1.The prayerful Jesus
Herbert Lockyer writes: “Jesus loved to pray. Prayer was part of his life and was as involuntary as his breathing. Prayer was his regular habit and his last resort in every emergency”. Not many of Jesus’ actual prayers are recorded in the gospels, but the example of his praying is everywhere.
Mark records that Jesus got up early, while it was still dark, to pray (Chapter 1:35), he prayed late at night at irregular times during the day, he prayed before and after important events or when decisions needed to be made. He prayed through the night, often alone and sometimes with others. Jesus had no set place to pray, but he sought solitude. He would find that on a hillside, a mountain top or in the wilderness. He could also be alone in a crowd. He would also retreat to Bethany the home of his three friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus or invite others to come aside with him to pray. He knew that anywhere is a good place to pray, God hears us from wherever we call on him. His prayers were often spontaneous, seldom organized and didn’t conform to a timetable. Jesus didn’t organize prayer meetings, but he did invite people to pray with him.
Jesus prayed at the great moments in his life (for example see Luke 6:12.13; 9:16,29;); He prayed for children (Matthew 19:13); he prayed for people by name (Luke 22:31,32); he prayed for his disciples (John 17); he prayed in order to perform miracles and he prayed in his own anguish and need. Nothing was too great or too insignificant to bring to his father in prayer. It was his source of wisdom and inspiration, the place of comfort and reassurance and the means by which he received the strength and power to fulfil his father’s will for his life. It was through prayer that Jesus gained approval and received authority and prayer sustained him in the most trying times of his life.
Jesus, the sinless son of God, the most remarkable person who ever lived depended on prayer. How much more should we be committed to a life of prayer? Jesus does not call us to attend prayer meetings, but to pray. He doesn’t suggest a particular time or place, but his example is to pray everywhere and at any time. His prayers were as familiar as a son speaking with his father, but they were reverent recognizing that his father is the Almighty God. His prayers were bold but humbly offered, he did not presume because of his position as a son but submitted to the will of his father. He brought his concerns to God, listened for the response and acted upon it.
Jesus gives us an example to follow. Prayer should come naturally to us always. There will be times when we meet with others to pray, as Jesus did, and there may be specific times set aside to pray, but prayer should be the breath of life. As we make decisions, struggle with life’s problems, need extra strength or energy, help in dealing with relationships or face painful experiences, prayer should come naturally to our thoughts. Nothing is insignificant to God, he cares about every hair on your head and every situation you find yourself in. Take it to him in prayer. Joseph Scriven wrote a poem in 1850 that became a well known him. Verse one contains these words:
What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!
- Is prayer a part of your life, or something you leave to a special time?
- Is there anything you don’t pray about because you think it isn’t important enough?
- Do you naturally bring to God all the decisions you need to make?
Herbert Lockyer 寫道：「耶穌喜愛祈禱。祈禱是他生活一部分，就如他的呼吸一樣自然。祈禱是他的常規習慣，也是在每次緊急關頭下的最後幫助。」福音書中記載耶穌的禱告內容並不多，但他禱告的例子卻無處不在。
耶穌在他生命中的重要時刻禱告（例如見路加福音 6:12.13；9:16,29；）；他為孩子禱告（馬太福音 19:13）；為人祈禱（路加福音 22:31,32）；為門徒禱告（約翰福音 17）；他為行神蹟奇事祈禱；他在自己的痛苦和需要中祈禱。世上沒有太大或太微不足道的事情不能帶到天父面前禱告。禱告是他智慧和靈感的源頭，是安慰和安息的地方，也給他力量來實現父親對他的旨意。耶穌通過祈禱獲得天父認可和權柄，祈禱在他生命中最艱難的時刻支撐著他。
耶穌給了我們一個榜樣，禱告應該總是自然發生。有時我們會像耶穌那樣與其他人一起禱告，也可能有特定的時間來禱告，但禱告是生命的氣息。當我們做決定、面對生活困難、需要額外的力量和幫助處理人際關係問題或面對痛苦的經歷時，祈禱應該自然地浮現在我們思想中。對上帝來說，生命沒有什麼是太微不足道的事，衪關心你頭上的每一根頭髮和你所處的每個情況。在禱告中把這些帶到衪面前。Joseph Scriven 於 1850 年寫了一首後來成為家喻戶曉的詩。第一節寫道：
- Slipping Away
There are a number of places in the gospels where the writers mention that Jesus went off by himself. In Mark 1:35 it is to a solitary place; Luke 5:15,16 says he went to the wilderness or as some translations have it, to a desolate place; Mark 6:30,31, the desert and Luke 11:1 it is a certain place. It is clear that he sought time alone, or with a few close friends to rest, recuperate and pray.
