Dr. Ray Pritchard

Author, Speaker, President of Keep Believing Ministries

The One They Have Pierced

“The one they have pierced” (Zechariah 12:10).

It is not often appreciated that our Lord Jesus died in terrible pain. If you run the clock back from 3 o’clock in the afternoon—the moment of his death—back to about 3 o’clock in the morning and review what had happened to Jesus as he moves through those hours—what you discover is that our Lord Jesus Christ has just been through 12 hours of torture.

Arrested in the middle of the night.
Slapped.
Pushed around.
Mocked. 
Slapped again.
Crowned with thorns that went into his scalp. 
Scourged with a large strap studded with bits of bone and stone and metal. 
His beard ripped out.
Beaten again and again.
Nails driven through his hands and feet.
Crucified. 

At this point a strange question comes to mind. Was Jesus a failure? You could make a good case that the answer is yes. Just look at his life. He was born into an unimportant family in an unimportant little village. He was ignored, he was taken for granted, he was laughed at. When he speaks, the powers that be want nothing to do with him. He faces ridicule, opposition, and misunderstanding all his life. In the end he is crucified like a criminal. His sufferings in those last few hours are unspeakable. When he dies he appears to be yet another forgotten footnote in history. Working with the facts on one level, you could make the case that our Lord was a failure.

But his death is not the end of the story.
Jesus did not fail in what he came to do.
He perfectly fulfilled the Father’s will.

Run to the cross. Cling to it. Embrace the sufferings of Christ. Though this cannot lessen your pain, it may give you strength to carry on. Jesus suffered before you; he also suffered for you. Child of God, remember this: As Friday comes before Sunday, so the cross leads on to the empty tomb. And there is no resurrection unless there is first a crucifixion.

On this Good Friday, let’s make our prayer the final verse of O Sacred Head Now Wounded.

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.

Click here to download the free Lenten ebook "Lord of Glory."

You can reach the author at [email protected]. Click here to sign up for the free email sermon.

Man of Sorrows


"Christ Carries the Cross," El Greco, ca. 1580s.

“He was . . . a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" (Isaiah 53:3).

Did you know that the Bible never tells us that Jesus smiled or laughed? I’m sure that he did, but the gospels never mention it. Isaiah 53:3 calls him “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” When he was born, Herod tried to kill him. When he began his ministry, the people in his hometown took offense at him (Mark 6:3). In the closing hours of his life, he was betrayed by Judas and denied by Peter. His sufferings did not begin on the cross, but it was his suffering that led him to the cross.

It is said that Bernard of Clairvaux in the 12th century first penned the words to the hymn O Sacred Head Now Wounded. The second verse speaks to the issue of our sin and the death of Christ:

What thou, my Lord, hast suffered was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression, but thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ’Tis I deserve thy place;
Look on me with thy favor, and grant to me thy grace.

That verse captures the whole problem of the human race—"mine, mine was the transgression.” We’ve done well in that department, haven’t we? Our sins have cut us off from God so we are left to our own feeble devices. Most of us think of ourselves as pretty good people, or at least we’re not as bad as the fellow next door. And it’s true—we haven’t done every terrible thing that others have done. But still our hands are not clean. We have cheated. We have lied. We have gossiped. We have falsely accused. We have made excuses. We have cut corners. We have lost our temper. We have mistreated others. When we finally get a glimpse of the cross of Christ, we see how great our sin really is. In the light of Calvary, all our supposed goodness is nothing but filthy rags. 

Isaiah 53 contains the good news we all need. He was bruised—for us. He was wounded—for us. He was beaten, betrayed, mocked, scourged, crowned with thorns, crucified—all for us. Our sins drove Jesus to the cross. But he did not go unwillingly. If our sins drove him there, it was his love for us that kept him there.

If you want to go to heaven, pay attention to Isaiah 53:6. In the King James Version, it reads this way: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Notice that it begins and ends with the word “all.” One man gave his testimony this way: “I stooped down low and went in at the first ‘all.’ Then I stood up straight and walked out at the last ‘all.’” The first “all” tells us that we are sinners; the last “all” tells us that Christ has paid the price for our sins. Go in at the first “all” and come out at the last “all” and you will discover the way of salvation.

