Holy Week: 7 Sayings of Christ with B.C. 2001

Holy Week: 7 Sayings of Christ with B.C. 2001

A few years ago, I came across an inspiring cartoon in my "Easter" file (See enlarged image below).  I think my husband John, who had been the family reader of the Sunday funnies in years gone by, cut it out and gave it to me back in April 2001.  So there in my file, this little treasure has been tucked away for all these years.

For those of you who have been following the Lenten Meditations on a branch in the Vine, this piece serves as a fitting climax during Holy Week.

Read More

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Completion

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Completion

Tetelestai!* It is finished! The death of Christ on the Cross is the HINGE of human history...and nowbefore He breathes His last breath... a cry of victory,It is finished!

What's finished? It must be something BIG,...look at what happened when Jesus died:

At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead.

Read More

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Personal Need

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Personal Need

Thirst is a primal need in all of us humans...more demanding even than hunger!  We can go quite awhile without eating, but a very short time without drinking. Jesus on the Cross had refrained up to this point from satisfying His thirst.  Instead He drank the Father's cup to the very last drop! He became sin for us...the Sinless One!  Jesus took our place, and the Father turned His back.  The punishment for sin had been accomplished...spiritual separation from God....for US!

Now in fulfillment of prophecy, Jesus expresses His own physical need:

After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said ( to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. John 19:28-29 ESV

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Lenten Meditation: a Word of Abandonment

Lenten Meditation:  a Word of Abandonment

Abandoned!  Left on the "doorstep of Life"...but with no Rescuer in sight! What happens next in the unfolding drama of the crucifixion of our Lord is incomprehensible!

It's an abandonment so profoundly mysterious that it boggles the mind...but ravishes the believing heart! Let's watch it unfold...

It is noon. By this time, Jesus has already forgiven ... 

Read More

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Family Affection

Lenten Meditation:  a Word of Family Affection

Dear woman, behold your son...behold your mother. (John 19:26)

Jesus has a special love for His own. As we've already seen with His forgiving and saving attitude in the midst of excruciating agony, His concern was not with His own suffering.  Rather His attention was next drawn to His precious loved ones at the foot of His cross, His mother and His beloved disciple John.

What agony Jesus must have seen on Mary's face.

Read More

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Salvation

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Salvation

Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise. Luke 23:43

Jesus seems to have a special love for lost people.  I love the stories He tells in Luke 15.  The first is the beloved story of the shepherd who has a hundred sheep but leaves the ninety-nine to look for the one that is lost.  Then when he finds his lost one, he calls in his neighbors and friends to rejoice with him.

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Lenten Meditation: a Word of Forgiveness

Lenten Meditation:  a Word of Forgiveness

Alexander Pope (1688-1744), English poet, once said,To err is human; to forgive, divine.

So true...but we humans more readily echo what someone else has said,

To err is human, but to get even? THAT is divine.

We struggle so, with forgiving our offenders!  Perhaps that's why we are amazed and awestruck to realize that Jesus' first words from the Cross were ones of forgiveness.

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Lenten Meditation: Last Words and Conversations

Lenten Meditation:  Last Words and Conversations

The last words of a dying person are important.  They can communicate good or ill to those left behind.  Why?  Because the last words are so final...and so revealing of what was uppermost in the person's mind as he was leaving this earth to face his Maker. I've never been at the bedside of a dying person.  But I have been with a few people just days before their death.

Read More

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Abandonment

Lenten Meditation:  a Word of Abandonment

Abandoned!  Left on the "doorstep of Life"...but with no Rescuer in sight! What happens next in the unfolding drama of the crucifixion of our Lord is incomprehensible!

It's an abandonment so profoundly mysterious that it boggles the mind...but ravishes the believing heart! Let's watch it unfold...

It is noon.

Read More

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Salvation

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Salvation

Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise. Luke 23:43

Jesus seems to have a special love for lost people ... This makes me think of the criminals executed with Our Lord Christ. They certainly were the lost sheep, ...the lost coins, ...the lost sons...and Jesus came to seek them.

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. Luke 19:10

They obviously had been running away from God...who knows what kind of crimes they had committed!  The Bible just calls them "criminals" [thieves, malefactors KJV].  Maybe God didn't come into their thinking...but that's the point.  They had gone their own way.

Read More

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Forgiveness

Lenten Meditation:  a Word of Forgiveness

Alexander Pope (1688-1744), English poet, once said,To err is human; to forgive, divine.

