Matthew 9:18-31: Power Over Death

Read: Matthew 9:18-31

Raising the dead was an extraordinary miracle to say the least. Of all the miracles that Jesus does in the context of his ministry, this one would have certainly vindicated his authority over all matters, and in particularly life. But in the midst of this resurrection, a woman made a desperate attempt to get healing that she so dearly wanted. She reasons that touching the edge of Jesus’ garment is all she needs to do. This is probably talking about the edge of his prayer shawl that was worn by Jewish men (Numbers 15:38-41). This particular woman had had discharge of blood for 12 years, so according to the Law (Leviticus 15:25-33) she would have been unclean for 12 years, and unable to participate in many of the community activities that required ceremonial cleanliness. Even touching them would have made someone else unclean. Interestingly, Jesus is touched by the woman and he himself touches a dead corpse.

These two miracles undoubtedly reminiscent of the miracles performed by Elijah (1 Kings 17:17-24) and Elisha (2 Kings 4:32-36), both of whom were involved with resurrections of dead children. In Elisha’s case, the son of the Shunammite and Elijah’s the son of the widow with whom he resided. In the case of Elijah, the woman used the resurrection as affirmation of Elijah’s status when she acknowledges that the words that came from his mouth were “truth”. When Jesus came to the house, the mourners though laughed at him when he said the girl was “asleep.” Jesus’ expression here is interesting. By saying she was merely asleep, he was alluding to what he was about to do. She was temporarily dead, not permanently so.

Resurrection and the healing point to a greater reality concerning the power of Jesus. The promise of eternal life is available to all who will believe. 1 Corinthians 15:51-58 uses similar language to describe the temporary nature of death for those who do believe. Paul says that not all will “sleep” as some will be alive when Christ returns, however for those that don’t they will experience resurrection. Regardless though, death is powerless such that it has lost its sting and is swallowed in victory by Jesus who makes it possible. Believers will put on the imperishable and immortal. In the New Heaven and New Earth, such things will be done away with – no more crying, pain, or death (Revelation 21:4). The power of God is manifested here, and in this there is great hope!

Lord, you have power over death! Even life itself is under your dominion!

Luke 5:12-16: True Healing

Read: Luke 5:12-16

Jesus did some things in his ministry that raised eyebrows, and healing the man with leprosy was one of them. Leprosy is a contagious skin disease. During the time of Jesus, there was no cure. Lepers were isolated from the community and considered ceremonially unclean. Lepers had to dress in rags and wear there hair down, and cry out “unclean, unclean” as they made their way about (Leviticus 13:45-46). While there was no law pertaining to touching a leper, doing so was certainly taboo and reviled. Nevertheless, Jesus reaches out his hand and touches the leper and heals him.

The leper himself exhibited great faith and humility when he came to Jesus. When he came to Jesus, he fell on his face, begging Jesus for healing and believing that Jesus was able. He doesn’t specifically ask for healing per se, rather to be “made clean” which is an interesting request. He wanted not to just be free of the disease, but free of the stigma associated with it – ceremonial uncleanliness. After Jesus heals him, Jesus tells him to present himself to the priest which was part of the requirement of the law to be pronounced clean after a leper was healed from the disease (Leviticus 14).

Jesus’ compassion is evidenced throughout the gospels by his miracles of healing, but Jesus didn’t want his message to be overshadowed by his miracles. This is why he charged the man not to say anything about the healing. In spite of this though, the word about Jesus’ ability to heal spread throughout the region but not where it overshadowed the message because people came both to hear him preach and to be healed, but Jesus says his mission was to preach (Luke 4:43). Jesus though would always take the time to withdraw and pray, because he desired communion with his father.

