by Ralph Bouma
"Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have." LUK 24:39.
Notice how the love of Godís people, the love of the women, of Mary Magdalene and of the disciples did not end at His death. We see that in verse !:
"Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them."
They were coming to the grave of our to embalm Him with spices and prepare His body to remain in the grave. They looked at Him as a dead Christ.
In all their sorrow they had forgotten that Jesus had told them that He would rise again. The enemies of our Lord remembered it. They came to Pilate and said:
"We remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again." And they set a guard.
In their sorrow and grief the followers of Christ had forgotten that He had told that He would rise again. LUK 24:6-8 says:
He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. And they remembered his words
When an angel at the grave of our blessed risen Savior reminded them, they remembered. There are many things that you and I have forgotten, in JOH 14:26 Jesus said:
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
How often we forget times of His visits of love, how often we forget when we get engulfed in the things of this life and human reasoning forgetting His precious Words, but the Holy Spirit will bring them back to our remembrance.
"And they remembered his words."
Even when these women told Peter and the rest of the disciples the message from the angels, they were filled with unbelief. The Lordís angels had not only told Mary Magdalene and these women, but Jesus had told His disciples beforehand:
"Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again."
They saw the very fulfilling of what Jesus had just told them, but they couldnít believe that He had been raised again the third day. They were eyewitnesses of when He was given over into the hands of sinful men. They saw that He had been crucified and laid in the grave. Besides all this; it was the third day.
The women came after having it called to their remembrance and told Peter and the rest of the disciples, but they were still filled with unbelief. Human reasoning would not allow what they were saying was true.
Look at Luke 24:11.
"And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not."
Unbelief reigned in their hearts! Before Jesus was crucified, Peterís faith seemed so strong. He could boast to Jesus as in LUK 22:
"Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death."
Peter seemed to have very strong faith but we need to separate between human reasoning and true saving faith. Was this truly an element of saving faith that Peter had that was so strong when he declared:
"Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death."
Jesus told Peter how this supposed faith would be proven to be nothing more than human reasoning. When we become so strong in our own human reasoning, then we become strong in our own faith instead of the imputed faith of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus told Peter in LUK 22:31-32:
And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
Did Peterís human reasoning fail? Oh yes, but not the imputed faith of the Lord Jesus Christ. Peterís faith failed but the faith that is of Christ did not fail. He was filled with unbelief, but he did not perish with Judas. When he was right on the verge of being as big a traitor as Judas, the Lord turned and looked upon him in a look of love. The Lord restrained him, He also told Peter:
"When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren."
We can become so strong in faith, feeling so positive we have salvation, we like Peter can be so positive of so many things, but the Lord says to Peter:
"Satan hath desired to have you."
When Satan was given consent to try Peterís faith, not only did Peter curse and swear, denying he ever knew the Lord; after Jesus had risen these women came and told Peter that He had risen from the dead and he wouldnít believe it.
When the hour of trial was come Peter learned to know how much faith he had! Outside of the Lordís restraining grace Peter would have fallen away. See that in Mark 14:70:
"And he denied it again. And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilaean, and thy speech agreeth thereto."
Did you ever know that you are identified by your speech; and the world can see that you are not a blasphemer? They do notice that you are not using the filthy language of the world nor engulfed in the lasciviousness of the world and they identify you. His speech betrayed him.
Peter went a step further to erase his identity with Jesus, and how was that? By taking upon his tongue the speech and the language of the infidels.
"But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak."
He was no longer going to be betrayed by his speech. When he had fallen to that point, notice how our Savior intervened, LUK 22:61-62.
And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.
Peter was in Satanís sieve! Though Peter was weeping bitterly over his fall, his Savior was in the grave. Peter was a weeping soul grieving over his sin while his Saviour was hidden. If it werenít for the power of Christís resurrection, His coming out of the grave and revealing Himself to Peter, where would Peter have ever again regained hope?
Peterís speech had betrayed him and now he has taken upon himself to use the language of the infidels. He had taken Godís name upon his lips. He had cursed and swore. He had blasphemed the name of his God, and just in such a time while he was doing it, Jesus turned and gave him a little look that melted his heart.
But now his Savior was in the grave. Peter was not only stripped of his bold strength to stand, but the guilt of his fall had hidden the resurrection and the resurrected Jesus from his eyes. The women came and told him of the resurrection of his Master but the vale of his sin blocked his mind from remembering what Jesus had said beforehand.
This is why the women were not only told to tell the disciples, but especially Peter. MAR 16:7:
"But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter..."
