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Mar 2013 28 Mar 28, 2013

The seventh and final shocking sin is, of course, the crucifixion itself (vv. 31-32). Normally the victim was forced to walk naked to the place of crucifixion and was scourged along the way. But since Jesus had already been scourged this custom was abandoned. If it had been repeated, Jesus may well have died before reaching Calvary. Custom also required that the victim carry the cross-beam on which he would be nailed. It weighed between 30 and 40 pounds. But it was phy...Read More

Mar 2013 27 Mar 27, 2013
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I’m happy to announce that the revised and expanded edition of my book, The Beginner’s Guide to Spiritual Gifts (Regal, 222 pp.), is now available. The book first came out in 2002. This revised edition is considerably longer and contains new material that I think should prove helpful. Here are a few of the items not found in the first edition: (1) discussion questions for individual and small group studies follow each chapter; (2) a detailed account of a m...Read More

Mar 2013 27 Mar 27, 2013
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If there were a way to avoid talking of this sixth shocking sin, I would seize the opportunity to remain silent. I find it painfully difficult even to write these next words: they spit on him (v. 30). Spitting on someone and the inflicting of blows were conventional gestures of rejection and humiliation (cf. Job 30:10; Num. 12:14; Deut. 25:9; Isa. 50:6). Throughout Jewish history, people would go to Absalom’s tomb in the Kedron valley outside Jerusalem and repeate...Read More

Mar 2013 26 Mar 26, 2013
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Psalm 130:3-4 is simply stunning. “If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared” (Ps. 130:3-4). On first reading, something seems terribly askew. Would it not have made more sense for the psalmist to have said: “But with you there is justice, that you may be feared”? Is it not the prospect of God exacting payment for our transgressions that evokes fear in the human sou...Read More

Mar 2013 26 Mar 26, 2013

In the previous article we looked at (1) the scourging of Jesus, as well as his being (2) adorned with a scarlet robe and (3) a crown of thorns. Although it may seem rather innocuous, the fourth of these seven shocking sins occurred when they placed a reed for a scepter in his hand (v. 29). The reed was again an instrument of mockery, for the monarch's scepter was a symbol of his authority and power. Thus, the point of the robe, the crown, and the reed was to portray J...Read More

Mar 2013 25 Mar 25, 2013

The world is a mess and it would be all too easy for God’s people to fall into despair and disillusionment. So take a moment and read of the glory and beauty of heaven to come, and be reassured once again that our God is working to bring all things to their consummation in Christ. Oh, what a day this will be! “All shall stand about the God of glory, the fountain of love, as it were opening their bosoms to be filled with those effusions of love which are pour...Read More

Mar 2013 25 Mar 25, 2013
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“Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor's headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ And t...Read More

Mar 2013 22 Mar 22, 2013
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I recently read that Lady Gaga has over 32 million followers on Twitter. Justin Bieber has around 31 million. John Piper has a mere 450,000 or so. I seriously doubt that anything of value has ever come out of the mouth of Lady Gaga, yet such is our world today that her pathetic drivel is considerably more appealing than the wisdom of Piper. Of young Bieber I’ll refrain from saying anything. “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is...Read More

Mar 2013 22 Mar 22, 2013

This article explains what it means to say that Christians are "sojourners" on the earth....Read More

Mar 2013 21 Mar 21, 2013
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One of my heroes is Joni Eareckson Tada. Most of you know the story of her diving accident that left her almost completely paralyzed. In an interview with World Magazine (January 12, 2013), Joni revealed something of which I was unaware. It’s a stunning illustration of divine providence, both sweet and a bit strange. The day before the incident Joni had gone to the drugstore to purchase a bottle of Nice ‘n Easy midnight summer blonde to lighten her hair colo...Read More