The passage in Mark 1 recounts a day that was very full. Jesus had healed people of disease, cast out demons and by the end of the day it seemed the whole city was crowded at his door. We cannot imagine a day such as that and how we would be drained of our energy and enthusiasm. What we would want is a good sleep and maybe to lay in bed a bit longer than usual. But that wasn’t for Jesus, in the morning when it was still dark, he went off to a lonely place to pray. We often find it hardest to pray when we are tired, Jesus found fresh energy in his prayer. We read that when the disciples couldn’t find him in the morning, they went hunting for him. When they found him, they tried to get to him to go back and serve the needs of the crowd, but Jesus had other plans, he wanted to go somewhere else and preach and heal other people.
On another day of healing the sick and casting out demons, his reputation had grown so much that “multitudes” gathered wanting to hear him and be healed of their sicknesses. Luke tells us in Chapter 5:16 that Jesus withdrew or slipped away by himself to the wilderness to pray. Jesus didn’t want popularity, or crowds. He was no celebrity preacher. He knew he had to get away, to spend time out of the limelight and pray. The way verse 16 reads is that he would frequently slip away, it is almost as if he sneaks off whenever he can – of course Jesus is never sneaky!
After Jesus appointed his disciples and sent them out to announce the Kingdom of God, Mark in his gospel records that King Herod executed the cousin of Jesus, John the Baptist (Mark 6:7-29). When the disciples returned they told Jesus all that they had done and reported the death of John. Jesus’ response was to invite the disciples to come away with him to a lonely place to rest. There were so many people and so many demands they were not even able to have lunch! Jesus knew that the disciples needed to find a space by themselves. They were excited, they had performed miracles, healed people, cast out demons. They many have wanted to bask in the success of their mission, or else they may have been high on adrenalin and the last thing they wanted was to rest. But Jesus knew want they needed, come away, rest, pray.
There are so many demands we all face that our days can become very full of activity. We become so ‘busy’ that we don’t have time to pray. Jesus knew that prayer was a priority, whatever else he had to do, no matter what other people expected of him, he needed time alone to pray. Martin Luther is quoted as saying” “Work, work from early until late. In fact, I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” Pray is indispensable if we want to be productive, if we want to stand firm in the battle we must “pray at all times in the Spirit”. God planned creation with rest in mind. He set a day aside to make sure we didn’t forget that, and yet it often seems that unless we fill every moment with some activity, we should feel guilty. When Jesus was tired, he prayed, and he slept. He should follow his example.
- Do you ever feel you are too ‘busy’ to pray?
- How often do you find yourself falling asleep when you pray?
- If one of the church leaders said they were taking a day off to pray, would you assume they were not working?
福音書中有很多耶穌獨自一人、偷偷地溜走的例子。在馬可福音 1 章 35 節，他溜到一個僻靜的地方；在路加福音 5:15,16 ，他去了曠野，或如一些翻譯所說的荒涼之地；馬可福音 6:30,31，他到了沙漠，在路加福音 11:1 他到一個特定的地方。很明顯，耶穌尋求獨處的時間，或者與幾個親密的朋友一起休息，重新振作和祈禱。
耶穌又過了醫病趕鬼的一天，名聲遠播，許多人聚集想聽他的教誨和得醫治。路加在第 5 章 16 節告訴我們，耶穌自己引退，溜到曠野禱告。耶穌不要什麼人氣或粉絲。他不是什麼明星佈道家。他知道必須離開，遠離聚光燈，然後去祈禱。第16節告訴我們他經常偷偷地溜走，似乎他一有機會就溜走——當然耶穌從不偷偷摸摸的人！
- Picking his team
As Jesus continued his tour of the towns and villages, healing people, teaching and casting out demons he gathered a number of followers. Some he called to follow him like Peter, Andrew, James, John and Matthew but other men and women joined him as well; some of the women are mentioned by name in Luke 8:2,3. But the time came for Jesus to select his team and so according to Luke he went off to a mountain to spend a whole night in prayer.
