A Heart Wide Open
A daily devotion for January 29th
21A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. 22They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). 23Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.
25It was the third hour when they crucified him. 26The written notice of the charge against him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS. 27They crucified two robbers with him, one on his right and one on his left. 29Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, "So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30come down from the cross and save yourself!"
31In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. "He saved others," they said, "but he can't save himself! 32Let this Christ, this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe." Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
33At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"—which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
35When some of those standing near heard this, they said, "Listen, he's calling Elijah."
36One man ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. "Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to take him down," he said.
37With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.
38The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, "Surely this man was the Son of God!"
40Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.
42It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, 43Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus' body. 44Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. 45When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. 46So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.
Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom (Mark 15:38 NKJV)
Perhaps one of the priests told Mark about the veil. But for sheer drama there is nothing like this in all of recorded history. This cry in the darkness of the cross, the dismissing of the spirit of Jesus, and the rending of the veil in the temple—Mark brings them all together in order that we might understand what these events mean. As Jesus' cry rang out,
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? there must have been many in the crowd who recognized that it was the opening words of Psalm 22. If you want to get the background and atmosphere of the cross, read that psalm through. There is no adequate explanation for the question that Jesus asked except that which Scripture itself gives,
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Then there comes the loud cry of dismissal and the rending of the veil. Why did the veil split in two? It was God's dramatic way of saying for all time and for all people that the way into His heart is wide open. God is not planning revenge. All those who gathered around the cross in hatred and malice against Jesus—every one of them is welcome to come back. That is what the rent veil means. The penalty has been paid for the hateful, the cruel, the ignorant, the selfish, the empty-headed thrill seekers. The way is wide open, and God is waiting to restore the hopeless, the helpless, and the fearful.
When I was just a young Christian, in my early twenties, I read a message by D. L. Moody that I have never forgotten. It was the great evangelist's imaginative description of what happened after Jesus rose from the dead. Moody says He gathered His disciples in Jerusalem and said to them,
Men, I want you to go and find the priests who mocked me, who hurled in my teeth the taunt, 'He saved others, himself he could not save.' Explain to them that if I had saved myself; they would have been doomed men. But tell them there is a way wide open. The book of Acts says that as Peter and the other disciples preached in Jerusalem
a large number of priests became obedient to the faith (Acts 6:7).
Moody said that Jesus said to the disciples,
Go find the soldiers who cast lots for my garments, for my seamless robe, and tell them that there is a far greater treasure awaiting them if they will come to me. They shall have not a seamless robe, but a spotless heart. All their guilt can be washed away; all their callous cruelty can be forgiven if they come. Find the centurion who thrust his spear into my side and tell him there is a closer way to my heart if he will come, just as a sinner needing forgiveness.
In this beautiful scene of the rending of the veil at the moment of the death of Jesus, God is saying that the way to Him is open to us, despite the wrong attitudes we so frequently have had toward Him.
Father, may I lay hold of that great word,God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.I know of no greater wonder in all the universe than this.
Life Application: If the cross of Christ is not to us the greatest wonder in the universe, it may well be we have not grasped its astounding impact and the timeless benefits of His death.
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Daily Devotion © 2006 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.