if…

27-31The soldiers assigned to the governor took Jesus into the governor’s palace and got the entire brigade together for some fun. They stripped him and dressed him in a red toga. They plaited a crown from branches of a thornbush and set it on his head. They put a stick in his right hand for a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mocking reverence: “Bravo, King of the Jews!” they said. “Bravo!” Then they spit on him and hit him on the head with the stick. When they had had their fun, they took off the toga and put his own clothes back on him. Then they proceeded out to the crucifixion.

32-34Along the way they came on a man from Cyrene named Simon and made him carry Jesus’ cross. Arriving at Golgotha, the place they call “Skull Hill,” they offered him a mild painkiller (a mixture of wine and myrrh), but when he tasted it he wouldn’t drink it.

35-40After they had finished nailing him to the cross and were waiting for him to die, they whiled away the time by throwing dice for his clothes. Above his head they had posted the criminal charge against him: this is jesus, the king of the jews. Along with him, they also crucified two criminals, one to his right, the other to his left. People passing along the road jeered, shaking their heads in mock lament: “You bragged that you could tear down the Temple and then rebuild it in three days—so show us your stuff! Save yourself! If you’re really God’s Son, come down from that cross!”

41-44The high priests, along with the religion scholars and leaders, were right there mixing it up with the rest of them, having a great time poking fun at him: “He saved others—he can’t save himself! King of Israel, is he? Then let him get down from that cross. We’ll all become believers then! He was so sure of God—well, let him rescue his ‘Son’ now—if he wants him! He did claim to be God’s Son, didn’t he?” Even the two criminals crucified next to him joined in the mockery.  Matthew 27:27-44 The Message

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1 Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, 2 where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry.

3 Then the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become a loaf of bread.”

4 But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone.’”

5 Then the devil took him up and revealed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 “I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them,” the devil said, “because they are mine to give to anyone I please. 7 I will give it all to you if you will worship me.”

8 Jesus replied, “The Scriptures say,

‘You must worship the Lord your God
and serve only him.’”

9 Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! 10 For the Scriptures say,

‘He will order his angels to protect and guard you.
11 And they will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’”

12 Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’”

13 When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came. Luke 4:1-13 New Living Translation

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I wonder if Jesus recognized the “one” who was speaking that agonizing day as He hung beaten, bleeding, and bruised on the cross?  “If”…the word of doubt.  If he is the Son of God…If you are the Son of God… In those moments, one of hunger, thirst, and alone-ness and one of pain, breathlessness, and abandonment, would Jesus ever doubt Who He was?  Whose He was?  Would He wonder as He called out to a Father that had turned His back on the unholiness of sin?  Would He deny God?  deny Himself?  deny Who God created Him to be and do?  Do I?

Do I listen to the “if” and doubt Who God is and who I am to Him?  Though I am worm and dust and wretched on my own, when God sees me white as snow beneath the crimson blood of His Son, I am His!  I belong to Creator of all that is and the Savior that is preparing what is to come!  I matter to Him!  First and foremost my heart and mind and soul and spirit!  Yes, my passion is to be His Passion – my aims, His goals.  But, I have been deceived to stop there.  To believe that God only cares about what is on my “inside” and not about my surroundings.  So, I stop praying for dreams, desires, and hopes that have to do with the temporal and in turn I don’t receive them.  I stop believing that those areas of my life matter to God.  But didn’t Paul often pray and ask others to pray for his physical well-being?  Didn’t He bless Abraham with the physical riches of his day?  Job?  David?  Solomon?  Ruth and Boaz?  Esther?  If God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, would He not also care about and want to give Good Gifts now to His children?  If He loved before the blood of Christ redeemed, wouldn’t He all the more after?  If He asks for all, would I withhold the inside or the outside?  Would I doubt that He loves?  O, but How He Loves!

If Jesus could stand, though alone with the Devil himself – if He could hang, though questioned about Who He was and was capable of…could I?  Can I believe and not doubt (James 1:6)?  Can I stand on what I know is Truth and hang on every Word of God and believe that He cares for me and if I ask and believe He will faithfully delight in giving?  (Rhetoric seems to be my way these days.)

I believe.  No ifs, ands, or buts!