So true...but we humans more readily echo what someone else has said,

To err is human, but to get even? THAT is divine.

We struggle so, with forgiving our offenders!  Perhaps that's why we are amazed and awestruck to realize that Jesus' first words from the Cross were ones of forgiveness.

Read More

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Personal Need

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Personal Need

Thirst is a primal need in all of us humans...more demanding even than hunger!  We can go quite awhile without eating, but a very short time without drinking. Jesus on the Cross had refrained up to this point from satisfying His thirst.  Instead He drank the Father's cup to the very last drop! He became sin for us...the Sinless One!  Jesus took our place, and the Father turned His back.  The punishment for sin had been accomplished...spiritual separation from God....for US!

Read More

Holy Week: 7 Sayings of Christ with B.C. 2001

I love this post because it was such a serendipitous delight to find this clipping in my file a few years ago. So I can't help but share it year by year.

Would you meditate along with me ... and revisit Christ's seven sayings for the Cross this holy week? It's truly "holy ground" as we reflect on the Cross, what our Lord went through, but mainly, what He accomplished there. What a perfect preparation for the joy, freedom, and release of the Resurrection.

www.johnhartstudios.com.

A few years ago, I came across an inspiring cartoon in my "Easter" file.  I think my husband John (who had been the family reader of the Sunday funnies in years gone by) cut it out and gave it to me back in April 2001.  So there in my file, this little treasure has been tucked away for all these years.

For those of you who have been following the Lenten Meditations on a branch in the Vine, this piece serves as a fitting climax during Holy Week, which corresponds to Passover this year.

There's an interesting story behind this controversial cartoon.  Apparently for Easter 2001, cartoonist Johnny Hart wanted to do something special. He stated,

I noticed one day that the center section of the Menorah -- the sacred symbol of Judaism, bore the shape of the cross. I wanted everyone to see the cross in the Menorah. It was a revelation to me, that tied God's chosen people to their spiritual next of kin -- the disciples of the Risen Christ. http://www.hollywoodjesus.com/BCcomics_easter.htm

Take a look at the enlarged version below.  And then peer deeply into the empty tomb, and remember HIM!

Behold the Lamb (Communion Song)

Behold the Lamb who bears our sins away,Slain for us - and we rememberThe promise made that all who come in faithFind forgiveness at the cross.

So we share in this bread of life,And we drink of His sacrificeAs a sign of our bonds of peaceAround the table of the King.

The body of our Saviour Jesus Christ,Torn for you - eat and rememberThe wounds that heal, the death that brings us lifePaid the price to make us one.

So we share in this bread of life,And we drink of His sacrificeAs a sign of our bonds of loveAround the table of the King.

The blood that cleanses every stain of sin,Shed for you - drink and rememberHe drained death's cup that all may enter inTo receive the life of God.

So we share in this bread of life,And we drink of His sacrificeAs a sign of our bonds of graceAround the table of the King.

And so with thankfulness and faith we riseTo respond, - and to rememberOur call to follow in the steps of ChristAs His body here on earth.

As we share in His sufferingWe proclaim Christ will come again!And we’ll join in the feast of heavenAround the table of the King

Words and Music by Keith and Kristyn Getty & Stuart Townend

Devotions for Holy Week:

Perhaps for the days of Holy Week, you would like to meditate on Christ's sayings one by one.  Here is a summary of the links from our Lenten Meditations at  A Branch in the Vine.

Last Words and Conversations:

  1. Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing. Luke 23:34 -- a Word of Forgiveness
  2. I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise. Luke 23:43 -- a Word of Salvation
  3. Dear woman, here is your son...Here is your mother. John 19:26-27 -- a Word of Family Affection
  4. My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me? Matthew 27:46 -- a Word of Abandonment
  5. I am thirsty. John 19:28 -- a Word of Personal Need
  6. It is finished! John 19:30 -- a Word of Completion
  7. Father, into your hands I commit My spirit. Luke 23:46 -- a Word of Reunion

www.johnhartstudios.com.

Lenten Meditation: Embrace Forgiveness, Embrace Life!

Until you rest in the finality of the cross, you will never experience the reality of the resurrection, which is Christ living in and through you!Unless you rest in the fact that Jesus did it all, you’ll be so busy trying to pay off your debt – atone for your sins – that you’ll never grow and enjoy the personal relationship that Christ has provided for you. Bob George, Growing in Grace

it is finished
it is finished

The total payment has been made.  The slate is wiped clean!

