HOW GOD STAYS IN TOUCH WITH MAN: XXIII

Man did what God had willed. The Son of God obeyed His Father to the letter! Jesus laid down His Life when He was ready, and at the “Will” with His Father:

For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father (John 10:17-18).

JESUS WAS FULLY PREPARED AND READY TO SERVE AS THE LAMB OF GOD TO FACE HIS FATHER

Jesus did not only die to set man free from sin — Jesus also died to set an example for man how to stay free from sin. Jesus forgave the ignorant men, who abused Him and who crucified Him. And, Jesus took a criminal, who repented, with Him to paradise, where all the dead rest until the day when all human beings will be resurrected and will face the Judge for what they have done (Luke 19:34, 43; Matthew 12:36-37; Revelation 20:11-15). If we refuse to take responsibility for our cross, the “Cross of Christ” will not atone for our sins (Luke 14:27; Matthew 16:24-28). Jesus did deal with sin! And so must we deal with sin before we hand our soul and our spirit over to God. That was precisely why Jesus could hand over His Spirit to God.

Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, and said, “Certainly this man was innocent!” And all the multitudes who assembled to see the sight, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance and saw these things (Luke 23:46-49).

While Jesus was hanging on the cross, He showed his fellow men how to treat their parents, and in particular, their mothers. There was a disciple in Jerusalem, whom Jesus loved. This beloved disciple had a home and also had the means to take Jesus’ mother in. I happen to believe it was John Mark (Mark 10:21). John Zebedee had nothing in Jerusalem and he was, soon after, apprehended and taken to Patmos (Revelation 1:9).

So the soldiers did this (dividing his garments); but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then he said to his disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

After this Jesus, knowing that was now finished, said (to fulfill the scripture), “I thirst. A bowl full of sour wine stood there; so they put a sponge full of the wine on hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished”’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Since it was the day of Preparation, in order to prevent the bodies from remaining on the cross on the sabbath (for that sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him; but when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness — his testimony it true, and he knows that he tells the truth — that you also may believe. For these things took place that the scripture might be fulfilled, “Not a bone of him shall broken.” And again another scripture says, “They shall look on him whom they have pierced” (John 19:25-37).

EVERY CYCLE OF LIFE MUST END AND BEGIN AGAIN IN DEATH

Death is not evil — death is a blessing. Death is the residue and the instrument by which life is reborn and governed. All life is substance and spirit. God, the Spirit, gave birth to the world and birth to man (Genesis 1:2; 2:1-7). Jesus taught that death was not to be feared. However, God, the Creator, shall hold every man accountable for what he or she has done with his or her life (Matthew 10:28). Life, on earth, is a preparatory time to lay up treasures for eternity (Matthew 6:19-21). Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, left us a “bird’s eye view” what a believer’s life ought to be so one can earn a spot in eternity, that is in Christ’s mansion (John 14:1-4). Paul also wrote:

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Here indeed we groan, and long to put on our heavenly dwelling, so that by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we sigh with anxiety; not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who had given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

So we are always of good courage; we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. We are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body (II Corinthians 5:1-10).

For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If it is to be life in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again (Philippians 1:21-26).

JESUS ACTED AS IF THE DEAD WERE ONLY SLEEPING

Jesus did not treat the dead as if they were dead, but as if the dead lived in another real world. Two cases appeared to be in a coma. And in one case, the man actually was physically dead. According to the Gospel of John, the Son of God was granted power over life and death:

For the Father loves the Son, and shows him all that he himself is doing; and greater works than these will he show him, that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will (John 5:20-21).

All three Synoptic Gospels report that the little daughter of Jairus had died: Matthew 9:24; Mark 5:39; and Luke 8:52. Luke reported an earlier restoration to life of a man who was being carried to be buried. This study follows Luke in both cases, demonstrating Christ’s power over death.

Soon afterward Jesus went to a city called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the city, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a large crowd from the city was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” And he came and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And the dead man sat up, and began to speak. And he gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all; and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” And this report concerning him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country (Luke 7:11-17).

Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. And there came a man named Jairus, who was a ruler of the synagogue; and falling at Jesus’ feet he besought him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying.

As he went, the people pressed round him. And a woman who had suffered from a flow of blood for twelve years and could not be healed by any one came up behind him, and touched the fringe of his garment; and immediately her flow of blood ceased. And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter and those who were with him said, “Master, the multitudes surround you and press upon you!” But Jesus said, “Some one touched me; for I perceive that power has gone forth from me.” And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”

While he was still speaking her; a man from the ruler’s house came and said, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the Teacher any more.” But Jesus on hearing this answered him, “Do not fear; only believe, and she shall be well.” And when he came to the house, he permitted no one to enter with him, except Peter and John and James, and the father and mother of the maiden. And all were weeping and bewailing her; but he said, “Do not weep; for she is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But taking her by the hand and he called, saying, “Child, arise.” And her spirit returned, and she got up at once; and he directed that something should be given her to eat. And her parents were amazed; but he charged them to tell no one what had happened (Luke 8:40-56).

JESUS RAISED LAZARUS FOR A SPECIAL REASON

Jesus demonstrated the power to bring Lazarus back from the dead, resided in Him. Then, Jesus, Himself, will rise by that power from being dead. And finally, all who believe and follow Jesus will, by that same power, live forever with Him in glory. With all that in mind, Jesus made certain that Lazarus was dead long enough to leave no doubt that he was dead. As far as Jesus was concerned, Lazarus, too, had fallen asleep and had slept for four days.

Thus he (Jesus) spoke and then he said to them (disciples) “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to wake him up from his sleep.” The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he is fallen asleep, he will recover.” Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taken rest in sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead; and for our sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we  may die with him.”

Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and man of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary sat in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. And even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world” (John 11:11-27).

Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb; it was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. I know that thou hearest me always, but I have said this on account of the people standing by, that they may believe that thou didst send me.” When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with bandages, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go” (John 11:38-44).