Seven Things Jesus Accomplished on the Cross

There were seven things Jesus needed to accomplish while he was on the Cross. Dying was only one of them, and you or I could do that assuming we were crucified. What Jesus had to do was to complete, in perfection, some other tasks only he could do as the only begotten Son of his Father. What he needed to do before he died is reflected in words he said while on the cross. There are seven of these given below in chronological order.

Number One: Jesus forgave his executioners.

“And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ And they cast lots to divide his garments.”  (Luke 23:34)

From our perspective, it would not be easy to forgive people who were putting us to death. To make it worse for Jesus, his executioners were gambling to determine who would get his clothes, including a seamless robe of presumably significant value. It was necessary, according to Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, for Jesus to forgive them.  This was to demonstrate that anyone could receive forgiveness from him, though not everybody would. Jesus extended grace to the soldiers and not to some other people. In doing so he showed he had no anger or hate for those who tortured him. That was undoubtedly not easy in the circumstances.

We remember there was in Jerusalem that day many people as guilty of Jesus’ death as the soldiers who actually carried out the crucifixion. Perhaps there was no forgiveness for them for they did know what they had done and thought they had done it for the best of reasons.

Number Two: Jesus ministered to someone in the most excruciating of circumstances.

“And he said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.’” (Luke 23:43)

Would you or I be willing to offer the priceless gift of salvation to someone who minutes before had been taunting us about our faith. Would we even have such a conversation while dying a tortuous death? Jesus had to provide a conversion experience to the repentant thief because he had said no one would be condemned who came to him believing in who he was (John 3:18). He needed to prove the truth of that assertion in the worst situation anyone has ever been in.

Number Three: Jesus remembered his mother’s needs.

“When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.” (John 19:26-27)

Why did Jesus have to make provision for his mother’s future welfare while he was dying? One answer would be that his obedience to his heavenly Father would leave her without her eldest son who would normally have taken care of her. Another way of looking at it is that Jesus foresaw that his brother James and all the apostles except John would be martyred. Jesus must have known that John was the only one who could fulfill his obligation to his mother.

Number Four: Jesus endured separation from God his Father.

“And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” (Mark 15:34)

Some Christians have experienced what is sometimes called “a dark night of the soul.” This, as you might imagine, causes them great anguish. Perhaps Jesus had to have this experience to know what some of his brothers and sisters would go through when calling out in desperation for a feeling or sign that someone cared for them and getting nothing back in response. This seeming absence of God apparently is always temporary, otherwise there would not be books written by faithful Christians describing the trauma of their hurting souls.

Just as Jesus’ death was of immeasurably greater importance than ours will be, so was the temporal withdrawal of the Father from Jesus of greater significance. Jerusalem was darkened for three hours.

Number Five: Jesus fulfilled Scripture.

“After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), ‘I thirst.’” (John 19:28)

A drink of sour wine was God’s provision, and it was given to him by an act of human mercy. It is hard to see how Jesus’ expression of his thirst was a fulfillment of Scripture. Perhaps it is connected with the surprisingly early death of Jesus (Mark 15:44). Possibly, the wine somehow allowed Jesus’ life to end so he would avoid the breaking of his legs to ensure his more rapid death. Thus the Scripture was fulfilled that said “Not one of his bones will be broken” (John 19:36).

Number Six: Jesus surrendered his human spirit to death.

“When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (John 19:30)

Jesus, because of his divine nature as the Son of God, was able to do what we cannot. As an act of his will, Jesus separated his human spirit and his divinity from his physical body and thus denied death a final victory over him. When Sunday morning came, his body, spirit, and deity were reunited, and then we arrive at the Easter story. Jesus, in some manner after that, stayed on earth for forty days and then ascended into heaven.

Number Seven: Jesus trusted God fully at his last breath.

“Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ And having said this he breathed his last.” (Luke 23:46)

Although the Father had departed from Jesus for three hours while he was on the cross, when it came time for Jesus to die their relationship was restored. This was consistent with Jesus’ total obedience to the Father’s will. He was ready to do what we should do when our time of death comes and that is to entrust God with the keeping of our spirit.

