Saturday, March 30, 2013

More Words from the Cross

     Six more times Jesus spoke from the cross:

1. To the thief who in the moment of their greatest agony, recognized and acknowledged Jesus for who He truly is, Jesus said, "Today you will be with Me in paradise" Luke 23:43. The moment this criminal turned towards Jesus, he was forgiven and his eternal destiny secured. He did not have to work for his salvation. Jesus, hanging there right beside him, was in the very process of securing his redemption. He called  on the Name of the Lord... and received the free gift of God's grace! When we recognize and acknowledge who Jesus truly is, and call on His name, this free gift of His grace becomes ours also.

2. To His mother and to the disciple John, Jesus said, "Dear woman, here is your son... Here is your mother..." Jesus honored His human mother in the midst of His suffering, and made provision for her by entrusting her to His closest human friend. In ministering to others, we are not to neglect our own families. Jesus knew that He could trust John with this special responsibility. Are we trustworthy disciples and friends of Jesus? Are we trustworthy friends to others?

3. "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" Matt. 27:46 For all eternity the triune Godhead had existed in perfect love, fellowship, unity and harmony. But in this moment on the cross, as the Son was bowed under the weight of the sin of all humanity, He experienced the wrath of a holy God against that sin. Sin separates us from the Father. As He bore our sin on our behalf, Jesus experienced the separation from the Father that is the consequence of sin. His body had already been broken; now His heart broke with the agony of an unthinkable separation... All this He did because the triune God loves you and I so passionately, that even this He was willing to endure, just so that you and I can be reconciled in relationship with the Father. Oh that we would not cause further agony to the heart of this One who loves us so dearly, by treating His sacrifice and gift with light indifference and careless compromise!

4. "I am thirsty" John 19:28. In the twenty-four hours since His arrest, all the torture and torment Jesus had endured had resulted in massive fluid loss - mostly in blood. In addition to all His physical, mental, emotional and spiritual agony, He also experienced a ravaging physical thirst. Yet His thirst was not only physical. His thirst was also the consuming inner longing for His creation - humanity whom He had formed in His own image, and for whom He now gave Himself as a sacrifice - to return to the deeply intimate loving relationship with God for which He created us. This was a thirst birthed out of His passionate and inextinguishable love for you and me. Oh pray that we too, would thirst deeply for love relationship with Him! He promises that those who come to Him in this way will never thirst again. Only in Him is there deep and lasting satisfaction!

5. "It is finished" John 19:30. Jesus had completed the work He had come to do. Compelled by His great love for us, He had taken upon Himself all of our wrongdoing, and had borne the consequences for our sin in our place. It was done: the price of our freedom was paid in full. All that remains is for you and I to gratefully receive this extravagant, undeserved gift of His love, mercy and grace.

6. "Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit" Luke 23:46. Nobody took Jesus' life from Him. Nobody had the power or authority to do so. Jesus gave His life of His own volition - just as the Father also gave the Son. It was a gift compelled by love. Love gives; love gives self. The Father and the Son were united in this love for you and I, and their love for one another - this love that gives. And because of this love, the Son, having paid the price in His blood for your sin and mine, could safely commit His spirit to the care of the Father as He entered into the darkness of death. He was held in the hands of the Almighty I AM - and not even death itself could contain Him! Because of Jesus, into His hands you and I can commit all that we have and all that we are and all that we experience - and there we can safely rest in the only One who holds all power and all authority, even over our deepest darkness! We can trust His love; we can trust HIM!

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