One of the tricks of the trade I’ve learned is to always end the day’s writing having made a start on the next day’s work. That way you keep momentum going. Because you’ve already thought through what comes next, even if starting out cold you can warm to the task in no time.
This is an attempt to apply the principle on grand scale. Why not start the next book while wrapping up the current one. What follows is my opening stab at the first chapter of the next in the NOT CONFUSED series. It might still end up on the cutting room floor amongst the out-takes, but at least the crew are on set and the cameras are rolling.
We’re days away from the release of How To Read The Bible & Not Get Confused. Hitting the deadline has been a frenetic affair. The publishers require the final manuscript more than a week in advance, which gives them time to process it through their systems. The clock is ticking and tomorrow is the day of final edits.
Please share the news as the book launches. I’d love to get this material into the hands of everyone on the planet. I’m trusting the Lord to end up is many formats – e-books, print, audiobooks, multiple languages and the like. Hundreds of thousands of copies at least. Trust with me. Pray for me. Help me where you can as your own convictions permit.
Enjoy the preview!
Jesus instituted a New Covenant in His blood.
This New Covenant was cut as the Lamb of God, falsely accused, laid down His life.
Crucifixion was a gruesome death. It was sadistically crafted to be slow, painful and humiliating. Relief eventually came to the fever-wracked body by asphyxiation. That happened when the body was so traumatised and exhausted that it overcame it’s involuntary fight for oxygen. By then the loss of control of bladder and bowel had removed every last vestige of dignity.
Strong men lived for days on crosses. Jesus died quickly. Not because the authorities needed Him to; which was why they precipitated premature asphyxiation for the two thieves crucified alongside Jesus by breaking their legs. Not because of the heavy scourging which He had endured; the multi-thonged whip was well able to end a life as well, which was why lashes were carefully rationed. And not because He was in a weakened state by nine o’clock when they crucified him. Three trials, trumped up charges, no food, no sleep, a beating and a scourging; most of us would need help lugging our crosses. Jesus was weakened, but not weak!
A weak man doesn’t take time mid-carnage to forgive those who are persecuting Him. A weak man doesn’t ensure that His mother is taken care of. And a weak man certainly doesn’t have the energy to minister to the down-and-outer next to Him. Doing any one of these things under those circumstances would have been remarkable. Jesus did all three. He also declined the pain-relieving opiate offered Him, declared His job done (”It is finished”, He said), and surrendered His spirit as He breathed His last. The world will never again see so consummate a victim, and yet all through His suffering He remained in control. Jesus laid down His life.
He died quickly because of sin. The Lamb of God had the iniquities of humanity laid on Him. Can you ever begin to imagine how to quantify that? How much sin is the whole world’s sin? The Scriptures are unequivocal about this. He died for our sin. He became a sin offering. In that moment of imputation, He became as unacceptable to God as sin is, and received sin’s reward. It’s wages have always been death. We know that the anguish which sin caused Jesus outweighed everything that the murderous crowd and the executioners were throwing at Him. He remained silent through it all, except for, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”
Six hours on that cross! Six hours of tumult as the hordes of hades congregated in supposed triumph. Six hours that played havoc with creation. Hours of darkness which proved earth-shattering in the end – literally. Six hours of other-worldliness. The Centurion in charge walked away shaking his head, believing.
Gehenna (our Bibles translate it as hell) was the city dump and the place where the corpses of a destitute criminals were disposed of. Jerusalem had as much of a challenge when it came to sanitation as any other city does. In Gehenna the fire and worm did their work, loved-ones wept, dogs gnashed their teeth, and sulphur was used to mask the smell. Jesus had used its image in His teachings more than once, and Gehenna ought to have become His grave. Joseph of Arimathea stepped in instead, and Jesus’ body was entombed in his brand new rock-hewn sepulchre. Isaiah had prophesied some seven hundred years previously that His grave would be with the wicked and with the rich, and it was.
But the story doesn’t end there. The stone was rolled away. His grave clothes were neatly folded. Multiple resurrection appearances followed. It was explanation on the road to Emmaus, reassurance in Jerusalem, and breakfast in Galilee. More than five hundred people attested to being with Him on one occasion. His resurrection ratified His atoning work. The Lamb of God had done His job. The New Covenant had been cut. It really was finished after all! If the cross was the cheque that paid the debt, then the resurrection was that cheque that cleared the account.
The rest is history. His ascension from the Mount of Olives, His being seated in honour at the right hand of the Father, enthroned. The Lamb of God is the Lion of Judah. The choirs of heaven added a new verse to their hymn – it’s now “Holy” and “Worthy”. Jesus is the Eternal High Priest of the New Covenant. God has spoken. His final word on all matters is Jesus!
This is the Gospel. Paul called it “of first importance”. This book is about why that is so!
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:3–6)