Monday, September 22, 2014

It is finished

I think it is finished are the most beautiful words in all the Scriptures. The task the Lord Jesus had been given to do was fully accomplished. There was nothing more that had to be done. He was sent into the world by His Father to be the Savior. And He completed the task entirely, with no loose ends, no mess to pick up afterwards.

What a confusion, what a blasphemy to suggest that though Jesus began our work of salvation, we, by our merits, need to complete it. How dare we think that we need to finish what He was unable to finish.

I'm pretty insecure. I have reason to be insecure. There is very little I do that doesn't fall short of what I, and others, hoped to accomplish. On rare occasions my wife accuses me of being a perfectionist. We both laugh heartily at the idea. We've learned to be satisfied with me making a pretty good attempt at things. I do okay.

But, of course, to simply be okay at conforming to God's perfect standard is to fall way short. It falls way short of my own standard.

The Apostle Paul writes, For our sake, He made Him to be sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. 

Me? The righteousness of God? It's hard to imagine. But this is God's reality. That means it's the real reality. For there is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

So it's done, finished. There's absolutely nothing left to do, for the Lord Jesus finished everything that needed to be done.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Into your hands I commit my spirit VII

My father was born to nurture. He takes care of people. He plans things. He's a great organizer. Sometimes he can drive a person crazy but he never drove my mom crazy. She thrived within the cocoon of his protection.

Since the day he met my mother in college, he took care of her.

My mother was the gentlest of souls. She was not physically strong. She was very sensitive to others, and quick to encourage those who she saw had been disregarded or slighted; and her own feelings were easily hurt.

She was raised on a hard scrabble farm in Iowa; the middle of seven children and each of her siblings had strong drive and strong personalities.

On their first date, my father asked her to marry him. Several weeks later she told him, "yes."

"Yes?" asked my father.

"That's my answer to the question you asked me," she told him. He wondered what question that was, and then he joyfully remembered.

My mother needed someone to take care of her and my father took very good care of her until she died two weeks ago.

"Into your hands," the Son said to the Father, "I commit my spirit."

Just like my mother, just like the Son, I gratefully accept the strong hands of the Shepherd/Father whose nature it is to protect and to nurture.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Into your hands I commit my spirit VI

When our Lord Jesus died it was such a physical death--all the blood, the nakedness, the mob milling about.

When our Lord rose from the dead, again, it was such a physical resurrection--His body was removed from grave clothes and though His body could go through locked doors, it could be touched and it could digest food. 

When Jesus said, "Into your hands I commit my spirit," even the word spirit makes us think of the body, for the word for spirit could be translated as breath--as in "Let all that has breath (a living body) praise the Lord"

At times it seems there is such a dichotomy between the spirit and the body in Scripture. This dichotomy is the very essence of the Greek philosophers which has pervaded Western thinking to this present day.

To me there is great comfort and encouragement to know that my body is part of who I will continue to be when meet my Savior in His body in Glory.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Into your hands I commit my spirit V

Such a life our Lord Jesus led.

I learned today that two people I worked with just got fired. The boss had reason to fire them. But it disheartened all of us. Their error, their bad judgment was something that each of us knew could have been ours.

But the Lord Jesus, everything He did was wise and good. He was so kind to those who needed kindness, so honest with those who needed honesty. "No one ever spoke like this man," testified the officers of the chief priest who were sent to arrest Him.

We had an older friend who was about to die. He was very agitated because he said, "I just haven't done enough for the Lord. What will He say to me when He sees me? It won't be, "Well done, good and faithful servant." This man was a good man with a very tender heart. He loved the Lord and He loved the Lord's people. But he was right about himself. He could have done much better. Just like me. Just like every single person I have ever known.

For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Tell me about it. I know it every day.

If we are honest, we can't glory in ourselves. And though I admire a number of individuals, I can't glory in any of them. We all fall and we all fail.

But I do glory in my Lord Jesus. As He died, He could say with no regrets, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." But He's the only One.

Oh Lord, You're beautiful. Your face is all I see, And when Your eyes are on this child, Oh Lord, it healeth me.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Into Your hands I commit my spirit IV

Job said, But a man is born to trouble as sparks fly upward. 

All of us can attest to that.

Each new day brings new troubles. Though most of us worry a lot, most of the troubles that come our way are totally unanticipated.

Job continued to say, As for me, I seek God, and to God would I commit my cause.

Commit his cause? Is that his troubles? Or is it more than that? Job's troubles were all encompassing. When his four friends looked at him, they could see nothing but troubles.

Perhaps our Lord was referencing Job in His last words on the cross.

Today, like so many days, we experienced trouble. What are we to do now?

Finally today it dawned on me and I prayed, Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Into Your hands I commit my spirit III

The word spirit is the same as the word for breath in both Hebrew and Greek and thus in both the old and the New Testament. After Jesus said, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit," we read, And having said this He breathed his last. 

