The Price

Finished“It is finished”
John 19:30

What feelings Joseph of Arimathea must have felt as he was taking the body of his Lord down from the cross.  The one who was supposed to come and save all, had just been killed in the most public and horrifying way possible.  Everyone must have been completely confused.  In their minds, Jesus had not done what He said he was going to do.  What were they to do now? How could this have been part of His plan? Something must have gone terribly wrong for this to happen.

The disciples had missed the point.  Jesus had told them over and over that He would die.  He said, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it up again in three days.” (John 2:19) But they didn’t understand what he meant.  “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” (Mark 9:31) Again, they didn’t get it.  Have you ever been told something that you really just didn’t want to believe, and then when it happens you don’t understand why?  I think this is where the disciples were.  Jesus told them what was going to happen but it was beyond anything that they wanted to believe so they put it out of their heads.  When it came true, they still didn’t understand what was going on even though Jesus had tried to explain it to them.

The truth is, Jesus had to be crucified.  He knew it and he tried to tell us.  He didn’t try to tell us so that we would be mentally prepared for His death, but so that we would understand the glory and the purpose of  it.  Jesus had to die because that was God’s purpose for his life so that we might live. “For God so loved the world that He GAVE His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).  God GAVE Jesus to the world so that our sins would be forgiven.  Our sins could only be removed through the perfect sacrifice of Christ.  As you look at Jesus’ death on the cross, remember the price has been paid for your sins.  “It is finished” (John 19:30)

The Man in the Middle

“Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Luke 23:43

Luke tells us a story about three men hanging on crosses in the hot sun.  We don’t know much about the two men on the ends other than that they are criminals.  They must have done some pretty nasty things in their past in order to be sentenced to be crucified.  According to Wikipedia, “crucifixion was used for slaves, pirates, and enemies of the state.  It was considered a most shameful and disgraceful way to die.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crucifixion#Ancient_Rome).  The third man on the cross in the middle was Christ.  A man who was not a slave, was not a pirate, and according to Pilate who said that neither he nor Herod found any basis for sentencing him to death (Luke 23:13-16), he was not an enemy of the state.  Yet there he hung, between two criminals deserving of the fate of crucifixion.  As these three men hung on the cross, we see a glimpse into who they are in that moment.  The man on the left was angry and bitter, he hurled insults at Christ (Luke 23:39).  He showed no remorse for what he had done.  The man on the right however, is completely different.  In that moment before death, a realization occurs.  He sees Christ for who He truly is and understands what he has done in his life. “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” (Luke 23:41).  In that moment we see a man broken, knowing his sins and accepting the consequences.  Seeing his life laid out before him, he looks to the only thing he has left, Christ hanging on the next to him.  Broken, desperate and ashamed, he reaches out to Jesus, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (Luke 23:42)  How hard must that have been to say?  He could have continued to wallow in his own guilt, relinquishing himself to the death he knew he deserved.  Instead he reaches out in faith, knowing he has no were else left to go.  .  Because of this man’s faith, Jesus responds to him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43).  Imagine the weight off of his shoulders.  With those few words, Jesus changed the outlook for this man.  Before, he had nothing to look to.  There was no hope other than death.  How many times do we find our self in this same situation?  Broken, ashamed, full of self guilt and anger.  It is easy to stay there, feeling like we deserve the punishment we receive.  Jesus doesn’t feel that way.  His love for us does not depend on how we have lived our lives; it is not conditional on our good deeds or popularity.  All we have to do is reach out to Him and He will answer you, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43).

 

Troubled Waters

Troubled Waters

“For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you”

Isaiah 41:13

I can only imagine what it must have been like for Peter and the rest of the disciples on that night.  It had been an incredibly long day and they were probably very tired.  Now, they are out in a small boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee, fighting a massive storm.  And where was Jesus during all this time?  He had sent them ahead.  He had to have known there was going to be a storm, He is the Son of God after all.  At the point when everything seems to be going wrong, Jesus shows up.  A figure in the mist, walking on top of the waves.  At first, Peter doesn’t know what to think.  Some of the disciples cry out, “It’s a ghost!” (Matthew 14:26)  I’m sure at this point they thought death had finally come to take them.  Not Peter, he knew that something was different.  Jesus calls back to them, “Take courage! It is I. don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27)  Peter could have stopped there.  These words from Jesus are reassurance enough that everything is going to be alright.  But Peter is not satisfied.  He has always desired to be as close to Jesus as possible.  He calls out to Jesus to let him walk out to be near Him and Jesus simply says “Come.” (Matthew 14:29).  So being Peter, he goes.  I’m not sure if he jumped of the side of the boat or if he gingerly stepped down onto the waves but I can picture his face when his feet stood solidly on the water.  A mixture of uncertainty at first, then sheer joy and amazement as he looks and Jesus.  I don’t know what the Arimaic term for “Woohoo!  Ahh Haa!”  but I’m sure Peter probably said it.  Then it hits him.  He begins to look around and see the wind and the waves crashing around him.  For that split second he sees his surroundings and he begins to forget why he is there in the first place.  As he sinks he calls out to Jesus, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30)  Jesus doesn’t hesitate, He doesn’t call him a fool, He simply reaches out his hand and says “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31)  I don’t think Jesus’s comment is talking about that specific moment.  I think Jesus says that to remind Peter and all the other disciples of all the promises that have been made to them.  In Isaiah 41:13, God tells the Israelites “For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear, I will help you.”  Peter probably new this verse, but at that moment while he was distracted by the world around him, he forgot it.  The beautiful thing about Jesus though, He doesn’t quote it to Peter, he demonstrates it by reaching out His hand and lifting him from the water.