I thirst

Jesus’ fifth saying on the Cross was an expression of his need (not want). To thirst is to yearn for a drink. Imagine you are in a desert and you are parched… You would give anything to have a drop of water.

In this fifth saying, Jesus’ thirst could have been a mere expression of his physical thirst after enduring the scourging, stripping and crucifixion. Servants of God, including I (the least of the servants), have exposited on this saying and attempted to explain what Jesus could have meant by this curt expression. One explanation is the yearning of Christ for the souls of men, which is substantiated by the verse that God desires (longs for) all men to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

As I meditated on this and pondered, I wondered, Jesus had drunk the cup of God’s wrath (Matthew 26:39), so what did he thirst for? Jesus had told the woman at the well, that the Holy Spirit of God was the living water (John 7:39), whom he could pour into her life so that she would never thirst again (John 4:13-14). Now he himself was thirsty. Was it because his own Holy Spirit could not be with him in his earthly form for he had become sin (2 Corinthians 5:21)? He expressed that he was forsaken by God, and he cried out My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? Was the first address of My God, to God the Father and the second address of my God, to God the Holy Spirit – both the personas of God who were not with Christ Jesus (God the Son). I can only imagine. The more I pondered, the more I realized that Jesus’ thirst is likely for his own Holy Spirit – so that he would never have to thirst again. We know that his Holy Spirit responded to his yearning cry, for Jesus’ last act on the Cross was to commend his Holy Spirit into the Holy hands of God the Father.

Points to ponder:
Do we yearn for the Holy Spirit of God to indwell in us, so that we may never thirst again? Does our soul long for God as a deer pants for water, yearning and crying out to God, “I thirst for God” as he thirsted for us on the Cross. Jesus said, “I thirst” and expects you and me to do the same for him.

John 19:28 (KJV)
28 After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.

John 4:13-14 (KJV)
13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Jesus’ fourth saying from the Cross was a question, a question addressed to God (his Father), wherein, he cried with a loud voice saying “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Notice, how Jesus, who addressed God as Father, when he asked him to forgive his murderers and who addressed God as Father, when he commended his Spirit into his Father’s hand, is now addressing God as God and not Father, implying that his sonship was severed due to the sin that he had become (2 Corinthians 5:21), for God the Holy Father could have nothing to do with sin, just as light can have no communion with darkness (2 Corinthians 6:14).

The question posed was “Why?”
The answer is “Love” and the object of that Love is “You and me”.

Why did God the Father forsake Jesus?
God so loved the world (you and me) that he forsook his only begotten Son, so that we would not have to cry out “Why have you forsaken me?” Instead, Jesus, the Only begotten Son of God cried out, being God forsaken, so that we who are deserve to be God forsaken because of our sinfulness, can be called the sons and daughters of God.

Points to ponder: 
God’s “Love” for you and me is so great that he demonstrated his love for us, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8), being forsaken by God. Behold, what manner of “Love” the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God (1 John 3:1) because his very own Son, Jesus Christ, had been forsaken and could not address him as Abba, Father.

Matthew 27:45-47 (KJV)
45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.
46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
47 Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias.

Woman, behold thy son! … Behold thy mother!

Jesus’ third saying from the Cross was directed to his mother and to his beloved disciple who was standing by her. To her, he said, “Woman, behold thy son!” and to him, he said, “Behold thy mother!” The action verb in both these statements is “Behold”. This word is a word that is a call to attention and literally has it roots from combining the words “be” and “to hold”. It is more than just a glance or a look – it means to keep the gaze on and to hold on to that sight.

As part of dispensing his duties (as any Son should), in this saying, Jesus was profoundly establishing a truth – the truth of holding on in sight to relationships – never losing focus on familial relationship.

Points to ponder:
To all those who have believed in Jesus, and who have received and accepted him, God has given them the power to be called the sons (children) of God (John 1:12). In other words, we are part of God’s family, if we believe and receive Jesus Christ, to be our Lord and Savior. God is reminding us to look at and hold on to that familial relationship, we have with God.