When daylight came Jesus went back down the mountain and called the disciples to him, from the group he chose 12 who are named in Luke 6:14,15. This 12 were called apostles which is a Greek word meaning messengers or delegates. This probably means that they were chosen to be his representatives, given a commission to announce the kingdom of God. There was nothing remarkable about these me. At least four of them were fishermen. Simon was a Zealot, a member of a group that was determined to overthrow the Roman government, violently if necessary. Matthew was paid by the Roman government to collect tax from the Jews and would have been viewed as a traitor. Judas Iscariot eventually betrayed Jesus and was a thief. If you or I were selecting a team to launch a missionary endeavour not many of these men would make the short list!
Jesus spent the night in prayer before choosing these men. He didn’t call for a resumé or a job application, he had spent time with them, they had given up everything to follow him and he didn’t make it easy. Now he went alone to the mountain and spent the night in prayer, discussing his need with his heavenly father. Jesus saw something in this group that others might not have seen. He was not convinced by social standing, status, education or even past failures. He looked beyond their fault and the expectations of others. They were an imperfect group that were going to be entrusted with the greatest challenge ever presented to mankind. They were God’s choice, and they were the right people.
When God chose you to be his child and disciple, he didn’t make that choice based on your achievements, your looks or qualifications or your track record. You weren’t without fault, perfect or good enough to be chosen. You were not better than, or more important than anyone else. He knew you would make mistakes, let him down and stumble and yet he chose you. God’s choice is made on the basis of his love and mercy. He has invited you to follow him and to be honoured to be called one of his disciples. It may be that he will give you a commission that brings you into leadership as well, this is a privilege and an awesome responsibility.
Jesus spent the night in prayer because those he chose to be apostles would be given a task that would challenge them in every way. He needed to pick the right team. Jesus continues to pray to the Father even now and still sets apart people to serve him and to build his church. You may not think you are good enough, or qualified or equipped for that, but he calls those he chooses, and he does not make mistakes.
When we need to make big decisions, do we make prayer a priority – before we decide? Or do we decide first and then ask God to bless the decision? Jesus, the son of God, spent a whole night in prayer and then announced his decision. The son and the father discussed together the team Jesus needed and Jesus appointed them. Remember to invite your heavenly father to discuss with you the important decisions in your life and then confidently make them knowing that he will guide your footsteps.
- What criteria would you have made your choice of apostles on?
- Have you ever felt the need to spend a whole night in prayer? Could you do it?
- Do you feel called to leadership but are reluctant because you don’t feel good enough?
耶穌穿梭各城鎮和村莊，醫治、教導和趕鬼，聚集了許多追隨者。他呼召一些人跟從他，例如彼得、安得烈、雅各、約翰和馬太。但也有其他人加入他的行列；路加福音 8:2-3 中提到一些婦女的名字。但是當耶穌選擇他的團隊時，他走到山上整夜禱告。
到了早晨，耶穌下山，呼召門徒跟從他。他從人群中挑選了 12 個人，他們在路加福音 6:14-15 中被提名。這 12 位被稱為使徒，這是一個希臘詞語，意思是使者或代表，意味著他們被選為耶穌的代表，受命宣揚上帝的國度。這些人沒有什麼了不起的。其中至少有四個是漁民。西蒙是一個要推翻羅馬政權的狂熱份子者，甚至必要時會用暴力。馬太是為羅馬政府向猶太人徵稅的叛徒。加略人猶大最終背叛耶穌，也是一個小偷。如果我們要挑選一個團隊來開展宣教工作，這些人當中不會有很多人會入圍！
- Sifted like wheat
Most of those reading this post will know what a sieve is, you may even have one hidden away in a kitchen draw. A sieve in its simplest form is a mesh bowl or screen and is used for sifting things like flour, to remove imperfections or lumps from fine grains, or on a bigger scale in the mining industry it separates wanted from unwanted matter. A sieve can are also be used to separate good grain form chaff and this is how it would be understood in this passage. For the object being sifted this was a violent process involving a lot of shaking and what we read is that Satan had demanded permission to sift the disciples.