The human race is inflicted with all sorts of infirmities and diseases. Some are curable, but many are not. While God can and does still miraculously heal people today, inevitably some other infirmity will creep up and ultimately claim one’s life. The ultimate infirmity that people have to deal with though is their sin. Romans 6:23 says that the wages of sin is death, but eternal life comes Jesus. For those that believe in Jesus, they will one day receive an immortal, imperishable body that is free from disease (1 Corinthians 51-54, Revelation 21:4). In today’s culture though, there are charlatans who claim to be “faith healers” that put on a spectacle to “demonstrate power”. God’s word doesn’t need demonstration, it needs proclamation. Jesus in his day attempted to minimize his miracles and maximize his message to that the emphasis would be on one’s eternal healing, not their temporal healing. This is how world will be reconciled to God.

Lord, you healed me!
Help me to proclaim the gospel so others can be healed!

Luke 2:21-24: Significance in Symbols

Read: Luke 2:21-24

Mary and Joseph were devout Jews that not only kept traditions of the their people, but also kept the instructions that were given to them by angels.

  • Jesus was circumcised and named on the 8th day. This was done in accordance with the Law given to Moses and Abraham (Genesis 17:12, Leviticus 12:3).
  • Mary and Joseph were told to name their child Jesus independent of one another by angels on two separate occasion (Matthew 1:21, Luke 1:31).
  • Mary and Joseph presented Jesus at the temple according to the law (Leviticus 12:6).
  • Mary and Joseph also made sacrifices according to the law (Exodus 13:2)
  • Mary and Joseph also sacrificed two doves or pigeons according to the law (Leviticus 12:8). It is apparent that they could not afford a lamb, but the law made provisions for that.

While naming a baby and following traditions may not seem that remarkable, there is great symbolism in what they were doing in naming Jesus and presenting him as first born. The name “Jesus” in English is comes from the Hebrew name that means “God saves”. Matthew 1:21 makes note of this, saying that Jesus would be the one to save people from their sins. Also in this, the consecration of the firstborn male in a family was to remind the people when the Lord brought them out of slavery in Egypt – another motif of salvation. God spared the firstborn of everyone who sacrificed a lamb and put the blood on the doorposts of their homes (Exodus 13:12-15).

Christians don’t follow the laws like the Jews did because Jesus became the sacrifice for sin. Nevertheless there are some symbols that Christians have to remember what Christ did. First, Christ ordained what is known as communion or the “Lord’s Supper” as a memorial to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. This sacrifice was the payment for the sins committed by man (1 Corinthians 11:23-26, Luke 22:17-20). Second, Jesus gave Christians baptism, which notes both the cleansing of sins and the resurrection of Jesus and ultimately all believers (Romans 6:3-5, Colossians 2:12).

Rather than get caught up in rote religion, Christians ought to reflect on the reasons that symbols and signs exists. Usually these serve as a reminder of some work that God has done or a promise that God will fulfill as wit communion does for Jesus’ blood being spilled and baptism does a reminder of the resurrection of Jesus and the future resurrection of all men. These symbols and tradition can help draw us into a deeper relationship with the one who gave them.

Lord help me to remember what you have done and will do!

Hebrews 2:5-18: The Blessings of the Incarnate Jesus

Read: Hebrews 2:5-18

After telling his readers not to neglect their salvation, the author of Hebrews talks about the blessings that came from Jesus becoming a man, dying, and resurrecting from the dead. Continuing on the subject of angels, the author reasons that the angels were not sent to the world, rather Jesus was sent, to handle the matter of salvation, the “which we are speaking” in verse 5. He then goes to make two arguments interwoven together.

The first argument comes from Psalm 8:4-6 to establish that man was made lower than the angels. Psalm 8 talks about the majesty of God being displayed in all the earth, and yet in light of this, God takes note of man who “crowned with glory” from God and placed is given dominion over the earth. The Septuagint again translates the Hebrew word “אלהים”, (pronounced “el-o-heem”) here into the Greek word for “angels”, while most English Bibles translate it “God”. The author of Hebrews is talking about angels and using the Septuagint, so applies this to Jesus, who referred to himself as the “son of man” numerous times in the Gospels, being made lower than the angels as a man. In doing so Jesus died for everyone. But unlike man, Jesus had the power to overcome death and remove the power of death from the devil. The author reasons that those who receive salvation also receive glory because of what Jesus did. And all the more, because Jesus became a man, he becomes a “merciful” and “faithful” high priest who can sympathize with the weaknesses of man (this is expounded in chapters 4 and 5).