We are lavishly loved and forever forgiven in Him!

So we can quit trying to earn what we already have in Christ. We can live the abundant life the Lord has promised...the resurrected, indwellingChrist living it through us...as us, not as someone we admire or think we should be like.

Let the truth of this song wash over you...live the life the Lord has given you...Him living through you!

 

The Power of the Cross

Oh, to see the dawn of the darkest dayChrist on the road to calvarytried by sinful men, torn and beaten thennailed to a cross of wood

This the pow'r of the crossChrist became sin for ustook the blame, bore the wrath we stand forgiven at the cross

Oh, to see the pain written on your facebearing the awesome weight of sinevery bitter thought, every evil deedcrowning your bloodstained brow

This the pow'r of the crossChrist became sin for ustook the blame, bore the wrathwe stand forgiven at the cross

Now the daylight fleesNow the ground beneathquakes as it maker bows his headcurtain torn intodead are raise to life"finished" the victory cry

This the pow'r of the crossChrist became sin for ustook the blame, bore the wrathwe stand forgiven at the cross

Oh, to see my name written in the woundsfor through your suffering I am freedeath is crushed to deathlife is mine to livewon through your selfless love

This the pow'r of the crossson of God slain for uswhat a love, what a costwe stand forgiven at the cross

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Completion

tetelestai
tetelestai

Tetelestai!* It is finished! The death of Christ on the Cross is the HINGE of human history...and nowbefore He breathes His last breath... a cry of victory,It is finished!

What's finished? It must be something BIG,...look at what happened when Jesus died:

At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people. The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, “This man truly was the Son of God! Matthew 27:51-54 NLT

So WHAT was finished?  What wascomplete at the death of Christ?

All the work that the Father had sent the Son to accomplish:

“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work."

...especiallythe work of atonement and redemption as our Sin Bearer:

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. 2Cor 5:21 NLT

...so that there was nothing left to be done to bring us to a Holy God!

Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. 1 Peter 3:18 NLT

paid in full
paid in full

This has HUGE implications for us!

Jesus did everything that He needed to do... ...for our salvation from the penalty of sin! ...for our Christian life on this earth! ...for our eternity in glory!

Look at how Paul says it:

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners....God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. Romans 5:6-10

But not only did Jesus die for us (as if that wasn't enough), but we died with Him (read Romans 6 and Colossians 3)

I have been crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me... Galatians 2:20a NIV

...you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Col 3:3-4

crucufixion tetelestai
crucufixion tetelestai

Now this is where it gets really exciting...and practical for my everyday life:

WHAT did I die to through my union with Christ?

I died to the sinful self -- Gal 2:20; 2Cor 5:17; Rom 6:3-14 I died to the flesh -- Col 2:11-12; Rom 8:1-10 I died to sin --  Col 2:13; Romans 6:3-14; Eph 2:1-7;2Cor 5:21 I died to the Law (“to do list” religion)! -- Rom 7:4-6; 8:3-4; Gal 2:19-20; 3:10-25; Col 2:14 I died to the power of Satan, whose main tactics are lies and accusation! -- Col 2:15; Heb 2:14-15; Eph 1:19-21;6:10ff I died to the world -- Gal 6:14; Col 2:8

So if death means separation, then...

I've been disconnected from my selfish self as my source of life; I've been disconnected from the fleshly and sinful attitude of independence as the source of my life; I've been disconnected from the need to do good works (religious and otherwise) to earn God's favor (I already have God's favor in Christ); I've been disconnected from the power of the lies of the enemy (for a good example of this, see Caught in the Web); I've been disconnected from the world system with its values and mindset as my source of meaning in life.

Now I can chose to live from the indwelling, risen Christ who is my life...

And that's worth shouting about...Tetelestai!

And singing about..