In Genesis 1:2 we read, And the Spirit (breath) of God was hovering over the face of the deep.

I've been watching pretty closely for most of my life to see if science has figured out anything at all about life. I have not read a single thing. I have no idea how a scientist would even begin to investigate exactly what it is that makes something alive or what is taken away when something alive dies. It's not my intention to turn this devotional into a polemic against the idea of evolution, but to dare even postulate the idea of evolution without having the slightest sense of what life is, to me is beyond absurd.

Life is so supernatural, our natural brains aren't able to begin to conceive what it might be, yet life totally fills our experiential reality. 

One of the essences of God is life. His Spirit (His Breath) brings life into everything it touches. 

That the Lord Jesus, God incarnate, died is beyond dispute. But that He died is beyond what we can begin to imagine. 


Monday, September 15, 2014

I thirst VIII

I just find it to be so unusual that He who once said 

, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink ; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. .....
14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst ; now says "I thirst "
I suppose it's possible that the expression might be a reference to the separation from Father. But more than likely the " I thirst " simply means " I thirst"
Here is the plainest purist presentation of the humanity of Jesus. He is here clearly seen as a man. Cruel was His treatment and willingly He suffered unjustly was this justice. Yes we must never forget "For by him were all things created , that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17And he is before all things, and by him all things consist .18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence." And here He submitted to the lowly creature and employs almost His last breath to express the agony of His condition, "I thirst" is it true that they attempted to minister to Him a pain killer? I don't know. I do know He didn't cry out and speak of His pain but only of His thirst. Jesus is a man. A man born in Bethlehem a man destined by prophecy a man who endured crucifixion a man who couldn't be killed because He is and always has been and will always be The Mighty God. A man who "also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled , reviled not again ; when he suffered , he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we , being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed .25 For ye were as sheep going astray ;" a man who is here thirsty 

Mitch Triestman

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Into Your hands I commit my spirit II

When my sister called to tell me that my mother had died, she also told me she had just taken my father to the emergency room because he had been having chest pains. My mother had been failing for several years and had been in the nursing home since February of this year. Nonetheless, to hear she had actually died was a shock. But to hear that my father may also be dying was overwhelming.

Thankfully, the doctor and all the doctor's machines could not detect any heart problems.

My father and I have always had a comfortable relationship. He knows he's always been a very good father to me and I know that he is satisfied with me as his son. Being the youngest child, I was not the son for whom he had high expectations. I was his "comfort" child.

We have good conversations. As an adult, he has rarely given me advice, but what advice he has given, I have gratefully received. I don't remember that we have ever had an argument. (Recently I did tell him that something he said was an over statement. After giving it some thought, and without any sense of lost dignity, he agreed with me and rephrased what he had said.)

Unlike the Lord Jesus, my father has never sent me on a mission. But, many years ago, I did leave his home. Over the years, I have returned "home" first with my girlfriend, who became my wife; then with my wife and children; and now with my wife, children and grandchildren. His home has always remained my home and now that my mother is in Glory, I've let him know that our home is his home. Next month he will spend a couple of weeks with us at our home.

Our Lord Jesus left His father's home and accomplished all that His Father set out for Him to do. And what was that? To bring us home with Him and to be at home with His Father forever.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Into Your hands I commit my spirit I

I am thankful for the four gospel accounts. In Matthew and Mark, the only words we read of Christ on the cross were, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me." In John, the last words recorded of our Lord on the cross was, "It is finished." But then in Luke, we read, Then Jesus, crying out in a loud voice, said, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." And having said that, He breathed his last. 

Some Bible students wonder which account is the "correct" one.

I was once a newspaper reporter. I know regardless how exacting I was in reporting a story, certain people who saw the same event that I reported on were sure that I had gotten my facts mixed up. At times, of course, they were correct. I made a mistake. But at other times, I saw certain things they did not see. Or, I simply did not include certain bits of information into the story that they thought were important, but I did not find necessary to include in my article.

As I accept by faith that all the words included within our Scriptures are accurate, it causes me not to wonder at all how John and Luke reported two different things as the last words of our Lord. I do not find it confusing to understand that the Jesus said both: "It is finished"; and "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit." (Or perhaps He said it the other way around.)

Both statements are very meaningful, especially within the context of each Gospel.

The Gospel of Luke emphasizes our Lord's kind interactions with His fellow human beings. The last thing Luke reports of what Jesus said is leaving the realm of humanity and returning to His father in heaven.

The Gospel of John emphasizes our Lord's authority as the One sent from God to be our Savior. "Mission accomplished," He proclaimed from the cross. "It is finished."