The second argument comes from a selection of verses from two places: Psalm 22:22, Isaiah 8:17-18. Psalms 22:1 is quoted by Jesus on the cross (Matthew 27:46). The first half of the Psalm talks about a person experiencing great angst, yet the Psalm shifts in attitude when the psalmist recalls that God is not far off. In a manner of speaking, Jesus was reminding those who were witnessing his death that God was not far off. And after three days, Jesus rose from the dead and was with them again. Psalm 22:22 talks of the one undergoing angst proclaiming God in the midst of “brethren”. Isaiah 8 is in the midst of several messianic prophecies. The first one is of his birth (Isaiah 7:7), the second of his name Immanuel (Isaiah 8:8), and the third one of his titles (Isaiah 9:1-7). Isaiah 8 specifically is talking about the judgment to come to Israel from the Assyrians, but nevertheless there are a few faithful who put their trust in God. The author of Hebrews likens this to Jesus too. The common theme between Psalm 22:22 and Isaiah 8:17-18 is that is the presence of family, namely “brethren” and “children”. The author of Hebrews is arguing that Jesus, in becoming a man, makes family of man, such that he is not ashamed to call them “brethren”.

The tangible benefits new life, having a perfect high priest that can sympathize with our weaknesses, and having God as family are simply amazing blessings. Paul uses a very similar motif in Romans – before one is saved, one is destine to die. But what God does through Christ is raise one from a slave to an adopted son such that one is a joint heir with Jesus and also partake in his glory in God’s kingdom (Romans 8:11-17). Knowing Christians are adopted by the King should bring great comfort. God is not far off, and certainly Christians can know that they can take refuge in him, calling him “Abba”, which is analogous in English to “Daddy”!

Lord, your coming has made me alive and a part of your family!
Help me to draw comfort from you because you close by!

Ecclesiastes 9:1-6: Real Hope

Read: Ecclesiastes 9:1-6

The Preacher seems to be all doom and gloom in chapter 9 of Ecclesiastes. He again he reflects on the common destiny of all people – the righteous and the wicked, the ones who take oaths and those that do not – there is no difference so the Preacher thinks. The Preacher tops off his lament with saying that the human hearts are full of evil and madness. In a poetic form, the Preacher waxes about how people are forgotten after they are dead. Not only do they die, the memories of the ones who have died die as well. And yet in spite of all this, the Preacher says there is still hope in the ones who live. He seems to think that even in spite of the certainty of death and the obvious evil that fills people hearts people still have a hope – there is a certain yearning to for the eternal in the hearts of men (Ecclesiastes 3:1-15).

God set men’s heart on this, and perhaps on purpose. In Acts 17:22-31, Paul gives a discourse concerning how God made the world and its contents and has made the world such that men would seek after God. Paul then talks about the coming judgment and how God has commanded everyone to repent and how Jesus’s resurrection is the proof of this. While the Preacher seems only certain about death, Paul is saying that there is a coming judgment for all – even those who have died. The hope that that yearns for the eternal is made possible by resurrection.

The Christian gospel strikes a chord with men because it is with the Christian gospel that one finds what he or she is seeking and he fulfills the yearnings of his or her heart with the gospel. 1 Peter 1:3-5 couldn’t say it better:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (ESV)

There is new birth to a “living hope” through the resurrection of Jesus. This stands in stark contrast to the doom and gloom of the Preacher talking about the evil that exists in all men and the certainty of death. This is free from evil the taint of sin and is eternal. This is what the heart is seeking and yearns for and can only be found one place, and that is through faith in Jesus. Christians should, as 1 Peter 1:4 says, rejoice in this hope. The hope here is not pie-in-the-sky, rather it is as real and was proved to be so by the resurrection of Jesus!