Satan was not interested in getting rid of the imperfections and keeping what was good, he wanted to shake up the disciples. Adrian Dieleman puts it this way: “Satan wants to place Peter in a sieve and sift him as wheat. He wants to shake him, throw him around, give him a rough time. Satan wants to sift Peter – he wants to demonstrate that Peter is chaff, a piece of foreign matter, something that does not belong. Satan wants to show Peter as a false believer. He wants to collect evidence that proves Peter is a fake. Satan has decided that Simon Peter must fall into temptation, that he must have a mighty big fall like Humpty Dumpty, that he must come crashing down.” The permission Satan seeks is to sift all of the disciples, it is expressed in the plural form, and it includes you and me.
The name Satan means the adversary or opponent, and he is relentlessly opposed to God’s rule and his plan to bring salvation to all those who believe. He starts with the disciples because they were those chosen by Jesus to proclaim the Kingdom. The Kingdom to come would be based on the confession of Peter that Jesus is the Christ, if Peter fails then the God’s plan is at risk.
When Satan brought his request to God it came as a demand, but the authority to grant or deny it rested with God. Satan operates within defined boundaries, and he may not overstep them. He could not touch Peter and the other disciples without God’s approval. God is sovereign, God is in control. He sets the boundaries, the limits, the borders for Satan. Satan can go only so far and no further. Satan can only do what God permits or allows him to do. This is a great comfort. Paul reminds us that there is no temptation we can experience that from which, God has not already provided a means of escape and James assures us that the trials we face produce endurance which in turn makes us perfect and complete.
Jesus turns to Peter and says to him: “but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.” He called Peter by name and assured him of his prayer. He did not say he prayed that Peter would not be sifted, but that his faith would not fail. Jesus knew that the sifting was necessary, but it would not be so great as to cause Peter to fall. Peter did stumble, more than once, but Jesus lifted him back up each time. Hebrews 7:25 says about Jesus: “he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” The apostle Paul wrote the church at Rome: “Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” He goes on to ask that if this is true, and of course it is, who or what can separate us from God’s love? And of course the answer is absolutely nothing, either in heaven or on earth or any other place. In fact in all of these things we are overwhelmingly conquerors. (Romans 8:34-39).
Juts like Peter, you will be sifted, your faith will be tested. You may be shaken up and tossed around, you may even feel a bit bruised and battered, but you will emerge victorious! Satan demands, but Jesus prays for you by name and God declares to Satan: ‘This far, but no further. This is my child and he/she is precious in my sight and you will not, cannot separate them from my love’.
- Do you feel like you have been sifted?
- Is it a comfort to you to know that Jesus prays for you, by name?
- Jesus told Peter that when he was back on his feet, he should strengthen the others. Are you able to use your experience to strengthen and encourage others?
