Sunday, April 17, 2011
Love That Suffered = Jesus
“Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered” (Hebrews5:8); “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Giving Thanks for Our Trouble: An old Yiddish folk story tells of a well-to-do gentleman of leisure much interested in the Hebrew Scriptures. He visited a wise rabbi to ask a question. He said, “I think I grasp the sense and meaning of these writings except for one thing. I cannot understand how we can be expected to give God thanks for our troubles.”
The rabbi knew that he couldn’t explain this with mere words. He said to the gentleman, “If you want to understand this, you’ll have to visit Isaac the water-carrier.” The gentleman was mystified by this, but knowing the rabbi to be wise, crossed to a poor section of the settlement and came upon Isaac the water-carrier, an old man who had been engaged in mean, lowly, backbreaking labor for some fifty years.
The gentleman explained the reason for his visit. Isaac paused from his labors. Finally, after several minutes of silence, looking baffled, he spoke: “I know that the rabbi is the wisest of men. But I cannot understand why he would send you to me with that question. I can’t answer it because I’ve had nothing but wonderful things happen to me. I thank God every morning and night for all his many blessings on me and my family.”
Why is it that some people find grace in the midst of trouble and go on to live a meaningful life while others get stuck and blame their circumstances or God or their parents or the government?
I think those who find meaningful life in the midst trouble are those who focus on their God-given mission like our Lord. Look at how John 19:28-29 starts,” Jesus knew that His mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture He said, “I am thirsty.”
A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to His lips. Jesus, the giver of the water of life, was in need of water to drink. He said, “I am thirsty.”
It’s interesting to notice that Mark 15:22-23 points us back to Jesus’ birth and forward to Jesus’ death to show us about myrrh: “They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.”
At the birth of Jesus, the wise men brought three kinds of gifts: Gold to show Jesus’ royalty, incense to show Jesus’ deity, and myrrh, a spice to prepare his body for burial. On the cross Jesus was offered a drink mixed with myrrh. This was prophesied over a thousand years ago before Jesus’ crucifixion in Psalm 69:21, “They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.”
Jesus suffered many other things for you and me, things prophesied long before He was born: Betrayed by a friend (Psalms41:9 and 55:12); sold for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah11:12-13); accused by false witnesses (Psalms109:2); flogged, beaten and crown of thorns put on him; pierced in hands and feet (Psalms 22:16); crucified with criminals (Isaiah 53:12); garments gambled away (Psalms 22:18).
Jesus said, “I thirst.” What are you thirsty for, and how do you satisfy your deepest thirst? The answer is in God’s gift, Jesus Christ.
Until this point on the cross, Jesus only showed concern for the needs of other people. Look at how John 19:28 starts, “Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture, He said, “I am thirsty.”
Look at the four acts of kindness Jesus did on the cross on behalf of others: Jesus prayed for forgiveness for those who crucified Him, from the cross, “Father, forgive them;” Jesus assured the repentant criminal, “Today you will be with Me in paradise;” Jesus provided for His mother and friend John by commending them to each other; Jesus fulfilled His father’s assignment even when He felt forsaken, “My God, My God, why?” After questioning the abandonment by his Father, Jesus died trusting his Father with the words, “It is finished,” and “I submit my spirit into your hands.”
Jesus, with this cry for help, identified with all those who suffer, “I am thirsty.” Jesus spoke of himself as the water of life and promised those who drink Him will never thirst. Remember the story of Jesus and the woman at the well in John 4:10, and 13-15? Jesus answered, "If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water."
In a meditation on the passage, Henri J. M. Nouwen said, “The water that You give turns into a spring. Therefore, I do not have to be stingy with your gift, O Lord. I can freely let the water come from my center and let anyone who desires drink from it. Perhaps I will even see this spring in myself when others come to quench their thirst.” God has called us to find our satisfaction in Jesus Christ, and Christ calls us as His agents of grace to point the lost to Him.
Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.” Are you drinking the water of life that Jesus offers?
The woman said, “Sir, give me this water so I won't ever get thirsty, won't ever have to come back to this well again.” The Samaritan women expected Jesus to give her drinking water so that she didn’t have to travel in the heat of the day to the water well, but Jesus was talking about the Living Water. Jesus taught that man needs more than food and drink. Many Bible verses mention thirst for God as living water:
“As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God” (Psalms 42:1).
“Come, all you who are thirsty,come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come; buy wine and milk without money and without cost” (Isaiah 55:1).
“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken Me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water” (Jeremiah 2:13).
Jesus came to satisfy our spiritual trust as the savior of the world. He is our living water. If we drink the water he offers us we will never thirst. “On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, ‘Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, “Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.”’”
Application for our daily life: JESUS IS PREPARING A WONDERFUL FUTURE FOR ALL WHO FOLLOW HIM. Read Revelation 22:1-2, “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”
And read Revelation 7:16-17, “If you have Jesus as your Savior, God guarantees to satisfy all your needs in His Son.
A man’s life was transformed from despair to hope when he surrendered his life to Christ and demonstrated Christ-likeness in his service to others. Ernest Gordon, who served as Dean of the Chapel at Princeton University in the late 20th century, describes a redemptive journey through suffering. A British soldier during World War II, Gordon was taken prisoner by the Japanese in Burma. He tells of the experience in his book, Through the Valley of the Kwai.
It was in the P.O.W. camp that Gordon met a soldier nicknamed “Dodger.” Dodger suffered from serious stomach ulcers, a condition that caused him almost unbearable pain. More than that, he suffered from despair so black that his fellow prisoners feared it would kill him before the ulcers would.
But then Dodger came to trust Jesus Christ in a special way. He became a Christian, there in the camp. And one of the first things he did was to look around for a way he could be of service.
The filthiest job in camp was collecting the rags the prisoners used as bandages to cover the sores on their arms and legs. The rags had to be collected, scraped clean of infection, and then boiled before being returned so others could use them. “A smelly, unpleasant job it was," Gordon writes, "but Dodger volunteered for it. Regularly I would see him going from hut to hut, carrying his can of rags, and whistling as he walked." Who but a Christian would whistle as he carried a cross? Paris Publishing
To encounter Jesus is to find new purpose for new life with God!
Pastor Shim Habte
United Methodist Church, 544 N. Shasta St., Willows CA 95988
Shim53Jesus@gmail.com (530) 943-3190