is about the person who has a joyful connection with God and His purposes. Psalm 2 is about the rebellious person who wants to break any connection with God’s authority over them and live life recklessly apart from Him. Psalm 1 is about choosing to be free by living within the boundaries God provides. Psalm 2 is about choices which lead to the impoverishment and imprisonment of the soul, to loner status, disillusionment and estrangement from God.

MEANINGLESSNESS

Rebels without a cause once crucified Jesus and expected that somehow God would be thwarted by their schemes. Even that didn’t work. At the Cross, God judged our sin and invites us to trust in Christ. The alternative is ludicrous! Why would anyone choose to be estranged from God’s grace? It’s stupid! It proves nothing, accomplishes nothing; it is totally and utterly futile. Meaningless.

If God is laughing at our rebellion, why aren’t we weeping? Tears would be more appropriate, but it seems that it is only Jesus who is weeping at such sinful rejection of God’s love as He grieved over Jerusalem so long ago (Matthew 23:34ff).

JUDGMENT

We don’t like to admit our sinfulness or talk about God laughing at our foolishness or bringing judgment. We say, “God is a God of love” so how could He judge me. But the Bible speaks of the justice of God as clearly as it does about His love. The two are not incompatible.

God is the only one truly able to handle the emotion of anger with a level response and though He is patient, this passage tells us that eventually, judgment will come. This is not the vicious, callous and cruel and meaningless violence of terrorists in London against innocent people, but a completely holy, just and balanced response that holds us to account for our sin and rebellion against Him.

EASTER

At the Cross, His anger at sin covered the world in darkness and God scoffed at humanity for the foolishness of their rejection and for thinking that they could silence His love.

Our rebellion is unfounded. He laughs at our foolishness. His absolute authority is completely intact despite our feeble challenges. He is not threatened or disturbed by our stupid plans or religious fallacies. Our missiles only harm us, not Him. He is still in control.

The tomb is empty. Thinking they could kill Jesus was futile. He brought justice to our sins and still invites us into relationship with Him. Nothing can be so meaningless as trying to silence the love of God.

Pastor Ross

Meaningless

Easter and A Soldier's Cross. Photo by Ross Cochrane

Easter and A Soldier’s Cross. Photo by Ross Cochrane

Easter And The Soldier’s Cross

by Ross Cochrane

I found it framed, the old painted image.

It was hidden, lost among a host

of well-read books on benches, forsaken and tossed,

Snubbed, Where dust paid tribute to it’s visage.

Antiquated icon, our heritage

Painted here with tears, and smeared with cost,

One who bears sin and cares upon a cross

Shares nail-scared hands, love’s eternal message.

 

This soldiers name on canvas gives a clue

Of one who knew that death has lost it’s sting,

And though he died, perhaps he always knew,

There where the cruel bullets crack and sing,

His canvas of the cross would speak anew

Of life and peace that faith in Christ can bring.

EASTER AND THE ANZAC ON THE WALL 

Easter and Gallipoli

Easter and Gallipoli

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jim Brown wrote a wonderful poem called “The Anzac on the Wall” (http://iwvpa.net/brownj/the_anzac_s.php) and inspired me to write these verses relating Anzac Day to the Easter Story. 

I bought another picture in the Antique shop that day

Behind the books and chairs, with a mirror in the way

A painting of the Christ upon the cross, and on the back

It said that it was painted by a man whose name was Jack

Do you know this name? I asked. The old man answered “No…

Just more unwanted junk from a sale so long ago.”

 

On the frame was written “To Mum with love”, and more,

It said it was a gift to her before he went to war.

Jack Matthew Thomas Kelly who suffered such great loss

Had painted her this picture of Christ upon the Cross

 

Perhaps he knew that he would fall, that day at Galipoli,

And wanted to remind his mum Christ died to set us free

On Anzac day Jack fought a fight that he could never win

But Easter tells the Victory of Jesus over sin

 

On Anzac day the Last Post plays a song “Lest we forget”

At Easter we Remember Jesus dying for our debt

On Anzac day Jack died so our country could be free

At Easter Jesus died to save us all eternally

 

Anzac day reminds us death is certain, life is brief

On Easter Sunday Christ conquered death and now instead of grief

Jack Kelly’s mum would know of life and peace with God through grace.

When we place our faith in Christ our world becomes a better place.

 

A photo and the painting Jack’s mum had on the wall

Reminds us of the sacrifice when Christ died for us all

Where Christ cried “It is finished” and a curtain tore asunder

Where hammered nails accompanied the rolling waves of thunder

Where cruel blows crack like 303’s and ricochet again

Where on this hill the gusts of wind sound just like dying men

 

While on that beach so far from home – so many lives were lost,

Jack’s photo hung upon the wall, with his painting of the Cross.

