Journey Toward Easter: Into Your Hands
Karl Barth was one of the most prominent in distinguished theologians in the history of Christianity. He was a Swiss Reformed pastor and one of the leading figures in what became known as the Neo Orthodox movement He authored over 20 bucks. His writings to dominate the theology of the 20th century. Yet, when he was once asked us, and if you words, all he had written in the field of theology, this was his summary: “Jesus loves me, for the Bible tells me so.”
I am not much of the theologian, but when I read this passage I too you must conclude, “Jesus loves me, this I know for the Bible tells me so. Because Jesus loves me. I can have communion with the Father, I can have confidence in the Father, and I can commit my life to the Father, without hesitation.
I. WHEN JESUS SAID, FATHER, IN TO YOUR HANDS, HE WAS REMINDING US THAT WE CAN HAVE COMMUNION WITH THE FATHER
- our Lord’s death on the cross made it possible for men to walk in fellowship with God once again.
A. THE ONLY WAY TO COMMUNION WITH GOD IS THROUGH JESUS CHRIST
- during his earthly ministry among his disciples
- Jesus had proclaimed, “I and the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6.
- now that’s a bold statement of exclusivity.
- then as now, they were in any religious faiths in the world, and many would-be religious leaders and would-be messiahs and profits all proclaiming that in their way was the right way
- how were the disciples to know that their faith was genuine and focused on the right person?
- how can we?
- Jesus is miracles validated his claims
- in the 10th chapter of John’s gospel Jesus has a clash with the Jewish leaders
- they confront him and ask him plainly, “How long we you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, talus plainly.”
- Jesus responds by saying, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me ... even though you do not believe me, believe in miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in a Father.”
- God authenticated Jesus’ claims
- how did God do that?
- when the curtain in the temple was ripped apart from top to bottom
- “And Jesus cried out with a loud voice and yielded up his Spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn into, from top to bottom. In the earth ship, and the rocks were split.” (Matthew 27:50-51)
- in the holy of holies stood the ark of the covenant
- it represented God’s covenant with the people of Israel
- once a year – on the Day of Atonement – the high priest would enter the most holy place and sprinkled blood upon the lid of the Ark of the Covenant, which was referred to as the Mercy Seat
- this act made atonement for the sins of Israel, and purchased God’s grace in mercy for another year
- the curtain represented a barrier between a completely holy God and completely sinful men
- the apostle Paul referred to it as a “wall of hostility.”
- "Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands— 12remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace," (Ephesians 2:11-15, NASB95).
- the vail of the temple represented a religious code of conduct that the Jewish people – nor you and I – could never live up to
- but Christ accomplished in his sacrifice for us what the law could never achieve – the possibility of true righteousness before God
- The curtain in itself was 60 ft. tall in 30 ft. wide. It was made of 72 strands of braided linen strips, and each linen strip contained 24 strands of linen. The curtain was as thick as a man’s hand is wide – about 5 inches. As our Lord mouthed his dying words, "Father, into your hands, I commend my Spirit,” and breathed his last breath, the invisible hands of God reach down and tore that veil in two from top to bottom! What a wonderful way, for God to illustrate a profound spiritual truth and validate his son’s claims, both at the same time. That barrier – the wall of hostility – between God and the Christian has been destroyed. The law, with its commandments and regulations are no longer needed. A new and living away has been opened into the presence of God. Christ himself has become are away into the very presence of God.
- "Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;" (Hebrews 10:19-23, NASB95).
- ILLUS. I love the story of a conversation which supposedly took place between former. Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel and President Ronald Reagan during one of Begin's visits to America. During his administration Reagan had three phones on his desk. One was platinum, one was red and one was gold in color. During a visit in the Oval Office, Begin questioned the president about these phones. "Tell me, what are they really for?" he kidded the president. Reagan responded, "Well, the platinum phone goes to Republican headquarters so I can keep track of political affairs. The red phone is a hot line to Russia so I can keep track of what's happening there. My gold phone is a direct line to God." "How much does it cost to call God?" Begin asked. "Ten thousand dollars, but it's worth every penny," replied the President. Some months later when the president was visiting Prime Minister Begin in Israel, he noticed three similar phones on Prime Minister Begin’s desk and couldn’t resist asking the question: "What are your three phones for?" Begin replied, "One's a hot line to Egypt, another's a hot line to Parliament, and the third is a hot line to God." "How much does it cost to call God from here?" Reagan asked the prime minister. "Ten cents," Begin quipped. "It's a local call." Don’t you love that story? What’s the point? If you’re a Christian, talking to God is a local call!
II. WHEN JESUS SAID, ‘FATHER, INTO YOUR HAND’ HE WAS REMINDING US THAT WE CAN HAVE CONFIDENCE IN THE FATHER
- this last sayings from the cross was not a word of resignation, but a prayer of confident hope in God
- like many of our Lord’s words, these too, have the Old Testament as their source
- “Into your hand, I commit my Spirit; you have redeemed me, own Lord, faithful God.”
A. JESUS HAD CONFIDENCE THAT GOD WAS IN CONTROL
- Psalm 31:5 was the very first prayer taught to a Jewish child
- from their earliest days they were taught to pray, "Into thy hands I commit my spirit."
- what a beautiful prayer to teach a child!