Friday, September 12, 2014

I thirst VII

The Lord Jesus did not make many requests for Himself--only three that I can recall. He asked His disciples to watch and stay awake with Him in the garden of Gethsemene, and twice he asked for a drink: once from the Samaritan woman and once while on the cross.

I'm not often thirsty. Like most other people I know, I always have a cup or a bottle of water or pop within reach. But for some odd reason, when my wife and I  hiked down the Grand Canyon, we knew we didn't bring enough water. The day started out cool and we had to be careful to not slip on the snow. But on the way back up, the sun was out with a vengeance. We did our best not to look too enviously at the water bottles of the other hikers we saw on the trail. But when we were nearly to the top, we saw a lady carrying in each hand a gallon jug of water and attached to her belt were at least a dozen full water bottles. The poor lady was nearly the victim of a crime, but somehow we managed to restrain ourselves. We considered asking her for some water, but I figured that one who had so much would not be likely to share.

Our Lord who had so much, made Himself so poor that He had to ask others just for a drink of water. But by His poverty He has made us rich, giving us living water that springs up to eternal life.
And all who come to Him need never thirst again.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

I thirst VI

I don't think every detail in the narrative of the gospels has metaphorical meaning. The 153 fish that the disciples caught when our resurrected Lord instructed them to cast out their net were simply 153 fish, I believe.

So it may be that when hyssop that was used to lift the sponge of sour wine to the lips of Lord Jesus, the only reason hyssop was mentioned was because that was what used. Both Matthew and Mark simply tell us it was a reed. That is, just the stalk of some sturdy plant.

But hyssop was mentioned several times in the Old Testament Scriptures: During the original Passover, the Israelites were instructed to use hyssop to apply the blood of a lamb or goat to the mantle of their houses so "the Lord would pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to enter your houses. (Ex 12:23) Hyssop was also used as one of the ingredients in a cleansing ritual for one who was healed of leprosy. And then we read in David's Psalm 51 Purge me with hyssop and I shall be whiter than snow.

There's one more time that hyssop is mentioned. In I Kings, Solomon's great wisdom is described: He spoke of the trees, from the (majestic) cedars that grow in Lebanon, to the (common and small) hyssop that grows in the walls.

Hyssop is only about 18 inches tall. Apparently that's all the lift that was needed to reach the One who was lifted up on the cross.

So for me, hyssop speaks of how close Jesus was to us when He paid our ransom: Not high in the heavens, nor below the depths of the sea; but He was right here among us.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I thirst V

To thirst for something is standard metaphorical language for longing. 

Ho! Everyone who thirsteth, come to the waters. And he that hath money, come, buy and eat. Is 55:1

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Matt 5:6

Can anyone long for something in the midst of deep suffering? How can such a brain process anything other then alleviating pain? 

Our Lord had one purpose and only one thing that He longed for and that was His Father, and to do His will.

At first reading what John writes is hard to understand, after this, knowing that all was now finished, Jesus said..."I thirst."

Our Lord had already done every task that He needed to do during His earthly ministry. He now could give attention to what He longed for. Though the sweetest earthly wine eventually turns to vinegar, the sweet wine of the Father satisfies and the moment of its sweetness lasts forever.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

I thirst IV

So that Scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I thirst."

Psalm 69 is a surprising Psalm to be messianic. It ends well, but most of the Psalm is a desperate cry for help from someone who knows he has done wrong, and then a plea for God to do worse to his enemies than they did to him. "May they have no acquittal from You," the Psalmist says to God.

(Jesus' fulfillment of Scripture is in the 23rd verse, "They gave me poison for food and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.")

Of all the Scriptures, in the Psalms we see the clearest, most honest, picture of our humanity. We see our doubts and our Hope; our anger and our joy; our neediness and our glory--made just a little lower than the angels!

But the Psalms are also the most prophetic of the Old Testament Scriptures in showing us who the Messiah would be.

I wonder, was there anyone who was so human as our Saviour? What a magnificent mystery is the incarnation!

Monday, September 8, 2014

I thirst III

So they put a sponge of sour wine and put it up to His mouth. And when He had received the sour wine. . .

To think that the very first miracle that Jesus did was to turn water into extraordinarilry good wine and that His last drink was sour wine, one wonders. Did He ever do anything to make things easier for Himself?

Today my brother-in-law was horribly burned and injured at his work. It's so very hard not to wonder why God allows such things to happen. Several people have told us that they immediately put this information on their prayer chain. My wife has been reassured that many people are now praying for him. 

But why did this need to happen at all? Why do we have to plead to God to make this better?

The only "answer" that gives me comfort is that the Lord Jesus went through a situation that more than matched my brother-in-law's, and though He had often made things better for others, He would not make things better for Himself. 

What could be the reason, the purpose of my brother-in-law's pain? Why does he have to drink from such a sour cup?
I have no idea, but it is something our Lord also did, and He did so when He could have changed the situation.