How deep the Father's love for us, How vast beyond all measure That He should give His only Son To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss, The Father turns His face away As wounds which mar the chosen One, Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross, My sin upon His shoulders Ashamed I hear my mocking voice, Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that left Him there Until it was accomplished His dying breath has brought me life I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything No gifts, no power, no wisdom But I will boast in Jesus Christ His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward? I cannot give an answer But this I know with all my heart His wounds have paid my ransom

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Bible Note: In John 19:30, "John chose to quote Jesus using the Greek word tetelestai, an accounting term found on canceled loan documents, relieving a debtor of future payment.  When the last payment had been made, the paper was stamped tetelestai, meaning 'paid in full.' If the lender wished to forgive the debt, he could stamp the document tetelestai, meaning 'fulfilled' or 'completed.'"  (Chuck Swindoll, Saying It Well, p. 131)

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Family Affection

Dear woman, behold your son...behold your mother.  John 19:26 Jesus has a special love for His own.

As we've already seen with His forgiving and saving attitude in the midst of excruciating agony, His concern was not with His own suffering.  Rather His attention was next drawn to His precious loved ones at the foot of His cross, His mother and His beloved disciple John.

What agony Jesus must have seen on Mary's face. Calvin Miller describes the scene well:

Beneath the tree stood the grieving mother of the heretic.  She was a woman whose face was rimmed by little wisps of silver hair that protruded defiantly from under her mantle; occasionally she trembled with uncontrollable spasms of despair.  Before the tree a young fisherman gazed in blurred glances at his dying friend; his broad arm cradled the head of the convict's mother.  But he was unable to console her.  The man on the cross was her son... Miller, Once Upon a Tree

This was her little boy...her precious son that she nursed and rocked and raised to be a man to fulfill God's plan.  Yes, she had warning of suffering ahead...remember Simeon's prophecy when the baby was presented in the Temple?

This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, but he will be a joy to many others. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword [romphia] will pierce your very soul. Luke 2:34 NLT

Little did Mary know all this sword would entail.  According to Miller, romphia (Greek) was a huge Persian sword that literally skewers its victims in pain.   Jesus Himself knew all this and yet submitted to the Father's plan.

But now He would care for His suffering mama by entrusting her to the man He knew would care for her as his own.

When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home. John 19:26-27 NLT

Years later the apostle Paul would write to Timothy, his beloved son in the faith:

Michelangelo's Pieta

If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 1 Timothy 5:8

But this begs the question...where were Jesus' brothers?  Surely, this first-born Son could have entrusted His mother to one of his brothers, James or Jude, or perhaps another close relative.

There was obviously something more going on here...something that includes you and me.

Perhaps a year or so before...

...as Jesus was speaking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, and they want to speak to you.” Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!” Matthew 12:46-50 NLT

So by entrusting His mother to His beloved disciple and friend, Jesus was "creating a new family based not on kinship to one another [blood relationship] but solely through their relationship to him."*  Although his brothers were related by blood, they had not yet become related in the Spirit through faith in Him, God's Son and Savior of the world.

And that brings us back to us believers...those of us who are related to Him by faith.  We are His family...children of the same Father:

But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. John 1:12

Jesus the God-Man is our Brother, and we are his brothers and sisters:

In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers … For this reason, he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest. Hebrews 2:10, 11, 17

And Jesus cares for His own with a special love and care:

Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested...So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 2:18; 4:16 NLT

We also belong to one another...brothers and sisters in our Father's and Brother's family.

On the night before He died, Jesus gave us the new commandment, Love one another as I have loved you...

Why? because then the world will know you are my disciples. Why?  because the world will hate you. Why? because in this world you will have trouble.

So we will need each other!

Love each other with brotherly affection, and delight in honoring each other. Romans 12:10

Dear brothers and sisters, ...who is it in your human family that needs your affection and attention? ...who is it in the family of God that needs your brotherly (Or sisterly) affection and attention?

Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone--especially to those in the family of faith.  Gal 6:10

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Bible Students:

Go back to the night before Jesus died (John 13-17). Mark every time that Jesus says love with a red heart. Who is loving whom? Now do this for the epistle of First John. Did you notice that LOVE is John's emphasis? No wonder...He's the disciple Jesus loved.

You may also like this post:  "Love's Abiding Harvest"

The New Testament is filled with "_________________ one another verses." Click here and read through all of them, including the Scriptures. Which ones jump out to you and why? Is God telling you to do something about it...attitude or action-wise?

You may also like this post:"It Takes a Village..."

Activity:

In the center of a piece of paper, write your name.  Around your name, write the names of all the other persons that you consider part of your family.  Those closest to you might be written close to your name, those further away may be written a greater distance from your name. *

Now do the same with your "spiritual family"...fellow believers in your life, whether in your church body, Bible study, family, neighbors, etc.