Faithfull obedience to his Father’s will was Jesus’ desire  in all he did while he was on earth, and it also was the motive of his creative work before the Incarnation, and it drives what he now does as the risen Son of God.

Scripture from the English Standard Version

Verses of “Joy”

My son did a short word study on “joy” in the New International Version which follows. I thought it was an encouragement for me and that I should share it with others.

Deuteronomy 16:15  For seven days celebrate the festival to the Lord your God at the place the Lord will choose. For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.

1 Chronicles 16:33  Let the trees of the forest sing, let them sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.

Nehemiah 8:10  Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Psalm 21:1  The king rejoices in your strength, Lord. How great is his joy in the victories you give!

Psalm 51:12  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Joel 1:12  The vine is dried up and the fig tree is withered; the pomegranate, the palm and the apple tree—all the trees of the field—are dried up. Surely the people’s joy is withered away.

—Is this the end of joy?

No!

Luke 2:10  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.

Luke 10:21  At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.

Luke 24:51-52  While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.

Galatians 5:22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness…

Hebrews 12:2  …fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Bonus!

Revelation 19:7  Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.

Electronic Christianity Six

A couple of days ago I suggested to a friend he might go to my blog to see some of the posts I have put up. A day later I thought “Wait a minute, he’s going to first see my posts on eChristianity. What am I going to tell him about it.”

This turns out to be a good time to consider what I should tell you and him about eChristianity.

What started me off in thinking along the lines that led to the concept of eChristianity was my finding that are many serious, devout and thinking Christians on the Internet who are exploring their relationships with one or more Persons of the Holy Trinity without any acknowledgement, except from their followers, that they were doing so. Thus, it struck me that there was something important going on that was without identity or recognition.

When I thought about a name for this, I thought “how about eChristianity.” My next thought was that eChristianity seemed possibly trite and probably already used by someone. However, when I Googled it I got no results so I decided I would use the term in writing about what I had in mind.

And what did I have in mind? I think it was triggered by something I heard or read about the unity of Christians. This is not surprising since it is in the New Testament a lot. However, when unity is mentioned now, it is sometimes institutional unity and sometimes unity within a local church. It never seems about the spiritual unity of the body of Christ.

Paul wrote about the body of Christ having many different members each with a different function but all necessary if the body is going to function as it should. I think that is what eChristianity is about. We are people of Christ’s body with electronic as well as spiritual connections and we are as important to the work of God as the other Christian institutions, organizations, parachurch ministries and all the rest. We have just not had an identity or a name. Now we do.

 

Electronic Christianity Five

This is a good time to consider the relationship of politics to eChristianity. I am in no place to tell you what your politics should be but I think I can give you some things to consider in regard to our relationship with the government.

First, we need to remember that we are subject to at least one government. When we read both the Old and the New Testament we see that believers are affected both by the form and the quality of their governance. This could lead us to think we are responsible for both these aspects of government and create a desire in us to rectify what is wrong. However, history shows us, in both biblical and secular accounts, that Christians either embracing a government or resisting one generally leads to adverse consequences for Christianity or Christians or both.

As we eChristians are also citizens of the nation of God, we need to be careful not to grab at the “tar baby” of political influence or the idea that we know perfectly God’s will for how we should be governed and by whom. Holding power leads to an attachment to the events taking place and, as Menno Simons thought, creating actions that it is not proper for Christians to instigate. Resisting a government is as foolish as thinking we know what the weather should be since a government is something that is too large for our understanding and subject to God’s purposes.

However, Jesus in Matthew 16:2-3 told the Pharisees and Sadducees that they had a proverbial saying that went like this: If the sky is red in the morning it means a stormy day, if it is red in the evening it means good weather is coming. So he asked them since they could interpret the signs in the sky why they could not see the signs of the times. This is a second aspect of our relationship to government and politics. Just because we have little influence does not mean we should not be very aware of what is going on and be prepared to adjust ourselves to what may occur. We are in a time of changes, and it is certain that what has happened, what is going on, and what will happen in the political realm will affect our lives.

When Jesus commissioned the Twelve Disciples before sending them out to proclaim the kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 10), he told them to be wary as serpents and innocent as doves. This is good advice for us as we evaluate and participate in a turbulent time of political change and unrest.

