FWD: Good Friday Meditation
Posted 15 April 2006 - 08:53 AM
A Christadelphian Meditation on the
Suffering and Death of our Lord
Friday April 14th, 2006,
King Koti Road, Hyderabad, India
Song: “Immortal, invisible, God only wise” (55)
Reading: Gen 19:11-16 But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door. And they smote the men that [were] at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door. And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring [them] out of this place: For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it. And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law. And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city. And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city.
Reading: Exodus 3:8; 7:4-5 And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, [and] my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. And the Egyptians shall know that I [am] the LORD, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.
Reading: 2 Sam 24:14-17: And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let us fall now into the hand of the LORD; for his mercies [are] great: and let me not fall into the hand of man. So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men. And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It is enough: stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD was by the threshingplace of Araunah the Jebusite. And David spake unto the LORD when he saw the angel that smote the people, and said, Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my father's house.
Song: “Loving Shepherd of Thy Sheep” (165)
Reading: Psalm 118:15-16: The voice of rejoicing and salvation [is] in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly.
The right hand of the LORD is exalted: the right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly.
Reading: Ecclesiastes 9:1 For all this I considered in my heart even to declare all this, that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, [are] in the hand of God: no man knoweth either love or hatred [by] all [that is] before them.
Isa. 62:1-3 For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp [that] burneth. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name. Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.
Song: “For Zion’s Sake I will not Rest” (249)
Reading: John 10:28-29; And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any [man] pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave [them] me, is greater than all; and no [man] is able to pluck [them] out of my Father's hand.
Message: "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit."
"Father." How often this word was upon the Savior's lips. His first words recorded for us by Scripture are, "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" (Lk 2:49). In the sermon on the mount he speaks of the "Father" seventeen times. In the upper room message of John 14-16 the word "Father" is found no less than forty-five times. In the next chapter, John 17, which contains Christ's prayer, he speaks to and of the Father six more times. And now, now in his last word before death, he speaks to the Father again: "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit."
He whom Jesus calls Father is also our Father because of Christ and his work upon the cross. How wonderful this is! How unspeakably precious that we can look up to the great and living God and say, "Father, our Father." What comfort is contained in this title! What assurance it conveys! God is our Father. He is our Father and He loves us, He cares for us, He supplies all our needs, He works out all things for our good. "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us," says the Apostle John, "that we should be called children of God!" (1 Jn 3:1).
"Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." This shows Jesus moving from the hands of men to the hands of God. Christ had foretold he would be in the hands of men. Three times he said to his disciples,
(Mk 10:33-34) " the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him" (cf Mk 8:31, 9:31)
And, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus said, (Matt 26:45-46) "... Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!"
On the resurrection morning the angels made reference to these predictions of Christ: (Lk 24:6-7) ... Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.'"
It wouldn't have been difficult for Christ to avoid going into the hands of men. A simple look of his was enough to lay the arresting soldiers on the ground (Jn 18:9). And, as Jesus himself said, at his disposal were more than twelve legions of angels — any or all of whom Jesus could have called to his defense (Mt 26:53). But, in obedience to Scripture and the will of God, Jesus allowed himself to be delivered into the hands of men (cf Mt 26:54,56). The appointed hour had come. The time when he should submit himself to be led as a lamb to the slaughter had arrived. So he delivered himself into the hands of sinners. For more than twelve hours Christ was in the hands of men. How he suffered then! We all know what they did. They gave full expression to their hatred for him. They crucified the Lord of glory.
Of his own free will, then, Christ delivered himself into the hands of sinners.
Notice what Christ does now: of his own free will he delivers himself from the hands of men into the hands of the Father.
Do we know what this means? Never again will Christ be in the hands of men. Never again will he be at the mercy of the wicked. Never again will he suffer shame. Into the hands of the Father he commits himself, and the Father will now look after him.
"Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." What happens to Christ in the Father's hands? In three days God will raise him from the grave. Forty days after that the Father will exalt him to His right hand and give him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil 2:9-11).
