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Thursday, June 7, 2018

New Creations – John 12

          Last week, we saw the cost of discipleship. Jesus would die on the cross to save the world from sin and the evil one. Those who believe in Jesus become new creations by allowing the Word – both the written and the Living – and the power of the Holy Spirit to remove our fleshly ways and put on the righteousness of Jesus Christ. God gave the prophet Zechariah a beautiful picture of what Jesus does for us when we are born again in the Spirit. In Zechariah’s vision, a “Man with the measuring line” gave Zechariah several spiritual visions.
In Zechariah 3:1-10, Joshua, the high priest, is standing before the Angel of the Lord, and Satan is standing at Joshua’s right side to accuse and condemn him. The Lord rebuked Satan and said that He had pulled Joshua “out of the fire.”  In other words, saved Joshua from the devil, hell and damnation. Joshua was dressed in “filthy clothes” (symbolic of sin). (see Isaiah 64:6) The Angel of the Lord, who is a type and shadow of Jesus, told Joshua to “take off his filthy clothes.” Then the Angel of the Lord said, “see, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you.” Rich garments are garments fit for a King. The work of transformation belongs to the Godhead. Jesus took away our sin at the cross making us the righteousness of God in Him. There is no life in sin – only bondage, so Jesus wants us to allow Him and the Holy Spirit to take off our garment of flesh and its sinful ways so we become a new, spiritual creation in Him reflecting His ways. We will never in this life attain this completely because of the weakness of our flesh, but we should be growing in holiness.
When we become a “new man” in Jesus while on earth, our heart, mind and spirit are changed. We are to die to sin daily! God wants to make us spiritually alive when we are spiritually dead. (see Ephesians 2: 1) Without Jesus, we are unable to understand or seek God on our own. (Romans 3:10-11) Instead, we “walked according to the ways of this world” (Ephesians 2:2), in bondage to the world (Galatians 4:3) and blinded by Satan. (2 Corinthians 4:3-4) Death of the flesh brings new life in the Spirit. The power of the Godhead raises us (calls us to go higher) to the very throne and heart of God eventually spending eternity with Him. “He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. (Ephesians 1:4) Our love for God and Jesus must be our motivation as love was their motivation for saving us from eternal damnation. “It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and purify for Himself a precious people, that are His very own, eager to do what is good.” Titus 2:11-14
            In Zechariah’s vision, the Angel of the Lord gave Joshua instruction: “If you will walk in My ways and keep My requirements, then you will govern My house and have charge of My courts, and I will give you a place among those standing here.” Vv6-7 If Joshua would obey this, he would govern in the temple, have charge of God’s courts and have free access to God’s presence and throne room in heaven. In other words, God will exalt him and give him leadership over His people. Jesus wants to take us higher above the sin and evil of the world into the very throne room of God. The Godhead works mightily in hearts submitted to God’s will and ways. Jesus is a perfect example of this! One day we will all be clothed in fine, white linen which represents the righteousness of the saints. (Revelation 19:8) In the meantime, we struggle against our flesh and its evil ways.
            This entire vision of Zechariah was a picture of Jesus and His followers. The name Joshua means “God is salvation” or “God saves.” The name Joshua is a variant of Yeshua – the Hebrew name of Jesus. Keep in mind that the Older Testament prophets only saw in part because Jesus had not come to earth yet in the fashion of a man. The Angel of the Lord told Joshua that what he was seeing was “symbolic of things to come.” V8 Then the Angel of the Lord said, “I am going to bring my servant, the Branch.” The One that God would send would be a Servant-Branch. Jesus is the fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy. Then the Angel of the Lord showed Joshua a “stone” (rock) that He set in front of Joshua. Jesus is the stone the builders rejected. (see Matthew 21:42) He is the chief cornerstone that begins the building of His Body and the capstone that finishes it. Jesus is the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Zechariah says that there are seven eyes on that one stone. The seven eyes represent perfect spiritual vision. Jesus is the Perfect Witness, the Truth and the all-seeing and all-knowing One. “I will engrave an inscription on it,” says the Lord Almighty, “and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day. In that day each of you will invite his neighbor to sit under His vine and fig tree,” declares the Lord Almighty.  I wonder if the inscription is “Holy to the Lord?” This is the inscription of the plate God instructed Moses to make around the turban of the high priest and priests in Exodus 39:30.
In fulfillment of this prophecy of Zechariah, Christ removed the sin of the world in one day on the cross. Jesus’ oneness with the Father through obedience is the very thing that showed He shared the Divine love of God for all humanity. He takes away our filthy garment of sin and puts the garment of righteousness upon us. God wants us to die to our false, sinful self that is in rebellion against God. Jesus’ death was just the opposite. He lived in total obedience and oneness with God but had to give that up and take on the sin of the whole world and its punishment for all humanity. Sin separates us from God. Jesus with the weight of the sins of the world upon Him felt separated from God for us. He had never experienced this before the cross. God, of course, had never left Jesus because Jesus is God in the flesh. Jesus remained sinless.
To sit under His vine and fig tree means to live in peace and fruitfulness.
A Troubled Heart – John 12:27
          Jesus’ agony began in the Garden of Gethsemane. He said to the three of His disciples who drew closest to Him – Peter, James and John, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Matthew 26:38         In His flesh body, Jesus was troubled in soul (human).  He even prayed to the Father, “If it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” V39 Jesus’ sorrow was knowing the weight of sin He would carry. Every evil deed would be put upon Him. He who knew no sin!  Despite His sorrow, Jesus submitted to God’s will not His own.
            Now that the hour has come, Jesus is troubled again over what He was about to face. Jesus didn’t react to His troubling in a human way. He knew His death would glorify the Father. He would not ask God to save Him from this hour. He would face it for the glory of God and the benefit of the whole world. His death and the mercy and grace it extended to sinful humanity would be worth it. Both Jesus’ life and death glorified God!  At the cross of Jesus, the love of God is revealed most clearly. It showed God’s love and mercy toward sinners and His wrath toward the ruler of this world who deceives humanity.
Jesus showed us that sacrifice, self-surrender and death is the way to the highest life. The cross also shows the defeat of Satan. In what seemed to be Satan’s greatest triumph, it was just the reverse. Jesus resisted temptation. Jesus’ death brought the victory over Satan, sin and spiritual death. Jesus stripped Satan at the cross of the one thing that could condemn us – our sin. It is the love of God and the victory of the cross of Jesus that enables us to hate our fleshly ways and want to rid ourselves of them claiming the defeat of Satan. We are to deny our self, take up our cross and follow Jesus.  

            The cross illustrated that Jesus is the Savior as well as the Judge. He saved humanity and judged Satan. Jesus who is all-knowing understood that He was “for this reason I came to this hour.”v27

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