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US 40 - The Road to Health

The Second Half of the Gospel Message

Posted 4/20/2018

Revised 12/18/2018

If you have spent much time in a Christian church, then you have likely heard the phrase “Jesus Saves”. That means that because of his substitutionary death on the cross that your personal sins have been forgiven which pays and erases the debt that keeps you out of Heaven and from a relationship with God. This is an important part of the Gospel or “Good News” for humanity. Indeed, the Cross is a demonstration of God’s perfect sovereignty over His creation where He affords humans the ability to make free-will choices, while at the same time taking full responsibility for the harm His creation inflicts upon itself. What many people fail to see is that the Cross not only removes the barriers that separate humans from God, but also removes the barriers that separate humans from each other. This is the second half of the Gospel that people are dying to hear.


First John 2:2 tells us that Jesus is the atoning sacrifice, not just for the Christian person’s sin, but for the sins of the whole world! That means that whatever you do to someone else has been paid for by Christ. Furthermore, it also means that whatever someone has done to you has also been paid.


What all of that means is that Jesus has satisfied justice. In other words, He took the beating that you deserved for hurting someone else and not only that, He took the beating for whatever anyone has done to harm you. This affords you (by faith) the opportunity to be able to offer them forgiveness and to keep your relationship with them intact. God takes this matter so seriously that He may suspend your relationship with Him if you fail to offer this forgiveness to others (see Matthew 6:14). The reason this is true has to do with an implied metamessage that we send to Jesus when we withhold forgiveness. By not extending the forgiveness of others that He has paid for, we are effectively saying that His death on the cross is not good enough or adequate enough to pay for what someone has done to us. The implied message of Matthew 6:14 back to us is this; “If the cross is not enough to pay for what others do to harm you, then it is not adequate to pay for your debt either.” Therefore, the cross is an all or nothing proposition. That is to say that, it is either good enough to pay for your sins and the sins of others, or else it is not adequate to pay for anything whether yours or theirs.


Not only did Jesus satisfy justice for those you harm and for those who harm you, He wants you to know specifically how he satisfied justice as well as letting you know that He knows how it feels to by treated like that. In other words, the various ways that Jesus suffered in His life along with His way to; and including the Cross, are practical demonstrations of empathy. Furthermore, because He wants us to know that He has suffered all of the possible ways that we can, that uniquely qualifies him to intercede on our behalf.

  1. He was tempted for 40 days in all the ways we are (see Matthew 4:1; Mark 1:12; and Hebrews 4:15).
  1. He was hungry (see Matthew, 4:2-4; and Mark 11:12-14).
  2. He was thirsty (see John 19:28).
  3. He was tired (see John 4:4-6).
  4. He was tempted to test God (see Matthew 4:5-7).
  5. He was tempted to worship things other than God (see
                          Matthew 4:8-10).
  1. He carried a heavy physical burden while physically exhausted (the cross) and needed help. (see Matthew 27:31-32; Mark 15:20-21 and Luke 23:26).
  1. He was despised (see Isaiah 53:3; Matthew 27:18; Mark 15:10 and John 15:18).
  1. He was stalked by the Jewish religious leaders, conspired and plotted against. The Pharisees and Sadducees sought to trap him at every turn (see Matthew 12:1-13; Matthew 21:14-15; Matthew 21:23-27; Matthew 21:45; Matthew 22:15-21; Matthew 26:3-5; Mark 3:1-6; Mark 11:15-18; 
                        Mark 12:12; Mark 12:13-34; Mark 14:1-2; John 19:7 and John 19:12).
  1. He was tested, questioned and scrutinized (see Mark 8:11-13; Mark 10:2-5 and Mark 11:27-33).
  1. He was disrespected and dishonored (see Mark 6:1-6).
  1. People hounded him. He was pressured to perform. Was always in demand and found no relief (see Mark 5:24-31).
  1. He was falsely accused (see John 18:29-30; Matthew 12:22-28; Matthew 26:59-61; Mark 3:22; Mark 14:55-59 and Mark 15:3).

  1. He knew what it meant to lose close relationships. He was arrested and torn from friends and family (see Matthew 26:57; Mark 14:48-49 and John 19:25-27).

  1. He experienced the death of close friends.
     
     A. His cousin John the Baptist (see Matthew 14:6-14).

     B. Lazarus (see John 11:11-36).


  1. He experienced hypocrisy when He was insincerely flattered and lied to. The very same people who praised him and cried “hosanna” (see Matthew 21:6-9) were the ones who cried “Crucify him” (see Matthew 27:20-23; Mark 15:6-14; Luke 23:13-25; John 19:4-16 and Acts 2:23).
  1. He had to rely on others to care for his mother. He left this responsibility to his disciple John (see John 19:25-27).
  1. He was rejected by those important to Him (see Isaiah 53:3; Matthew 26:62-68; Matthew 27:15-22; Mark 8:31; Mark 15:12-15 and John 18:38-40).

