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Archive for March 2014

Words From The Cross (Part 5)

They say that confession is good for the soul. So, confession time; too often in my life I have taken the easy way out. I have run from difficult situations; avoided necessary confrontations and have refused to commit to different things because I did not have complete control over what needed to be done. I would venture to say that there have been times in your life when you have taken the easy way out. We want a quick fix; whether it has to do with our marriage, our bodies, or our jobs, we like to take the comfortable way. We want to avoid pain or at the very least minimize it. So we shun the way that is uncomfortable.

Standing in contrast to this kind of behavior is Jesus. He did not take the easy way out. Instead He chose to respond in obedience and suffer. He faced sin, evil, despair, and death head on. He did this to fully identify with the suffering each of us experiences and to show the costliness of our sin and God’s grace. No, Jesus did not take the easy way, He took the uncomfortable route all the way to the cross. For our brokenness and for our sin, Jesus took the way that lead to death. As He hung on the cross, He spoke these words, “I thirst” (John 19:28).

There are different thoughts to what this means, but I wonder if Jesus isn’t using the words “I thirst” to describe His own suffering. At the last supper, Jesus took the cup and said, “this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28). When James and John wanted to sit at His right and left, Jesus asked them, “Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” (Matthew 20:22). Additionally, at the time of Jesus’ arrest, Peter drew his sword, but Jesus said these words to him, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” (John 18:11). Each of these instances shows Jesus using the metaphor of drinking as a way of describing the suffering he would “drink” as he suffered and died on the cross. As we understand the idea of drinking as a metaphor for suffering, we see that Jesus’ words “I thirst” may be pointing toward His willingness to drink the cup of suffering and sin and hate. Jesus’ words “I thirst” would be an indicator that He finished off the cup the Father had given Him; Jesus completed His mission to suffer and died for our brokenness and sin. Jesus’ thirst is Him embracing the death His Father planned for him. Once He has died, His mission was complete. “Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty’” (John 19:28 NIV).

So, what are you thirsty for? What do you think would satisfy you? A bigger house? A promotion? Being married to somebody else? Having a different life? Would these things really satisfy your thirst? Too often we get hung up on things that we think will bring us satisfaction, but a new house, a promotion, a new spouse or a different life will leave you feeling satisfied for only a short while. Jesus’ death on the cross for me and for you beckons us to only thirst for Him because in Him is where we find true satisfaction in our lives. In Him our thirst is quenched.

~ Tim Hall
(I encourage feedback, questions & comments – email me at

Words From The Cross (Part 4)

Matthew 27:27-46; Mark 15:16-34; Psalm 22

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Before Jesus cried these words of abandonment, the Roman soldiers mistreated Him, the crowds mocked Him, passersby derided him, the chief priest and scribes insulted Him, “He saved others, but he can’t save himself!” (Mark 15:31). Sure, they were questioning the legitimacy of His claims, but at a deeper level, their taunt was right. If Jesus was to save others, He had to sacrifice Himself, and He could not save Himself.

But worst of all for Jesus had to be the feeling of abandonment by God (Mark 15:34). The Son knew the intimacy with His Father spoken of in Matthew 11:27 and was now experiencing what he had never known before – what He had dreaded the most—abandonment by His Holy Father, as He bore the curse of human guilt. So, with His words, “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?“, Jesus utters the complaint of a righteous sufferer as He shares in our ultimate alienation from God in experiencing the pain of death (Romans 6:23) that each of us deserves.

“My God, my God; why have you forsaken me?” is more than a cry of abandonment; it is also a cry of worship. These words are from a psalm that most Jews in Jesus’ day would have known. Psalm 22 begins this way, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest” (Psalm 22:1-2). The Jews standing around the cross would have known this song. It would have been like someone crying out “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound” among a group of Christians. They would immediately think, “that saved a wretch like me.” Jesus only cited the first words of this psalm, but I imagine He knew the rest of the words quite well.

Psalm 22 describes a time when David was suffering at the hands of his enemies and, in it, the reader sees an interesting parallel to what is happening on the cross: “All who see me mock me (v. 7). A “pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hand and feet” (vs. 16). “They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment” (v. 18). Although the psalm begins darkly, it also affirms the psalmist’s trust in God (v. 24) and points to a confident hope that death would not be the end for David, death would not be the end for Jesus, and death would not be the end of the gospel (vv. 29-32).

Jesus’ response is quite different than how we respond when we go through a difficult time and feel that God isn’t near. Many of us get disappointed with God and we turn away from Him instead of worshiping Him. We decide we don’t want anything to do with Him because He didn’t help us in our time of need. But, Jesus didn’t do that. At the most difficult time in His life, when he felt separated from His Heavenly Father, Jesus prayed and He worshiped.

So, when we feel abandoned by God, when we feel like He isn’t near, we would be wise to respond like Jesus and choose to trust God and believe that He has not forsaken us. We must believe and trust that God will not hide His face from us and that he hears us when we cry out to Him. So friends, let Jesus’ heart be your heart. When you feel abandoned by God, praise Him, revere Him, and declare His great name.

~ Tim Hall
(I encourage feedback, questions & comments – email me at

Words From The Cross (Part 3)

“Woman, here is your son,”……….”Here is your mother.” (John 19:26-27).

I know something about you. You have parents! You have parents, I have parents, we all have parents. Here’s the thing; the Bible is very specific about what we are called to do when it comes to our parents. We are called to honor them!

