In the Moment
The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life . . . . No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. John 10:17–18
The ambulance door was about to close—with me on the inside. Outside, my son was on the phone to my wife. From my concussed fog, I called his name. As he recalls the moment, I slowly said, “Tell your mom I love her very much.”
Apparently I thought this might be goodbye, and I wanted those to be my parting words. In the moment, that’s what mattered most to me.
As Jesus endured His darkest moment, He didn’t merely tell us He loved us; He showed it in specific ways. He showed it to the mocking soldiers who had just nailed Him to a cross: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). He gave hope to a criminal crucified with Him: “Today you will be with me in paradise” (v. 43). Nearing the end, He looked at His mother. “Here is your son,” He said to her, and to His close friend John He said, “Here is your mother” (John 19:26–27). Then, as His life slipped from Him, Jesus’s last act of love was to trust His Father: “Into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46).
Jesus purposefully chose the cross in order to show His obedience to His Father—and the depth of His love for us. To the very end, He showed us His relentless love.
What matters most to you? How do love and obedience fit together?
I Am the Good Shepherd (John 10:11–21)
Good Friday is a very important day for all Christians. On Good Friday, Christians remember that Jesus died for everyone. He was crucified by the Romans on a hill outside Jerusalem although he had not done anything wrong. When a person was crucified, they were tied and nailed by the wrists and feet to a large wooden cross or scaffold and left to die. This is why a cross if often used as a symbol of the Christian faith.
The ‘Good’ in Good Friday comes from old English when Good meant Holy. So you could call Good Friday, ‘Holy Friday’.
There are parades all over the world to celebrate and remember Good Friday. In Spain and some other countries, people who are very sorry for their wrong doings (called ‘Penitents’) walk through the streets wearing long robes with hoods and carrying a big cross of wood.
In some countries, including the U.K., sometimes a single person or group of church members carry a large wooden cross, around the streets near the church, before the Good Friday service. They may be also followed by the rest of the people going to church. Sometimes they will stop and have a reading from the Bible or sing a song before going to the service.
In some Central and South American countries there will be a procession of statues to the church before the service. These are often statues of Jesus, Mary and other saints. In Greece, people go to the church in a procession as if they were going to a funeral. Some Orthodox and Catholic churches have models of tombs as the centre piece of the service to help people remember Jesus died.
In most Anglican churches, there are no flowers or decoration such as alter-cloths in the church on Good Friday.
One of my favourite Good Friday customs is Hot Cross buns! These are yeast dough buns with currants and raisins in them and they have a cross on the top. You can eat them cold. I prefer to cut them in half, toasted with butter and jam on!
The longer we live as Christians, the more we should feel like strangers in this world. Something within us recognizes that we’re outsiders here, and we yearn for that day when Jesus opens the door of heaven and welcomes us home. Although everything that God has prepared for us is beyond our comprehension, John helps us catch a glimpse by describing the contrast between what we know in this world and what it will be like in heaven.
God will dwell among us. Throughout history, no human being could see God, but that barrier won’t remain, because sin will be eradicated in us. Since we will be completely righteous forever, we will no longer have to continually fight off unholy urges.
Sin’s consequences will pass away. All the suffering that has afflicted us will end. There will be no more tears, death, mourning, or pain. That is when we will discover firsthand the truth of Psalm 16:11: “In Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.”
Our new home will be glorious. Jesus assured His disciples He was going to prepare a place for them in His Father’s house (John 14:2-3). The location is the New Jerusalem, and since it’s a cube 1,500 miles on a side (Revelation 21:16), there’ll be plenty of room for every believer. That remarkable place radiates the brilliance of God’s glory like a large multi-faceted diamond—John compared its beauty to a bride who’s adorned for her husband on their wedding day.
Fix a mental image of John’s description in your mind. In those moments when this life disappoints you, remember that you’re not home yet.