Then answer the closing questions above...

Dear brothers and sisters, ...who is it in your human family that needs your affection and attention? ...who is it in the family of God that needs your brotherly (Or sisterly) affection and attention?

Lenten Meditation: Forgiven to Live...and Forgive

Until you rest in the finality of the cross, you will never experience the reality of the resurrection, which is Christ living in and through you!Unless you rest in the fact that Jesus did it all, you’ll be so busy trying to pay off your debt—atone for your sins—that you’ll never grow and enjoy the personal relationship that Christ has provided for you.

Bob George, Growing in Grace

FATHER FORGIVE THEM

FATHER FORGIVE THEM

Embracing our total forgiveness by our Lord Jesus Christ and His atoning death on the cross for every sin,

one by one,

all of them,

what we have done and will do,

and, not only that, who we are apart from Him...

...is essential for life, that is, the life of God in us!

Yes, the living, resurrected Christ indwellingour spirit made new...

This is basic to forgiving others, because in reality, we can't do it on our own...but the forgiving indwelling Lord can and does, as we live from His life!

So whether we have been blatant sinners in the same category as the prodigal son...

...or subtle, pride-filled sinners a la elder brother,

Jesus has forgiven us!

Embrace that forgiveness today, dear friend, and live!

And forgive...by the indwelling, forgiving Christ! Amen!

I will be their God,    and they shall be my people...for they shall all know me,    from the least of them to the greatest.For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,    and I will remember their sins no more. Hebrews 8:10-12 ESV

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Completion

images1
images1

Tetelestai!* It is finished! The death of Christ on the Cross is the HINGE of human history...and nowbefore He breathes His last breath... a cry of victory,It is finished!

What's finished? It must be something BIG,...look at what happened when Jesus died:

At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people. The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, “This man truly was the Son of God! Matthew 27:51-54 NLT

So WHAT was finished?  What wascomplete at the death of Christ?

All the work that the Father had sent the Son to accomplish:

“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work."

...especiallythe work of atonement and redemption as our Sin Bearer:

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. 2Cor 5:21 NLT

...so that there was nothing left to be done to bring us to a Holy God!

Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. 1 Peter 3:18 NLT

paid in full
paid in full

This has HUGE implications for us!

Jesus did everything that He needed to do... ...for our salvation from the penalty of sin! ...for our Christian life on this earth! ...for our eternity in glory!

Look at how Paul says it:

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners....God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. Romans 5:6-10

But not only did Jesus die for us (as if that wasn't enough), but we died with Him (read Romans 6 and Colossians 3)

I have been crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me... Galatians 2:20a NIV

...you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Col 3:3-4

crucufixion tetelestai
crucufixion tetelestai

Now this is where it gets really exciting...and practical for my everyday life:

WHAT did I die to through my union with Christ?

I died to the sinful self -- Gal 2:20; 2Cor 5:17; Rom 6:3-14 I died to the flesh -- Col 2:11-12; Rom 8:1-10 I died to sin --  Col 2:13; Romans 6:3-14; Eph 2:1-7;2Cor 5:21 I died to the Law (“to do list” religion)! -- Rom 7:4-6; 8:3-4; Gal 2:19-20; 3:10-25; Col 2:14 I died to the power of Satan, whose main tactics are lies and accusation! -- Col 2:15; Heb 2:14-15; Eph 1:19-21;6:10ff I died to the world -- Gal 6:14; Col 2:8

So if death means separation, then...

I've been disconnected from my selfish self as my source of life; I've been disconnected from the fleshly and sinful attitude of independence as the source of my life; I've been disconnected from the need to do good works (religious and otherwise) to earn God's favor (I already have God's favor in Christ); I've been disconnected from the power of the lies of the enemy (for a good example of this, see Caught in the Web); I've been disconnected from the world system with its values and mindset as my source of meaning in life.

Now I can chose to live from the indwelling, risen Christ who is my life...

And that's worth shouting about...Tetelestai!

And singing about..

