And a great multitude of the people followed Him, and women who also mourned and lamented Him.Luke 23:27 (NKJV)
This week, people from around the world remember the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Two of the most Holy celebrations come together in one, as the Jewish people celebrate the Feast of Passover and Unleavened Bread, recalling when our Yehovah God set them free from Egypt. And Christians remember the death of the Passover Lamb, Yeshua Messiah, who died on the cross for all the world. In my previous devotion, I encouraged you to get together with other ladies to pray for our world. Will you consider there was also such a ladies’ gathering around the cross? It was a group of broken-hearted ladies, just like you and me. Let’s meet these dear ladies:
And many women who followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him, were there looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons. Matthew 27:55-56 (NKJV)
And certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities—Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons. Luke 8:2
Mary Magdalene was at the cross. Mary Magdalene was one of the devoted ladies who followed Jesus during His earthly ministry. She had great love for Jesus since He had cast out the seven demons from her. Mary followed Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus when they laid Jesus in the tomb and rolled the stone to cover the entrance. Then she went home for the Sabbath. But early Sunday morning, she came again to the tomb, hoping to anoint Jesus’ body with oil, only to find the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. Mary cried out to the “gardener,” “Where have you put Him?” And the “gardener” replied, “Mary.” Then she knew that Jesus is alive and ran to tell the disciples! Mary Magdalene was the first witness of our Risen Lord! (Mark 16:9).
Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses
There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joses, and Salome.Mark 15:40 (NKJV)
Mary, the mother of the disciple Little James, was also known as “The Other Mary” and “Wife of Clopas.” After witnessing Jesus’ crucifixion, she was found again at the tomb with Mary Magdalene where Joseph of Aramathea and Nicodemus buried Jesus’ body (Matthew 27:61, Mark 15:47). These devoted ladies came again on the first day of the week to visit the tomb and anoint Jesus’ body (Matthew 28:1), only to find the stone rolled away and the tomb was empty! Jesus is alive!
Salome, the wife of Zebedee, and mother of James and John
Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him.Mark 16:1 (NKJV)
Salome, mother of James and John, also known as Jesus’ aunt, was at the cross. When I think of Salome, the story that comes to mind is when she brought James and John to Jesus and asked that they sit on His right and left sides in His Kingdom (Matthew 20:21). Imagine how James and John felt when the other disciples were upset about this request. Yet Salome asked because she believed in Jesus and His Kingdom. And someday she will receive her petition, for her sons James and John will be sitting on two of the twenty-four thrones around God the Father and Jesus the Son, where we all will be worshipping the Lord (Revelation 4:4,10).
Mary, the mother of Jesus
Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.John 19:25 (NKJV)
Of all the Mary(s) at the cross, perhaps this one is most memorable, Mary, the mother of Jesus. Oh, what a journey this dear lady had, from trusting God with His divine conception and birth, to fleeing to Egypt, to searching for 12-year-old Jesus in Jerusalem, to bringing up a perfect Son in an imperfect world, to seeing His miracles and knowing He was fulfilling God’s plan, and yet, now, to witnessing His willing sacrifice on the cross, dying for the sins of all the world (John 3:16-17). Oh, what a life this blessed Mary lived, being mother of our Savior.
When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!”Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home. John 19:26-27(NKJV)
But all His acquaintances, and the women who followed Him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.Luke 23:49 (NKJV)
And there were many other women, too. Perhaps Joanna was there and Susanna (Luke 8:3, 24:10) . They ministered to Him in Galilee and came up with Him to Jerusalem, observing the tomb and how His body was laid (Luke 23:55, Mark 15:41). Other women were there, too, just like YOU and me.
“I have loved you,” says the Lord…Malachi 1:2 (NKJV)
Yes, YOU were at the cross! As Jesus hung on the cross, shedding His blood for the sins of all humankind, He thought of YOU! He planned to die on the cross for YOU since before time began (Ephesians 1:4-5, 2 Timothy 1:9, Titus 1:2). With eyes that could look down the halls of eternity, He saw YOU and He died for YOU! He saw your broken heart, He saw your sick body, He saw your hurting soul, He saw your fractured family and your dashed dreams, and He bore it all on the cross. He took the nails for your sins. He was bruised for your iniquities. And by His stripes YOU are healed. He poured out His life and blood and water for YOU (John 19:34), because He loves YOU and wants to be your Savior. But He didn’t stay dead, on the third day, Jesus rose again, conquering sin, death, and the devil forever, giving all who believe the promise of eternal life with Him.
…Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures…1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (NKJV)
Today’s TEA CUPP: Dear One, say as the centurions guarding the cross, “Truly this was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:54). Find these Bible verses and read them again today. Choose one of the Gospel crucifixions to read each day this coming week: Matthew 27-28, Mark 15-16, Luke 23-24, John 19-20. Imagine standing with all these women before the cross. When Jesus said, “It is finished,” He looked right at YOU with love in His eyes, waiting for you to accept His sacrificial death. Say as the thief did beside Jesus on the cross, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom” (Luke 23:42)
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.John 3:14-17 (NKJV)❤️
Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.Isaiah 53:4-5 (NKJV)
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory.1 Timothy 3:16 (NKJV)
To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.Revelation 1:5-6 (NKJV)
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18 (NKJV)
God planted a tree for you, my friend. This Blessed Easter Tree, this Old Rugged Cross, is truly the Tree of Life for all humanity. For no one can enter into the presence of God in heaven, unless she goes through the door of this Blessed Easter Tree.
“On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, the emblem of suffering and shame; and I love that old cross where the dearest and best for a world of lost sinners was slain” (George Bennard, 1913).