The Bible makes it amply clear that this is what we are counseled and commanded to do – Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising its shame (Hebrews 12:2a). Notice how this rendition is “looking” and not just “look”, implying that this is a constant action – to behold – to keep the gaze – to hold on in view.

To the Church, the Woman (bride of Christ), God, the Father is saying, Behold his Son, Jesus Christ – looking on to him perpetually. What are you beholding?

John 19:26-27 (KJV)
26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!
27 Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.

Hebrews 12:2 (KJV)
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Today shalt thou be with me in paradise

Jesus’ second saying from the Cross was “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” It was said to a criminal who hung next to him. This criminal recognized the innocence of Jesus for he said that “this man has not done anything amiss” and then quickly recognized that Jesus was not just the son of man, but the Son of God for he recognized him as Lord and King for he said “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” I have expanded on this saying a few times in the past. This was the criminal’s salvation experience. It also expresses that man is saved by faith (believing in the Lordship and Kingship of Christ) and not be works, for the criminal did not have anytime to go do any good works or even publicly profess his faith by baptism, yet Jesus assures him with words of blessed assurance that he shall be with him. What powerful words? “Be with Christ”.

Points to ponder:
In the book of Acts 4:12-13 we read that when the disciples (Peter and John) boldly proclaimed that there was no other name, except Jesus, by which man can be saved, the people took notice of this and marveled that such unlearned men spoke with such boldness and realized that these men had been with Christ. What a testament? These men had been with Christ. Can that be said of you and me?

Jesus said, “You shall be with me” to a criminal (wrongdoer) and those words are words that ring true even today to each one of us, who are sinners (wrongdoers), if we believe in his Lordship and Kingship. He will be with us when we believe in Him. And to all those who have believed, if Christ is with us, do we boldly proclaim his salvation to others, so that they take notice of us and marvel saying that “We have been with Jesus.” Think about it.

Luke 23:38-43 (KJV)
38 And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, This Is The King Of The Jews.
39 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.
40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.
42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.

Acts 4:12-13 (KJV)
12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.


Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do

Jesus’ first words from the Cross was one of forgiveness and it was addressed to God, his Father. Jesus basically asked God to forgive those who had hurt him. While I have studied the meaning of these words a few times in the past, I did not understand the extent of this Father Son interaction until recently, because of a life experience.

Reuben, our 9 year son was verbally libeled and attacked by someone, whom I feel is blinded by the god of the world (2 Corinthians 4:4). This was an unprovoked attack. As a father, my initial reaction was to lash back. After prayer and Godly counsel from my wife, I chose not to, conflicting in the battle between the flesh (wanting to fight for my son) and my Spirit (which was convincing me that God will fight the battles for us), which God beautifully did.

Yet, to be honest, I still find it incredibly difficult to forgive, something that I have realized that I must personally work on. Then I realized that if my son, Reuben, asks me to forgive this person, it would be relatively a lot easier, as the love for my son would trump any hurt or offense caused by anyone.

In fact, it also dawned on me that though the people lied and murdered Jesus, they were acting under the influence of the evil one, who had blinded their minds – they did not know what they were doing! which Jesus recognized and stopped God’s wrath from falling on man. He knew what was in man (John 2:25) and stopped God’s anger. Imagine for a moment, if Jesus had not stepped in and asked God to forgive his persecutors – I can only speculate that the result would have been catastrophic. God would have been completely justified even if he had undone all of creation for its fallen state.

If I, as an earthly imperfect father, can pent up so much anger in defense of our son, how many manifold times more would have been God’s, the Holy Father’s (John 17:11), anger on man, when the people attacked and crucified his only begotten perfect Son, Jesus Christ. Now I understand the implication and the impact of the first words of Jesus from the Cross of Calvary. On one hand, while it show Jesus’ omniscience of mankind and his love for the people, on the other hand, it implicitly it reveals to us the Love of God, the Father, for his Son, Jesus.