After Calvary, God has nothing left to prove to anyone. How can you doubt his love after you look at the bleeding form of Jesus hanging on the cross?

We understand our own sorrows a bit better when we see them refracted through the bloody haze of Good Friday. See him on the cross, “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” He knows what you are going through, he will personally comfort you, and in the end, you will be blessed.

How beautiful are your wounds, Lord Jesus. How amazing your grace to those who attacked you. You were truly a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. By your stripes we are healed and through your death we are forgiven. Glory to you, Lord Jesus, for your suffering has set us free. Amen. 

Click here to download the free Lenten ebook "Lord of Glory."

You can reach the author at [email protected]. Click here to sign up for the free email sermon.

A few days ago I recorded a special Good Friday message called "A Time to Die” that will be broadcast on American Family Radio (AFR) three times this Friday:

April 18 11:05 AM CT AFR and AFR Talk
              6:05 PM CT AFR Talk
              6:30 PM CT AFR


On Easter Sunday they will broadcast my message called "Going All In” on the resurrection of Jesus.

April 20 2:30 PM CT AFR Talk

Also on Sunday, you can listen an interview I did with Kim Ketola on the Cradle My Heart broadcast on how to find healing after an abortion. The program ended up being all about God’s mercy and forgiveness when we have sinned. Hope in Christ shines through every part of the program. Click on this link to listen. Here are the details:

April 20 8 PM CT Cradle My Heart Radio

Please pray that God will use these broadcasts to draw many people to Jesus. Since this is Holy Week, Christians everywhere are meditating on the death and resurrection of our Lord. But millions of people who don’t know Christ are thinking of those same events and wondering what it all means. What a wonderful opportunity to share Christ! Since these broadcasts will go out over the Internet, that means people around the world can hear the Good News of Jesus and be saved.

You can reach the author at [email protected]. Click here to sign up for the free email sermon.

Mediator

“There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).

A quick check of the headlines reveals the fractured state of the world:

“Judge tells NFL and players to keep at it, with new mediator.”
“Mediator tries to broker Tribune deal.”
“President casts himself as mediator.”
“Turkey plays mediator in Libya crisis.”

Everyone needs a mediator, or so it seems.

Nowhere is the need greater than in our relationship with God. A mediator is someone who can represent both sides in an estranged relationship. 

Jesus qualifies because he is God and man at the same time.
Fully God and fully man.

Because he shares our humanity, he represents us before the Father.
Because he is God incarnate, he can bear the burden of our sins.

Note that there is “one mediator” and only one between God and man. No one else can do what Jesus does. He “stands in the gap” between God and man, making peace by the blood of the cross. 

When God called for Adam after the Fall, the guilty head of the human race hid because of his shame. But now we do not shrink from God, sinners though we are, because Jesus our mediator has opened the way to the Father. 

If he were less than God or less than man, he could not be our mediator, much less the “one mediator” for the whole human race. But he is more than enough for this sin-stricken world. He raises his pierced hands and all accusations against us must cease. “What can ever break a reconciliation so dearly bought, so effectually made, and so firmly secured?” (John East)

When times are tough, the nights long, the days dreary, when fearful thoughts threaten to overwhelm us, when life perplexes or death alarms us, let us come with confident faith to Jesus our Lord who is exalted in heaven as our “One Mediator.”

Lord Jesus, because you are the great sin-bearer, you are all we need now and forever. Thank you for doing for us what we could never do for ourselves. Amen.

Click here to download the free Lenten ebook "Lord of Glory."

You can reach the author at [email protected]. Click here to sign up for the free email sermon.

About Dr. Ray Pritchard

Dr. Ray Pritchard is the president of Keep Believing Ministries, in Internet-based ministry serving Christians in 225 countries. He is the author of 29 books, including Stealth Attack, Fire and Rain, Credo, The ABCs of Christmas, The Healing Power of Forgiveness, An Anchor for the Soul and Why Did This Happen to Me? Ray and Marlene, his wife of 39 years, have three sons-Josh, Mark and Nick, two daughters-in-law--Leah and Vanessa, and four grandchildren grandsons: Knox, Eli, Penny and Violet. His hobbies include biking, surfing the Internet, and anything related to the Civil War.

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