“They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.” (Psalm 22:18)
The 22nd Psalm is justly famous as a remarkable prophetic preview of the sufferings and death of the Lord Jesus on the cross, written by David approximately 1,000 years before it was fulfilled. It describes in accurate detail the sufferings of the Lord and the actions of the sneering spectators as they watched Him die.
One of the most heartless acts of the Roman soldiers carrying out the crucifixion was the indignity of stripping Him of the garments He was wearing and then dividing them among themselves, even gambling to determine who would get His seamless vesture. The significance of this cruel scene is indicated by the fact that it is one of the very few specific events in the life of Christ recorded in all four gospels.
We must not forget that the Lord Jesus Christ once had been arrayed, as it were, in beautiful garments that “smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces” (Psalm 45:8). But He who was “equal with God” chose to be “made in the likeness of men” that He might eventually suffer “even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:6-8) in order to save our unworthy souls. “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).
He who had created the heavens, when He came to Earth, had to say that “the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20). And His few remaining possessions were scavenged by His executioners as He died. Yet through His great sacrifice, He has provided “everlasting habitations” for us (Luke 16:9) and “all spiritual blessings in heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:3). Indeed, we do know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ! HMM
Ah Lord God! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and mere is nothing too hard for thee.
When Tennyson wrote “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of,” he probably uttered a truth of vaster significance than even he understood. While it is not always possible to trace an act of God to its prayer-cause, it is yet safe to say that prayer is back of everything that God does for the sons of men here upon earth. One would gather as much from a simple reading of the Scriptures.
What profit is there in prayer? “Much every way.” Whatever God can do faith can do, and whatever faith can do prayer can do when it is offered in faith. An invitation to prayer is, therefore, an invitation to omnipotence, for prayer engages the Omnipotent God and brings Him into our human affairs. Nothing is impossible to the man who prays in faith, just as nothing is impossible with God. This generation has yet to prove all that prayer can do for believing men and women. SOS033
Lord, this is a truth with implications too vast for our finite comprehension. Thank You that you use the prayers of believers to engage Your omnipotence. Amen.
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.—Psalm 43:5.
In prayer we own Thee, Father, at our side,
Not always feel or taste Thee; and, ‘t is well,
So, hour-by-hour, courageous faith is tried,
So, gladlier will the morn all mists dispel.
Sometimes we are disturbed because we have no devout feelings; but what we want is a devout will. We cannot always control the imagination, but we can always do that which is our duty carefully and patiently, with a view to pleasing God, and proving our love to Him. We may feel cold and mechanical, but we cannot fulfill our appointed duty without an exercise of the will, and therefore all duties diligently performed testify a desire to love, and prove our love.
H.L. Sidney Lear.
We must not allow ourselves to be cast down, nor to despair, because our hearts seem colder at one time than another. The test of the cold heart is the yielding to sin, and, if we are clinging to Him, and to His will, we may be quite sure that what we take for coldness of heart is a trial, not a treason.
“I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” Josh. 1:5
This word to Joshua is often quoted; it is the basis of that New Testament word, “He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
Beloved, a life of warfare is before us, but the Lord of Hosts is with us. Are we called to lead a great but fickle people? This promise guarantees us all the wisdom and prudence that we shall need. Have we to contend with cunning and powerful enemies? Here is strength and valor, prowess and victory. Have we a vast heritage to win? By this sign we shall achieve our purpose; the Lord Himself is with us.
It would be woe to us indeed if Jehovah could fail us; but, as this can never be, the winds of disquietude are laid to sleep in the caverns of divine faithfulness. On no one Occasion will the Lord desert us. Happen what may, He will be at our side. Friends drop from us, their help is but an April shower; but God is faithful, Jesus is the same for ever, and the Holy Spirit abideth in us.
Come, my heart, be calm and hopeful today. Clouds may gather, but the Lord can blow them away. Since God will not fail me, my faith shall not fail; and, as He will not forsake me, neither will I forsake Him. Oh for a restful faith!