Who would think that we could find this favorite old hymn and the Easter story in the Old Testament book of Ezekiel? Yet we shouldn’t be surprised, for the entire Bible, God’s Word, points to our Savior Jesus Christ, telling His story from creation to eternity. In Ezekiel we find not only God breathing life into dead bones, making them new creations like we are when we believe in Jesus. He also paints the picture of a tree planted on a hill to save a nation. Could this be our “Old Rugged Cross?”
Set aside time today to read Ezekiel 16 and 17, chapters which outline the sins of Israel. As we think of our world today, you might even think Ezekiel is talking about the USA, while at the end of each chapter, God sagaciously gives us hope! In Ezekiel 16:63, He promises us, “…when I provide you an atonement for all you have done…” And in Ezekiel 17:23 He says, “On the mountain height of Israel I will plant it; and it will bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a majestic cedar…” So first comes the promise of atonement in Ezekiel 16:63, followed by how God will do it in Ezekiel 17:23 — by planting a tree on the mountain. That tree is the cross of Christ, a fruit-bearing tree. The fruit is you and me and all those who believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection, spreading the Good News to others.
And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. Luke 23:33 (NKJV)
On Calvary’s mountain a wooden cross was planted in the ground. On that same cross, the Son of God was willingly nailed to pay the price of the world’s sins (that means yours and mine!). His Name is Jesus, perfect, without sin, our precious Lord. After He died, His followers laid Him in a tomb. Roman soldiers stood guard before the stone, but they had no power over the Son of God. For on the third day, angels came and rolled the stone away and Jesus rose from the grave, appearing first to Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9), saying, “Mary” (John 20:16). And He still calls our names today. God’s Church has brought forth many branches and has been bearing fruit ever since that day, bringing glory to our majestic Savior.
And we declare to you glad tidings—that promise which was made to the fathers. God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.’Acts 13:32-33 (NKJV)
“So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down; I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it some day for a crown” (George Bennard,1913).
Today’s TEA CUPP: Read Ezekiel 16-17 and other Easter verses. Confess your sins and the sins of our nation. Claim Jesus’ promises of atonement (Ezekiel 16:63) and salvation (Ezekiel 17:23). Rejoice in the good news of His resurrection. Hear your risen Savior call your name, “_______.”
…rejoice becauseyour names are written in heaven.Luke 10:20 (NKJV)
Why Jesus Came: ...I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.John 10:10 (NKJV)
Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world,that I should bearwitness to the truth. Everyone whois of the truthhears My voice.” John 18:37 (NKJV) – Oh, how we need His truth today!
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begottenSon, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.John 3:16-17 (NKJV)
And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.Philippians 2:8-11 (NKJV) – Oh Father, be glorified this Easter!
How Jesus saved us: Having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.Colossians 2:14 (NKJV)
An Easter prayer:That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.Philippians 3:10 (NKJV) – Amen.
After two days He will revive us; On the third day He will raise us up, That we may live in His sight. Hosea 6:2 (NKJV)
But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”Matthew 28:5-6 (NKJV)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears muchfruit; for without Me you can donothing. John 15:5 (NKJV)
For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! Job 19:25-27 (NKJV)
But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb.Luke 24:2 (NKJV)
Easter is here in just a few days! In just a few days we proclaim, “He is risen!” (Mark 16:6) Who is risen? It’s Jesus! How do we know He is risen? Because the stone is rolled away and the tomb is empty and Jesus appeared to so many witnesses (1 Corinthians 15:6). Would you consider that perhaps the first witness to Jesus’ resurrection was the stone?
The stone that was rolled in front of the tomb (Mark 16:46).
The stone that was sealed with the Roman seal and guarded by Roman guards (Matthew 27:66).
The stone that would be too heavy for the ladies to move who came Sunday morning to anoint His body with spices (Mark 16:3).
But the stone had already been rolled away by an angel and an earthquake (Matthew 28:2)! The stone miraculously rolled away, leaving fainting guards and an empty tomb (Matthew 28:4-6)! If the stone could tell the story, what would it say?
Having stones as witnesses is not something new. Centuries before Jesus’ crucifixion when God’s people entered the Promised Land, Joshua set up stones as a witness (Joshua 4:7). Right before Joshua died, he set up another stone, declaring…
…“Behold, this stone shall be a witness to us, for it has heard all the words of the Lord which He spoke to us. It shall therefore be a witness to you, lest you deny your God.”Joshua 24:27 (NKJV)
We wonder what Joshua’s stone thought when God’s people turned away from Him again and again and again? Did it witness to all the words of Moses and Joshua? Did it tell the people how far they had fallen from God? Did the stone show God how much His people needed a Savior?
And when that Savior, God’s Son Jesus, came to walk this earth, He taught the people about stones. He said He could raise up children for Abraham from the stones (Luke 3:8), that if the people didn’t praise God, the very stones would cry out to worship Him (Luke 19:40), and that the Stone the builders rejected had become the Chief Cornerstone (Psalm 118:22).
But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent,the stones would immediately cry out.”Luke 19:40 (NKJV)
Yes, the stone that rolled away is a witness for us that Jesus, who died for our sins on the cross, was buried, and the third day rose to eternal life. The stone shouts, “The tomb is empty! Jesus is risen!” We must believe the stone moved and Jesus is alive, or our faith is in vain.
Today’s TEA CUPP: Listen to the witness of the stone: Jesus is risen! Read one of the Gospel accounts (perhaps Matthew 28:1-10) of this greatest story ever, the true story of our Savior Jesus rising from the grave. Believe in Jesus. Thank Him for His saving work on the cross, His forgiveness, and His promise of eternal life in heaven.
For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (NKJV)
So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Acts 16:31 (NKJV)