The Lord knew what a backslidden condition Peter was in. The Lord knew how his faith had been so crumbled and his unbelief. Jesus knew Peter was still in the sieve of Satan sorrowing and grieving over his fall even though the angel said:
"But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you."
The angel said, "as he said unto you," reminding them of what Jesus had told them before He was crucified. Yet they didnít remember it.
The angel sent the women to remind Peter. This is what He had said unto you before he died. Go before him into Galilee and there you will see Him.
Jesus had told Peter:
"But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren."
Peter was filled with unbelief until his eyes were fixed upon the pierced hands of our Savior. Jesus disciples were still blinded with human reasoning and could not believe until their eyes were opened to see that He was Jesus by seeing His wounded hands.
Mark five tells about the maniac that Jesus went to see who had been often bound with fetters, MAR 5:4:
Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, [In other words, in the things of death.] and cutting himself with stones. But when he saw Jesus...
Oh the power of but one faithís view of Jesus! When his eye was fixed upon the Lord Jesus Christ what happened? He fell down and worshipped him. Neither will Peterís faith ever be restored until his eye is fixed upon Christ. Until then the disciples were still mourning over a hidden Jesus, see LUK 24:13-16.
And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.
How many times in our life is the Lord Jesus walking with us? He is bringing us through a certain trial and He is walking with us and the gospel is ministering to us, but we have not seen Jesus in the trial. We can see that person and that person and we can start being critical of them. We can say so many things about them and have never learned to see that the Lord Jesus says:
"I came not to send peace, but a sword."
We have never learned to see that it is the hand of Jesus, it is the Lord talking with us in His providence, that it is the Lord speaking unto us in His Word. They are on their way to Emmaus and their eyes were holden that they did not know Him.
"And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?"
Now take notice of LUK 24:25:
Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
It is so amazing how we can have all these things concerning Jesus expounded unto us and still have our eyes holden from seeing Christ in it all because our eyes are not fixed on the person of Christ. That is what these men had. Christ himself was walking with them. He himself was expounding unto them the things concerning Himself.
The women had told them that Christ was risen, but they were in such a state of confusion they didnít know what to think. Jesus expounded unto them, beginning at Moses, all the prophets and in the psalms concerning Himself and they still didnít understand. They did not comprehend all this.
What do we see? As He revealed Himself unto them in the breaking of bread He vanished out of their sight. He gives us a faithís view of His person or His love, but so soon He withdraws again. In the breaking of bread He was revealed unto them.
After seeing Jesus in the breaking of bread they returned back to the other disciples and as they were telling them:
Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.
And what happened?
And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
While His people were gathered together conversing about the risen Savior, Jesus himself came and stood in their midst and said: "Pease be unto you."
"But they were terrified and affrighted."
When they saw Him, they supposed that He had been a spirit. They never yet saw him as a personal Christ.
This is so important that we understand that our eye must be fixed upon the person of Christ. This brings us to the words of our text.
"And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold..."
He is bringing their eye to be fixed upon His person.
"Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I."
Now Jesus makes Himself known unto them
"Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have."
As I mentioned earlier, about the maniac in Mark five, they couldnít bind him with words nor with chains or with ropes. He broke them all asunder. It wasnít until his eye was fixed on Christ that he fell at His feet and worshipped Him.
You can have a child in its natural state out side of Christ and try to bind him with the Word of God. You can try to bind him with all discipline or what ever you want, there is no salvation until his eye is fixed on Christ. That is when all the powers of death, Satan, and sin are broken.
"And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet."
What are we seeking for? The very presence of God is a terror to a wounded conscience. They knew He had risen. He had appeared unto those on the way to Emmaus. He came to stand in their very presence and said, "Peace be unto you," and yet they were terrified.
What do we need to see in Christ before there is peace in our heart? We need to see those wounds in His hands with our names written there. We must realize that it was our sins that nailed Him to the tree. Then there is a sense of justification for us personally before there is peace. That is why Jesus said unto His disciples:
"Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself."
The very presence of God will only cause fear and trembling unless we come in the presence of a reconciled God through the atonement of Christ. Unless we have become one through the at-one-ment of Christ, God is a consuming fire, DEU 4:23-24:
Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, which the LORD thy God hath forbidden thee. For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.
When we see the print of the nails in His hands we see that it was our offences for which He died.
"Who was delivered for our offences."
We see that it was our offences that nailed Him to the tree and then we understand that He:
"...was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification."
