"Weeping Woman" painting by Pablo Picasso

Today: Proverbs 4:20-27; Matthew 27:45-66; Exodus 13 & 14

Proverbs 4

“Watch over your heart with all diligence.” Proverbs 4:23

We’ve left the age of reason and entered the age of emotion. Feelings reign supreme in our culture today. If it feels good do it. Getting offended justifies ruining someone’s life. Feeling deprived justifies all crimes. Our feelings now determine our gender and species. We’ve removed all guards from our hearts and just let those unstable fickle things run the entire show. But unguarded hearts make stupid decisions. Wisdom requires brains!

"Jesus" painting by Sabir Hussain

Matthew 27 – The Crucifixion

In December 2019. I had two visions of Jesus on the cross.

I stood on Golgotha in front of the cross. The sky above me was a raging tempest, black and purple and blood red. Lightning ripped across the sky and thunder shook the ground. Icy wind bit into my skin. Shouting, pushing crowds of people in dirty tattered robes surrounded me.

I looked up and saw Jesus hanging above me on the cross. His body was mangled, gashed horribly, exposed muscles quivering in pain. Rivers of blood dripped down his body onto the ground below. It was the most terrible sight I have ever seen.

He looked at me and said nothing, but his eyes pierced through my soul. He recognized me. Underneath the horrific wounded flesh I felt his stubborn embrace of impending death. He chose this. He chose to remain on that cross every agonizing second. Underneath the physical torment, he was completely God, completely aware, completely in control of his fate. He could have come down from that cross at any moment, instantly ending his horrific pain. He chose to stay there. His gaze conveyed all of this to me in an instant. He knew who I was. In the midst of being tortured, hung and murdered, he knew me. I was the reason he was even there.

I collapsed to the ground in shock. I pushed my face down to the ground. The ground was foul, clods of hard dirt covered with blood, guts, feces. It was gruesome. And I was lying in it. But the foul earth was nothing compared to the horror of Christ’s dying body hanging above me. I couldn’t breathe. My mouth opened in a silent scream of terror.

Mary and Teresa de Avila pulled me to my feet, I was a sobbing rag doll. They held my right hand tightly and pushed it forward and up to touch the toes of Jesus. I pulled back but their hands were hard and firm. They were stronger and pressed my shaking hand onto his foot. The instant my fingers touched his toes, a tremendous electricity blasted into me. His love instantly overwhelmed me and I pushed my hand more firmly onto his foot. A hundred men couldn’t pull me away from him now. Mary and Teresa released me and stepped aside. As I gazed up at my beautiful dying Savior, my spirit screamed out his name over and over, “Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!”

Several weeks later I again was transported to Christ’s crucifixion in a vision. I stood in the crowd after Pontius Pilate had ordered to have Jesus beaten. I watched horrified with the others as the guards prepared to strike him with their whips. In the vision, God opened my eyes to see the spiritual realm during that momentous event. Angels surrounded Jesus. Hundreds of them filled the courtyard. Others hovered in the air above Jesus. They looked stunned, terror-stricken at what they were seeing. Many of them held their swords, ready to attack the guards, to end this horror.

But God would not allow them to act. They could only watch helplessly as Jesus was flogged and beaten, waiting desperately for God to give them the signal to intervene. That signal never came. Jesus himself also held them back. He had given God his permission… “Not my will, but yours be done.” And so God was ripped in two so that we might be able to enter into union with him.

On Golgotha, Jesus’ broken body was surrounded by attending angels. They embraced Jesus’ body as he was being nailed to the cross and stayed with him as he hung there. They held tightly onto him, caressing his wounds, kissing his body. They wept violently at his pain. They begged him to say the word and let them take him down from the cross… to let them destroy his murderers with their mighty swords. But Jesus would not allow them to do these things. They wept all the more as he refused their pleas. I was amazed at how deeply the angels love Jesus. They worship him too. They were tortured by his pain.

The angels were forced to leave him in the moments before he died. They wept bitterly, clinging desperately to his body as they were pulled away from him by an invisible force.

Hoards of demons rushed in immediately when the angels left him. Dark, hideous trolls of the underworld surrounded Jesus’ body. They tortured his wrecked body as he hung there dying, slicing their talons into his skin and ripping his flesh further. They laughed and taunted as he gasped for his final breaths. They paraded their deformed bodies around the cross in triumph. I watched disgusted at their celebration after Jesus died as his body was put into the tomb and the stone rolled into place. The demons erupted into a ghastly debaucherous party in front of the tomb, maniacally laughing and mock toasting each other with gnarled claws raised in the air. Satan stood in their midst nodding at their obscene celebrations, his mouth twisting into a wicked smirk.

Then a faint light appeared on the horizon. It slowly grew stronger and brighter into a dazzling sun. The stone blocking the cave entrance began to shake, almost imperceptibly at first and then faster and faster until it rolled backwards away from the mouth of the cave. Christ emerged alive from the tomb. The demons abruptly stopped their revelries and turned to gape in horror at Jesus. Satan scowled, black eyes glowering in hatred at the figure standing in front of the empty tomb.

Christ was risen and glorious, alive, healed and whole. His body grew into an immense, brightly shining giant. He slowly raised his arm and pointed his finger accusingly as Satan and all his demons cowered beneath his unflinching stare. They morosely slithered, banished into the now empty cave. And the stone was divinely rolled back into place by an invisible hand, trapping them all inside. Hallelujah.

"Parting the Red Sea" painting by Bill Bell

Exodus 13-14 – Parting The Red Sea

Those fickle Israelites were always nipping at the hand that blessed them. Their memories were very short. The moment things got tough, they turned on Moses and complained against God. But God keeps saving their ungrateful butts anyway, and in grand fashion. He delivers miracle after miracle but still they grumble.

After God miraculously parts the Red Sea, and the Israelites walk through on dry ground with the waters piled up like walls on either side of them, they did stop their whining for a little while. “When Israel saw the great power which the LORD had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in His servant Moses.” (v.14:31) So evidently they COULD be wowed into begrudging worship. But it never lasted long. They would soon be bellyaching again about something or other…

Jesus spoke of this in Mark 8:12, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign shall shall be given to this generation.” I mean, really people, aren’t all the blind people seeing and lame people walking enough? What more did they want? Jesus knew, just as we see in Exodus, that the faith of people clamoring for signs is only skin deep. No miracle would ever be enough to convince them. God wants our hearts. He wants real relationship with us, not spectators gawking at a magic show.