Thursday, 10 May 2012

The Seven Sayings on the Cross (7)

We now come to that poignant final saying from the cross:

"Father into thy hands I commend my spirit"

Thinking about all the things that were said at the foot of the cross I would like to contrast this with that other shameful comment of the Chief Priests and Scribes;

"He trusted in God, let him deliver him now, if he will have him, for he said I am the Son of God"

The sheer mocking and scorn of their unbelief! "He said I am the Son of God..." This for them was victory and proof that they were right, for how could God allow his son to be treated so, and put to death? It was the affirmation that he was the Christ the Son of God that had caused outrage before the High Priest remember, so this was now what they spat back at the Saviour now he was on the cross where they had wanted him all along. "for he said I am the Son of God" - Now we turn to our final saying, and how appropriate it is, considering the scornful language at the foot of his cross! Having endured the judgement for sin, abandoned by God he now speaks for the final time; "Father..." How significant, and how lovely to see that despite the mocking and hatred of men around him he can lift his gaze once again heavenwards and address the Father!

They said "if he will have him..." they didn't think God would accept him at all, this worthless blasphemer from Galilee! Why would God have him at all? What does the Saviour say? "...into thy hands I commend my spirit" How lovely to see that the Saviour gave his spirit into the tender care of his Father - of course he was accepted! He was the perfect servant, in whom God's soul delighted.

The work which the Father had given him to do was finished and perfectly complete! He had glorified God on the earth, and on the third day he rose bodily from the dead and ascended to God's right hand, the very place from where he had come - "sit thou at my right hand..." 

What an answer to the world! How triumphant are those final words of the Saviour, as he completed Calvary's work. How our hearts should respond to our Lord Jesus Christ! The world's estimation is still the same today, even more reason for us to worship him and serve him with greater zeal and fervour!

I trust that our short and simple study comparing the statements of the Lord's from the cross and those from the foot of the cross will have been beneficial and of blessing to all.

Yours in Christ, Mark

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The Seven Sayings on the Cross (6)

"It is finished"

As we reach the penultimate statement of the Lord from the cross I have put this alongside "descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe"

The Chief Priests mocked him in this way, and of course they would not have believed even had the Saviour come down from the cross - they hated him, they had rejected him and had condemned him to death. More than this however, the Lord Jesus could not and would not come down from the cross, as he was there fulfilling God's will and the work that he had been sent to do! His meat was to do the will of him that sent him, and to finish His work (John 4:34), and this meant going to the cross and giving himself for sin. Philippians 2 says that he became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. The Saviour would go to the cross and would endure that judgement and cry "it is finished" in order that we might be saved.

It is interesting to know that the phrase in our English Bible "it is finished" is a single word in the Greek original - "teleo" which means simply "finished" or "to bring to a close" but an additional meaning is the idea of a transaction which is complete, so really it means "paid". I like that, it's a lovely thought. The price for sin had been paid, the judgement had been borne and God was well satisfied with the work.

The Chief Priests said "come down, so that we may see and believe" but of course they had it the wrong way round! He must go to the cross and be lifted up, so that people would see and believe. Remember he said that just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up. The people of that day were healed if they looked in faith to that work, and so sinners are saved today if they look in faith to Calvary.

As we consider these words of the Saviour we realise once again the necessity and value of those words "it is finished"! Without the finished work of His at the cross there would be no salvation at all! We praise God for Calvary afresh today.

He paid a debt He did not owe;
I owed a debt I could not pay;
I needed someone to take my sins away.
And now I sing a brand new song,
"Amazing grace" the whole day long,
For Jesus paid the debt that I could never pay.
Yours in Christ, Mark

Saturday, 5 May 2012

The 7 Sayings on the Cross (5)

"I thirst"

What a tremendous mystery is here, that the very Son of God should ever utter the words "I thirst"... For the purposes of my little mini study I have put this saying alongside the following question from the foot of the cross;

"If thou be the Son of God..."

Surely these two statements bring together that great mystery of godliness, that God was manifest in the flesh, he is the Son of God and yet equally the Son of Man and on occasions in his life we can see the humanity of the Lord Jesus. There were times when he was tired or wearied, there were times when he wept, and there were times where he desired water to drink. Now at the cross the very Son of God cries out, "I thirst"

When we consider these 2 simple yet incredible words of the Saviour from the cross, remember once again that here was the one who in the beginning had divided the waters from the waters, who had gathered the waters under the heaven to one place and who had separated the waters from the dry land. Yet here at Calvary we see from Psalm 22 that his "tongue cleaveth to my jaws" and that his "strength is dried up like a potsherd". A potsherd - a small piece of pottery that had been long baked in the kiln, with not a molecule of moisture in it, small wonder he cried from the cross "I thirst"

"Verily God, yet become truly human,
Lower than angels to die in our stead"
Yours in Christ, Mark

Thursday, 3 May 2012

The 7 Sayings on the Cross (4)

"My God my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"

This is the middle saying from the cross and it surely shows us the solitude and abandonment of the Saviour there on the cross. We have said previously that the first and last sayings address the Father, but here at the 9th Hour having endured those 3 hours of darkness alone, bearing our sin in His own body he cries from the cross the 4th and middle saying.