Then there is peace; His resurrection is our pledge that the justice of the Father has been satisfied. Jesus would never have come out of the grave if the Father were not fully satisfied with Jesus sacrifice for sin. When we see our names written in His hands, we have His pledge that the Fatherís justice has been fully satisfied in our behalf.
In ISA 49:16 we tead: "Behold." i.e., take notice; look at it.
"I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands."
This becomes so personal; that is why there is such a tranquilizing effect by seeing those wounded hands as His body that was broken for you! That makes it so personal:
Who was delivered for our..."
That makes it so personal, delivered for "our offences." It comes home personally. It was our offences. He was raised for our justification as we see in ROM 4:25.
And now, my beloved friends, who would not tremble and fear at the presence of God outside of the blessed assurance of faith that our names are written in those wounded hands? Outside of that blessed assurance that we come to a reconciled God who would not tremble and quake and fear to come into His presence?
See how His enemies were terrified at His countenance to understand how we would stand before Him outside that perfect satisfaction of Christ in our behalf.
And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
This is what the effect is with every one of us when we come in the presence of God outside of that reconciliation, outside of the atoning blood of Christ. He showed them His hands and His feet. He showed them that atonement that brought reconciliation unto those whose enmity against God has been broken.
Our Savior says, "Peace be unto you."
When your enmity against God is broken, and you understand what it is to find peace with God, then He says, "Peace be unto you." This peace that was obtained by His perfect sacrifice is His personal pledge to His people, and a faithís view of those wounded hands and feet makes it personal that it was for you.
The Lord says:
"Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?"
He says, "Behold," i.e., look at it, take notice, fix your eye upon this. Jesus said in JOH 3:14:
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
How was that serpent lifted up? NUM 21:9 says:
And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.
When the brazen serpent was raised in the wilderness, when the people looked unto it they lived. Those who did not look unto the brazen serpent died. And this is what the Lord Jesus is telling you and I, i.e., if we look unto Him we live. He says, "Behold," i.e., fix your eye upon the Person of Christ. Behold;
"...my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have."
A guilty conscience cannot appear before the light of life, outside of the finished work of our Savior without being terrified.
There is no peace until faithís eye is fixed upon atoning work of Christ; this is revealed in the palms of His hands and feet.
How many of us have denied our Lord in some way? We must blush before the courts of heaven when we see how Christ paid the penalty of our sins, washing them away with His lifeís blood to reconcile us again with God.
We learn to see the beauty in how He was delivered for our offences and raised again for our justification. Oh beloved, what an unfathomable love of the Father and of the Son in those wounded hands.
Have you ever attempted to fathom the unspeakable love of the Father in giving His Son? While He was hanging on the cross He cried out, "Oh, God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" The Father restrained His love for His Son for the love He had for His Church.
Have you ever tried to fathom the love of God in giving His Son to be wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities? This unspeakable love of the Father is what Jesus shows in His hands and His feet. Now can you understand why the disciples could not believe for joy?
LUK 24:38-43 says:
And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.
"And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?"
In order to take away all doubt in their minds He ate a broiled fish and a honey comb before their eyes so that they would see that He was in fact the very Son of God.
Our Savior showed them those wounds in His hands to strengthen their faith. Those scars in our Saviorís hand are His pledge to His church that He will never forget one of His sheep regardless how far they may have roamed away.
Have you thought of how far and Christís disciples had roamed away? These things are written for our consolation when we learn to see how far we have strayed away.
ROM 15:3-7 says:
For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.
We are assured that whereas our names are written in the palms of His hands He can never forget one soul for whom He died.
ISA 49:15-16 says:
"Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb?"
The Lord uses parental love to illustrate the natural affection He has for His children. When the Lord Jesus talks to shepherds He uses sheep to illustrate His point so they can so intimately understand. When He is talking to a merchantman He used merchandise, when talking to a farmer He uses wheat and tares. Using parental love to demonstrate the love of the Father and His Son for their children uses this same principle when talking to His children.
"Can a woman forget her sucking child?"
Any parent that has had a sucking child knows that tender intimate love that a mother has for her child. See the logic God uses when He asks, "Can they forget?"
"...[and] not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee."
The Lord is demonstrating that His love for His children far excels the power of love that a parent has for a child.
"... they may forget, yet will I not forget thee."
See the power of logic Godís Word uses to erase all doubt in the mind of His Children!
"Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me."
What does that mean?
"...thy walls are continually before me."