Points to ponder:
Being under the influence of the evil one, people may hurt us, without knowing (realizing) what they are doing and Jesus said, pray for those who persecute you and bless those who curse you. Yeah, it is undoubtedly hard to forgive, but as a Christ follower, we must (especially I must) follow Jesus’ example and call on him “Abba, Forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” and that is something that I ought not to merely ponder upon, but act on as well. (Coveting your prayers.)

Luke 23:34 (KJV)
34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

Offer of the Only Son

Genesis 22:2 records the test of Abraham in which God told Abraham to take his son, his only son (Isaac), whom he loved to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a sacrifice (burnt offering) upon one of the mountains that God was going to tell him. Now cursorily it may seem unkind of God to even make such a request but closer scrutiny reveals something that is very profound.

This was a revelation of God’s plan of Salvation for all of mankind. If I can take the liberty to suggest, for a moment, imagine God to be in introspection speaking with himself the same words he told Abraham, instead of speaking with Abraham. In this situation, this is God telling himself – I have to take my son, my only Son Jesus, whom I love (for Jesus is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased) and take him to the land chosen by me (Jehovah), a land of bitterness (for the two common meanings of the word Moriah are: chosen by Jehovah or land of bitterness) and offer him there upon one of the mountains (the mount of Golgotha, aka Calvary).

Now God’s test of Abraham seems a lot less unkind, doesn’t it?

Points to ponder:
God’s test of Abraham to offer his only son was a test God had to take of himself. God so loved the world that he took his son, his only Son Jesus, who was the begotten and beloved Son and brought him to the world of bitterness (Ephesians 4:30-32) in which we live and offered him as an offering (a perfect sacrifice) on a Cross on the mount of Golgotha (or Country). God’s offer of his only Son was for you and me. Have you accepted his offer?

Genesis 22:2 (KJV)
And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

On bended knee, your heart guard

Ittai Aidan PaulOur beloved second son, Ittai turned 3 years old today and here is a poem we wrote for him.

Ittai Aidan Paul, today you turn three
and may you this year be, always, on bended knee
before God, your Creator, who loaned you, to us, as a gift
‘As you grow, may Only His Name, we pray, you lift.’

‘Children are a heritage of the LORD’
and our mission is to teach you to perpetually, your heart guard
against the vices and wiles of this world, and its god.
‘May you always, always, always – Love the LORD’

And his creatures, as you would love yourself.
Running to those in need, we pray you compassionately help
and show that Christ Jesus is Lord of your life, as it should be.
‘You are much loved and appreciated, and will always be.’

We love you Ittai (boo). Happy happy birthday.
Mama, Dada and your brother Reuben wish you a blessed birthday and we seek God’s guidance and wisdom in raising you up in the fear of the Lord. Tons of hugs and tons of kisses. 🙂 God bless you richly! You are a heritage of the LORD (his favor to us).

Psalm 127:3-5 (KJV)
Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

Behold, here I am

Genesis 22 records the account of the test of faith of Abraham, but before we delve into the account of God’s testing and Abraham’s obedience, let us see how Abraham responds to the call of the Lord. Genesis 22:1 reads “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.” When God called his name, the answer was “Behold, here I am”.

Points to ponder:
When God calls our name, will our response be as that of Abraham, immediately, stating “Behold, Here I am.”

Genesis 22:1 (KJV)
And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.

The real treaty is …

After Abraham agreed to the treaty between him and Abimelech, the Bible records that Abraham planted a grove (tamarisk trees) at Beersheba, and there he worshiped (called on) the Lord, the everlasting God. (Genesis 21:33). A treaty with an earthly king had been agreed upon, but Abraham knew that there was to be more that needed to be done. And what was that? He planted a grove (of Tamarisk trees) and called on the name of the Lord, the everlasting God. Planting a tree is something that is permanent with roots that secure the tree to the ground. In other words, Abraham worshipped God at the end of the treaty he made with man (the king of Gerar).

