Day 89: Phoenix Rising (March 30)

When I was up spending time alone with God this morning, I looked out the window and saw a glorious red and orange sunrise coming up from the horizon.  I immediately had the thought of a Phoenix rising.  (A phoenix is a mythical creature, a long-living bird that cyclically regenerates or is otherwise born again.  It obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor.)

Immediately, I knew God wanted to speak through this in a devotional……and this message just “happens” to fall on Good Friday.  (It is astonishingly cool to partner with Holy Spirit and write just from obedience and find He is more aware of our calendar than I am!)

Jesus died on the cross so that we could be born again.  It makes me wonder if the mythical idea of the phoenix wasn’t loosely based on this transaction.  Jesus took our sins upon Himself on that glorious day and not even death could defeat Him as He determined to create a way for us to have unhindered access to Him.  It’s amazing.  It’s humbling.  We should remember this every day of our lives.

You, my friend, are like a phoenix rising from the ashes.  Did you notice in the explanation of the phoenix that it obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor.  Hmmmm.  I died to my sin nature and gave myself to Jesus to be re-born.  We trade our ashes in for beauty, as the song says.  The parallels seem to be unending.

What does a phoenix look like?  They are gloriously beautiful fiery creatures. When we are born again, we become full of the Light of Christ.  Essentially set on fire inside with the love of Christ.

You are a glorious sunrise.  You were meant to burn bright for the world to see.  Jesus didn’t sacrifice all He sacrificed so you could just get by.  No!  He laid His life down to become a bridge between you and heaven.  A gateway to the Father He is.

Let all this rest on you for a minute.  Soak in the beautiful imagery.  Imagine all the parallels.

The Light of the world died on the cross.  Then like a phoenix He rose again from the ashes to ascend to heaven where He sits at the right hand of the Father and intercedes on your behalf.  Wow.

Oh God, You alone are worthy of all glory and honor and praise.  Jesus, thank You for Your sacrifice.  Help me to live a life worthy of the sacrifice You made, by listening to and obeying Your voice.  Pour out a deeper understanding of the fullness of the gift of eternal life.  Show me how to access all You died for so I could receive it.  Let me never be afraid to shine.  Let me always be brimming over with the glory of the Lord.  Like a phoenix I will rise from the ashes of my flesh and embrace Your Spirit inside me, to Your glory.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face.  Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”

As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”  But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.”  The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.” When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid,  and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”

Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”  When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaicis Gabbatha). It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon.

“Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews. But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”  “Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.  “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.   Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

The Crucifixion of Jesus:  So the soldiers took charge of Jesus.  Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).  There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.  Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: jesus of nazareth, the king of the jews.  Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek.  The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.”  Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.” 

When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.  “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said, “They divided my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.” So this is what the soldiers did.  Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

The Death of Jesus:  Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

 Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down.  The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.  These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”

The Burial of Jesus:  Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.   John 19

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