A Bible Lesson in an Anniversary Present
Susan E. Todd
[Note: This message was delivered at our ladies meetings on June 10th, 2000 in our church in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine. I'm happy to report that there was not a dry eye in the room after this meeting. The Lord blessed and one young lady received Jesus Christ as her Saviour. Many were deeply moved and re-dedicated themselves to living a more godly life for the One who did so much for them. All the women said they would never look at a rose the same way again.]
(Isaiah 35:1-2) The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God.
My beloved gave me roses for our anniversary. It reminded me of a time before we were married when he sent me a bouquet of six beautiful red roses with white baby's breath.
The first thought that struck me as I stood there holding the bouquet was that he was telling me how much he loved me. You see my husband and I did not date, we courted. Our true love for each other was reserved for our marriage. But we had ways of showing each other that we did love each other and sending flowers to me was one of his.
As I carefully arranged the roses in a vase the flowers were tightly closed. As they stood in the vase for a short period of time they began to open and it was then that God revealed to me the lesson He had hidden in each rose.
The first thing that I noticed about the roses was their fragrance. It was very sweet and filled the room. When the wise men went to see Jesus one of them brought Him a gift of myrrh (Matthew 2:11).
According to the dictionary myrrh is "an aromatic gum resin obtained from several trees and shrubs of India, Arabia, and eastern Africa, used in the manufacture of perfume. An aromatic plant having compound leaves and clusters of small white flowers."(Reader's Digest Illustrated Encyclopedic Dictionary, Copyright 1987)
The myrrh that was given to Jesus at his birth was representative of two things in the life of Christ. First it represented the real reason Christ came to this earth. In Jesus' day myrrh was used in the embalming of bodies (John 19:38-40). So here myrrh is symbolic of Christ's impending death.
Mark 14:3-8tells the story of Jesus eating at the house of Simon the leper. A woman with an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard comes in and breaks the box, pouring the oil on His head. The question is asked why waste such a precious commodity when it could be sold for a lot of money and given to the poor. "And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me:She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying." Jesus came into this world to die. These two acts foreshadowed that event.
Let's take another look at the three gifts that were presented to Christ. The gold is representative of Jesus Christ as King. There is no denying that. Gold is a gift that you would give a King. The queen of Sheba brought gold to King Solomon when she went to prove him with hard questions. (1 Kings 10:10)
(2 Samuel 8:10) Then Toi sent Joram his son unto king David, to salute him, and to bless him, because he had fought against Hadadezer, and smitten him: for Hadadezer had wars with Toi. And Joram brought with him vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and vessels of brass: Once again we see gold being given to a king, in this case David, as a gift.
I don't believe that there is anyone who would deny that Jesus is a king. He came into this world at His first advent as a king in the form of a baby. (Matthew 2:1-2) " : Where is he that is born King of the Jews?"
And He will come as a king again at His second advent (Revelation 19:11-16) " : and his name is called The Word of God. : And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS."
The second gift that was given to Jesus was frankincense. Frankincense represents Christ's office as a Priest.
Frankincense by definition is a dry resinous substance, existing in pieces or drops, pale yellowish to white in color, possesses a bitterish acrid taste, and is very inflammable. Can be used as a perfume.(Noah Webster's First Edition of An American Dictionary of the English Language, Copyright 1828)
Now let's see how it was used in relation to the Old Testament priesthood. (Leviticus 2:1-3) And when any will offer a meat offering unto the LORD, his offering shall be of fine flour; and he shall pour oil upon it, and put frankincense thereon: And he shall bring it to Aaron's sons the priests: and he shall take thereout his handful of the flour thereof, and of the oil thereof, with all the frankincense thereof; and the priest shall burn the memorial of it upon the altar, to be an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD: And the remnant of the meat offering shall be Aaron's and his sons': it is a thing most holy of the offerings of the LORD made by fire.
There were eleven types of offerings made to the Lord in the Old Testament. In Genesis we read of the burnt and drink offerings. In Exodus we find the sin, wave and heave offerings. Leviticus speaks of the peace, trespass and freewill offerings. And the wood offering is mentioned in the book of Nehemiah.
But the most holy offering was the meat offering. This was the only offering that mentions the use of frankincense. (Leviticus 2:10) And that which is left of the meat offering shall be Aaron's and his sons': it is a thing most holy of the offerings of the LORD made by fire. The meat offering was associated with the priests in some way.