Lord, your resurrection gives me a living hope! Help me to celebrate that!

Ecclesiastes 7:10: The Good Ol’ Days

Read: Ecclesiastes 7:10

Any person alive that has lived for any amount of time has probably reflected on what life was like in the “good ol’ days” and how the “good ol’ days” were better than the current. The Preacher here, however, is giving a staunch warning as to not do this because he thinks that such reasoning is not wise. Job reflects in the “good ol’ days” in Job 29. He thinks back to the days when he was living a blessed life with riches, health, fame, and respect among any number of other things that a person could want or desire. In Job 30, Job reflects on how the people he once received honor from no longer give him honor. He is rather the laughing stock of those who used to honor him. Everything that Job had was taken away from him, and his current state of affairs were most certainly more dismal than the state of affairs before everything was removed. When Job questions God, God answers him by spelling out his majesty and grandeur . At the end of the book, after hearing God’s answer, Job admits that he has spoken of things that he does not understand of things “too wonderful to know” (Job 42:1-6). In light of these confessions, Job repents of his act of questioning God in his current state of affairs. The readers of Job have more information that Job did concerning his state of affairs. Job never ascertained why he went through what he did, and at the end of the day, he was re-blessed with everything he had and more.

The current state of affairs in which one is living may seem dismal at the moment, but there is no telling what outcome may come about as a product of the affairs. It is for this reason that the Preacher is probably encouraging his readers to not think of the past in light of the present, because no one knows tomorrow, save God. The reality of the matter for those that believe in Christ is that the future is most certainly better than the days of the past and the present for that matter. Paul in Philippians 3:4-14 considers for a moment the past when he was a Pharisee and the current state of affairs — that is the suffering he is enduring for Christ’s sake and he considers the future promised in Jesus. Paul counts it all a loss compared to the greatness of knowing Jesus and presses on toward the goal to “win the prize”. Paul’s vision was forward looking toward Jesus rather than reminiscing on the past. In the same manner, Christians would do well to think about where one is going rather than were one has been. This is most wise, because the prize that awaits Christians by far exceeds anything that can be found in the past or present!

Lord, help me press toward the goal so I will receive the prize!

Ecclesiastes 6: Nothing Satisfies

Read: Ecclesiastes 6

Some tough words come from the Preacher concerning life. He has spent the previous five chapters of the book speaking for various matters, and here the preacher sums them all up with an overarching conclusion: everyone dies, so no one person is better off than the other when it comes to whatever one has obtained or been given otherwise. The list would include all sorts of things: friends, family, wealth, wisdom, work, status, and pleasures. The Preacher also sees a grievous evil when one has much and is unable to enjoy it. What the Preacher is calling “evil” should not be understood to be evil in the sense of things gone wrong, but rather the inopportunity therein. The “evil” is not necessarily because God is playing tricks on man because the reason is not given. All that can be said is something apparently right about this, and is, in the judgment of man, evil. It is coupled with meaninglessness – that which is empty and leads nowhere. These sorts of pursuits are the kind of pursuits that man chases after for some other reason than the fear of the Lord. In all things, these pursuits do not satisfy, leaving one longing for more.

Blaise Pascal (for whom I’m named) once said,

What is it then that this desire and this inability proclaim to us, but that there was once in man a true happiness of which there now remain to him only the mark and empty trace, which he in vain tries to fill from all his surroundings, seeking from things absent the help he does not obtain in things present? But these are all inadequate, because the infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is to say, only by God Himself (Pensees #425).

These words resonate with what the Preacher had already made a case for concerning the thing that man has his heart set on: eternity (Ecclesiastes 3:9-15). Man desires things he himself cannot obtain. That which is eternal cannot be grasped by that which is finite by any stretch. God work endures and cannot be undone or added to. For this reason, only God cannot satisfy the longings of man, whose hearts long for eternity.

