April 18, 2014

The Cross: A Confident Committal - Apr 18, 2014

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The Passion History According to the Four Gospels (NIV)

      At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” – which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
      When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”
      Later knowing that all was now completed, and so that the scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.”
      Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
      With that, he bowed his head and gave up his life.
      At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks spilt. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
      When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God.’ When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breast and went away.
Grace and peace to you, from God our Father, and from our self-sacrificing King, Jesus Christ.

Our meditation for this Good Friday focuses on the last words of our Savior. Knowing that his life was coming quickly to its end, Jesus spoke one final time from the cross.

What would you say if you knew your last breath was only seconds away? Some might use those precious final moments to say goodbye. To say, “I love you” one last time to some cherished person. Others would turn to God in prayer, calling on the Lord for mercy and forgiveness.
When Jesus spoke his final sentence from the cross, he spoke TO GOD, but he also spoke FOR US to hear. 

The Bible says,

“Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit’” (Luke 23:46 NIV).

Crucifixion was an exhausting mode of execution. It usually  ended with a whimper, not a yell. After many, many hours of suffering, utterly exhausted, physically demolished, the crucified would fade away into death.

We might imagine a crucified man yelling out in agony and despair, but only at the beginning. Not at the moment of death. But Jesus’ final yell was not an expression of agony, or of despair. It was a confident cry of victory.

Jesus knew he didn’t have to speak loudly so his heavenly Father could hear him. Remember what Jesus said before he raised Lazarus from the dead? He prayed to his heavenly Father saying...

Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me” (John 11:41-42 NIV).

Outside the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus spoke TO GOD, but FOR OTHERS to hear. When Jesus spoke his final words on the cross, he was also speaking TO GOD, but FOR US to hear. The people at the foot of the cross heard his yell. They marked his words, and recorded those words. And so, down through the centuries countless millions have heard that cry of victory reechoed in the pages of Scripture.
Companies today like to have tag lines.  A short phrase to put underneath their name that sums them up. If we were to put a tag line under Christ’s name, a good one would be, “Jesus Christ. A life lived to God, but a life lived for us.”

Jesus gave his life completely to his heavenly Father by living each minute in perfect sync with the Father’s will. He remained sinless from the cradle to the tomb.  

And when Jesus came to the cross, he gave not just the minutes of his life, he gave his actual life. He voluntarily died in the place of sinners.

As he hung suspended above the dusty soil of Palestine, Jesus felt the full and terrible weight of God’s hand come crashing down on his soul. He suffered hell on that cross, because hell was what our sins deserved. You’ve heard the cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” In that moment Jesus was experiencing the unthinkable terror of being separated completely from his heavenly Father. Jesus gave himself over to God’s wrath, so that you would never have to feel that unthinkable horror.

And when it was done, Jesus asked for something to drink. Something to wet his parched mouth so he could make an announcement to the world. Upon receiving that drink Jesus said, “It is finished.”

He wasn’t being polite. Oh, the drink is done. He was telling the world that the suffering for their sins at its end. He had LIVED his life TO GOD, FOR US. Now he would give his life TO GOD, FOR US, that we might live at peace with our Creator, forever. Jesus’ willing death was the final piece of the puzzle. The final step in our redemption.
Earlier I said that Jesus spoke TO GOD, but FOR US to hear. But it was more than that. Jesus didn’t just speak loudly so we would HEAR. He spoke loudly so we would hear and BELIEVE. He spoke with confidence TO GOD, so that we also might have confidence IN GOD.

Jesus knew that his death was immanent. Seconds from now he would experience the rending of body and spirit. But he doesn’t cry out in agony, or despair. He knows the mission has been successful. He has done it! The price for your sins, and my sins, and the sins of the world has been paid.

And so Jesus gladly lays his spirit in his Father’s hands for safekeeping. Those hands were now safe. The wrath had been spent. And Jesus was fully confident that in three days his Father would send his spirit back to his body. That he would be raised from the dead, and glorified to show the world that his sacrifice had been accepted.

And so those last words of Jesus, were a confident committal. A joyful and expectant final testimony.
And Jesus also spoke those words for us, so that we might take as our own confident committal.

Jesus taught his followers to pray to God by addressing him as “Our Father in heaven.” With his final words from the cross Jesus teaches us to rest our souls in the Father’s forgiving hands. Jesus has made those hands welcoming by his cross. Like it says in the book of Romans...

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus(Romans 8:1-2 NIV).

We may not be cognizant when we die. We may be sleeping, or in a coma, or unaware of our approaching end. But by faith in Christ, our hearts can even NOW say, “Father, in your hands I rest my spirit.”

This was Christ’s confident committal. Let it be ours now also. Let this be our confident committal today, tomorrow, each and every day—until we see the one who suffered the hell of the cross for us, in person.


The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts, and your minds, in Christ Jesus.

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