June 21

Today's Bible Readings
     Deuteronomy 26
     Psalms 117-118
     Isaiah 53
     Matthew 1
''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 53:5-6)
            When mortal man mangled his magnificent Maker, it was the turning point of all of history. It was a long journey from Glory to Galileeto Gethsemane to Gabbatha, to Golgatha. This ''Place of the Skull'' was viewed with horror by the angels, and yet it has become the most sacred place to the saints.
            The New Testament tells us ''they'' crucified Him. The question is, ''who is it who actually crucified the Son of God?'' Over the years, many have sought to unjustly blame Christ's death on the Jewish people as a whole. Others have named individuals like Annas, Caiaphas,Herod, or Pilate. The Romans have received blame. They represented the government. But the Greeks were there representing scholarship, culture and language. Then, of course, there were the Jews with the priests, Saducees, Levites, zealots, and prophets. They represented religion.
            They were also there from all over the world - Parthians,Medes, Jews, Cretes, and Arabians. But, really, who was it who crucified Jesus that day? The answer may surprise you. It was God the Father. Our Scripture tells us that the Lord laid  on Him the iniquity of us all. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus said, ''Not My will, but Your will be done." It was the will of the Father that He would die on the Cross. The only God-forsaken place in the history of man was the Cross from which Jesus cried out, ''My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?''
            It was God the Son who was responsible. Jesus said, ''no one takes this life from Me." He could have called more than twelve legions of angels to His rescue. It was His own will to fulfill the Scripture and to die as a substitute for sinners. He was not a victim, He was a volunteer.
            It was Satan who crucified Him. Lucifer's intent, from the time of his fall, was to slay Christ at His birth (Revelation 12:4), to tempt Him to sin or be killed (Matthew 4:5-6), and to have Christ slain (John 13:26). Of course, Jewish leaders were also involved. The High Priests and Sanhedrinplotted for His death. Herod, Pilate, and others representing the Roman Empire were a part of the plot and activities that brought about the crucifixion.
            We must go back to the very beginning to find some who were responsible. The original sinners, Adam and Eve, were a part of this. By eating from the forbidden tree, they had plunged the race of mankind into sin. By their original sin, Adam and Eve were parties to the crucifixion of Christ; therefore, all mankind, having fallen and in need of a Savior to bear their sins, that they might  live, required Christ to die for them. 
             But you must also understand that you are responsible for His death. Christ ''bore our sins in His own body on the tree." Your sins and my sins nailed Him to the Cross. (I Peter 2:24) He died for you. Your sins, seen from the beginning, by a loving and compassionate Heavenly Father, put Christ on the Cross in your place to save you.
            Were you there when they crucified our Lord? Oh, yes, you were there. You were responsible. It should have been you and me on that Cross. We are blessed recipients of the substitutionary atonement of Calvary. That is the true miracle of the Cross.
            The Northern Marianas, which is the Commonwealth of approximately 477 sq. km. only has about 80,000 people. The Christian population represents 90% of the total peoples there. Almost the entire indigenous population was baptized in the Catholic Church. The greatest opportunity for evangelism here is among the tourists. Over 1 million Japanesetourists visit the islands annually, many specifically to worship at Shinto and Buddhist shrines. Pray that they may be reached.
''God has two dwellings: one in Heaven, and the other in a meek and thankful heart."
Isaac Walton