Points to ponder:
When agreements with men are ratified, take a moment to thank God and worship him, calling out his name. We should be like fruitful trees planted by rivers of water (Psalm 1:3), yielding the fruit of the spirit in and through our lives (Galatians 5:22-23), rooted in Christ abounding in thanksgiving (Colossians 2:7), worshipping God.  The real treaty is the treaty of worshipping the Lord and that of what we make with man.

Genesis 21:33-34 (KJV)
33 And Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the Lord, the everlasting God.
34 And Abraham sojourned in the Philistines’ land many days.

Colossians 2:7 (KJV)
Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

Lessons of life from the Treaty at Beersheba

Genesis 21:22-32 gives the account of the treaty made between Abraham and Abimelech, the king of Gerar. Abimelech makes Abraham swear by God that Abraham will not deal falsely with him. Abraham obliges but raises a concern that a well of his was taken away by Abimelech’s servants violently which needed to be addressed. Abimelech informs Abraham that he was not aware of how Abraham was wronged, until that day. Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech and they both made a covenant. Then Abraham took seven ewe lambs from the flock and set them free. Abimelech who did not understand this gesture questions Abraham of the meaning, which Abraham explains that it was sign to indicate rightful ownership of the well as that of Abraham’s. That place was called Beersheba meaning the “well of the oath” or “well of seven” and this is where Abraham and Abimelech made their covenant.

From this account we can glean a few life lessons –
1. Start any treaty or contract with a requirement to not be dealt falsely. This request by Abimelech (Genesis 21:23) was necessary as Abraham had once dealt falsely with king Abimelech, misrepresenting his wife, Sarah as his sister to Abimelech.
2. Address any issues of concern, mainly about ownership, before establishing a covenant (treaty). Abraham brought up the matter of what he owned, a well that he had dug, which was violently taken away from him, by Abimelech’s servants (Genesis 21:25).
3. Establish a timeline as necessary when discussing issues of concern. Abimelech mentioned that he was ignorant of the wrong done to Abraham until that day/moment when Abraham told him. (Genesis 21:26)
4. Lead by offering from what you have, as gesture of setting things right. Abraham offered sheep and oxen to Abimelech and both of them made a covenant (Genesis 21:27)
5. Ratify the covenant by an outward expression, not merely internal thoughts. Abraham ratified the covenant he made with Abimelech, by taking seven ewe lambs and setting them free, as a sign of his rightful ownership of the well (Genesis 21:28-30).

Points to ponder:
1. When God wants us to establish a peace treaty with him, he expects us to not deal falsely with him.
2. We belong to God. He is the rightful owner of our life.
3. Remember the time and more importantly the maker and creator, God.
4. Offer your life up to God for he offered up his for us (on the Cross).
5. God ratified his covenant with us by an external demonstration of his love for us, by sending forth his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Are you willing to express your covenant of love for God by your life (action) and not just by your thoughts (or words) for you are rightfully owned by God.

Genesis 21:22-32 (KJV)
22 And it came to pass at that time, that Abimelech and Phichol the chief captain of his host spake unto Abraham, saying, God is with thee in all that thou doest:
23 Now therefore swear unto me here by God that thou wilt not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son’s son: but according to the kindness that I have done unto thee, thou shalt do unto me, and to the land wherein thou hast sojourned.
24 And Abraham said, I will swear.
25 And Abraham reproved Abimelech because of a well of water, which Abimelech’s servants had violently taken away.
26 And Abimelech said, I wot not who hath done this thing; neither didst thou tell me, neither yet heard I of it, but to day.
27 And Abraham took sheep and oxen, and gave them unto Abimelech; and both of them made a covenant.
28 And Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves.
29 And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What mean these seven ewe lambs which thou hast set by themselves?
30 And he said, For these seven ewe lambs shalt thou take of my hand, that they may be a witness unto me, that I have digged this well.
31 Wherefore he called that place Beersheba; because there they sware both of them.
32 Thus they made a covenant at Beersheba: then Abimelech rose up, and Phichol the chief captain of his host, and they returned into the land of the Philistines.