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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Triumph

When Joe Namath famously guaranteed that the New York Jets would beat the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, no one could believe it. After all, the Jets were eighteen point underdogs. Yet, as he predicted, the Jets did win leading to one of the most iconic moments in football history. As Namath ran off the field, he raised his right arm and waved one finger celebrating the fact that he had won. That single picture proclaimed victory and triumph.

On the cross, Jesus had come to the end. His death was seconds away. But before He breathed His last, he managed to proclaim a word of triumph – tetelestai. This one word announced His victory. In English, we translate it as “It is finished” and it announced the work of redemption was done and Jesus had triumphed.

God’s plan of redemption didn’t begin at the cross. It didn’t begin in Pilate’s court or in Bethlehem. It didn’t begin in Babylon or Egypt or in the Garden of Eden. The Scriptures tell us that God’s plan of redemption began in eternity past (Ephesians 1).

Now, with that said, God’s plan did unfold throughout history. God moved through the events of history, calling Abraham, delivering the people of Israel from captivity in Egypt, providing a king, preserving a remnant, becoming flesh and dwelling among us, living, dying, and rising again. But, let’s focus on the provision of the sacrifice and the role it played throughout that history.

We see the first sacrifice in the Garden (Genesis 3:21). But, just a few verses before that, there is a promise of One who will come and put an end to Satan, sin, and death (Genesis 3:15). As we move forward, the children of Israel have been relocated to Egypt, eventually enslaved, and then delivered under the leadership of Moses. During the Exodus, God comes to them and gives them the instructions for how they are to live. And, in doing so, He gives them instructions on a variety of sacrifices (Leviticus). These sacrifices were largely to be offered as a way to deal with the sins of God’s people. These sins had to be covered. God’s perfect righteousness…His holiness abhors sin. He cannot tolerate it. So, it must be atoned for…paid for through sacrifice. For hundreds of years, the blood of bulls, sheep, and goats brought temporary covering.

But in the fullness of time…at just the right moment, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law to redeem those under the law (Galatians 4:4). And that brings us to the cross. Jesus is minutes from dying and He proclaims “It is finished.” Upon the cross, Jesus completes the work of redemption. The Scripture had been fulfilled (John 19:28). The sacrifices were now complete. Jesus had fulfilled the law and born the curse. The work of redemption was done. There is nothing left for us to give. No other sacrifice can be offered. As a result, the power of Satan, sin, and death are defeated. Thus, Jesus cries out “It is finished.”

It is said that Buddha’s dying words were “strive without ceasing.” What a striking contrast with “It is finished.” These phrases clearly define for us the difference between religion and its endeavors to make oneself right with God and with Christianity. Simply stated, the difference between the two is two simple letters. The difference between religion and Christianity is the difference between do and done.

Forsaken

Baseball season is upon us. Today is Opening Day. All throughout the fall and winter months, teams have prepared for this summer. Players have trained. Coaches have strategized. Management has secured new players. Each team has worked to fill voids in their rosters. Very often, these roster bolstering moves are done through trades where one team gives another team a package of players in exchange for a different package of players. The hope is that these exchanges will fill the needs so the team can accomplish its goals.

As we make our way through the sayings of Jesus from the cross, we come to Matthew 27:45-46. There, Jesus cries out “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:46, CSB)

In this scene, we are reminded that Jesus became sin and bore its consequences.

On the cross, Jesus fulfilled what the prophet Isaiah foretold when He said the “Lord punished him for the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6, CSB). The Apostle Paul tells us that God “made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us,so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21, CSB). In other words, Jesus became sin for us. He exchanged His righteousness for our unrighteousness (1 Peter 3:18).

Part of this exchange is that His righteousness has been credited to our account. He took our sin debt and credited our account with His righteousness. Imagine you are in the hole for millions and millions of dollars. Your debt is so great, you will never be able to repay it. Not even Dave Ramsey can help you. You are hopelessly in the red. But, a billionaire comes along and offers to pay off all of your debt. That would be tremendous. But, imagine he goes one step further. He is willing to take on your debt and transfer to you his account. Not only is your debt paid, but now you are flush with cash. That’s what happens at the cross. Jesus becomes our sin, pays our debt, and transfers His righteousness to our account. In Christ, when we stand before almighty God, our sin debt is not what He sees. Rather, He sees the balance transfer Jesus provided. He sees Jesus’ righteousness in our account. This is the great exchange.

Not only did Jesus become sin, but Jesus bore the penalty for sin. The text tells us that darkness covered the land for three hours. Scholars debate the cosmological causes and the scope of the darkness, but the theological meaning of the darkness is clear. Throughout Scripture, darkness is often associated with the judgment of God. As Jesus becomes sin, He bears God’s wrath.

It is significant for us to know that through His death, Jesus completely satisfied the wrath of God. His propitiatory sacrifice…His atoning sacrifice had satisfied a holy God’s demand for the payment of sin.

As He experiences this soul-crushing moment, Jesus cries out to God. Throughout His agony, Jesus gives us a model of how we can deal with our own suffering. He cries out and is honest with God. He expresses His raw emotion. But, through it all, He still clings to the fact that God is still His. He holds onto “my God.”

A.W. Pink sums this up this exchange at the cross this way: “At the Cross man did a work: he displayed his depravity by taking the perfect One and with “wicked hands” nailing Him to the tree. At the Cross Satan did a work: he manifested his insatiable enmity against the woman’s seed by bruising His heel. At the Cross the Lord Jesus did a work: He died—the Just for the unjust that He might bring us to God. At the Cross God did a work: He exhibited His holiness and satisfied His justice by pouring out His wrath on the One who was made sin for us.”

Know that in Jesus, we are forgiven. He became sin for us. He bore the weight of our sin and completely satisfied the wrath of God. In this great exchange, He offers us forgiveness and restoration. He brings us into right relationship with God. Because He was willing to be forsaken, we can be forgiven. Get in on this. Look to Jesus and trust in Him today.

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.