Making The Case For A Nation's Return To God
This meditation was meant to help us take our eyes off the daily routine and put it on Christ and what He has done to bring us back into the loving arms of God. It is my prayer that we will be more like Christ to the point that we are willing to commend our lives and spirits unto the Father for Him to complete the work in us that He has started.
“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
There are few phrases that remain on the minds of people like this one does. When the crucifixion procession got to Golgotha, Jesus was crucified, along with two criminals. There was one on his right and one on his left. The Roman Soldiers were gambling for his clothes by casting lots. The crowd was watching this spectacle. Instead of remaining quiet or in awe they began taunting Jesus by saying: “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.” In the face of death, extreme pain, and suffering, Jesus begged God to forgive the people who were torturing and taunting him. I am not sure I could ask for forgiveness for such deeds. No wonder they call Jesus Savior and Lord. Christian Friends, we often offend and injure others and are unknowing participants in oppressing others just like the Roman soldiers. Just as Jesus looked down from the cross and asked God to forgive those soldiers Jesus still looks down from His sit next to the Father at our behavior and says, “Father, forgive them for they don't know what they are doing."
“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
One of the criminals on the cross near
Jesus hurled insults at him: “Aren't you the Christ? Save
yourself and us!” This man foolishly taunted the only one who
could save him. The other criminal rebuked this foolish man by
saying: “Don't you fear God since you are under the same
sentence? We are being punished justly, for we are getting what
our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong. He then
made a request of the Lord by saying “Jesus, remember me when
you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus could have lashed out at the human race whose sins He was bearing by condemning just the one man who taunted him on the cross. But in his anguish, Jesus took time out from dying and had mercy on a repentant sinner. And what of the sinner? Both criminals died, but one went to Hell and one was given eternal life. Are we mocking Jesus by our lack of faith, our behavior, or are we humbling ourselves before Him so we can receive eternal life?
“Woman, behold, your son!“... “Behold, your mother!”
JImagine, you are hanging on a cross. You life is slipping away. You see your mother with tears running down. Those who were close to you have run away in fear except one. You know your mother needs someone to help her so you tell your friend to take care of your mother. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour John took Mary to his own home. It has been said that we are the only hands and feet God has on earth. As Jesus watched his mother and his friend tormented by his death, he probably longed to hold them and comfort them. But the nails in his hands prevented him from holding and loving on them. So he called them to turn to each other and be the arms he longed to wrap around them. This is a lesson in love to teach us to turn to each other as parents, children, brothers and sisters and comfort each other in the name and Spirit of the Living Christ.
“Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”
Jesus had been on the cross since the sixth hour. It was now the ninth hour and Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” When some of the people standing around the cross heard this they said, “He's calling Elijah.” This was a reference to Psalms 22. I don't believe God would forsake His only Son. Some people believe that at that moment Jesus had taken on the sins of the world and was for the first time truly separated from the Father. When we consider the opening words of Psalms 22, maybe Jesus was referring to this Psalm or even reciting it to give himself strength in his hour of physical weakness. In Psalm 22:19 it says “But you, O Lord, are not far away!” God was near even in this difficult time. In our difficult times, God remains near.
John 19:28: After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said to fulfill the scripture, “I thirst.” This verse says that He said “...that the scripture might be fulfilled.” What scripture is Jesus referring to?” The passage that comes to mind is the famous Psalms 22, which some think Jesus may have been reciting to Himself from the cross. Verse one begins, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” and the Psalm describes a suffering, ridiculed man, and contains prophetic descriptions of the very experience Jesus was now having. In verse 15 it says, “My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws...” What Jesus might have had on His mind was that everything prophesied had come to pass. Scripture lets us know that one of the people standing around this scene at the cross got a sponge, filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick of hyssop, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest others said, “Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to save him.” Jesus is the Water of Life but now he experienced thirst for our sake. The world responded to his thirst the same way it responds to the thirst of others by offering something bitter instead of what we really need. As followers of Christ, let's offer Christ to those who thirst rather than the bitter things that come from worldly thinking and behavior.
“It is finished.”
Death is near. The pain and suffering is almost gone. Jesus cries out “It is finished”. What is he talking about? What is finished? The final sacrifice for sin is finished. The Lamb of God is taking away the sins of the world. Jesus died for our sins and at the moment of his death he purchased our forgiveness. Jesus had fulfilled every prophecy so far so now he is fulfilling the last verse of Psalms 22. It says, “They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.” I imagine that Jesus said this verse to himself, and sighed and said, “It is finished.” The prophecies had been fulfilled. Everything was in order; the plan was complete.
“Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!”
And having said this he breathed his last. Three hours have passed, darkness covered the land, the wind began to blow, the bystanders became silent, and Jesus pushed Himself up on the cross to speak one final word. The words came slowly and with great difficulty, “Father into Your hands I commend My spirit” and bowing His head— He died. The curtain of the Temple was ripped in two — man could now be united to God. There were earthquakes, and Jesus died with full consciousness, earnestly commending himself to the Father. “Father into Your hands I commend my spirit”. This was the day of Passover when the Jews recalled their freedom from bondage in Egypt. This was our day of Passover when through the death of Jesus we were freed from sin. Jesus was the New Passover Lamb slaughtered on the preparation day in whose blood all are saved. The word in Luke 23:46 are the same as those in Psalms 31:5 with the exception of the word Father being added. Psalms 31:5 was the prayer every Jewish mother taught her child to say before they went to sleep. Just like many of us were taught “now I lay me down to sleep I pray the Lord my soul to keep”. Mary taught Jesus this prayer in Psalms 31:5 when he was a child. In his dying hour, Jesus made this a personal and beautiful prayer by saying Father. Even on the cross Jesus died like a child falling asleep in His father's arms. This final word of Jesus from the cross is the pure expression of the God-Man who lived absolutely for the will of His Father. He accepted the violent blows that separated his spirit from His body knowing that He would reign at the right hand of the Father. We must live as He lived. We too can stand at His cross. Can we say to Jesus “I commend my spirit into Your hands. Whatever is Your will for me, I accept"?
This meditation was meant to help us
take our eyes off the daily
routine and put it on Christ and what He has done to bring us
back into the loving arms of God. We are called Christians,
which means “little Christs” or Christ-like. We are to be
followers of Christ in all that He teaches and shows us. Paul
talks about what it is to be a Christian and follow Christ.
Galatians 2:20: I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live;
yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now
live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who
loved me, and gave himself for me. It is my prayer that we will
be more like Christ to the point that we are willing to commend
our lives and spirits unto the Father for Him to complete the
work in us that He has started.
Just Keeping It Real!