  1. He was betrayed. His own disciples were disloyal to him. They abandoned him and denied that they knew him. They failed to stay unified and became scattered. (see Matthew 26:14; Matthew 26:20-25; Matthew 26:45-49; Mark 14:10-11; Mark 14:41-45 and John 18:2).

  1. He was abandoned and left unsupported by those closest to Him. They fell asleep and failed to pray with Him. Peter denied that he knew Him. The disciples followed him at a distance on His way to be judged.
  1. He was a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering and anxiety yet he sought the will of God the Father and not his own (see Isaiah 53:3 and Matthew 16:21). When praying for another way He resolved Himself to be “the strong one” and took on the burdens of those He loved unfairly as if they were His own.

                             A. To the point of perspiring droplets of blood (see Luke 22:44).

                             B. To the point of death (see Matthew 26:36-38 and Mark 14:32-34).


Jesus was not masochistic as he asked for another way to save his friends and his creation. He did not want to die (see Matthew 26:39; Matthew 26:42; Mark 14:35 and Luke 22:42). Yet he died so that we might have life eternal.

  1. He was mocked, ridiculed and insulted. His identity was stolen from Him as the Jewish religious leaders and the people failed to see who He really was (see Matthew 20:17; Matthew 27:27-31; Matthew 27: 40-43; Mark 14:65; Mark 15:16-20; Mark 15:31-32; John 19:2-3 and 1 Peter 2:23).

  1. He was alienated from his friends, like one from whom men hide their faces and abandoned (see Isaiah 53:3; Matthew 26:31-35; Mark 14:31 and Mark 14:50).

  1. He was unwanted, unloved and we esteemed him not. He was metaphorically called something worse than whatever Barabbas was as the people chose Barabbas over Jesus (see Isaiah 53:3; Matthew 26:62-68 and Matthew 27:15-22).

  1. He was stricken by God, suggesting that he endured every kind of plague and disease (see Isaiah 53:4; Matthew 20:17; Matthew 26:62-68; Matthew 27:26; Matthew 27:30; Mark 14:65; Mark 15:15 & 19 and John 19:1).

  1. He was smitten by him [God] and beaten by man (see Isaiah 53:4; Matthew 26:62-68 and John 18:22).

He was spat upon (see Matthew 26:62-68; Matthew 27:30; Mark 14:65; and Mark 15:19).

  1. He gave up justice and refused to defend himself¾he kept silent (see Matthew 26:62-63; Matthew 27:12-13; Mark 14:60-61 and Mark 15:3-5). He suffered intentionally by refusing wine, gall (believed to be a narcotic pain killer) and myrrh (see Matthew 27:34 and Mark 15:23). He willfully endured the cross thus martyring himself.
  1. His possessions were taken from him (see Mark 15:24).
  1. He was afflicted, insulted and falsely rebuked (see Isaiah 53:4; Matthew 27:39; Matthew 27:44; Mark 8:31-33; Mark 15:29-30 and Mark 15:32).
  1. He was pierced for our transgressions meaning that He was stabbed (see Isaiah 53:5 and John 19:35).
  1. He was crushed for our iniquities which satisfied justice (see Isaiah 53:5).
  1. He was punished in our place which brought us peace and freedom from guilt (see Isaiah 53:5 and Matthew 27:26).
  1. He was wounded which brought us health (see Isaiah 53:5).
  1. He was oppressed, bound and blindfolded (see Isaiah 53:7; Matthew 27:1-2; Mark 14:65 and Mark 15:1).
  1. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter (see Isaiah 53:7 and Matthew 27:1-2).

  1. He was incorrectly judged and His true identity was not accepted (see Isaiah 53:8; Matthew 26:62-66; Matthew 27:15-25 and John 19:13).

  1. He was numbered with the transgressors and was convicted of crimes He did commit and was not guilty of (see Isaiah 53:12; Matthew 26:62-66; Matthew 27:1-2; Matthew 27: 15-26; Mark 14:63-64; Mark. 15:1 and John 19:16).

  1. He was stripped naked and publicly humiliated (see Matthew 27:28 and John 19:23).

  1. He was forsaken, betrayed, deserted and disowned (see Matthew 26:40; Matthew 26:55-56; Matthew 26: 69-75; Matthew 27:45-46; Mark14:66-72 and Mark 15:33-34).

  1. He became poor that we might become rich. He caused a fish to recover a lost coin in order to be able to pay his taxes. He had no place of his own. (see 2 Corinthians 8:9; Matthew 8:20 and Luke 9:58). He travelled from town to town (see Luke 8:1 and Luke 17:11).

  1. Jesus placed his trust and life into the hands of an authority who sacrificed him for the sake of others. In modern language, He was thrown under the bus. No one came to His rescue (see Luke 22:42).