But that's not all. One day the tables will be turned. When Christ was here on earth men dared to judge him and condemn him, but there will come a day when he shall judge, for he will come again “to judge the world in righteousness”. He sits on the Father's throne (Rev 3:21) waiting until His enemies are a footstool for His feet (Ps 2:1). Once he was in the hands of men, but at the end of time all men shall be in his hands. Once men cried out, "Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!" (Jn 19:15), but there will come a time when he shall say, "Depart from me” (Mt 25:41).
"Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." This expresses Christ's perfect commitment to the Father. Jesus, of course, always displayed perfect commitment and obedience to the Father. As a boy, in a verse we already mentioned, he said, "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" (Lk 2:49). When Jesus was tempted to depart from the Father's will after he had fasted for forty days in the wilderness, he remained obedient to God and lived by every word of God. "My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work" (Jn 4:34). He did all things to the glory of God.
As Jesus lived, so he died — he yielded himself into the hands of the Father. This was the last act of the dying Savior. The Greek word used here is most often translated “set before” as in setting a meal, which has been prepared, before someone. How beautiful. Here is Christ setting his whole life before the Father, layed out, prepared, and fit for the Father’s use. It showed too, his total confidence in the Father. It revealed the intimacy between the Father and the Son. It exhibited his absolute dependency upon God. Jesus left us an example here that we should do as He has done. The Savior committed his spirit into the hands of his Father in death because it had been in the Father's hands all through his life! Because Stephen had committed his spirit to God during life he could say at death, as he saw a vision of the son of God, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit" (Acts 7:59).
At death we can commit our spirit, our life, into the hands of God only if we have already committed our spirit to God during life. Have we done this? Have we committed our spirit into the hands of God? For only then can we say, "Father into your hands I commit my spirit." This also displays the voluntary nature of Christ's death: namely, that his life was not taken from him; rather, he laid it down of himself. But, then, didn't Jesus say this is the way he would die? Consider his words in John 10:
(Jn 10:17-18) The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life--only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.
The other Gospel accounts of Christ's crucifixion and death support this. Matthew's Gospel says, "And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit" (Mt 27:50). According to John's Gospel Jesus said, ""It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit" (Jn 19:30).
The end was now reached. Perfect master of himself, unconquered by suffering, pain, and death, he cries out with a loud voice and delivers up his spirit into the hands of his Father. No one else ever died this way. His birth was unique; his life was unique; and now his death is unique too. In laying down his life, he died of his own free will. Who but our Lord could have done this? Why did Jesus willingly die? Why did he willingly give over his spirit and pass from life to death? On account of us! He did it in order to save us.
"Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." In this last word from the cross Jesus shows us the only place where a man's life is eternally secure: with God.
Kept safe until He restores it again on the day of resurrection. The most precious thing belonging to each one of us is our life. It is far more precious than our homes, businesses, bank accounts, cars, computers, bikes or whatever else you care to name. That's why our relationship with God is the most important thing in life. That's why we faithfully come to Him through Christ. That's why we diligently spend time each day in Bible reading and prayer. That's why we attend study groups and Bible meetings. That's why God-fearing parents read Bible stories to their children and teach them God's ways. That's why God-feraing parents send their children to Sunday School and the various CYCs and youth activities. That's why we, as an ecclesia, strongly support ecclesial activities for our children and young people — for the spirit of our children and young people is so precious, so valuable, and we want their lives, like our lives, to be kept secure and in safe hands.
When we face death, brothers and sisters, will our life be safe and secure in the hands of God? If our life is in God's hands each day, then that breath of life will be kept safe in the Father’s hands till the glorious day of resurrection when that breath will stir once more within us, and awaken us to everlasting life, by His grace. But only when we have lived in Christ can die in Christ.
"Father, into your hands I commit my spirit."
Song: “Thy way not mine O Lord” (115)
Posted 15 April 2006 - 11:29 AM
Posted 15 April 2006 - 12:45 PM
Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom - Luke 12v32
we should respect others for how they're different from us, not how they're similar - Jim Henson
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