Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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The Savior Who Loves You

Dannah Gresh: Erika VanHaitsma reminds us: the crucifixion is part of a love story.

Erika VanHaitsma: My Beloved, there He stands! But now my Beloved is covered with shame . . . and dripping with blood.

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Holiness: The Heart God Purifies, for April 1, 2021. I'm Dannah Gresh.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Welcome back to Revive Our Hearts, and I know you’ve been really on the edge of your seat, listening to each day with our guest teacher this week—Erika VanHaitsma.

Don’t try and spell that. Look on the website,, and you’ll see how it’s spelled. It’s a good Dutch name, I suppose, and Erika and her family live not too far north of our home base—in good Dutch territory, a little further north in Michigan. We’re so thankful to have Bryan and Erika serving on the Revive Our Hearts team.

During this Passion Week, we’re observing and celebrating the coming of Christ to give His life for the sin of the world, to rescue us out of sin and darkness, and to bring us into a new kingdom, the kingdom of light.

So on this Thursday of Passion Week, our hearts are being drawn and our focus is heading toward the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf. Erika is taking us back this week through the Old and New Testament passages to show how they tie to together and what they mean for us.

Erika, thank you for the time, the effort, the research, the preparation, and for opening God’s Word to us today!

And Lord, would You just open our hearts in these moments? Speak to us, encourage us, strengthen us, challenge us, convict us. . .and may our hearts be quick to say “yes” to whatever You say to us in this time. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Erika: We started out this week by learning about the Creator God, who is also the Covenant-making God, who becomes the Lover God—a God who is so amazing and so passionately in love with His people that He desires a relationship with them!

Think of a healthy marriage, in the intimacy between a husband and a wife, and you begin to get the picture that God wants with His people. God is a Lover who wants to dwell with His Beloved!

But there are obstacles between God and His Beloved, aren’t there? First, Pharaoh in Egypt, who had Israel enslaved, then Israel itself becomes an obstacle as she proves over and over again that she is subject to the kingdom of darkness.

Sin and death reign over this world, and they are harsh taskmasters, separating the Lover from His Beloved. But God promised—all the way back to Adam and Eve and then again through the prophets—that His Deliverer, the Messiah, would come. It was only a matter of time.

By the days of Jesus, it was commonly taught that the Deliverer—the Messiah—would come at another Passover. So every year, you can almost picture the Jewish people holding their breath as they’re waiting with anticipation: “Is this the year? Is this finally the time our God is going to send another Deliverer to set us free?”

They were thinking, during the days of Jesus, freedom from Romans, but Israel had a deeper problem than Rome! Even though it’s been generations since they have left Egypt, Egypt is still in them. There’s still that power of sin oppressing the nation . . . and no festival is able to remove it.

During the exodus from Egypt, God gave Israel Passover to remind them of how He brought them out of slavery—because of His great love for them. Through Moses, God led His people out of the kingdom of Pharaoh. In the Festival of Unleavened Bread, God reminds His people they were brought out so they could be brought in, and therefore to remove Egypt from their lives.

Every year, they’re to start their bread over, a new loaf, with nothing of the old year in it. This new loaf was to remind the Israelites they were a new creation—a new nation—in order that God could dwell among them and have intimacy with them.

But it isn’t enough, is it? These festivals are an amazing gift from a gracious God, specific times that the Lord of the universe set aside—almost like date nights—to be with His people. They were times of rejoicing, times of celebrating: “Look at what our God has done for us! Look at how amazing He is!” They were reminders of God’s love.

But there’s still a problem; there’s still that separation. God is only able to come so close. He’s not residing in His people; He’s in a building. And only a few people can enter His presence daily. That’s not good enough for this Lover!

So what is this God, who’s passionately in love, going to do to break through that problem of sin and death? How is He going to remove that final separation in a way no one was expecting? He was coming again to personally lead His people through another exodus.

Israel was expecting the Messiah. They were not expecting Messiah to be God, nor were they expecting their Messiah to be another Passover Lamb. And now we come to that New Testament connection with Passover.

Did you know that hours before Jesus went to the cross He was with His disciples celebrating Passover? We call it the Last Supper, but actually it was the festival of Passover. And we today have a pretty good idea of what Jesus and the disciples were doing because the Jewish people have celebrated Passover in almost the same way for the last several thousands of years.

