Commitment

Trust is difficult. We ask for it from others even though we are hesitant to place invest it in someone else. In order for us to trust, we need confidence in the character and trustworthiness of the one in whom we place it. Through His last words from the cross (Luke 23:44-46), Jesus demonstrates His trust in the Father when He commits His spirit into His hands. By doing so, He reminds us that we too can trust the Heavenly Father with every aspect of our lives.

Jesus confidently expresses His trust. Just before He dies, Jesus quotes Psalm 31:5. Psalm 31 was a psalm of David asking for deliverance from his enemies. Verse five was a typical Jewish evening prayer. Children would have been taught it by their parents and their religious leaders. It was something very similar to our “Now I lay me down to sleep.” Jesus would have known this prayer since childhood. Here, he proclaims it loudly so all can here. Ambrose, who was the the bishop of Milan in the fourth century said, “I do not blush to confess what Christ did not blush to proclaim in a loud voice.”

Jesus’ quoting of this verse emphasizes the voluntary nature of His sacrifice. His death was voluntary. He willingly laid down His life (John 10:11, 15, 17-18). It’s also interesting to note that He adds something to this prayer of David. He addresses it to His Father. In doing so, He points to the trustworthiness of the Father.

The goodness of God the Father is the basis for Jesus’ trust. Jesus has a relationship with the Father. He and the Father are one (John 10:30; 17:11, 21). We know the doctrine of the Trinity teaches us that there is one God in three persons – The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit. As the second person of the Trinity, Jesus had a oneness with the Father even thought He had a different role. His oneness and His intimacy are one full display here. As a result, He has full confidence in the father. There is no hesitation. Despite His cries of abandonment just a few minutes, Jesus knows full well He can trust the Heavenly Father.

Remember this. God is our father too. Yes, we are not part of the divine Trinity. But because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, we have been adopted into the family of God. Jesus taught us to pray to our Heavenly Father (Matthew 6:9). Paul tells us that we have received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!” And that the Spirit testifies to us that we are the children of God…and not only children, but also heirs (Romans 8:15-17).

And, we know the Scriptures affirm the character of the Father. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reminds us of the goodness of God (Matthew 7:7-11). And, we also know that God is trustworthy. He keeps what’s been entrusted to Him (John 10:27-29). Since Jesus entrusted His Spirit to the Father, we can as well. The question before each of us is in whom do you trust? You are either trusting Jesus and placing your lives in the hands of the Father or you are trusting yourself. As capable as you may be, as sincere as you may think you are, as passionate as you believe in yourself, you are not enough. You need Jesus. Trust in Him today and commit your life to the trustworthy hands of the Heavenly Father.

If the Father is trustworthy and capable of holding our lives for all eternity, what else can we entrust to the Father? Hurts, fears, sins, anxieties?

Through the ages, these last words of Jesus have been on the lips of countless other servants of God. John Huss proclaimed them as he burned at the stake. John Knox said them as he died in relative quiet. Men like Polycarp, Luther, and Melancthon all echoed them. As R. Earl Allen says, “There is no better place to put yourself than into the hands of God. It is the safe place, the place of omnipotent protection.” Commit yourself to the Father today.

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Tenderness

Four students stayed out late partying one night. The next day, they had an exam and they knew they weren’t prepared for it. So, they hatched a plan where they dirtied themselves up and went to the dean’s office. They said they were attending a wedding and blew a tire on the way back. Thus, they were unable to take the test and asked for an extension. The dean agreed and delayed their exam three days. When they arrived to take their delayed exam, the dean greeted them and said since the circumstances were special, they would need to take the test in separate rooms. Each student went to their room and turned over their exam paper. They were surprised there were only two questions. The first one asked their name and was worth one point. The second, worth ninety-nine points, asked which tire blew on the car?

Jesus’ Third Word: Tenderness (John 19:25-27)

This humorous tale reminds us of the importance of doing what you have to do…the importance of taking care of business. Jesus, in accordance with the law and custom of His day, was committed to taking care of business even while hanging on the cross. And, He does so with tenderness and compassion.

In John 19:25-27, Jesus is hanging on the cross, dying an agonizing death. As He does, a group of His followers makes their way forward from the back of the crowd. Included in this gathering is Jesus’ mother Mary and the apostle John. In the midst of His suffering, Jesus sees them and arranges for the care of His mother.