In the end, there will be no more pain, no more suffering, no more tears (Revelation 21:4). All that stands in contrast to what men desire from eternity will be satisfied in Jesus. When Jesus says he came to that men may have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10). God has set the hearts of man on eternity to that they would fear him – that is trust him. The provision that God made to satisfy this is Jesus, who was God in the flesh. There can be no greater satisfaction than that which comes from the maker of the universe! The Preacher lamented many things because all these things were pursuits that one has to leave when one departs this world. But for those who have faith and pursue him with their lives will be satisfied!

Lord, you and only you can satisfy my longing heart!

John 20:11-31: Eyewitness News

Read: John 20:11-31

John states that his purpose in writing his gospel was so that some might believe in Jesus. His intent from the beginning of the Gospel was to teach about the truth claims of Jesus and show how that there were a number of witnesses that attest to the veracity of what Jesus said about himself. One of the ultimate proofs of Jesus’ claims was the resurrection, because the entire hope of Christianity hangs on this single event. John notes that the followers of Jesus did not understand that Jesus was rise again from the dead, but after it happened they realized what Jesus was talking about. For this reason, Jesus’ resurrection became a central part of the message that the Christians preached all over the world. Paul says that without the resurrection one’s faith is in vain (1 Corinthians 15:14). But to ensure the Corinthians believers that the resurrection did indeed happen, Paul mentions the post-mortem appearances to the disciples and followers of Jesus who were eyewitnesses of the risen Jesus.

John records Jesus first appearing to Mary, who does not realize who Jesus is. She first sees two angels sitting in the tomb where Jesus had been laid. They ask her why she was weeping, and she turns to meet Jesus face to face, but does not recognize him at first. She later does recognize him and clings to him. Jesus tells her to go tell her to go tell the others that he was going to ascend to the Father. She runs to them and tells them that she has seen the Lord. The next appearance Jesus makes that John records is in a room where they are shut up for fear of the Jews. Jesus appears among them saying “peace” three times. They were probably scared witless because they thought they were seeing a ghost. Jesus cleared their doubts by showing them his wounds from the crucifixion – he was real live flesh and blood. A week later at his second appearance, Thomas would not believe it either, but he saw Jesus wounds and declares that Jesus is his lord and God.

Jesus then says that the ones who believe without seeing are the ones who are blessed. The ones who believe without seeing are all the Christians who have believed since the time Jesus ascended to be with the Father, save the exception of a few such as Paul who saw the Lord after the ascension (Acts 9:4-5). But Christians are not left empty-handed. In fact, Christians have plenty of historical documentation to prove that Jesus did indeed exist, and did indeed rise from the dead. Often times, Christians are asked to prove Jesus without using the Bible. Most want to exclude the Bible because they think it altogether unreliable and historically inaccurate. But if the Bible is such as this, then they should have no reason to fear it. Rather the truth of the matter is that the Bible is historically accurate and the evidence powerful such that one cannot deny it.

Gary Habermas, a leading expert in the historicity of the resurrection devised a “basic facts” approach for apologetic purposes.  By asserting some basic facts that most scholars would concede, one can conclude with a high level of certainty that the best explanation for the facts is that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead. Other scholars have expanded and revised this list, but here are a few of the facts:

  • Jesus was crucified and died on a cross.
  • Jesus was buried in a tomb
  • The tomb was found empty
  • The disciples and followers of Jesus experienced what they believed to be the risen Jesus on numerous occasions
  • The disciples were radically transformed by this and boldly proclaimed a risen Jesus
  • Resurrection was central to message

The best explanation for these facts would be that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead. Other theories have been proposed to explain away the missing body such as the disciples stole it, Jesus did not really die, the disciples hallucinated the risen Jesus, the disciples found the wrong tomb, among other such theories. The problem with these theories is either they are highly improbable (that is it would take more faith to believe them than Jesus actually rose from the dead) or there is no evidence to support them such that they are hardly more than conspiracy theories.

