Saturday, April 11, 2015

Part 7-What are the seven cries of the cross?

1. Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do
2. 6th hour- Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.
3. Woman, behold thy son! , Behold thy mother!
4. 9th hour- My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
5. I thirst
6. It is finished
7. Into thy hands I commit my Spirit

Into thy hands I commit my Spirit. What does it mean? The obvious meaning is that God the Son has committed his Spirit into the hands of God the Father. But there is so much going on now that I am afraid it gets rather more complicated. In the gospel of John, Jesus tells us that the work he is doing has been given him from the Father (“For the work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me.”—John 5:36) The choice was definitely one which Jesus freely made, but at the same time it was the will of the Father. (“For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.”—John 6:38) Confused yet? In another place he tells us that He, Jesus, has the power to lay his life down, and power to take it up again. But to confuse the issue, he adds that he receives this commandment from his Father (“I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.”—John 10:18). The answer lies in the very personality of the Triune God. The Father and the Son, being one, are always in perfect accord with one another. If the sun were to hit the one, we would see the perfect shadow of the other; they are that close together in nature. Being of one there is no separation of wishes or accord, but they are one, in a fashion which on this side of the world I can never hope to comprehend.

Remember that Jesus remonstrates Peter, who does completely exhibit his willingness to fight for his Lord, and does it by cutting off the ear of one of the servants. Jesus reminds all there, saying that he has only to ask and the Father will send legions of angels (Matt. 26:53). But it was not to be, and Peter, confused and blown away, runs and hides and then denies his Lord. Peter was willing to fight, but he knew nothing about submission to desperately wicked unrighteousness. In everything, Jesus was completely and perfectly submitted to the Father.

It was at this point, culminating in the resurrection, which so much changes for the believer. I think Chafer suggests more than 30 identifiable changes that happen at or near the time of a single person’s salvation. Here, with the last cry, Jesus is giving himself to the Father in his death, and beginning that process which enables you and me to come to Christ. There is probably much more going on here than we can ever give voice to, and I have unanswered questions. Does Christ use this period of death to descend into hell, and as other places in the New Testament seem to indicate, does he preach to those in hell? He clearly tells us that he will spend three days and three nights in the “belly of the earth”. What did he do during those times? How is it that those who were marked by their faith before Christ—how is it that they were saved? Hebrews clearly teaches it is given to man once to die and after this the judgment. I do wonder exactly what happened those days and nights when he was dead—perhaps one day we will find out just what our spectacular Lord did, but now we just do not know. The legalities alone, taking back the ownership of some men from Satan, would be fascinating to know and understand. We do know that what our Lord did those days has forever transferred us to the kingdom which is above.

Colossians 1 at least gives us a glimmer of what Christ did on the cross. It says, (v. 21&22) “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight.” When Christ declared it is finished, it was finished in this sense also. We are wicked. We are reconciled to God. And nothing, not our wicked return to wrong behavior, nor anything else shall pluck us out of the Father’s hand, for we are once for all delivered by the sacrifice of Christ, in fulfilling the purpose of the Father. It is God who saves us; and it is his mercy which overcomes.

Though we emphasize properly the grace of God, the Bible knows little of the Christian who is not pressing onward with his calling—there is not much room in the Bible given to Christians who walk away from their God. And the most sober warnings are attached to those who do wander—up to and including questioning the foundation of their calling. So it is in Colossians, the very next verse: “If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister” (v. 23). One of the expected signs when we look at every Christian, is that somewhere and somehow they are continuing in the faith, and their hope in the gospel continues.

Having lived a long life already, I have had the misfortune to see many who chose not to walk with God, sometimes for a period of years, though I thought I knew their character well enough to judge that they were Christian. In every case, I have discerned the saint being brought back in some manner into the fold. “No man shall pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” I would guess that even we ourselves, when we find ourselves unfaithful, yet God is always faithful—it is just part of who he is. As Paul says he cannot deny himself. Nevertheless, appreciating the wonderful and matchless free grace of God is not warrant for the person who is outwardly rejecting the clear counsel of his God to assume that grace is there; he should examine himself closely to see whether he is, indeed, in the faith.

Colossians is a great short book that covers some of the fundamentals of the cross. Just as Jesus was able to confidently commit his Spirit to the Father’s hand, so also he was able to take our sins and nail them to the cross, blotting out everything which would separate us from God: (Colossians 2:14) “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.” In this gospel we are clearly given freedom, but the supposition is that the saint who truly knows the grace of God, will turn willingly toward the Savior, and surrender that freedom willingly to become, as Paul says, a slave of Jesus Christ.

When we know all that we has done for us, moving us past the keeping of laws and rules which would only condemn us all over again, when we realize the freedom that we have because of Jesus going to the cross, that we might not ever have to, our hearts should be so filled with love and appreciation that giving ourselves to him each day for the rest of our lives ought to be our privilege. “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power” (Colossians 2:9, 10). Or perhaps more powerfully as translated in the NIV version: “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been give fullness in Christ.” Think of it—the Scripture is clear. We have been given fullness in Christ—made to be complete, and yet we find ourselves so incomplete. In the sight of God, he looks at us and sees no blemish, but freely loves us because every sin we have committed is covered by the work of his Son. How that ought to motivate us to seek to serve and follow him! Indeed, hadn’t our daily cry ought to be that of our Savior? Should we not be crying out daily, Father, into Thy hands I commit my spirit. It is only in him that we can find ourselves made complete, free to be what he has created us to be.

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