They were praising God for His redemption in Israel from Egypt. They were recounting the amazing signs and wonders God had done. During the Passover meal, Jesus would remind the disciples of God’s faithfulness, God’s love, God’s plan, and God’s promises.

But as you read through the gospels, you see Jesus pick up that Passover story and add a whole new level to it. He lets His disciples know: God is coming again, but this time it’s about to get a lot bigger! There’s a whole new depth and beauty to this story, because this time the enemy is a lot harder.

After celebrating Passover, Jesus and His disciples would have sung through Psalm 113 to Psalm 118 as they went out the Garden of Gethsemane. The Garden of Gethsemane was a very appropriate place for what was about to happen.

It’s an olive garden where they make olive oil. And the way you make olive oil is by taking olives and crushing them with rocks, these huge boulders. You press down on the olive harder and harder, getting out all the oil you can.

So in this garden where things are pressed, the Son of the living God gets pressed—but what comes out of Him is blood. I’ve heard it said that it was in the Garden where the real battle occurred, because it was in the Garden where Jesus cries out, “Father, take this cup from Me! I don’t want to do this, God! Is there any other way this can happen?” You can appreciate His feeling, because He knows what He’s about to endure.

The Middle East is a culture of shame; it’s very different from our culture. Shame is how you keep people in line. You would literally rather die than be put to shame . . . and you do not want to bring shame on your family or your friends.

Jesus is about to go through some of the most shameful experiences in that culture you can, and it’s going to start with his closest friends. The relationship between a disciple and his teacher was supposed to be closer than that of a child to his father.

In fact, they had a saying that if both your father and your teacher are being held for ransom, you rescue your teacher first. Not that your father’s not important—the parent/child relationship was extremely important.

What they’re trying to say is, as important as this relationship with your mom and dad is, the relationship with the teacher is supposed to be even greater. You are supposed to, as a disciple, give your life to protect your teacher . . . at the very least, stand with them through everything.

So in the Garden of Gethsemane, when the soldiers come to take Jesus, what do His disciples do? They flee; they abandon their Teacher. Not only has He now been deserted by His closest friends, He has been put to shame by them . . . because, what kind of a teacher are you, that even your disciples won’t stay?

Then Jesus has to go through fake trials. He’s mocked; He’s beaten; He’s humiliated and lied about—heaping on even more shame—and then there’s the flogging. The Romans had several different levels of flogging. The most painful level occurred for those who were going to be crucified.

In fact, it was so painful, many did not survive. Their bodies just couldn’t take the pain, and they would die. If you happened to pass out because of the pain, they would throw salt water on your wounds to shock you back to wakefulness so they could inflict more pain. Jesus endured the flogging, because He had to make it to the cross.

And finally, He is on the cross. This is not only one of the most painful ways to die—throughout the history of the world—this is also, in that culture, the most shameful way to die. You are being publicly humiliated. And not only you, but by connection, everybody in your family—and friends—with you.

So you’re putting shame on those you love. The mental, emotional, and physical pain that Jesus endured this day, we cannot even imagine!

And then, added on top of all that, on the cross Jesus becomes our Passover Lamb. It is His blood this time that’s paying the redemption for the salvation of His people. It is His perfect sacrifice that will break the bonds of sin, and His resurrection will break the cords of death!

The Bible says that, “For the joy . . . set before him [Jesus] endured the cross, despising the shame and [has sat down] at the right hand of the [Father]” (Heb. 12:2). 

So, knowing that all this was coming, is it any wonder that in the Garden Jesus pleads with His Father, “Take this cup from Me. There has to be another way!” But knowing what was coming, “Not My will but Yours be done. So be it. I’m willing” (see Matt. 26:39).

How? How is Jesus able to say this? It’s not in His divinity, because His divinity is not about to suffer. His humanity is what is about to break. It is His blood that is about to be poured out, so it is His human flesh—His physical-ness—that has to say “yes” to His Father.