- when darkness or the unseen dangers or things that go bump in the night threaten, this prayer expresses a confident hope in a powerful God
- Jesus never questions why he is dying – he knows that it is for the sins of sinner
- He never questions what comes after death because he knows that he'll be safe in the hands of God
B. YOU CAN HAVE CONFIDENCE THAT GOD IS IN CONTROL
- God is in control of the world's agenda
- nothing that takes place in this world surprises God
- nothing that takes place in this world can thwart God from accomplishing His will, and bringing about His eternal kingdom
- in the end, God wins, the devil loses!
- in the end, the righteous will be rewarded and the unrighteous will be condemned
- God wants to be – and needs to be – in control of your agenda
- folks – let me be blunt – if Jesus ain’t good enough to be your Lord and Master, He’s probably not your Savior
- the Scriptures are clear – those who truly take Jesus as Savior, make Him their Lord and Master
- may I make an observation?
- I told you a moment ago that God is in control
- some of you don’t believe that and you’re saying to yourself, “I don’t see any evidence that God is in control of my life.”
- the reason it seems that God is not in control is because you've not given Him control which puts your life out of control!
- for which we turn around and blame God for letting things get out of control!
- Loyd C. Douglas was a novelist and at one time the most popular author in the United States. In 1942 he published "The Robe" – a novel set in the time of Christ which was later turned into a lavish Technicolor film staring Richard Burton. When Douglas was a university student, he lived in a boarding house. Downstairs on the first floor was an elderly, retired music teacher, who had become infirm and unable to leave the apartment. Douglas writes that every morning they had a ritual they would go through together. He would come down the steps, open the old man's door, and ask, "Well, what's the good news?" The old man would pick up his tuning fork, tap it on the side of his wheelchair, and say, "That's Middle C! It was Middle C yesterday; it will be Middle C tomorrow; it will be Middle C a thousand years from now. The tenor upstairs sings flat, the piano across the hall is out of tune, but my friend, that is Middle C!"
- for Christians, the one absolute constant in our life is God and the complete confidence we can have in Him
- God is our Middle C – He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow!
- when Jesus Said 'Father, into Your Hands'/ He Was Reminding Us That We Can Have Confidence in the Father
III. WHEN JESUS SAID 'FATHER, INTO YOUR HANDS' HE WAS ENCOURAGING US TO COMMIT OUR LIVES TO THE FATHER
- the gospel record tells us that Jesus continually committed Himself to God
*ILLUS. When he was a boy his parents had taken him to the Jerusalem for what was probably his Bar-miztpha. During their trip home Mary and Joseph thought he was in the caravan, but when evening came they discovered that he was missing. Rushing back they spent three days trying to find him, finally discovering him among the teachers in the shadow of the Temple. When they asked him where he had been, he responded, "Didn't you know that I had to be in my Father's house?" Luke 2:49
- even as he faced the cross he was submissive to God's will and committed himself to that will
- right after the last supper Jesus and his disciples went to the garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus, knowing what was about to happen, poured out his feelings to God, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." (Matt. 26:39).
A. OUR COMMITMENT IS DEMONSTRATED WHEN WE TAKE UP OUR CROSS AND FOLLOW CHRIST
- Luke 9:23 "Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."
- Jesus invites us to be participants in His cross
- when Jesus says "come after me" he is inviting you to enter into a new way of life which necessitates leaving your old way of life behind
- Luke 14:26-27 "If any [man] come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple."
- your commitment is not to a congregation
- your commitment is not to a ritualistic washing called baptism
- your commitment is not to the man behind the pulpit
- your commitment is not to a denominational structure
- that commitment is not easy because it leads us to the same place that it lead our Lord – to a hill called Calvary and to a cross and to absolute commitment of our life to Him
- ILLUS. In his book One Crowded Hour, Tim Bowden, tells a true story about a company of British soldiers in Borneo during the confrontation between Malaysia and Indonesia in 1964. The company was made up of Gurkhas from Nepal. Through numerous wars and conflicts, the Gurkhas have won the reputation of being fearsome warriors and fearless and dedicated soldiers. As the conflict between Malaysia and Indonesia escalated they were asked if they would be willing to jump from transport planes into combat against the Indonesians if the need arose. The Gurkhas had the right to refuse because they had never been trained as paratroopers. Now the Gurkhas usually agreed to anything, this time they provisionally rejected the plan. But the next day one of their Non-Commissioned Officers sought out the British officer who had made the request and said they had discussed the matter further and would jump but only under certain circumstances. The British office asked what those circumstances were. The Gurkhas told him they would jump if the land was marshy or reasonably soft with no rocky outcrops, because they were inexperienced in jumping out of airplanes. The British officer considered this, and said the drop-area would probably be over the jungle and there would be no rocky outcrops. That seemed all right so he asked if there was anything else. "Yes," said the Gurkhas. They wanted the plane to fly as slowly as possible and no more than one hundred feet high. The British officer pointed out that the planes always flew as slow as possible when dropping troops, but to jump from one hundred feet was impossible. The Gurkhas wanted to know why? The British officer explained that the parachutes wouldn't have time to open at that low of a height. The Gurkhas leader was a bit surprised and said, "Oh, that's all right then. You didn't mention parachutes before. We'll jump with parachutes, anywhere."