When some would pass and ponder at the words upon the frame

She’d point towards her photograph of Jack and then explain

He knew the pain of sacrifice – her Anzac on the Wall

But also knew that Peace with God is the greatest gift of all.

JUSTICE AND GRACE

JUSTICE AND GRACE

“Matthew and his friends were sliding down a Mammoth Mountain ski run on a foam pad at 3am, when he crashed into a lift tower and died. His makeshift sledge of yellow foam had been stolen from the legs of a lift tower on Stump Alley. The cushion is meant to protect skiers who hit the tower, and the tower Matthew ran into was the one from which he had created his sledge.” (The “Darwin Awards” 1998). In Genesis 27 each family member takes their own infamous ski run which causes untold damage to themselves.

There is a rhyme and rhythm to poetic justice. Job 4:8 (NLT) says “My experience shows that those who plant trouble and cultivate evil will harvest the same.” We reap what we sow. Deception’s voice has an echo. The dissonant chords of sin are often resolved by Poetic Justice. In Genesis 27, amazingly, the tangled web of deceptive words and actions serves to highlight God’s Prophetic Grace.

ISAAC targeted Jacob. The operation sought to take territory rightly belonging to Jacob and put it in control of Esau. His efforts to bypass God’s purposes brought about great damage in his own life, a form of Poetic Justice. He lost the respect of both his sons (Genesis 28:1-5). He lost the trust of his wife. His desire to bless Esau instead of Jacob led to Esau being hurt deeply by his unfulfilled promise.

REBEKAH targeted Isaac and Esau. Her covert operation was enacted with military precision but caused untold collateral damage to herself. She suffered the loss of her favourite son and the trust of her other son (Genesis 27:43-45). Intelligence reports alerted Rebekah on Esau’s intentions to kill Jacob. Her deception had put her boy in harm’s way, and she was forced to make contingency plans on the run. Jacob was now trapped behind enemy lines, and had to be evacuated (Genesis 27:46 – Genesis 28:1-5). She paid the price for all her deceptive tactics in Poetic Justice – she never saw him again. She died before he returned. No doubt she spent a lot of time in a foxhole seeking to avoid the bullets flying around her from her husband Isaac and son Esau who no doubt had lost all confidence and trust in her as an ally.

ESAU targeted Jacob. His covert plans with his father tried to change God’s purposes and it left him in conflict with his brother and severely wounded by his father and mother. The unintended rejection by his father wounded Esau (Genesis 28:6-9) and left him bitter and insecure. Instead of a blessing he received a curse. Esau’s only option was to live the rest of his life in survival mode amidst constant conflict as a mercenary in many unstable military situations. He would be captured (Genesis 27:39-40) and subjected to hardship but eventually escape.

JACOB targeted his father Isaac and brother Jacob. He impersonated his brother to gain his objective (Genesis 27:6-29) but this led to devastating damage to himself. He obtained only the hate of his brother, Esau. (Genesis 27:41). In this climate of instability Jacob would have lived in constant fear of being murdered by his own brother.

Fearing civil war in the family Isaac makes the decision to extract Jacob from danger, and move him to a more friendly environment with his uncle (Genesis 27:42 – Genesis 28:1-5). He suffered the separation from his family, living as a fugitive (Genesis 27:42). He never saw his mother again. Although his uncle gave him refuge Jacob was tricked into serving him for about twenty years. The damage was ongoing (Genesis 29:15-30; 37:1-35), years of reaping what he had sown. Poetic Justice. 

Despite all this, God’s purposes were achieved and the promise of Abraham (Prophetic Grace) was passed down through Jacob as God had originally intended. Deception always reaps a harvest of unexpected, unintentional suffering and pain, but God still has the desire and power to turn cursing to blessing. Romans 6:23 (NLT) says “For the wages of sin is death, (Poetic Justice) but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord (Prophetic Grace).

Romans 5:8-10 (NLT) says “But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” It seems our sin killed the One sent to save us from sin. The consequences of Poetic Justice are resolved by the covenant of Prophetic Grace when we believe in Christ. The choice is ours. 

Pastor Ross

LOST TWICE FOR THREE DAYS – CHRISTMAS
FROM THE MANGER TO THE CROSS

FROM THE MANGER TO THE CROSS

 

FROM THE MANGER TO THE CROSS

It struck me as Pastor Brian Houston was speaking at the Christmas Eve Service that for 3 days Mary lost her Son when He was 12 and for 3 days she lost Him again when He was 33. Both times He was “about His Fathers business” (Luke 2:42-51 NLT). Mary was present for His birth and present at His death. We celebrate both Christmas and Easter so as not to miss the significance of His birth and His death.

At the Beginning of His life there was no room for Him at the Inn and He was laid in a borrowed manger. At the end of His life there was no room for Him so they laid Him in a borrowed tomb. Followers of Christ make room for Him in their lives.

