The Word of Contentment
By Wayne Reynolds, Pastor
Luke 23:46 states, "And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost."
This verse speaks about a contented Saviour. It may be hard to envision Christ as contented as he hung on the cross, dying for the sins of mankind, his body racked with pain, and his earthly life leaving him.
He was contented because his work was finished. He bore the sins of sinners, his father had turned his back on him, but now his father smiled upon him once again. The time Jesus must spend on this sinful earth, in a human body, was over. Jesus was going back to his father, back to the throne and the glory he left behind. Jesus was returning to heaven because he was victorious over death, hell and the grave. He had finished the work he came to do. Salvation for fallen mankind was complete.
All the time Jesus was upon the earth, cumbered with a fleshly body, he was concerned only with doing those things his Father wanted him to do. The body of Christ was without sin, of course, but Satan crowded upon his body with manifold temptations. The time of Christsí earthly sojourn was finished. He completed the task he came to do. He lived a perfect life, and died a perfect death. He can now return to his father, to the station he had with him before he came to the earth. Christ had contentment because he fulfilled his Fatherís will; he completed the plan of salvation; and can return to his father as the perfect sacrifice for the elect of God.
Jesus was 12 years old when he stayed behind in Jerusalem in his first formal discourse with religion. When his mother and stepfather found him, he said, "Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" Jesusí life was centered on one thing: doing the will of the Father. Many times when Jesusí disciples were asleep, or eating, or fulfilling the necessities of the body, Jesus was witnessing, or praying, or doing whatever his father wanted him to do.
Jesus gave his life, his body, and his energies as a voluntarily sacrifice. Christ was truly a "lamb" slain.
When the soldiers came to the Garden of Gethsemane to take Christ, John 18:5, Jesus had only to speak his name, "I am" and the soldiers fell backward because of the power of the name. The soldiers did not drive Jesus away from his disciples. They did not force Jesus to go with them, but rather the soldiers "led" Jesus away, as stated in John 18:13. The foolishness of man is revealed during the mock trial, when no one could find anything wrong with Christ, his life, or his testimony. The Pharisees brought forth three witnesses who were supposed to testify that Jesus had blasphemed against God. Mark 14:55-59 states that the witnesses did not even agree with each other. Mark 14:60-65 declares that Jesus had to finally utter the truth; that he is the Christ, the Son of the Blessed, which the "court" took to be blasphemy, and sentenced Christ to death by crucifixion.
Christ did not die helpless. Christ was not convicted of any crime, or of any blasphemy. Christ knew it was Godís will for him to die for the sins of the world, therefore Christ uttered the words of Mark 14:62, "Öye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." His words refer to Daniel 7:13,14. "I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. The Jews considered this passage to be a description of the Messiah. It was at this point that our Saviour, at his lowest state of humiliation asserted his claims as the Messiah, the one who will soon appear in the clouds, and the one who will soon rule the world with a rod of iron.
The Jews had previously decided to crucify Christ, so they put their plan into action. There was one thing they overlooked: Christ had plenty of reserve power.
Matthew 26:51-53 speaks about Peter cutting off the high priest servantís ear, and Jesus replacing the ear in the sight of all those present. Jesus then told Peter there were at least 12 legions of angels standing by, waiting for him to bid them protect him. A legion contains between 5,000 and 6,000 soldiers; therefore, a legion would contain the same number of angels. Twelve legions of angels would contain between 60,000 and 72,000 angels. The destructive force of these angels is revealed in II Samuel 24:15 when one angel killed 70,000 Israelites in three days.
A simple math calculation reveals how powerful angels are. There are 24 hours in one day and 72 hours in three days. In II Samuel 24:15, one angel killed 70,000 Israelites in 72 hours. This means one angel killed 972 people per hour, or 1 person every 3.5 seconds. Using this information, and considering that 12 legends of angels contain the smaller number of 60,000 angels, twelve legions of angels would destroy approximately 16,200 people per second, or approximately 58,320,000 per hour. In three days 60,000 angles would be able to kill approximately 4,200,000,000 people. It is easy to see that the entire population of the earth could be wiped out by twelve legends of angels in three days. All Jesus had to do was give the command and there would be vast numbers of angels upon the earth, killing men, and getting vengeance for Jesus Christ.
Consider this: if Christ had called on the angels to protect him, he would not have died on the cross for our sins. Every human being on the earth would have been killed before three days and three nights were over. Christ didnít call on the angels for protection. Instead he endured the torment of sin, death, hell, and eternal suffering in our place. Three days and three nights later, Christ rose from the dead, the resurrection reflecting the power of Christ over death, and revealing that he is able to free us from the pains of eternal death.
It was not Godís plan for Jesus to be protected. Jesus was to die on the cross for the sins of mankind. The sin debt had to be paid, and Jesus would do his Father's will, and allow himself to die upon the cross.
While we are dealing with this subject, let us look at the way Jesus Christ yielded himself perfectly to God. Let us go back through his life and see if he was always in perfect subjection to his Father
In Matt. 4, Jesus didnít yield to the Devilís temptations. Nor did he yield to the desires and necessities of the flesh. Jesus answered every temptation with Godís own precious word. Jesus didnít answer with his words, but simply quoted scripture. This is how we are to overcome temptation. We shouldnít try to answer Satanís accusations. We should use scripture instead, and Satan will surely flee from us.
When Lazarus became sick and died, Jesus was told of it, but he didnít hurry to the bedside of Lazarus. John 11:4 reveals that Jesus said, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby." Jesus waited two days. Jesus waited for Lazarus to die, then traveled to Bethany and raised him from the dead. Jesus raised Lazarus, not for his sake, but that God might be glorified.
Look at the Sermon on the Mount in Matt. 5-7. This was probably the first formal discourse of Christ. Notice that Christ spoke of the Father seventeen times. In his final discourse to his disciples, John 14-16, he used the word "Father" no less than forty five times. In John 17, Christís high priestly prayer, he uses the word "Father," six more times. And at the very end of his physical existence, he used the precious name once more when he said, "Father, into thy hands, I commend my spirit." Christ yielded himself to his father through his lifetime, and at his death, he yielded himself to his father. What a pattern for us to follow!
Jesus Christ accomplished in his death that which no other person has ever done, or ever will do. He gave up his spirit. He did this by commanding his spirit to go to the Father. When a person dies, his soul is taken from him, but not so in the case of Christ. He literally gave up his life on the cross. He was not killed by man, but freely yielded himself to death, that he might give us his kind of life Ė eternal life. Christ was not in such a helpless condition that a man could take his life. He freely gave it up. Compare the death of Christ with the death of Stephen, Acts 7:59,60. Christ asked forgiveness for his enemies, and then gave up his spirit. Stephen asked the Lord to receive his spirit, and then asked for forgiveness for his enemies.
When Jesus died on the cross, he did something that he commands all his children to do, and which thing he did himself while he was in a fleshly body. Jesus took care of spiritual matters, and wasnít overly concerned or anxious about physical or material matters. Matt. 6:25-34. Jesus asked his Father to receive his Spirit, but did not make one request concerning his body. He was concerned only with the things that would last. This is what the Lord admonishes us to do, but somehow we fail to hear and put into practice what we hear. We do not have our eyes opened enough to be able to tell just what is important and what is not so important.
Jesus told us we can be in heaven with him and his Father, if we will trust in his shed blood for the remission of our sins. When Christ saves a sinner, that sinner goes to be with the Lord forever. John 10:29 declares, "My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all, and none is able to pluck out of my Father's hand, I and my Father are one." What a blessed promise!