The Bible says in Hebrews that Jesus Christ is our High Priest. (Hebrews 3:1) Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; Frankincense was given to Jesus to acknowledge His priestly office.
So we see that Jesus Christ is both a King and a Priest. But what about a Prophet? Look atMatthew 21:11. "And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee." Jesus Christ is not only a King, as represented by gold, and a Priest, as represented by frankincense, but as we just read He is also a Prophet. So myrrh must represent His office as a Prophet.
Myrrh was once used for medicinal purposes. The definition given for myrrh is "a medicine, a good antispasmodic (resisting convulsions) and a cordial (any medicine which increases strength, raises the spirits, and gives life and cheerfulness to a person when weak and depressed)."(Noah Webster's First Edition of An American Dictionary of the English Language, Copyright 1828)
Mark 15:23, "And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not." Jesus was given myrrh to revive Him when he hung on the cross. But being God He didn't need it. So we see that the myrrh that was given to Jesus at the beginning of His life here on earth shows up again at the end of His life.
As my roses began to open there were water droplets on their petals and they reminded me of tears. There are a few events in the life of Christ where tears were shed in agony. Let's go back to Gethsemane for the first story and see what happened when Jesus prayed there.
(Luke 22:42-44) Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
Hebrews 5:7-9also refers to that event and further explains the events of Gethsemane. "Who in the days of his flesh, when he (JESUS) had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death (GOD), and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;" Here we see clearly that Jesus Christ came to die for us and to give us the gift of eternal life.
Jesus freely gave up His life for us. (John 10:18) No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. He did not have to do it. He did it in obedience to His Father's will. We didn't deserve it. No one does. Yet His love was so great that the Bible says He endured the suffering and shame of the cross for us. (Hebrews 12:2)
The second story occurs in the Gospel of Mark when a father brings his demon-possessed son to the Lord for healing. (Mark 9:17-24) " : And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief."
This time it is not Jesus who cried but the father of a demon-possessed boy who came to Christ for healing. This man is so typical of many Christians today. They profess to know Christ as their Saviour but at the same time they doubt His ability to save them. The Bible tells us inRomans 10:13 "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Yet that seems too simple for many people. When we don't believe the promises that God has given us in His Holy Bible then we are calling God a liar. Claim the promises of God. Don't doubt them. What comfort can you ever hope to have if you don't believe what God says? There is no other hope available to us when it comes to salvation.
Let's look at the story inLuke 7:37-48. This woman shed tears. Why? The Bible says she was a sinner. Look at verse 37. "And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner," What did she do? Let's continue on with the same verse, "when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment." This woman came to the feet of Jesus for forgiveness of her sins and that is the only place that we will ever find it.
Who was this woman? It was Mary, Lazarus' sister. Turn toJohn 11:1-2 "Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)"
Why would she do such a thing? Literally it was an act of respect and love. Christ used her example to teach others some very valuable lessons:
Now let's turn our attention to the thorns that are on the stems. They call to mind the crown of thorns that was placed on the Saviour's head when he stood in judgment before Pilate. (John 19:5) Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!
There are several bushes and trees that bear the same name. The crown-of-thorns is a shrub of arid regions native to Madagascar but grown extensively as a houseplant. Its slender stems are armed with spines, the leaves are dull green and fall off if disturbed. The crown-of-thorns is grown as a hedge plant in the tropics, where it may reach a height of 4 feet or 1.2 meters.(Copyright 1993 Grolier Electronic Publishing, Inc.)
The crucifixion thorn, or Christ-thorn, is one of several shrubs or small trees. The prickly branches of the crucifixion thorn may have been used to make Christ's crown of thorns, thus its name. The name is usually applied to the Jerusalem thorn, a Eurasian tree that reaches a height of 10 feet or 6.3 meters.(Ibid)
The crown was made up of nothing but thorns woven together with spikes an inch to two inches long, some say as long as six inches. These were not the usual thorns that we see on roses. These thorns were very long and very sharp and did a lot of damage when they were pounded into the head of Christ.
My husband sent me red roses and their color represented the blood that was shed on Calvary's cross to purchase my salvation. ForHebrews 9:22 says, "And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission."
