August 28, 2009
“When He had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished!’”
These last words of Jesus are actually one word in the original language. This word was written over the record of a prisoner who completed their sentence in a Roman prison. They were written above the cross of a prisoner crucified by Rome. What a providential irony that Jesus would choose this word at the end of His suffering for your sins and mine.
What He meant was that He paid in full a debt He did not owe because we owed a debt we could not pay. Theologians refer to this as the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. One thought is that we cannot possibly add anything to what He finished for us there on that cross. A more profound thought is that we must put our faith in what He did for us there.
Still another thought is if we could add anything to what He did, or be forgiven on the basis of our own good works, then Christ did all that suffering for nothing. In the garden He sweat great drops of blood as He pleaded with the Father to let this cup pass from Him.
The Father’s response was that there was no other way, so He had to go to and through the suffering of the cross. To think that we could save ourselves by works is like saying to the Father and to our Savior “You really didn’t have to go through all that suffering because I can save myself by the good works I am doing.”
The response we must make is to believe in what He finished.
August 25, 2009
“I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the works which You have given Me to do.” (John 17:4)
Jesus was obsessed with the works His Father gave him to do. Doing those works was more important to Him than food. When He came to the end of His perfect life all He had to do was die. The night He was arrested, in deep prayer to His Father he prayed the words quoted above.
In these words He not only gave a capsule summary of the meaning of His perfect life, He showed us all the purpose of our life. “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” That’s the way a catechism devout parents have taught their children states the purpose of life. By example and precept Jesus stated the purpose of a purpose driven life for all of His followers for all time. Our purpose is to glorify God.
He also showed us how to glorify God. We glorify God by finishing all the works He has given us to do for Him. When I was thirty years old I had an accident that I miraculously survived. Many asked me if I had been terrified that I was about to lose my life. That was not my concern. My concern was that I had not finished the works I knew the Father wanted me to do for Him. I had not even found those works at that point in my life. Forty-nine years later I feel much better about that life goal.
Are you glorifying God by finding and finishing the works He wants you to do for Him for His glory?
August 18, 2009
“I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day. The night is coming when no man can work.” (John 9:4)
The Gospel of John gives us another window into the way Jesus felt about the works God wanted Him to do. According to this vision statement of Jesus He knew the reality that He had less than three years to do those works.
In 1956 the famous missionary Jim Elliot was speared to death, along with his four colleagues, by the tribal people they were trying to reach with the Gospel. Jim was a passionate follower of Jesus Christ. About four years before he died, he wrote in his journal, “When it comes time to die, make sure all you have to do is die.”
We can’t understand how God decides the day of our death. We don’t know when our own finish line will come. But we should all live in such a way that when we come to the finish line of our life there will be no unfinished business, no works our Father assigned to us that we’ve left undone.
Do you have the magnificent obsession of Jesus to work the works God has assigned to you while it is day not knowing when the night is coming and you cannot work anymore? Can you accept the challenge of being like Jesus in your attitude toward the works God wants you to do?
August 14, 2009
“Jesus said to them, ‘my food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work. ‘” (John 4:34)
When Jesus met a Samaritan woman at a well in Samaria He sent the apostles into a nearby village to buy food for their lunch. When they returned with the food He refused it and spoke the words quoted above. He obviously wanted to have a private interview with this woman.
His interview has been summarized by a riddle. “The SW met a SW at a SW. The SW became a SW and went on to become a great SW.” The explanation of the riddle is as follows: “The Savior of the World met a Samaritan Woman at a Samaritan Well. The Samaritan Woman became a Saved Woman and went on to become a great Soul Winner.”
When the apostles returned they marveled that He was speaking with a Samaritan woman of questionable reputation. Earlier in this chapter we are told that Jesus was just passing through Samaria. He wanted to reach this woman who would reach all of Samaria for Him after He left. We’re told that she did this for Him.
He told the apostles that this was the work of God for Him. And doing the work of God was His food. The magnificent obsession of Jesus was to do the work of God. Is the work of God a magnificent obsession for you? If you are serious about being an authentic follower of Christ it should be.
August 3, 2009
“… Remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35)
This has been called the ninth beatitude of Jesus. Jesus began His greatest discourse with a check-up from the neck-up. He shared eight beautiful attitudes with His disciples that can make us the salt of the earth and the light of the world. His ninth beatitude can transform and revolutionize our relationships.
If you are in a relationship, like a marriage, for what you can get from that other person, Jesus has a challenge for you. For one week, instead of thinking of what you are going to get from the person, ask yourself continuously what you can give to that person. I have given this assignment to many married couples and I have seen the challenge revolutionize their marriages.
You see, if you are in a marriage for what you can get from each other, neither of you is receiving anything because neither of you is giving anything. The relationship is a sterile empty vacuum. But this one attitude can completely transform your marriage. This attitude can transform any relationship if one or both of the people in that relationship will dare to accept this challenge from Jesus.
There is no place in the Gospels where Jesus speaks these exact words. However, in addition to having this quotation of Paul, the spirit of this beatitude characterizes all the relationships of Jesus we read about in the first four books of the New Testament.
I exhort you to accept this challenge of Jesus for one week! If you do, the impact it will have on your relationships will convince you that this is the Word of God. You will also prove in experience that there is in fact more happiness (which is what the word blessed means), in giving than in getting.