撒旦不是要去除不完美的東西，他要動搖門徒。 Adrian Dieleman 說：「撒旦要把彼得放在篩子裡，像篩麥子一樣篩他。他要動搖他，把他扔出去，給他艱難的經歷。撒旦要篩選彼得——要證明彼得只是瑕疵，外來的異物。撒旦想表明彼得是一個假信徒，要收集證明彼得是假的證據。撒旦決定彼得必須陷入試探，他必像 Humpty Dumpty 那樣墜落。」撒旦要求的是篩所有門徒，它以復數表達，因此這包括你和我。
耶穌轉向彼得，對他說：「但我為你禱告，叫你的信心不會落空。」他叫彼得的名字，向他保證他的禱告。他並沒有祈求彼得不會被篩，而是祈求他的信心不會落空。耶穌知道篩是必要的，但不會讓彼得跌倒。彼得不止一次跌倒，但耶穌每次都把他扶起來。希伯來書 7 章 25 節說，「凡靠著耶穌親近上帝的人，他都能拯救到底，因為他常活著，為他們祈求。」使徒保羅寫信給羅馬教會時說：「基督耶穌是死了——但不僅如此，他還復活了——他在上帝的右邊，必定為我們祈求。」他繼續問這是否是真的，當然是真的，誰或什麼能讓我們與上帝的愛隔絕？答案當然是絕對沒有，無論在天堂還在地球或任何地方。事實上，在所有事情上，我們都是壓倒性的征服者 （羅馬書 8：34-39）。
- The Great Prayer
About 500 years ago the German teacher, Melanchthon wrote: “There is no voice which has ever been heard, either in heaven or in earth, more exalted, more holy, more fruitful, more sublime, than the prayer offered up by the Son to God Himself.” The longest of Jesus’ recorded prayers is chapter 17 of John’s gospel. Jesus had just finished speaking with the disciples about the things that were going to happen and how he needed to leave them for a while and then he lifted his eyes towards heaven. This was the customary posture for prayer. It is uncommon in our culture in which we usually bow our heads and close our eyes, but Jesus lifted his eyes and may even have had his arms outstretched as he prayed. He then proceeded with what is sometimes called his High Priestly prayer.
There are a number of themes in this prayer and it is very rich in meaning, too much to explore in a one page post! So, we will focus on just a few. The prayer is offered in the context of a giving God, and this is reflected in the number of times ‘giving’ or ‘gave’ appear in the first few verses. Jesus speaks of those who have been given to him by the Father. Immediately we are reminded that we belong. God our father has entrusted us into the care of his son, we belong to him. Because we belong, Jesus says that he prays for us, he guards us, and he keeps us (verses 9-12). We have the assurance that no one that has been entrusted to Jesus will be lost, all will be kept safe and secure.
The second thing we are confident of is that we have the authority of his name. Because we belong to Jesus, then we have the right, and the privilege to “know the name” of the Father (6). He is the source of eternal life, “his “name” stands for all that he is and has done, most importantly in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. To know that name is to have one’s life constituted and sustained in the power of that name — to be protected and guarded in that name” (11,12). (Boyce). To be kept in the name of the Father is to rely on the authority of the Almighty God, the ruler of heaven and of earth. To know the name of the Father is to have confidence to trust in his authority to answer the prayers of his son.
The gift of the Father is passed on by his son, to those who have been entrusted to him. In verse 14 he claims he has given the words he received from his father to his disciples. This word is the life and teaching of Jesus, who is the ‘the word become flesh’ (John 1:14). It is this word that will sanctify or set apart those who believe in him. It is dependence on his teachings that will help us to grow in our relationship with him. It is faith in the Spirit of truth that will keep us secure. We have the revealed word of God made available to us in the pages of the Bible, as we deepen our knowledge and understanding of this word, we grow in our relationship with our Father. This then reminds us that we belong to him, and that we too can experience his love and protection.
God the Father sent Jesus into the world to bring hope and redemption to the lost, as Jesus concludes his prayer, he states that in the same way he is sending his followers into their world. He has entrusted you and me to take the truth about Jesus to those who are without hope. He knew that we would be met with opposition, and even persecution, but he is certain that the name of the Father, the unity that exists between He and the son and now within the church will keep us safe from the evil one. There will be trials and tests but through all of this our destiny and our eternal hope is sure. Jesus concludes his prayer with these words: “I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
- Do you know that you belong to your Father as a son or a daughter?
- How well do you know “the name of the Father”?
- Is your knowledge of the word of God growing and how does that give you confidence to face testing times?