Did good come out of the pain our Lord accepted for Himself? Incredible good. And will good come out of the pain my brother-in-law is bearing? That is where we trust God.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

I thirst II

Medically speaking, thirst was probably not the most important thing for Jesus to be concerned about. He was dying on a cross. If He wanted to improve His situation, not dying on a cross would be a better place to start. 

I work with people who have a lot of problems. My wife often deals with people who are dying. There are times in both of our jobs when we will come to a point where we realize that there is nothing left for us to do, medically speaking. Whether it is a terminal condition or a severe and persistent mental health diagnosis, sometimes people just are not going to get better. So what do you do?

Priscilla believes deeply in the importance of making dying people just a little more comfortable -to improve the quality of life, no matter how short. Jesus seemed to have a similar opinion. Knowing full well that every person He healed would someday die anyway, Jesus spent much of His time on earth making this temporary life just a little more comfortable for others.

We all, like Christ, are terminal cases. Time making another person a little more comfortable is well spent.


Saturday, September 6, 2014

I thirst I

To be human is to have needs.

Regardless of our goals or abilities, we have needs that we must constantly attend to.

More than that, so often our needs can only be met by someone besides ourselves--we need help to meet our own needs.

It's pretty amazing to think that the One who created everything, and created everything out of nothing, was at one time in such a state of helplessness that He cried out for someone, anyone, to get Him a drink.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Woman, behold your son XIII

The Lord Jesus did not give His family preference or precedent, though His family did play a role in His earthly ministry and in the leadership of the early church. We read of a couple of occasions when Jesus actually spurned His brothers and also His mother, and proclaimed that whoever did the will of His Father were His real family.

For most of us, at least in theory, our families are supremely important. Regardless of bad behavior, family is still family. Blood runs thick.

When Jesus directed His mother to take His beloved disciple as her son, and his beloved disciple to take His mother as his  mother, I think He was saying the same thing as He said in the parable of the sheep and the goats: we need to fully concern ourselves with the needs of others--to such an extent that as we care for others (or don't care for others), it is just as if we were doing it (or not doing it) for Him. And how we respond to Him is what is of the utmost importance. 

For a powerful politician or business executive to give preference to a family member, it is considered unethical. Such behavior is called nepotism.

Natural human morality says we need to treat everybody equally well. 

The Lord Jesus illustrates what this means by showing us that the woman in need is His mother. 

For as much as you have done to the least of these my brothers, you did it to me. Matt 25:40

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Woman, behold your son XII

Behold is one of the great words of the Bible, right along with with hosanna, amen, grace, and loving kindness.

Behold: take notice; observe right now what you have not seen before even though it is right in front of you. 

Behold, I stand at the door and knock.
Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.
Behold, I will show you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.
Behold the Lion of the tribe of Judah...and I saw a lamb standing as though it had been slain.
Behold I make all things new.

Perhaps my first memory was when I had wondered away from my parents at the Lilac Festival at Lombard, Illinois.  Someone had brought me to the festival headquarters where they put me over the loud speaker system where I was heard all over the park. With a certain reluctance, my mother came to claim her screaming son while the crowds watched in amusement. It took some effort to get me out of my overwhelmed state but finally it broke through to me that my mother was right in front of me waiting to take me in her arms. Behold! There she was!

One day as Believers we will wake and behold! there will be the One who will wipe away all tears.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Woman, behold your son XI

My mother died yesterday. 

She had been in a nursing home since February and slept nearly all the time. For the last five years she had a type of dementia that had corroded her personality so it was almost unrecognizabilty, But less than an hour before she died she told my sister she was beautiful.

I miss my mom. I've missed her for a long time now.

I imagine Glory. I imagine my Lord showing me around, and coming upon a lady quietly appreciating some special little spot of beauty. "Behold your mother," He will say to me.

And she will look up and smile, very pleased to see her son again. I was a delightful child you know. Just ask my mom, when you see her.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Woman, behold your son X

I don't know about you, but I'm pretty partial to my family. Each one has a very special place in my heart. Whatever their needs, concerns or wishes, my family knows I will do anything for them. 

I had a boss one time who kept telling us employees that we were all part of the corporate family. "Maybe not," I would think to myself.

When our Lord directed His mother and His beloved disciple to form a mother-son bond, it was a precursor of the church. It is both our obligation and privilege to form family bonds within our local church fellowships.

Among the many other things that this means is that we are intimately involved in each other's lives and we desire good for each other. Church is more than church meetings; It means enjoying each other and caring for each other.

As a family, we don't give up on each other. My oldest son, even during his years of waywardness, knew his family wanted nothing more than having him back.

A family, a church, cares for each other through good times, through hard times. That's just what families, and churches, do.