At His birth lowly Shepherds came. At His death the great Shepherd was abandoned, yet He said “I am the Good shepherd; I know My own sheep, and they know Me, … So I sacrifice My life for the sheep” (John 10:11-15 NLT).

At the beginning innocent babies were killed. At the end of His life guilty thieves died with Him on the Cross. The Bible says “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23 NLT).

Wise men followed God’s directions intentionally after He was born. Foolish men knew not what they were doing at His death. Yet in Luke 23:34 (NLT) Jesus says, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” He still offers His forgiveness for our sins.

He was visited by shepherds at His birth. Disciples abandoned Him at His death. It takes commitment to be a follower of Jesus.

Herod tried to put Him to death at His birth. Pilate tried to save Him from death at His trial, but ended up washing his hands of Him. All of us are given a choice concerning what we will do with Jesus.

Wise men acknowledged Him as King soon after He was born. At the end of His life foolish men put Him on a Cross with a sign they thought was mocking Him as King of the Jews. Yet Revelation 17:14 (NLT) calls Him “… Lord of all lords and King of all kings…” Followers of Christ acknowledge His rulership in their lives.

After His birth wise men gave generously to Jesus. At His death the religious rulers gave Judas “thirty pieces of silver” to betray Him (Matthew 26:15 NLT). Matthew 16:26 (NLT) says “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?”

Wise men invested their wealth as they gave it to Jesus. At His crucifixion foolish soldiers “gambled for His clothes” at the Cross Luke 23:34 (NLT) concerned only with taking. Jesus said “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35 NLT).

A star shone at His birth. He was the light of the world at His death. God still directs us to Him.

Angels at His birth spoke of a Saviour. Angels at the tomb said He is risen. Romans 6:9 (NLT) says “Death no longer has any power over Him.”

Jesus was born into the family of Abraham, ancestor of King David. He died so that we could be born again into His family.

At His Conception the Holy Spirit came upon Mary. At the conception of the Church the Holy Spirit came upon 120 disciples in an upper room. Zacharias was speechless before Jesus was born. Peter preached a powerful message after Jesus rose again (Acts 2). With the help of the Holy Spirit we can share the message of Christ boldly.

At His birth He is called Immanuel “God with us”. After His death Hebrews 13:5 says God will “never leave You or forsake You”

He is the Alpha and Omega. The Beginning and the end. Saviour, Born that we may never die. He who Is and Was and Is to come. The great I Am. Born in a manger, died on a cross. Born that I might be born again. Immanuel, God with us. King of Kings, Lord of Lords, My Lord Jesus.

Pastor Ross

 

LUKE 2:9 – MARY DID YOU KNOW? Poem

PIETA BY MICHELANGELO

PIETA BY MICHELANGELO

Mary, did you know? – the poem © by Ross Cochrane

Had Mary known the pain that He would bear
When in her arms this baby Jesus lay,
Would she have wanted Him to stay
to face a Cross, and give His very life?
Had Mary known the ugliness of strife
would she have held tiny hands tighter still
while thinking of them nail pierced on deaths hill?

Had Mary known that in this manger lay
the One whose head would lay within a tomb,
would she have gasped each time she came to pray
and sung with tears a lullaby each night
And mourned the seed that issued from her womb?

No! Mary would have only known the joy
Of heavens love within a baby boy.

And if we knew of God’s elusive plan
With eyes to see the pain that we would bear,
Would we have tried to run from grace and prayer
instead of face the cross He bids us take?
Without sufficient strength our pride to break
would we avoid the shaping hands of God,
the disciplines that issue from His rod?

Would we receive the testing desert sun
along with times of joy and hope and light?
Or shape a “painless” destiny and run
with such swift feet away from heaven’s tears
and any preparation for the fight?

No! From the future He has spared us much
That we might know His patient, perfect touch.

In the past I have made judgments about Tattoos and associated those who have made choices to permanently mark their skin as those who don’t really care about themselves. I have discovered, of course, that this is not always true and that some tattoos depict deep care. Certainly Isaiah 49:16 is one such case where God is pictured as wearing a tattoo.

Isaiah 49:15-16 assures me that I am not alone, lost or forgotten. I have not been abandoned by God, no matter how difficult the circumstances I face may be. Jesus reaches out to me in love, to encourage and reassure me with nail-pierced hands. When I think of Christ who bears the marks of the Cross even in His resurrection body, I am drawn to the fact that it was my sin that nailed Him there and because He died for my sin it is my name God engraves, tattooed, permanently inscribed, like nail piercings, on the palms of His hands. What a beautiful, yet sobering picture, when I think of the sacrifice that love bore for me, so that I could be found in the palm of His hand.