大約 500 年前，德國教師Melanchthon寫道：「在天上和地上沒有任何聲音比聖子獻給上帝的祈禱更崇高、更聖潔、更有成果、更偉大。」耶穌最長的禱告記錄是在約翰福音 17 章。 耶穌剛巧對門徒宣告將要發生的事以及他要離開，然後他舉目望天，這是當時普遍的祈禱姿勢。在我們的文化中，我們通常低頭閉上眼睛，但耶穌抬起眼睛，甚至可能伸出雙臂，繼續這被稱為「大祭司禱文」的禱告。
這個禱告有許多主題，含義非常豐富，在一頁內探索實在太多了！所以我們將只集中幾項。這禱告的背景是在一位慷慨的上帝面前，我們見到前幾節「給予」或「賜給」出現幾次。耶穌論到父賜給他的人，因此我們是屬於他的。我們的天父親將我們託付給衪的兒子，我們屬於他，耶穌應許為我們祈禱，保護和保守我們（第 9-12 節）。我們可以保證耶穌不會失去上帝託付給他的人，每人都會得到保障。
父的恩賜經兒子傳給那託付給他的人。在第 14 節中，耶穌說他已將父的話教導門徒。這道是耶穌的生命和教導，他「道成肉身」（約翰福音 1:14）。正是這道將那相信他的人成聖及分別出來。依靠他的教導將幫助我們與他建立關係和在當中成長。我們對充滿真理的聖靈的信心將保守我們。我們已因著聖經得到上帝所啟示的話語，隨著我們對這道的認識和理解加深，我們在與天父的關係中成長。這提醒我們，我們是屬於他的，並會體驗他的愛和保守。
- In the Garden
After Jesus shared his final Passover meal with his disciples they went to the Garden of Gethsemane where he told his disciples to wait for him while he went alone to pray. Jesus knew that the time was very near for him to be betrayed, arrested and ultimately put to death. He needed to spend time with his father in preparation for what was to come, but also to encourage his disciples to be on their guard.
According to both Matthew and Mark, Jesus took Peter, James and John a little further and left the others behind. When he got near to the place he intended to pray, he said to those three that he was overwhelmed with sorrow and that they should watch with him while he went further. By asking them to watch he was asking that they stay alert but also to encourage him with their own prayer. Never before had Jesus confessed this level of personal grief and now he needed those closest to him to support him.
He found a secluded spot and fell on his face arms outstretched in a posture of humility and absolute submission to the will of the Father. On other occasions he lifted his eyes and hands heavenward, but not this time. He poured out his soul to his father asking that if it were possible, he be spared from the anguish and suffering that was to come but submitting to God’s will all the time knowing that it was not possible, and that he must endure suffering and death. After he prayed he returned to his friends and found them asleep. “Couldn’t you stay awake for even one hour?” he asked. Not long before Peter had pledged undying allegiance to Jesus saying that even if everybody else let him down, he never would, and now here he was asleep. Then Jesus said: “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” He didn’t condemn, yes he challenged but he didn’t chastise them for their weakness, instead he acknowledged their desire and encouraged them to watch and pray that they not enter temptation. Jesus did not tell them to pray that they would not be tempted, but that they would not enter into it. We cannot avoid temptation it comes to all of us in many forms, but we are encouraged not to dwell on it, not to entertain it and to resist it at the very first opportunity.
Jesus went again to pray, acknowledging that what was necessary couldn’t take place without him accepting the role he had to play. On returning to the disciples he once again found them asleep. This time no words were offered by Jesus and Mark notes that the disciples didn’t know what to say. They would have seen the sorrow and perhaps the disappointment in Jesus eyes and looked away.
Jesus went a third time and repeated his prayers. Luke records that an angel came and strengthened him, but his anguish was so great that his sweat became drops of blood. He went back to the disciples and again they were asleep. Luke states that they were so consumed by sorrow that they could not stay awake, but Jesus asks “Are you still resting and sleeping? It is time to get up, the one is who going to betray me is here”. Jesus asked his closest friends to stand with him in his deepest need, but they could not. They let him down and must have been ashamed and yet Jesus did not condemn. He understood their weakness. There will be times when you and I feel we have let Jesus down. We have not stood firm when we should have, stayed silent when we should have spoken, given up when we should have carried on. He does not condemn, but he recognizes our weakness and offers encouragement. His source of strength was in submitting to the will of his father, but he discovered that, only by total surrender and humility.