How is He able to tell His Father—knowing all He is about to endure—“So be it. Yes.” I think partly because Jesus spent His whole life saying “yes” to His Father. In the little things, in the big things—His habit, His attitude, His mindset was “yes, yes, yes.” So when that moment—that trial—came, He was already conditioned. “Yes.” He said, “Yes.”

But another reason I believe Jesus was able to say “yes” was because He had just celebrated the Passover. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the last supper Jesus ate with His disciples was the festival of the Passover. God is way too detail-oriented for that.

Mere hours before the cross, Jesus has just spent hours recounting the covenant story, the Exodus. He spent the time singing through very appropriate psalms. He knows this has been His Father’s plan from the beginning.

During the festival of  Passover, Jesus was reminded of the amazing love of His Father for these people, the amazing works of His Father for their redemption. He’s reminded how the Lover came once, bounding over the mountains, tearing heaven and earth to get to the one He loves. And now it’s time to do it again.

In the Passover meal, His spirit was fortified, His humanity was reminded. So now He’s able to say in the Garden, “Not My will but Yours be done.” In other words, “This is the moment everything changes! This is the moment We’ve been waiting for. This is what We’ve been working for, for thousands of years, Father. It’s time to do it again. This is the fulfillment of those promises We made way back to Abraham. Let’s do it.”

The Lover is coming once again, bounding over the mountains, leaping over the hills! “Look, my Beloved, there He stands!” But now my Beloved is covered with shame . . . and dripping with blood. Now, His body is torn, His heart has been turned to wax, His bones are out of joint.

All men mock and shame my Beloved! But there He is, high and lifted up, filled with faithfulness to His Father and love for you!


Man of sorrows, what a Name for the Son of God who came.
Ruined sinners to reclaim. Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude, in my place condemned He stood.
Sealed my pardon with His blood. Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Guilty, vile, and helpless we, Spotless Lamb of God was He.
Full atonement, can it be? Hallelujah! What a Savior!”

Well, He doesn’t end up on that cross, but He goes through it for the joy that is set before Him. Over these next few days and this most Holy Week of the Christian calendar, we’re celebrating His being lifted up to die, and then His being lifted up from the grave, and beyond that to rise and reign and rule over His new creation!

Thank you, Erika VanHaitsma, for just taking us to that cross—giving us fresh eyes for it as we commemorate that this week. I love what you pointed out about Jesus saying “yes” to the will of the Father for all of eternity past.

And then when it was time to come to earth, what did He say? “Yes.” When it was time to go to the cross what did He say? “Yes.” And, a reminder that, if we want to have grace to say “yes” to God in the big and hard moments, we need to be saying “yes” to Him now in the little things. If we’re not saying “yes” to Him now in the little things, we’re not likely to do it in the big tests.

I want to close this session today by taking us back to that Jewish hallel hymnal, those psalms that Erika referenced that the Jews would have sung on and around the Passover—this time of their calendar—the psalms, the hymns, probably, that Jesus and His disciples sang as they left that upper room and went to Gethsemane—Psalms 113–118.

I’m not going to read the entire passage, just some portions from it, but I would encourage you today or tomorrow as we come into Good Friday, to take some time to read that passage. Maybe read it aloud and just be reminded of what Jesus was saying and meditating on and thinking about as He went to the cross. 

These Old Testament words that had been penned hundreds of years earlier, but that took on incredible new meaning as Jesus came to this earth to go to the cross as our Passover Lamb. So, I’m reading just selected verses here at the end of today’s program, beginning in Psalm 113. 

Praise the Lord!” That’s the Hebrew words hallel ya—hallelujah! That’s why these are called the hallel psalms—the praise songs. You wouldn’t think of singing praise psalms as you’re getting ready to go to crucifixion, to shame. But Jesus was saying, “Praise the Lord!”