The Bible tells us that Jesus died for us in accordance with God’s plan. Speaking of His death, Jesus says: “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have the right to lay it down, and I have the right to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.” (John 10:18, CSB)

Jesus’ death on the cross was to provide the means for us to come into right relationship with God. And, Jesus fulfilled His Father’s will.

But, while on the cross, He also manage to dispatch the duty He has towards His mother. As Jesus hangs dying on the cross, he does what he must do as her eldest son. He makes arrangements for His widowed mother. By this time, Joseph is probably deceased. And, Mary will have little means of taking care of herself. So, Jesus entrusts her to John. We might ask why He doesn’t entrust her to one of His siblings. The simplest answer may be that none of them are believers yet. They won’t become believers until after the resurrection.

John is assigned the task of taking care of Mary and it seems like that exactly what he did. The text says that from that hour on, John cared for her. History and tradition become intertwined. We’re not sure how this all fleshed itself out, but it did.

In this charge, there are some truths we need to embrace:

  • We need to care for our parents and those who have raised us (1 Timothy 5:3-4, 8), and do so with compassion and tenderness.
  • We need to take seriously the spiritual responsibility of the family. Jesus assured that His mother was in a place where her faith could flourish. We must understand that the most important task we have in our family is to provide for its spiritual flourishing.
  • We need to fulfill the tasks assigned to us by Jesus. John faithfully did what Jesus instructed. We must as well.

Jesus faithfully did what He needed to do. He took care of business. He died on the cross for our sin. As He did, He managed His human responsibilities by providing for His mother. May we trust His provision on the cross and fulfill the tasks He has assigned us faithfully every day.

Forgiven

Two of the most powerful words in the human language may be the words “I’m sorry.” These words express contrition and empathy for the wrong done to someone else. But, what happens when these words don’t come from our lips or the lips of someone who has wrong us? Then, we may find that there are two even more powerful words – forgive them.

It’s these words that Jesus prayed from the cross as He hung dying for our sins. Luke 23:32-34 tells us that Jesus was led away and crucified with two other criminals. The language reminds us that Jesus was counted among us and died in our place. How appropriate is that picture? Jesus dying on a cross in the place of another being counted as a sinner among sinners, even though He was never convicted of any wrong doing. Paul sums up the theology behind this when he reminds us that Jesus died in our place and become sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Luke’s account also tells us that the soldiers gambled for Jesus’ clothes as he hung dying in the morning sun. The only possession Jesus had was stripped from him and was a prize to be won by His executioners. What a rebuke of the false teaching we know as the “prosperity gospel” which teaches God wants to shower us with stuff in this life. It is fascinating that Jesus dies with nothing, yet He gives us everything. Through our faith in Jesus and His provision on the cross, we have been forgiven and restored into a right relationship with God. We have been welcomed into His family. As His adopted brothers and sisters, we are co-heirs with Jesus of everything God the Father gives to Him (Romans 8:17).

It is Jesus who opens the door to forgiveness. He prays for it to be extended to His tormentors and those who put Him on the cross. And, in case you’re wondering, you and I helped put Him there. He not only prays for it, but He also models it. Throughout His ministry, teaches commanded His followers to forgive those who have wronged them (Matthew 5:44). So, we understand that forgiveness is not an option for believers. We must forgive those who have hurt us.

As Jesus hangs on the cross praying for and modeling forgives, we see that He also offers it to us. As followers of Jesus, we have been forgiven. His forgiveness is complete and brings us into right relationship with God. And, because of His forgiveness, we in turn can forgive others. Our natural tendency is to push back against this and to hold grudges. Yet, the love of God constrains us to extend mercy and forgiveness. Jesus frees us from this sinful nature and this far too human reaction. His forgiveness compels us to forgive.

May we embrace the forgiveness Jesus offers, and as we do share it freely with others.

God’s Power

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us…” Ephesians 3:20 (ESV), emphasis added

“This is the power that spoke all that is into existence. This is the power that gave an old couple a promised son. This is the power that delivered a people from captivity. This is the power that gave a promised land. This is the power that preserved a remnant and replanted them in their homes. This is the power gave us a child born to a virgin. This is the power that healed the sick, calmed the waves, and multiplied the fishes. This is the power that raised Jesus from the dead. This is the power at work in you and me.”

(Taken from “I Bow My Knee,” Sunday March 22, 2015)