Joel 3:16 “The LORD will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem; the earth and the sky will tremble. But the LORD will be a refuge for His people, a stronghold for the people of Israel.”
Matthew 27:50-54 “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many. So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, “Truly this was the Son of God!”
- Reflect On: Joel 3:16 & Matthew 27:50-54
- Praise God: For the greatest of all victories.
- Offer Thanks: For the specific victories Christ has won in your life.
- Confess: Any tendency to forget what God has done for you.
- Ask God: To increase your hope.
The Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago boasts a collection of some of “the world’s rarest, most beautiful big cats, including African lions, Amur tigers, leopards from Asia and Africa, jaguars from South America and snow leopards from the Himalayas.” I remember strolling through the lion house several years ago, feeling a bit depressed as I watched a magnificent lion pacing restlessly in his cage. He had forepaws, powerful enough to break a zebra’s back, eyes keen enough to hunt by starlight, hearing so sharp that he could detect prey as much as a mile away. All were useless head stared back at me. Then suddenly, this great, sad beast opened his mouth and let out the most earsplitting, heart-rending sound imaginable. I was so startled that I nearly hit the vaulted ceiling above me, and no wonder since a lion’s roar can be heard from five miles away!
The gospels tell us that Jesus cried out just before His death. John’s gospel supplies the words: “It is finished!” These are not the last gasping words of a dying man. No the gospels say that Jesus cried out in a loud voice and then gave up His spirit! It was a shout of triumph, the raised fist of victory! Jesus had gone willing to the cross, fulfilling ever detail of the mission the Father had given Him. Having won the struggle for our souls, it was as though the great Lion of Judah had roared from the cross itself.
No wonder the earth shook, the curtain of the temple ripped apart, and people rose up from their graves! Jesus, the conquering Lion, could be neither caged nor killed. Through His victory He has made a way for sin to be forgiven, for death’s power to be rolled backward. By dying Christ shows us the lengths to which God’s love will go. By rising he shows us the heights to which God’s power will stretch.
The cry of Jesus on the cross still reverberates, still heralds the news of what God has done for us. As believers we need to shape our lives toward that victory, even when we feel defeated. We need to remember that no matter what or who is against us, God is still for us. The Lion of the Tribe of Judah is reigning from His throne, protecting us, purifying us, and using even the worst of circumstances to our advantage.
Today as we consider what Jesus has done, let us lift our voices in praise of the One who humbled Himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Let us remember that God has exalted Him to the highest pace of all and given Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.