The eyewitness accounts of the followers are recorded in the Bible, which has been faithfully preserved through the ages and has been shown to be historically reliable. Christians have every good reason to believe that Jesus did indeed raise from the dead and for this reason among others good reason to believe that the truth claims of Jesus are true too. John wrote his gospel so that some might believe, and blessed are those who believe without seeing the Lord. The resurrected Lord though is alive and well. The hope of the gospel is real such that one can take it to the bank.

Lord, I do believe. When I doubt, remind me that I have no good reason to doubt!

John 20:1-10: A Sharper Ax

Read: John 20:1-10: A Sharper Ax

The followers of Jesus had lived with him for 3 years. They practically did everything with him, and Jesus revealed himself to them such that he considered his work finished (John 17:1-18). The work that Jesus had set out to do in his ministry leading up to his crucifixion was to invest in the twelve so that they would be equipped to go out and deliver the message that Jesus gave them so others might believe (John 17:20). The work of Jesus had been accomplished, but the disciples did not fully understand it — yet.

When Mary went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been rolled away, she automatically assumed what most anyone would assume: they moved the body. She had gone in the morning in the typical tradition of mourners to the place that the deceased were buried to mourn there. She knew Jesus was dead as did all the disciples and everyone else who watched him die. While she and the other disciples had the head knowledge about Jesus and the resurrection, they had not made the connection with the empty tomb and a resurrected Jesus. When Mary goes to find the rest they go to the tomb and find the burial clothes of Jesus. Peter and the other disciples did not know what to make of what they found either, so they believed Mary’s conclusion that they had moved the body.

The particular references to the resurrection are not given by John, but Isaiah 53 is often applied to Jesus as it speaks to one who died for the iniquities of many, but whose soul was not counted among the dead. Psalm 22 is also applied by Jesus to himself. It does not mention a death and resurrection per se, but does mention one who has been utterly humiliated and reduced such that his bones are showing and his heart is melted, but is raised up in victory such that the world turns and worships God. There are many other possible passage applicable to Jesus too. Jesus after the resurrection open their hearts and minds to the Scriptures (Luke 24:27,44-47). He walked through the Old Testament pointing out from the beginning that it was God’s plan concerning Jesus from the beginning. How Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament is the subject of discussion for much of the New Testament, particularly the book of Hebrews. Hebrews, at a high level, talks about Jesus being superior to the prophets, priests, temple, and sacrifices of the Old Testament. Uncovering the depths of this is no easy task and takes lots of time. It took Jesus 3 years to teach the disciples, and even after this, they still did not fully understand!

Jesus is still revealing his truth to Christians every day. On this side of the cross, Christians have a distinct advantage that the disciples and Mary had not yet received: the Holy Spirit. Two of the roles of the Holy Spirit are to teach believers and remind believers of what they have learned (John 14:26). But the Holy Spirit cannot remind believers of what they do not know, and the Holy Spirit can only teach believers who are willing to learn. For this reason, it is imperative for every believer to move beyond the elementary teachings concerning Jesus so that they can become mature in their own faith (Hebrews 5:11-14, Hebrews 6:1). God will take immature believers, but wants believers to be mature in every way so they can be a useful tool for his kingdom work, much like a sharp ax. A dull ax will do the trick, but requires a lot more work. A sharp ax is much better (Ecclesiastes 10:10)!

Lord, help to know the Scriptures so I can make use of them in my life!

John 19:16-30: “It is Finished!”