- If Jesus asked you to watch and pray with him for one hour could you do it?
- Have you experienced the level of submission that Jesus demonstrated when you have prayed for a particular need?
- When you let God down do you feel condemned? If Jesus does not condemn you, where does that condemnation come from?
- On the Cross
All the events of Jesus life led up to this final act. He was betrayed by one of his trusted followers, arrested and brought before a sham court, tortured, ridiculed and humiliated. One of his closest friends denied that he even knew him and the rest of his disciples ran away. The crowds that had cheered him, now called for his blood and having stripped him of his clothes the soldiers even gambled to see who would get them. Nailed to a cross he was hoisted between two criminals and subjected to the cruelest form of death possible. In the last moments of his life, he offered prayers to his father and forgiveness to his tormentors.
The gospel writers offer slightly different versions of what Jesus said on the cross but Matthew records Jesus’ cry of anguish or as some would call it the cry of dereliction as the first “thing he cries out. Dereliction is an old word which means complete abandonment and is found in Jesus’ words “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” In this moment of extreme suffering Jesus felt abandoned, he knew that he was not for he was quoting Psalm 22 which ends in victory and triumph. God had not abandoned Jesus and Jesus had not given up on God. He had been abandoned to death, separated for the first and only time in eternity from the love of his father as he carried the guilt and penalty of the sins of all of mankind. There will be times when we feel that God has abandoned us, he has not. We feel alone, left with the enormity of our suffering, but God is with us and he sustains us.
Luke records that Jesus looked around at those who had put him on the cross, were even then insulting and ridiculing him and turning to his father he called out: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). They had been blinded by the devil; they didn’t know the part they were playing in this supernatural drama. They were not the enemy, they were victims of the enemy and Jesus asked for them to be forgiven. When we are hurting, feeling broken and let down, maybe even ridiculed and insulted, it is difficult not to see the offender as anything but an enemy that should be punished. Jesus sets the standard, even on the cross he seeks forgiveness for his oppressors.
After this episode Luke records that Jesus committed his Spirit into the hands of his Father. His mind returning to Psalm 22 and the certainty of God’s deliverance. He entrusted his whole life to his Father confident that His will would be done and he would be rescued from the claims of death. John records the last words of Jesus as: “It is finished”. He cries out to God that he done all that he came to earth to do, his work was complete it was finished. The sacrifice that took away the penalty and power of sin had been offered. The temple curtain was torn in two, the entrance to the Holy Place was open. Through him we now have bold and confident access to the throne of grace.
- Have you ever felt abandoned by God?
- How do you know that he never leaves you or forsakes you?
- Are you able to ask God’s forgiveness for those who have hurt you?
路加記載，耶穌環顧那些把他釘在十字架上的人，甚至侮辱他的人，他轉向天父喊道：「父親，赦免他們，因為他們所做的，他們不知道」（路加福音 23 章34節)。他們被魔鬼蒙蔽了雙眼，沒有意識自己在這超自然故事中扮演的角色。他們並不是仇敵，而是仇敵的受害者，耶穌為他們求寬恕。當我們受到傷害，感到沮喪和失望，甚至可能受到嘲笑和侮辱時，很難不把他人視為應受懲罰的敵人。耶穌卻為我們設定了標準，即使在十字架上他也為他的壓迫者尋求寬恕。
此後，路加記載耶穌將他的靈交在他天父的手中。他的思緒回到詩篇 22 篇中上帝拯救的應許。他將自己整個生命託付給父，相信衪的旨意成就，把他從死亡中拯救出來。約翰記錄耶穌的遺言為：「成了。」他向上帝宣告他已完成了他來到世上的一切使命，他的工作已完成了。他為罪的刑罰和權勢的祭已經獻上了。聖殿的幔子裂為兩半，上帝聖所的入口已敞開了。通過耶穌，我們現在可以憑信心地進入施恩寶座面前。