How deep the Father's love for us, How vast beyond all measure That He should give His only Son To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss, The Father turns His face away As wounds which mar the chosen One, Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross, My sin upon His shoulders Ashamed I hear my mocking voice, Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that left Him there Until it was accomplished His dying breath has brought me life I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything No gifts, no power, no wisdom But I will boast in Jesus Christ His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward? I cannot give an answer But this I know with all my heart His wounds have paid my ransom

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Bible Note: In John 19:30, "John chose to quote Jesus using the Greek word tetelestai, an accounting term found on canceled loan documents, relieving a debtor of future payment.  When the last payment had been made, the paper was stamped tetelestai, meaning 'paid in full.' If the lender wished to forgive the debt, he could stamp the document tetelestai, meaning 'fulfilled' or 'completed.'"  (Chuck Swindoll, Saying It Well, p. 131)

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Personal Need*

Thirst is a primal need in all of us humans...more demanding even than hunger!  We can go quite awhile without eating, but a very short time without drinking. Jesus on the Cross had refrained up to this point from satisfying His thirst.  Instead He drank the Father's cup to the very last drop! He became sin for us...the Sinless One!  Jesus took our place, and the Father turned His back.  The punishment for sin had been accomplished...spiritual separation from God....for US!

Now in fulfillment of prophecy, Jesus expresses His own physical need:

After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said ( to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. John 19:28-29 ESV

Here He is...the Source of Living Water...asking for a drink!  That reminds me of another time Jesus was thirsty...and it was a thirst that ended up quenching thirsty souls.

He had been traveling through Samaria, and  He asked an unknown woman at a well for a drink.

Samaria was the place where a mixed race lived...half pagan, half Jewish...wholly outcast to pure bred Jews.  But not to Jesus!  He was to have a divine encounter with this forgotten woman over a drink of water.

This woman of Samaria was not the godly, religious type, even according to Samaritan standards...in fact, the exact opposite.  She was looking for love in all the wrong places...five husbands and now a live-in boyfriend.  Yet still thirsty for love...from Someone, but didn't know it!

So in her shame, she daily came to the well to draw water at mid-day... at a time when she could avoid the knowing glances and whispers of the "righteous women" of the community.

Here she encountered a Stranger with a strange request:

Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.”

The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans.  She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?

Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.

“But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water?...

Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”

Thinking that Jesus was talking about physical water and physical thirst,

“Please, sir, the woman said, give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.”

Jesus, gently confronting her of her sinful and fruitless life, answered her God questions:

The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

Then Jesus told her, “I AM the Messiah!

The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone, “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?” So the people came streaming from the village to see him...

Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I ever did!” When they came out to see him, they begged him to stay in their village. So he stayed for two days, long enough for many more to hear his message and believe.

Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world. John 4:1-42 NLT

In the end, this little woman, as well as the community she desperately tried to avoid, drank deep of the Well of Living Water...all in response to a Thirsty Stranger's request for a drink.

Prayer: Lord, I hear Your words, I thirst, and I realize that You thirsted for me too.  Thank you for Your ever-thirsting thirst for the souls of men and women like me! I have to admit that I go through my days thirsting also. But I often try to quench my thirst at broken cisterns that hold no water ...cisterns of human approval, recreation and entertainment, social media, relationships (even good ones), religion, perfectionism, comparison, one-up-manship, and the list goes on. In the end I come up dry...because I'm really thirsty for YOU, my Savior and Lord. Thank you for Your Indwelling Spring of Living Water...Your Beautiful Self! Cause me to walk in Your overflowing fullness every day of my life. Amen and amen!

Let anyone who is thirsty come to ME and drink. Whoever believes in ME, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them. John 7:37-38

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Bible Students:

Fully God, but fully HUMAN.

This is another of the divine mysteries...the Kenosis, the self-emptying of the Son of God.

Explore these passages and be humbled and blessed by the realization that the Sovereign God became one of us...for you and me!

Philippians 2:6-11 ESV Hebrews 2:9-18 ESV

*Thanks to friends at Abiding Christ Church for this title.  Traditionally, this statement is often called a "Word of Distress."

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Abandonment

crucified Christ
crucified Christ

Abandoned!  Left on the "doorstep of Life"...but with no Rescuer in sight! What happens next in the unfolding drama of the crucifixion of our Lord is incomprehensible!

It's an abandonment so profoundly mysterious that it boggles the mind...but ravishes the believing heart! Let's watch it unfold...

It is noon.

By this time, Jesus has already forgiven His executioners as they cruelly hammered Him to the Cross...as they, careless for His pain, roughly lifted and dropped His Cross into the ground...Father, forgive them.

By this time, He lovingly has received the confession and cry of a repentant thief with a word of hope...Today you will be with me in Paradise.