What were the walls of Jerusalem for? the place of their safety. The walls were built around cities in Bible times for the purpose of keeping the enemy out. PSA 34:7 says:
The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.
Have you heard the expression, "Put a string around your finger so you donít forget"? You have something you want to remember so when you get home and see that string tied around your finger and it helps you remember, does it not?
What is meant that your name is engraven on the palm of His hand? "He will never forget."
That engraving is eternally before the eye of our Savior, it is impossible for Him to forget. When our Savior appears before the Father as our Advocate to plead our cause making intercession for us, He sees our names are engraven there. Now the atonement that He has made for His people is ever before the Father.
The last view you have of a departed loved one remains vividly clear in your mind. So consider the last thing the disciples saw as Jesus departed. LUK 24:50-51 says:
And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.
As Jesus was carried up into heaven His disciples could see the pledge of their salvation held up before their eyes.
As He was brought up into heaven He raised up His hands and blessed them. When we learn to understand the love that held our Savior to the cross, then sin becomes exceeding sinful.
Imagine the power of that love that held Him to the cross in His dying hours? His great love for His people is manifest in that it was for their sin that He died? This should make the least sin become exceeding sinful!
JOH 3:16 says:
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, [why?] that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
It is not the preaching of Godís wrath under the broken law that drives anyone to Christ. All the preaching of hell and damnation only drives you away from Christ. It is the love of God revealed in those crucified hands that draws sinners to Christ.
ROM 2:4 says it is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance:
"Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?"
Have you thought of a time when you bid farewell to a loved one that you donít expect to see again? As you are parting and making the final embraces, the expressions of love in a parting hour most often are fixed so vividly in your memory you will not forget it.
See how blessed it is that Jesus showed them those pierced hands to take away all doubt?
There is salvation for every one who comes unto Christ for salvation. The only hindrance is our attitude toward God and sin. ROM 8:7-8 says:
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
Unto every hungry soul that come to Christ for salvation the Lord says in 2 PE 3:9:
"The Lord is ... longsuffering to usĖward, not willing that any should perish."
The atonement is not limited as some claim, but salvation is limited to those who believe in Christ.
"God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son..."
The limitation lays only with those who refuse to believe.
"...that whosoever believeth..."
The limitation is in who believes. It is not the atonement that is limited. Salvation is limited and it is limited to those who believe.
2 PE 3:9.
"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usĖward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
Their love for sin is what stands as an obstacle to salvation - they are not saved, because they refuse to repent, i.e., to change their attitude toward sin and the authority of God.
Our Savior tells that the true meaning of repentance in His parable of the prodigal son. It was by Godís grace that he came into circumstances, which brought him to use his logic.
Is that something we have to sit and wait for God to do something? No. That is not what Jesus tells us. When we get our priorities straightened out we come to ourselves. Then see what happens in LUK 15:14-16.
"And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want."
There we see providence in Godís hand bringing a man to come to logic. But we see the authority of God in the fact that it was Godís providence that brought him into circum-stances whereby he used his logic. By His tender Fatherly love in chastening His dear children He draws then out of their sinful ease, and brings them to come to themselves.
And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
In Godís providence He brought him to such poverty, and he put his logic back to work.
"And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself..."
When he got his attitude adjusted, when he realized what a fool he was, what did he do? He started a well-planned repentance.
Repentance isnít something that just happens. Repentance is something we sit down and carefully plan. When he started to use his logic see what he said.
"And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my fatherís have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!"
When he came to himself his logic took hold of sound reasoning. He asked himself what a fool am I being? I am eating with the swine - and in my Fatherís house there is bread enough and to spare. Then he made a plan as we see in LUK 15:17-19:
"And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my fatherís have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise."
Not only did he make a plan, but he acted upon his plan. As we obey the miracle is performed.
"I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee."
What was his plan? "I will arise." I will go to my father and I will confess my wrong. That is repentance.
"And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants."
Oh. That clinches his plan! His desire has been altered. He no longer wants his portion that he could be on his own. He desires to come back and serve his father. That is what Christ teaches about repentance. Carefully plan with a firm determination to put it into action. And what does verse 20 say?
"And he arose."
He didnít only talk about it. He left the crowd he had been associating with. He gave up his job of feeding the swine. He went back to plead for permission to come back to serving his Father.
That is gospel repentance. Carefully planned, thought out and put into action.
Take notice how when he came to himself, i.e., when he had come to a right attitude - at all costs, he desired to reenter his fatherís service.