Reading these words from John’s Gospel got me thinking about how I have honored my parents in my life. Sometimes I have been good at it and others times I have been not so good at honoring my parents. I would imagine it is the same for you. Some of you grew up in environments were your parents abused you. Others grew up with one or both parents being absent from their life. As I think about these situations and the heartache associated with them, I wonder how one can be obedient to the call of honoring our father and mother. This begs the question, what does it mean to honor your parents. By the example of Jesus, we see that honoring our parents is ensuring they are provided for. But, I wonder if honoring your parents goes further than this. Perhaps honoring your parents includes companionship, you spending time with them. Maybe honoring your parents is saying “thank you”, showing gratitude for loving you during those times that your weren’t lovable. And maybe, just maybe, honoring your parents means forgiving them for the hurt they caused you, forgiving them for abandoning you, or forgiving them during those times they weren’t lovable.

The 5th commandment (Exodus 20:12) tells us to honor our father and mother. Jesus, dying on the cross, is obedient to the call of honoring father and mother; “Woman, here is your son,”……….”Here is your mother.” One of Jesus’ final acts was to ensure His mother was cared for.

“Woman, here is your son,”……….”Here is your mother.” These words remind us that we are all called to care for those He cares for as if they are our own family. The Apostle John models the behavior for us and shows how disciples of Jesus follow in His steps and adopt His concerns as their own. This week, whether it be a difficult member of your family, a neighbor, a co-worker, or a stranger; how can you care for them? How can you honor them?

~ Tim Hall
(I encourage feedback, questions & comments – email me at

Words From The Cross (Part 2)

Two Criminals. Two Responses.

How do you respond to this picture? Luke’s gospel (Luke 23:32, 39-43) records a conversation between two criminals who were crucified with Jesus. As we look at these two criminals flanking Jesus, we see two possible responses we might make to Jesus as we see him dying on a cross.

Both criminals witnessed the same things that day. They saw Jesus abused and crucified. They saw the cruelty and hatred piled upon Jesus by the rulers, soldiers, and people who stood watching. Both criminals heard Jesus’ words, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” But these criminals had two very different responses to what they saw and heard that day.

One man’s heart was hard. Even as he was dying, hanging naked on a cross, he tried to validate himself by joining with the crowd in mocking Jesus. He looked at Jesus and didn’t see the One who called people to love their enemies or to turn the other cheek. Rather, he saw a man who claimed to be the Messiah but refused to take up arms and fight the Romans. Instead of seeing a Savior, this criminal saw a failure.

Something different was happening within the heart of the other criminal. Perhaps he was reflecting on what Jesus had prayed and began wondering if maybe, just maybe, Jesus was his only hope. Maybe there really was a God who loved me and was willing to die in my place. Maybe this God was hanging next to him. So, he spoke to Jesus and said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42). In the Old Testament when God remembered individuals, He delivered them. In Genesis 8:1, God remembered Noah and delivered him from the flood. In Genesis 19:29, God remembered Abraham, and spared his nephew Lot from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. God remembered His covenant with Abraham and delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt (Exodus 2:24). So when the criminal said “remember me”, what he was saying was “deliver me”. “Deliver me from the prison I am destined for.” “Remember me as the one who turned to you on the cross.” Jesus responded, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

Friends, there are some who, when they see Jesus on the cross, see nothing more than a disillusioned man and they reject Him. Others see Jesus on the cross and see the embodiment of God’s love. They see God laying down His life, taking on the wrath each of us deserve. They see Jesus on the cross providing a hope for salvation and the chance to be with Him in paradise.

Two criminals. Two responses. Which criminal will you be?

~ Tim Hall
(I encourage feedback, questions & comments – email me at

Words From The Cross (Part 1)

Luke 23:34

I have not been around many people who were approaching death, but I imagine the final words a person speaks reveal what is on their heart. In the case of Jesus, the Gospels record seven statements Jesus spoke from the cross as he was approaching death. To be crucified was an excruciating thing to go through. The very act of speaking would have been extremely painful and require great exertion. The victim would have to pull himself up by the nails in his wrists to expand the diaphragm to speak. Needless to say, words were sparse among those being crucified. But, Jesus spoke from the cross.

Luke records the first words Jesus spoke from the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). It should not be surprising to us that the first words Jesus spoke from the cross were a prayer. What is surprising is what He prayed, “Father, forgive them…” Even as He is nearing death, Jesus stayed true to the hallmark of His ministry – the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:28).

But for whom was Jesus praying? Who was the “them” Jesus was asking God to forgive? He was praying for the soldiers who cruelly tortured, crucified and gambled for His clothes. “Father forgive them.” He prayed for the crowd who were verbally assaulting Him and mocking Him. “Father forgive them.” He prayed for the religious leaders, who in their jealousy conspired to kill Him. For those hypocritical leaders He prayed. “Father forgive them.”

We are also among the “them” Jesus was praying for when He said, “Father forgive them.” Friends, you and I were there when they crucified Jesus. So, whatever we are embarrassed of, whatever we are ashamed of, whenever we get off course, for all we have ever done and all we will ever do…..Jesus prayed for us, “Father forgive them” and it is on the cross where Jesus purchased our forgiveness.

This prayer by Jesus is also meant to be our prayer. On the cross, Jesus’ words demonstrated God’s willingness to forgive us and they call us to do the same. “Forgive our sins as we forgive those who sin against us“ (Matthew 6:12). Not forgiving results in us being consumed with resentment, anger, and hated. Not forgiving destroys relationships! It destroys friendships and it ends marriages. So, let your prayer be Jesus’ prayer, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Who do you need to pray for?

~ Tim Hall
(I encourage feedback, questions & comments – email me at