Praise, O servants of the Lord,
  praise the name of the Lord!
Blessed be the name of the Lord
  from this time forth and forevermore!
From the rising of the sun to its setting,
  the name of the Lord is to be praised!”
  (Ps. 113:1–3)

The Lord is high above all nations,
  and his glory above the heavens!
Who is like the Lord our God,
  who is seated on high,
  who looks far down
  on the heavens and the earth?
He raises the poor from the dust
  and lifts the needy from the ash heap.
  (Ps. 113:4–7)

Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory,
  for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
Why should the nations say,
  ‘Where is their God?’
Our God is in the heavens;
  he does all that he pleases. 
  (Ps. 115:1–3)

You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord!
  He is their help and their shield.
The Lord has remembered us; he will bless us;
  he will bless those who fear the Lord, 
  both . . . small and . . . great.”
  (Ps. 115:11–13, excerpted)

I love the Lord,” [Jesus would have sung]
  because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy.
Because he inclined his ear to me,
  therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
The snares of death encompassed me;
  the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
I suffered distress and anguish.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
  "O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul!" 
  (Ps. 116:1–4)

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
  our God is merciful.
Return, O my soul, to your rest;
  for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.”
  (Ps. 116:5, 7)

For you have delivered my soul from death,
  my eyes from tears,
  my feet from stumbling;
I will walk before the Lord
  in the land of the living. 
  (Ps. 116:8–9)

What shall I render to the Lord
  for all his benefits to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation
  and call on the name of the Lord,
I will pay my vows to the Lord
  in the presence of all his people.
Precious in the sight of the Lord
  is the death of his saints.”
  (Ps. 116:12–15)

O Lord, [hear Jesus praying this] I am your servant;
  [as He lifted His eyes up to heaven]
I am your servant, the son of your maidservant.
  You have loosed my bonds.
I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving
  and call on the name of the Lord.”
  (Ps. 116:16–17)

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
  for his steadfast love endures forever! . . .
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
  than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
  than to trust in princes.
All nations surrounded me;
  in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side;
  in the name of the Lord I cut them off! 
  (Ps. 118:1, 8–11)

The Lord is my strength and my song;
  he has become my salvation.
Glad songs of salvation
  are in the tents of the righteous . . .
I shall not die, but I shall live,
  and recount the deeds of the Lord. 
  (Ps. 118:14–15, 17)

Open to me the gates of righteousness
  that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord.
This is the gate of the Lord;                   
  the righteous shall enter through it.
I thank you that you have answered me
  and have become my salvation.
The stone that the builders rejected
  has become the cornerstone.
This is the Lord's doing;
  it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day that the Lord has made;
  let us rejoice and be glad in it. 
  (Ps. 118:19–24)

And oh, Father, how we thank You for the Lord of glory, the Son of Man, Son of God, the suffering Savior, Your faithful Servant who prayed, sang, lived these psalms of consecration and worship and devotion and walked through that gate of suffering into eternal life, that we might do the same. So we say, “This is the day that You have made. We, too, will rejoice and be glad in it!” Amen.

Dannah: Amen. That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. She’s been reading from the psalms that Jesus likely sang with His disciples the final night before the crucifixion. Before that, Erika VanHaitsma gave us a fresh picture of what Jesus did on the cross. He was a Bridegroom winning the Bride He loves.

Studying God’s Word isn’t just an exercise we trudge through; instead, it's an opportunity to get to know the Lover of our souls more intimately . I think today’s teaching showed us that.

We’re able to bring you teaching like this because listeners believe in Revive Our Hearts. They pray for the ministry—that's so important to us—and they support it financially. We’re grateful for each and every gift! In fact, we want to say "thank you" when you make a gift today. 

Do you ever need reminding that God’s really in charge? I do! And maybe you know someone who needs it, too! So our thank-you gift to you right now is a brand new set of our beautifully-designed “Heaven Rules” note cards. Each of the twelve cards has a different inspirational message and a Scripture verse highlighting God’s providence over everything. It's our way of saying "thank you" and it could your way to encourage someone you love today.

The Heaven Rules note cards are just one way we thank you for your support of Revive Our Hearts. To make a donation, visit, or call us at 1–800–569–5959. 

Dannah:If you're like me, you love a happy ending. Most movies are full of them. But the love story of the Bible has a happy ending that’s far beyond anything Hollywood could imagine! Erika VanHaitsma will explain tomorrow, here on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth invites you to a grand love story. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

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About the Speaker

Erika VanHaitsma

Erika VanHaitsma

Like a tour guide, without the hokey umbrella, Erika VanHaitsma leads her audience on a journey through the scriptures uncovering the importance of each word and phrase. Drawing from her …

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