But before Jesus shed His blood at Calvary He endured the shame and suffering that Paul spoke of inHebrews 12:2. Read with me some very sad and disturbing passages.
(Matthew 26:67-68) Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands, Saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?
This is what Jesus endured for you and for me. Could you have stood there and taken that? Jesus did, not as God but as a man, and He did not say a word.
(Matthew 27:24-25) When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. Remember the holocaust? It is estimated that six million Jews were exterminated during this tragic event in history. Could this have been the Jews punishment for this statement: "His blood be on us, and on our children"? Only God knows for sure.
(Matthew 27:26) Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
This was no normal whipping. This was a deliberate act of violence and these soldiers took great pleasure in doing it. The scourge was not an ordinary whip. It had pieces of metal and bone tied to the tips of multiple cords. These would embed themselves in the flesh and when the whip was pulled away would tear the flesh.
(Matthew 27:27) Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. Do you know how many soldiers are in a band? Approximately six to seven hundred men. Why so many soldiers for just one man? Maybe they remembered what Jesus said when they arrested Him in the garden. (Matthew 26:53) Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? Do you know how many angels that would be? In Roman times a legion consisted of between three and six thousand men. Twelve legions would be approximately 36,000 to 72,000 angels. That would be about one hundred angels for every soldier. All it would take would be one angel to take care of all of them. But that is not the way God wanted it to be.
(Matthew 27:28-31) And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.
Can you imagine an entire band of six to seven hundred soldiers spitting, cursing, hitting, punching and beating up on one Man? Do you have any idea what Jesus must have looked like after they finished with Him? His back was ripped open by the scourge. The hair of his beard was plucked out by the handfuls and his face was swollen. His head had a crown of thorns beaten into it, blood running down his face, and his hair matted with blood and spit. His face black and blue from the slaps and fists of the soldiers.
Yes, Jesus shed His blood on the cross at Calvary but there was plenty of blood shed before Jesus even got to Golgotha. And do you want to know the amazing thing? He didn't have to go through all this. No, He didn't have to, He wanted to. He did it all willingly and out of love for you and me. Jesus knew that if He didn't then when we died we would go straight to hell. He didn't want that to happen so He took our place and suffered the shame and humiliation and pain and suffering of the cross for us. Think about that the next time someone witnesses to you or you read a gospel tract inviting you to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour and you refuse.
White represents purity. (Isaiah 1:18) Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
The Bible says inPsalm 103:12, "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us." Do you know what that means? If you started traveling north from the equator as soon as you reached the North Pole and you kept on going you would start traveling south. When you reached the South Pole and you kept on going you would start traveling north.
But if you start traveling east at the equator you would continue to travel east all the way around the equator until you reached the place you started from. It's the same thing if you started traveling west. The two directions just never meet. Think about it. That's what God thinks of our sins after we have repented of them if we are saved.
Two of my favorite passages in Scripture are: (Isaiah 43:25) I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. and (Isaiah 44:22) I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee. These are promises from God.
Once our sins are forgiven our slate is wiped clean. We are given a fresh start. It would do us good if we would take advantage of it. Don't return to your sins.2 Peter 2:22 is a picture of what God thinks of a person who returns to the same sin over and over again. "But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire." It's not a very pretty picture is it? Give up your sins and start fresh.
The green stems and the green leaves were reminiscent of the springtime with its new beginnings. I was reminded of the resurrection.
(John 11:25) Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
(Mark 16:6) And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.
After the cross and after the grave there was the victory. Without it there would be no salvation, no hope and no eternal life for any of us. Jesus Christ is the only person who ever rose from the grave. Why? Because He promised He would and because He is God.
Christ the Lord is Risen Today
Christ the Lord is risen today, Sons of men and angels say:
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Sing, ye heavens and earth reply.
Lives again our glorious King, Where, O death, is now thy sting?
Dying once He all doth save, Where thy victory, O grave?
Love's redeeming work is done, Fought the fight, the battle won,
Death in vain forbids Him rise, Christ has opened Paradise.
Soar we now where Christ has led, Following our exalted Head,
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Ours the cross, the grave, the skies.
From that day when my husband first gave me that bouquet I have never looked at a rose the same way. I hope that the next time you see or receive roses that you will be reminded of the life of Christ and more importantly that He shed His precious blood to save lost sinners like us.
"I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys."