And by now, He has tenderly cared for His suffering mama by entrusting her to His beloved disciple and friend...Behold your son...behold your mother.

Three hours of agony are yet to come...as if enough suffering hasn't already been His cup. This agony will be beyond understanding and description!  But this is the crux of theFather's cupthat Jesus has chosen to drink...and drink it He must...to the full!

At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. But the rest said, “Wait! Let’s see whether Elijah comes to save him.” Matthew 27:45-49 NLT

crucifixion with darkness
crucifixion with darkness

Strangely silent, God the Father abandons Jesus, God's Son...for three hours.

This is the same Father who validated Him at His baptism with the words:

This is my beloved Son in whom I'm well-pleased. Matthew 3:17 ESV

...the same Father who declared Him superior to Moses and Elijah at the Transfiguration:

While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!" John 17:5 ESV

...and the same Abba who responded to Jesus' prayer just days before His crucifixion:

“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” ...Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” John 12:27-32 ESV

But now nothing but darkness!  What kind of rift could be happening in the Trinity?

Whatever it is, it's so mysteriously real that we hear the very human God-Man ask the question we all ask when we face the "unanswerables" of life...WHY?

Theologians* down through the centuries have basically scratched their theological heads, trying to understand and explain this mystery of mysteries.

But it's the pages of Scripture that give us the answer to Jesus' WHY?

Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed forour sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all.Is 53:4-6 NLT

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us,so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2Cor5:21 ESV

God turned His back on His Son so He wouldn't have to turn His back on us...

Because the wages of sin is death...spiritual as well as physical; because death means separation...separation from God (spiritual death) as well as separation of the soul from the body (physical death); Jesus our Brother underwent spiritual death as well as physical death to be our sinless Sin-Bearer, our Perfect Substitute.

Jesus the God-Man was spiritually separated from a Holy God in order to take our place...and bring us to God.

For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit... 1 Peter 3:18 NIV

And WHY?

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.John 15:13

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 1John 3:16

Prayer:

"We twist in anguish at Your cry ..."My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"  God forsaking God, this is a mystery beyond understandingA forsaking that was meant for us, but wretched alienation and blackness experienced by You.Because of that tormented howl, the barrier that kept us from God tears in two.  And we who have insulted and mocked You, denied You and crucified You, we fall on our knees and whisper Good Friday truth: "Surely this man was the Son of God." Ann Voskamp, Trail to the Tree

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Something to Think About:

Tears
Tears

Have you ever been forsaken by someone you love?  Jesus understands...He was no stranger to abandonment.  He was abandoned by His nation, His people, His "so-called disciples, His brothers, Judas, Peter...and in reality, us as well.

He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Is 53:3 NLT

Have you ever felt abandoned by God?  Jesus was!  And this has been the experience of devout believers through the ages.  (See Dark Night of the Soul) Of course, we will never experience it to the extent of the Son of God.  But we know that because He has gone through it before us, He understands and comes to our aid even when the Heavens may seem like brass...silent and dark.

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.  So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:15-16 NLT

Have you asked the WHY? question...without getting a reply?  Read what our Mysterious God says:

The LORD our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that he has revealed to us, so that we may obey all the terms of these instructions. Deut 29:29

Bible student:
Bible student:

Bible Students:

Many Bible scholars consider Psalm 22, the psalm Jesus quoted here, a Messianic Psalm. There are at least four points of comparison between Psalm 22 and Matthew 27.  See if you can find them. Look especially at Ps 22:1,7,8,18 and Mt 27:35,39,43,46.

You may also like to read through the Gospel of John during this Lenten season.  As you do, make note of how intimately connected to and dependent on the Father, Jesus was.  This made the abandonment the Son experienced all the more painful...all for you and me!

* A Theological Word:

God forsaking God.  Who can understand that? Martin Luther (quoted in Abiding Christ Church, Lenten study 2012)

The first three sayings were probably all spoken before noon.  This one, which is in every way central, was uttered about 3pm, after three hours of darkness and silence during which the Son of God bore the sin of the world.  In that work He had to be forsaken by God, and yet at the same time there was no splitting up of the Trinity.  All that is involved is inscrutable, but He gave Himself, He was made sin, He bore sins, and His soul was made an offering for sin.  His work was to bear sin.

Charles Ryrie,  Biblical Theology of the New Testament, p.69