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 because your 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 bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” John 18:37 (NKJV) – Oh, how we need His truth today!
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 3:16-17 (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 much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 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)
Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.