The Case of Mary

  1. If it hasn’t become obvious thus far, it was Jesus’ intention to suffer in all the ways in which humans can. 

Yet there is one injury that has not yet been identified. It has to do with a certain story (in all four Gospels) about Mary, a woman who wiped her tears from the feet of Jesus. As you may recall, Jesus rebuked the disciples (probably Judas Iscariot) for complaining that the perfume that Mary poured over His head could have been used elsewhere. Jesus saw the kindness of this woman and made known that the perfume was used in order to prepare Him for burial. It would have made him smell like the prostitute that she was. Who else would have need of an expensive jar of perfume in that culture other than royalty? In Luke's account he states that she was an immoral woman. Later in captivity, this would have triggered the Roman guard who stripped Him of His clothes to think of sex and to put a scarlet robe on Him. Purple is the color of royalty not scarlet. Scarlet would have denoted a harlot. By the way, Mary was the only person at the house of Simon the Lepper that the Bible says wept after hearing Him say what was about to happen to Him. Perhaps she was the only one who truly loved him and the only one who took what He said seriously. Through the scriptural metamessage from Jesus, that wherever the Gospel message would be preached, her story would be told also, He was identifying himself with the sexual abuse that she endured as she had prostituted herself to the Romans. Therefore, for every person who has ever been sexually abused, you are not forgotten. Jesus must have experienced that too. (see Matthew 26: 7-13; Mark 14:3-9; Luke 7:37-50 and John 12:3-8).

2 Peter 1:1-4 reminds us that Jesus has provided a way for us to escape the corruption of the world caused by those who would injure us. He has made a way for us to escape from the distress of grief and from the literal physical death caused by stress. Our answer lies in the writings of the prophet Isaiah who predicted the crucifixion of Jesus some 960 years before it actually occurred. In chapter 53 Isaiah writes something quite curious. He writes regarding this man Jesus that, “by His stripes we are healed.” In my study of the four synoptic gospels (eye-witness accounts), along with other sections of Scripture regarding the life of Jesus, that he was indeed injured thirty-nine distinct ways.

The Fortieth Stripe

He was assigned a grave with the wicked, experienced hell, eternal punishment and separation from God. “He was mentally torn, alienated from himself and suffered separation from God (see Isaiah 53:9 and Mark 15:27). “Again, who can say who it was, exactly, who died on that cross? How can God die? Has there ever been a more powerful demonstration of an identity crisis, of a soul (God's own) being torn in two?” (Mason n.d.)


As we travel through our Christian life here on earth let us remember to take a detour once in a while and travel US-40 instead. US-40 is a superhighway for our minds, hearts and spirits. It is the only possible route that can lead us to complete emotional and psychological healing from the countless losses and injuries that we each experience throughout our lives. Therapists and psychologists have attempted various methods in the past to remove the pain of emotional injury by having clients; talk to empty chairs, punch Bobo dolls, or burn paper lists of written hurts that are metaphorically carried away in smoke (Levitsky and Perls 1970), (Albert Bandura 1961). While perhaps cathartic for the moment, results are not long enduring. Why? Because deep down we know those are simply gimmicks to deceive us into believing that our hurt is gone when we know full well that it isn’t. Why US-40? Because of the forty ways Jesus made it about US.

Grieving Well — Turning Grief into Gratitude

We have all been hurt and mistreated by others. For some of our hurts however, we may never be able to gain justice or know that the other person understands how they have hurt us. For those who cannot reconcile injuries and losses caused by others—for those who cannot repair a broken relationship—for those who have been injured anonymously, whose perpetrator has come into their life, wreaked havoc and then disappeared—all is not lost. You do not have to be stuck in your grief. When you are triggered to remember these insults, injuries and losses, do not deny that they have happened to you, and do not minimize them. The truth is that they hurt. You cannot forget that they happened, so give up on trying to mentally suppress those remembrances. To grieve well means to acknowledge the injury, but never linger there. Do allow the thought to persist long enough to remember that Jesus has paid for that with His own suffering on your behalf. Realize that He knows precisely how it felt to be treated that way. Know that He has ascended back into Heaven where He intercedes for you at the right hand of the Father (Cf. Romans 8:34) and that you have a High Priest who knows your suffering (Cf. Hebrews 4:14-16). Realize that He satisfied justice for you and that you know longer need to ruminate about the ways that you have been hurt, nor do you need to carry those burdens. He carried them for you. As you take on this yoke of faith (Cf. Matthew 11:29), He promises to make these things light and momentary for you—but it’s a matter of your faith. Believing that He did that for you, is sometimes the hardest part, which is your cross to bear (Cf. Matthew 16: 24-26). As you do realize all of this, and accept it by faith, then, when you are ready, let your grief and sorrow turn into gratitude.

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