Read: John 19:16-30

Jesus’ had been scourged and put on public to display to be humiliated by the Jews and priests in the temple. The chief priests had set Jesus up so that they could incite a riot among the people, falsely accuse Jesus of something, and force Pilate to kill him so the priests could get their way and have Jesus removed. In their eyes, they had succeeded at doing this. God had allowed these things to transpire to bring about the redemption of mankind. Jesus was taken from the Praetorium baring his cross. They took him out to a place called “Golgotha” meaning “Place of Skulls”. They crucified Jesus was 2 other people with Jesus in the middle. Pilate placed a sign in three languages that read “Jesus the Nazarene: King of the Jews” in reference to the accusations made again him. This was customary to do to note the crime that the one being executed had committed. The high priests in protests say that the sign should have read “He said ‘I am King of the Jews’”. This statement was neither true in any respect, and Pilate probably in an effort to show that he did have some sort of backbone rather than being a people pleaser, placed the sign over the purported king of the Jews to show Rome’s dominance over Judea.

Jesus had already been scourged and had undoubtedly lost a great deal of blood. John does not provided details as to what crucifixion entailed, but history notes that the Roman would nail the convicted to a stake. Thomas wanted to see the holes in Jesus’ hands when he saw him after the resurrection (John 20:25) and Peter notes that godless men nailed Jesus to the cross (Acts 2:23) in his sermon. Paul uses it as a metaphor concerning sin (Colossians 2:13-14) – that is the payment of debt owed by sin was nailed to the cross and Jesus died.

After Jesus had been crucified, they took his garments and divided them among the soldiers, then cast lots for the seamless garment. John says that this was a fulfillment of Psalm 22:18, or even more so, Psalm 22 in its entirety. Matthew 27:46 notes Jesus quoting from this Psalm. The Psalm speaks of one who feels abandoned by God with the enemy closing in around him. It creates a poetic valley starting in verse one and descending to more into agony. The descending ends with verse 18 with people casting lots for his cloths. In verse 19, the ascension starts out of the valley saying God is not far off and works towards the entire earth worshiping before the Lord. The Psalm is foreshadowing what is to come next after agony: the resurrection. And through all this the world would be drawn to Christ (John 12:32).

Some of Jesus’ final thoughts were for his mother and John. With Jesus out of the picture and having returned to the Father, there was perhaps a need for someone to care for his mother, Mary. Jesus appoints this task to John, the writer of the gospel. John cared for Mary perhaps for the rest of her life. After this appointment, Jesus drinks “sour wine” (or vinegar as it might be) before finally saying, “It is finished”. Jesus went to the cross knowing this was to be the case, and he had accomplished all that the scriptures had required him to accomplished. John uses the Greek work “τετελεσται”. The word notes any number of things that are applicable to what Jesus was doing: paying debts, finishing the work he had set out to do, fulfilling the requirements of the law among any number of things that the work on the cross was mean to do.

We know the details about what happened to Jesus while he was on the cross through the eyes of those who watched it. What we do not know was the agony and wrath being poured out on Jesus while he was hanging there. If one had to guess, the agony had to be on an epic scale. The penalty for even a single sin is death, but Jesus died a death that was worth every sin ever committed by anyone who has ever lived. Some have estimated that over 100 billion people have been born. If one assumed the average life span of a human was 50 years old for all times and that a person sinned about once an hour there would be a total of 43,800,000,000,000,000 sins (about 44 quadrillion sins) committed. Jesus would have to die a death worthy of 44 quadrillion deaths. 44 quadrillion to most people is a probably a meaningless number. The national debt of the United States of America is about 13 trillion dollars. 44 quadrillion is  3,300 times larger than that. But these are only numbers – estimates to show the magnitude of the suffering Jesus went through to reconcile the human race. The magnitude in reality is beyond comprehension.

The power of God though is demonstrated in the resurrection too when Jesus put death under him and he defeated it once and for all! If God is capable of defeating death once and for all, then even more so – God is worth of the praise of all people. Even though Jesus was surrounded on every side by the enemy, he overcame them by the power of God. And nothing can overcome this power. Not Rome, not the priests, no power or nation, not even Satan himself (Romans 8:38-39). Christians can both be humbled by the price Jesus paid and celebratory because he truly is worth of praise!

Lord, you finished it once and for all! Let the nations be glad because of it!

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