That is the sign of grace and the new birth. When we come with an earnest desire to serve our Lord. We come to ourselves and analyze the logic of serving sin and see the damnation of a lost soul. That is when the gospel of the kingdom of Jesus Christ, i.e., entering the service of Christ as KING becomes attractive.
MAR 1:14-15 says:
"Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom."
Do you know what the good news is? Through the Lord Jesus Christ you and I can again enter the service of God acceptably. We had revolted from under His kingdom in paradise and outside of being made perfect, we can never reenter His kingdom. But by the imputed and the imparted righteousness [or obedience] of Christ, the door is open and we can again enter His kingdom.
You and I will never serve the Lord in a way of legal obedience. Only Christ fulfilled the law in a legal sense. You and I must serve Him under gospel obedience. Gospel obedience is that every infraction of the law causes our heart to mourn. Gospel repentance is remorse over having sinned against such a loving God.
When the unspeakable love of God is revealed to us in those crucified hands, then sin becomes exceeding sinful. What is sin? 1JO 3:4-6 says:
Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.
Mark 1:14 says the Lord Jesus came preaching the gospel of the kingdom saying:
"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand."
What does the kingdom of God is at hand mean? It is here today. We are not going to enter the service of the Lord in heaven if we havenít entered it here. If we havenít come into serving the Lord in this life, we will never serve Him in eternity. The kingdom of God is here today.
The good news is as with the prodigal Son, we may reenter His service today. We may come under His authority and serve Christ today. We can serve him with gospel obedience.
What was the first action taken by the prodigal son? He says:
"I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him..."
The very first part of his carefully planned repentance was to confess and acknowledge his sin. .
"I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee."
See the call to repentance in JER 3:13-14.
"Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice."
Only acknowledge that we have sinned against our Heavenly Bridegroom.
"...saith the LORD. Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you."
When the Lord laid that on my heart I saw the grievousness of my sin of spiritual adultery. My heart had strayed from Christ as my first love Ė admiring my beautiful crop. My guilty conscience told me I was as a bride walking up the aisle lusting after different ones in the pew.
We can have a yearning desire to enter that kingdom serving Him acceptably, but we do it with so many shortcomings. That is when we need to look up again and again to view the consolation in those pierced hands. It is in those wounded hands and those wounded feet that we have the consolation that Christ has taken away the penalty of our sin, that He has taken our shame and God can look upon us in the perfect obedience of Christ.
Oh beloved, what a tender parental love our Lord demonstrates to us in that perfect atonement of Christ. He addresses His dear children as backsliding children, not as backsliding reprobates.
"Only acknowledge thine iniquity."
He pleads that marriage union with His own dear Son saying:
"Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you."
When you see that bloody sweat in the garden of Gethsemane, when you have an eye of faith to see Him pleading as He was sweating drops of blood saying:
"O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me."
There is but a glimpse of what He suffered for our sins, the scars in His hands demonstrate how He hung on the cross crying out:
"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
He had never been forsaken of His Father from all eternity, but on the cross He stood in our place suffering what we deserved. As His lifeblood was bleeding from His body - forsaken of His Father; suffering what we deserved to redeem us from all iniquity, how then can we love sin any longer? TIT 2:14-15 says:
Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.
If you see how we deserve to be forsaken and that for all eternity because of our sin, then we learn to see the price Christ paid in the scars of His hands. 2CO 5:18-19 says:
And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
We should take a look at our risen Lord and hear what He is admonishing us in verses 20-21
"Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christís stead, be ye reconciled to God."
Reconciliation comes from two sides. Reconciliation is in place on Godís side. From His side the blood of Christ has made reconciliation for the whole world, but the separation now is on your side. Are you reconciled to God? Has your rebellion been broken? Have you come to an unconditional surrender to the will of the Father? Have you come to true repentance and come back into His service?
"Be ye reconciled to God."
Oh the condescension of our loving Father! See how He is pleading with sinners! See the grounds He is pleading:
"For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."
Look at the reward of faith that is held out before you and I to be made the righteousness of God in Him, and what does this mean? to come back under His authority with gospel obedience and walk with Him by faith.
Our text says:
"Behold my hands and my feet."
Can you think of anything that will have more persuasive power to turn our heart from rebellion to serving the living God?
"Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself."
It was small enough to overlook. Only two words. I know I'd read that passage a hundred times. But I'd never seen it. But I won't miss it again. It's highlighted in yellow and underlined in red.
The Message of The Cross
From Jesus' birth and youth, the cross cast its shadow ahead of Him. The cross is inextricably tied to the Person and the work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
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