(Song of Songs 2:1)
Jesus gave up His power and His position in heaven to come to this wicked earth and walk among mankind, He took the punishment upon Himself that we deserved for our sins, He died a cruel death on a cross and He went to hell in our place. If Jesus Christ did all that for you what are you willing to do for Him?
If you are saved are you willing to commit to read your Bible every day and grow in your Christian life? The Bible is our guidebook for our Christian walk. Psalm 119:11.
If you are saved are you willing to commit to pray faithfully each day and talk to God? Psalm 55:17. Prayer doesn't always have to be you asking God for something for yourself. There has to be a time when you thank God for what He has done for you. Psalm 105:1. There has to be a time when you praise God and give Him the glory and honor that are due Him. Psalm 71:6. And there has to be a time when you bless God for who He is. Nehemiah 9:5.
If you are saved are you willing to commit to tell others about Jesus Christ? Remember what Andrew and Philip did when they found the Lord? They immediately went and brought someone to Christ. John 1:40-46.
If you are saved but haven't been living for the Lord like you should be are you willing to get down on your knees, confess your sin and ask God's forgiveness. 1 John 1:9. Thank God for this verse. If we are saved and our fellowship with God has been broken He has made a way for us to come back to Him. It is not hard. Don't make it so. Do it today.
If you are not saved then are you willing to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour today? Romans 3:23. All means everyone. You and me. Sin is sin. There is no such thing as a little white lie. In God's eyes a liar is as bad as a murderer. It only takes one sin to be a sinner.
You see death is the penalty for sin. Romans 6:23. God requires a blood sacrifice for atonement. Hebrews 9:22.
But the penalty has already been paid for us by Jesus Christ. When Jesus died on the cross He took all sin upon Himself and His blood was the only offering that God would accept. You see we really deserve to go to hell when we die but God made a way out for us. Instead He sent His Son to die in our place. (2 Peter 3:9)The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
Ephesians 2:8-9tells us that salvation is a free gift but like any gift in order for it to become ours we have to receive it. God is offering salvation tonight. Don't refuse it. This may be the only opportunity you have to accept Jesus Christ as your Saviour.
If you would like to accept this free gift of salvation now then with all your heart say this prayer.
Dear Lord, I know that I am a sinner. I am sorry for my sins. I know that I deserve to spend eternity in hell. I understand that Jesus Christ died for my sins and that it is through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ alone that I can have eternal life when I die and not of anything that I can do for myself. I ask you to forgive me of my sins and to come into my heart and be my Saviour. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
Frances Ridley Havergal was the youngest child of the Rev. William Henry Havergal, a minister of the Church of England. He, too, was a noted poet and church musician. In addition to her natural talents, Miss Havergal had a thorough training in linguistics and music. Although she was highly educated and cultured, Miss Havergal always maintained a simple faith and confidence in her Lord. It is said that she never wrote a line without first praying over it.
In spite of being always frail in health, she lived an active and productive life until her early death at the age of forty-three.
As part of her education, Frances studied in Dusseldorf, Germany. In the art gallery of that city hangs the famous painting by Sternberg, a vivid portrayal of Christ, wearing his crown of thorns, before Pilate and the Jewish mob. Beneath the picture are the words, "This have I done for thee; what hast thou done for Me?"
Upon visiting the museum and seeing the painting, Miss Havergal was profoundly moved. After gazing for a considerable time at the painting, she took a pencil and scrap paper and quickly drafted the stanzas for this hymn text.
I Gave My Life For Thee
I gave My life for thee, My precious blood I shed,
That thou mightest ransomed be, and quickened from the dead;
I gave, I gave My life for thee, what hast thou given for Me?
My Father's house of light, My glory-circled throne
I left, for earthly night, for wanderings sad and lone;
I left, I left it all for thee, hast thou left all for me?
I suffered much for thee, more than thy tongue can tell,
Of bitterest agony, to rescue thee from hell;
I've borne, I've borne it all for thee, what hast thou borne for Me?
And I have brought to thee, down from My home above,
Salvation full and free, My pardon and My love;
I bring, I bring rich gifts to thee, what hast thou brought to Me?
(101 Hymn Stories, Kenneth W. Osbeck, Kregel Publications, Inc., Grand Rapids, Michigan, © 1982.)
Jesus asks, "What hast thou given for Me?" There is only one thing that He wants. Sinner, have you given Him your heart?