Electronic Christianity Four

With the Olympics coming in August it brought to my mind that we eChristians are citizens of the nation of God. (I prefer using nation rather than kingdom to enhance the present reality of our spiritual affiliation.) This status will not get us into the Olympics regardless of our athletic abilities; still I think a duality is something we should remember as we live out our Christian lives. Various athletes hold dual citizenship just as we do but their nations are worldly. Some of them may have difficulty at times deciding where to place their higher loyalty. We should not have that problem. Still we will need to decide how much allegiance and respect we should show to our earthly nation. To put the question in somewhat biblical terms: Each of us will have to decide how much we will give to Caesar and how much to the Lord. However, since we love most the nation of God and its ruler, we can be sure of having a way to arrive at the right overall allegiance and this will be demonstrated by our love for other Christians.

One outworking of our love in eChristianity will be to provide support with “likes,” and comments, and also in other ways encourage each other. And, thus we can help each other to a better understanding and expression of what we are thinking and writing. We should also be aware that God did not intend for us to all think alike. If he had we would not have anything to say to each other. Instead he made us each to have our own way of thinking while making it possible for us to be united in the nation of God.

There is another area in which we are all different. This is in how much we focus on the outward expression of our Christianity—whether in small acts of kindness or seeking to perfect the world—compared to the time and effort we put into our inward experience of the persons of the Trinity. Each of us should seek to find the balance of our commitments that God expects of us. And none of us will be exactly in the same place in regard to these things.

Perhaps, we should, like Mary, ponder these things in our hearts and hope to come to a fuller understanding of all that is involved in our choices of what we emphasize in our lives.

Electronic Christianity Three

My most humble apologies to any who may have read my post “Electronic Christianity Two” and thought I was trying to base eChristianity on the Nicene Creed. That was not my purpose at all. What I was trying to accomplish was to show there was something solid at the core of Christianity. What I wanted to point out was that just as there is a reality underlying mathematics, physics, and all other kinds of science so there is a reality to Christianity that cannot be ignored. Please forgive me if I was unclear.

Perhaps I should have used the concept of “mere Christianity” that was used by C.S. Lewis to describe his idea of the root reality of Christianity. In any case, at the heart of our belief is the actual reality of a new life that will endure forever. This is the sure promise and the ultimate certainty yet it is not all there is for us in Christianity. Although most of us have probably had our lives greatly changed through the work of the Godhead in us, what also matters is that we are a part of the body of Christ and the body needs all of us parts to be truly whole. This is why I thought up eChristianity. It is conceived as a way to bring together the many of us who are one-person churches; people who have never found their “fit” in conventional churches and provide us a unity with each other.

I am not sure how eChristianity will work but I think it can use what the Internet has made possible. It is meant to enable the coming together of many parts of the body of Christ so Christianity can better withstand the forces operating to reduce its influence in the world and in people’s lives.

Please let me know what you think.

Electronic Christianity Two

I think that eChristianity needs a solid foundation to build on. After all, Jesus told us we were to build on rock and not sand. The Nicene Creed is possibly the rock we should build on. It has stood as a basic statement of Christian belief for about fifteen centuries and during that time has withstood the assaults of many, many alternative opinions. A version from a contemporary prayer book follows.

The Nicene Creed

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father,God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father.Through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

 

It is appropriate that the majority of the creed focuses on the person of Jesus Christ since he should be the center of all Christian expressions. In addition to giving due respect to the person of the Son of God, there are other things about the creed that we should note. It is meant to be a creed for all of Christianity. This, I think, includes eChristianity. It is sufficient. It is all we need to believe to count ourselves Christians.

We should also think some about what is not there. It speaks of one baptism for the forgiveness of sins but says nothing about how, when or for whom. The Lord’s Supper/Communion/Holy Eucharist (for this sacrament we do not have a common name and yet we all, presumably, participate) is not mentioned.

The creed also says nothing about our human attributes. What counts in the creed is our “We believe” so we can be part of the eternal world to come. It is good it is this way because just as none of us are in the same place physically, none of us are in the same place spiritually. Each of us has our own spiritual “About” yet we can be united in a common faith as presented in the creed.