God says in Isaiah 49:15-16 (NIV) “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands; …”   

ISAIAH 49:15-16 – LOVE’S TATTOO 

© By Ross Cochrane

They fit on arms of those who care not,
Where they stand out, charmless on harmed flesh.
They threaten to bring painful protests, excess stress,
flayed fresh wounds. You bear them without a thought
and declare other views. You have not sought
to carelessly align with lawlessness,
or wear scars to share as marks of madness,
but bear the healing grace that You profess,

And with all this purpose made permanent,
A name, not picture, is displayed,
And love, not loss, is cut with firm intent,
Inscribed in ink that now will never fade
Upon Your Holy palms with full consent,
And it declares the price that You have paid.

LOVE’S TATTOO

Matthew 13:31-32 – SMALL SEED, INCREDIBLE POTENTIAL – Part 13

Mustard Seed Potential

When I read the Parable of the Mustard seed I am left with some serious questions. Jesus just tells the story in two sentences and leaves it at that. No explanation. He just says “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches” (Matthew 13:31-32 NLT).

And I am left asking how can something so VAST like the Kingdom of Heaven be compared to something so SMALL. How could something of such immense significance be infused into the DNA of such a small seed, how could such power and authority be found in something so small, something so minute. We are talking about the SOVEREIGN RULERSHIP of God here. So what is it with the mustard seed analogy?

I’ve thought about this a lot of late, read some other scriptures and tried to figure it out. Somehow I think that this is what Jesus intended all along. He deliberately leaves us to find out what it means knowing that only those who will seek first His Kingdom (Matthew 6:33) will find the answers from His Word of Truth. So here’s an UNEDITED edition of the parable and what I think Jesus is getting at…

“Once the King of a vast empire decided to become a farmer and plant a crop that would one day reap a huge harvest. He spent time preparing the soil and when the time was ripe He went out into His field and deliberately planted ONE SMALL SEED in the fertile earth.

It was no ordinary seed. It was a seed of destiny, a seed of promise, a seed of kingdom significance, the seed of the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. Inherent in this one seed was the very nature and character of the King Himself and His authority to rule and reign in the lives of those who follow Him. It was destined to change the world. That’s why the soil in which He chose to plant His seed was the soil of a person’s heart and life.

At first the seed was planted into the heart and life of a young virgin girl who bore this tiny seed in her womb. And in the most HUMBLE of places she gave birth to HEAVENS KINGDOM ON EARTH. Not in the splendour of a palace. He was born in a manger, a TINY BABY. The seed became a human being. It all seemed so INCONSEQUENTIAL and unimportant, just another baby, but don’t miss this. We are talking about the KING OF KINGS and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16).

An ancient book recorded His birth. Among other things it says “…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” (Philippians 2:7-8 NLT). Just a small seed yet heavens kingdom “…appeared in human form, He HUMBLED HIMSELF in obedience to God.”

The downside to living as a human of course is that He was destined die as a human. How could the Majesty of all heaven live His life as a human being? How could He die and be buried like a seed in the ground, yet in our story that is exactly what happened. He “died a criminal’s death on a cross.” I know I said it’s the unedited version but I can’t get into too many details here. You’ll have to read the book.

I can tell you this, however. “It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches” (Matthew 13:32 NLT).

Yes, the seed began to grow into a mighty tree and all of a sudden the Cross became His throne where heavens authority and character was expressed. It would have incredible impact upon the world.

The only way I can describe what happened was that on that Cross reserved for criminals, the Divine SOVEREIGNTY of heaven chose to pay the penalty for our sin! Divine JUSTICE was satisfied! Divine RIGHTEOUSNESS became available! Divine LOVE was released forever! Divine LIFE was offered! OMNISCIENCE was articulated! OMNIPOTENCE accomplished what was impossible! OMNIPRESENCE assured us that He would never leave or forsake us! His Divine IMMUTABILITY confirmed afresh that He is the same yesterday, today and forever! His Divine VERACITY drew us into the presence of all Truth!

But our story doesn’t end at the Cross. It BEGINS.

Here’s the real miracle of the story. Unless a seed is “planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives” (John 12:24 NLT).

He rose again! He defeated the power of sin and death! The seed grew to fulfil His destiny and so it is no wonder then that “…God elevated Him to the place of highest honour and gave Him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11 NLT).

This is a true story. You say, how do I know all this is true about the Seed? I know because as it became a tree and grew I became engrafted (Romans 11:17) as one of it’s branches, along with millions of others, His Church. When I yielded to the great authority of Christ, the life of the Seed became my life. “… 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” (Galatians 2:20 NLT).”

One day every knee will bow, but today the invitation is in the form of a small Seed of DESTINY, PROMISE AND LIFE and it is given freely to you. It is a seed with all the authority of heaven infused into it’s DNA, the very life of God Himself. Inherent in such a small seed is all of heavens authority and resources made available for the circumstances of life, such incredible potential for those who seek and accept the gift of the mustard Seed.

Pastor Ross.

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