I have put this most mystifying of statements alongside the mocking of the High Priests when they said:

"If thou be Christ, the chosen of God..."

They had mocked him and questioned his identity as Christ. Of course they knew that Christ would be the Messiah the chosen of God and this is what they refused to believe, in fact they regarded it as blasphemy and it enraged them so! Remember that it was the Lord's answer to that question of the High Priest "art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?" that caused the High Priest to rend his garments in rage. Even today it is this acknowledgement of Christ as the Son of God that brings so much opposition and confrontation with the world.

It is a great mystery to us that Christ the chosen of God, the very Son of God should be caused to cry out from the cross "my God my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" A fellow believer reminded me recently that the middle word of this the middle saying from the cross is that little word "why?" and we may ask ourselves this afresh today! Why should it be so? Why must he die and be forsaken of God? The believer in question pointed out that the answer perhaps lies in Psalm 22 where this middle saying is found prophetically: "for thou art holy". God is holy, and Christ was bearing the burden of sin in its entirety! The scriptures say he was made sin for us, and that the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was forsaken of God as he bore the judgement of a righteous and holy God for our sin... Surely we stand on holy ground as we consider again this tremendous truth and marvel at the mystery of the cross.

"How didst Thou humble Thyself to be taken,
Led by Thy creatures and nailed to the cross,
Hated of men, and of God too forsaken,
Shunning not darkness, the curse and the loss"
Yours in Christ, Mark

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

The 7 Sayings on the Cross (3)

"Woman behold thy son! ...behold thy mother"

This is the third saying from the cross and I have twinned it with a recurrent comment from the foot of the cross, and one that was absolutely true:

"He saved others..."

His life was all about others, and so was his death both in terms of its sacrificial nature and that even on the cross the Saviour is here thinking of others. He turns to his mother and ensures that she is cared for and provided for in the days, weeks and months following the Saviour's death and eventual ascension.

We mentioned in our previous post that some people who were at Golgotha that day were affected for eternity, such as that thief on the cross. But in this instance we see that there were also individuals at the cross who were affected for the rest of their earthly lives, and here is such an example. How touching that in the most traumatic and sorrowful of circumstances there at the foot of the cross, these 2 individuals were brought together by the Saviour and given a solution that would bring them blessing for life! Here in this new relationship they would find comfort, solace, support and encouragement at a time when they would most need it.

I find it no coincidence at all that it is John who is chosen by the Lord for this particular task - was he not the 'disciple whom Jesus loved', the one who leaned upon the bosom of the Lord Jesus? John presents Christ as the Son of God in his Gospel, yet also understood something of his incarnation(John ch 1).  Mary also knew that He was the Son of God, as she had been told this from the very beginning (Luke ch 1) but of course she was also best placed to understand the fact that He was the Son of Man also, God manifest in flesh!

I am sure that Mary the mother of the Lord Jesus would have appreciated the close fellowship and encouragement of the one who had seemed most close to the Lord Jesus, who seemed to understand something of His character perhaps more than the others at that time. Together they would both be able to contemplate and consider the tremendous person and work of Christ!

Is it not true that the Lord does the same work for us today? When the Lord saves us we enjoy a new relationship, one that has been made possible through the work of Christ at the cross and one that affects us for time, not just for eternity! In our last post we appreciated the eternal significance of our salvation, whereas here we contemplate the new relationship that we have with him as our Saviour, enjoying fellowship and help, strength, encouragement and guidance in our daily pathway down here.

What a wonderful salvation is ours!

Yours in Christ, Mark

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

The 7 Sayings on the Cross (2)

"Today thou shalt be with me in paradise"

Naturally I have paired this with that direct request of the thief on the cross to the Lord Jesus:

Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom"

This is indeed a lovely scene in the midst of all the pain and suffering there at Golgotha. It is lovely to see amidst all the mocking, scorn and the flagrant wickedness of man at the cross, that we also see a glimpse of repentance and faith from a single individual.

Here we see dialogue between a thief and the Saviour. It is interesting to note that the thief was someone who took from others that which wasn't his to take, but the Lord Jesus was one who freely gave to others that which only he could give!

The repentant thief is rewarded with the sure promise of eternal life in response to his faith. It is lovely to see the dramatic context of this conversion - that at the last opportunity that life afforded him, this man's eternal destiny was changed forever!

And so the cross changes our destiny too. It is easy to forget that we too met the Saviour at the cross and as a result of that meeting we also are bound for heaven and have eternal life in Him. Our conversions may well have been less dramatic in terms of their situations and circumstances, but the end result was the same - a sinner was saved by grace! Saved from judgement and wrath, and won for heaven!

We praise the Saviour for showing a care and interest in us, that ever he should come and give himself so that we might be saved.

Yours in Christ, Mark

1 Kings 19: Elijah and God

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