Merciful, 9 August 2020

Blessed are the Merciful
Blessed: The Beatitudes
Matthew 5:7

Series Big Idea: The greatest sermon in history is radical, revolutionary, and relevant.

Big Idea: Mercy is an undeserved gift to experience and share.

NIV: Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. (Matthew 5:7)

God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. (Matthew 5:7)

Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. (Matthew 5:7)

The Message: “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘carefull,’ you find yourselves cared for. (Matthew 5:7)

Mercy is an uncommon word in our vocabulary and a foreign concept in our culture. I think it has become a “churchy” word that is easily dismissed without pondering its meaning. We say “LORD have mercy” or read “grace and mercy” without pausing to reflect upon what’s being communicated.

Mercy is compassion or forgiveness shown towards someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm. – Oxford Dictionary

Synonyms include leniency, clemency, compassion, grace, pity, and charity.

It’s different than forgiveness. You deserve to punish them, but you don’t.

It’s different than grace. D.A. Carson notes, “Grace answers to the undeserving; mercy answers to the miserable.”

The original Greek word for merciful,
eleemon, means actively compassionate. Interestingly, the Hebrew word for mercy, rachamim, contains within it a three-letter word which means “womb,” that which is the most powerful and sacred female reality, denoting birthing and bearing mother love. One rabbi has thus related mercy to God’s womb-love for His people (remember, male and female were both created in the image of God).

Before we talk about being merciful, let’s look at our own lives for a moment. It’s unpleasant to hear, but we all need compassion. We’re all sinners. We’ve all failed, offended God, messed up, and rebelled against our Creator.

We don’t want what we deserve from God!

I often grow weary of people talking about what they deserve, their rights, their entitlements. According to the Bible, what I deserve is eternal separation from a holy God because of my sin. Romans 3:23 tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and Romans 6:23 says, “the wages of sin is death.”

We all deserve death, both physical and spiritual, temporal and eternal. You may be a better person than the person who lives down the road, but you’re not perfect…and that’s God’s standard. Good isn’t good enough! That’s why we need mercy. I need mercy.

Mercy is compassion or forgiveness shown towards someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm. – Oxford Dictionary

It is within God’s power to punish me…and you. Instead, He chose to offer a way for us to experience mercy and compassion. The reason we’re so into Jesus is he accepted the Father’s mission to leave heaven, come to our planet, and die to pay the penalty we deserved to pay for our sins. He proved his sacrifice was adequate by rising from the dead, conquering sin and death and reconciling us to our Heavenly Father.

Part of the gospel or the “good news” is we can experience mercy. We can be forgiven. We can receive compassion. We all need it!

There’s an ancient Christian prayer called “kyrie, eleison.” It’s especially common in Eastern churches and found in several psalms and three times in the book of Matthew. In English, it’s translated, “Lord, have mercy.”

Earlier in our reading of Psalm 136 (NKJV), we repeatedly read, “His mercy endures forever.”

You can’t give something you don’t possess. If you haven’t experienced love, how can you love? Until you’ve received mercy, it’s hard to discuss sharing it.

Part of Christian worship for the past two thousand years has involved confession…acknowledging our sins and our need for mercy. One recent song expressed “kyrie, eleison” beautifully and I invite you to sing it with me.

LORD, Have Mercy

If you are a follower of Jesus, you have received forgiveness and mercy. If you are not yet a follower of Jesus, I want to encourage you to simply pray, “Jesus, I give you my life.” By surrendering your life and making Jesus your LORD and leader, you can receive the joy of forgiveness, eternal life, and perfect peace. Following Jesus doesn’t make life easy, but it makes it satisfying because you are blessed by His presence and favor. You are free from the laws of sin and death. You can know your Heavenly Father. You can begin a journey that allows Him to lead as you follow.

Many of us fail to recognize the significance of God’s mercy in our own lives. Maybe we don’t think we need much compassion because we’re such good people, but we’re all desperately in need of mercy. The most religious among us probably need it the most!

Carson notes, “It is sometimes said that an alcoholic who won’t admit he’s an alcoholic hates all other alcoholics. Similarly, it is generally true that the sinner who won’t face up to his sin hates all other sinners. But the person who has recognized his own helplessness and wretchedness is grateful for whatever mercy is shown him; and he learns to be merciful toward others.”

So What?

There are three ways we can respond to God’s mercy.

  1. 1. Express thanks to God for His mercy.

This may seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget, to get busy, to move on with life. We need to regularly pause and give thanks, not only on communion Sunday, but ideally as part of our daily rhythms. Because of the cross and the empty tomb, we’ve been given so much. It’s worth celebrating. It’s one of the reasons we worship.

A second way you can respond to God’s mercy is to

  1. 2. Show mercy to yourself.

While some Christians think too much of themselves, others have the opposite problem. They believe they are worthless trash. That message sometimes comes from a parent. It could be spoken by a teacher, a classmate, or a boss. Tragically, some pastors have communicated the heresy that God hates them. He hates our sin, but you were created in the image of God with dignity, value, and worth. You are unique and special, worthy of love. Jesus went to extraordinary lengths—even death—to prove his love to you. If he loves you, forgives you, shows you mercy, and accepts you, doing otherwise to yourself makes him out to be a fool. Jesus is no fool! Remember who you are…and Whose you are. You are a cherished child of the most high God! Someone once said, “The only time you find God in a box is when He crawls into ours to meet us.” That box may be made out of pain, abuse, and neglect.”

Of course, the heart of this beatitude or blessing announced by Jesus is to

  1. 3. Extend mercy to others.

We’ve been blessed to be a blessing.
We’ve been loved so we can love.
We’ve been shown mercy so we can show it to others.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. (Matthew 5:7)

Salvation is not the result of being merciful.
Being merciful is the result of your salvation.

Are you a merciful person? Are you compassionate?

Perhaps the best illustration of mercy in the Bible—besides the cross—is found in the tenth chapter of Luke. Jesus tells as shocking story which we cannot fully appreciate in our culture. A man is conversing with Jesus about the command to love one’s neighbor.

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
(Luke 10:29)

In reply Jesus said:
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. (Luke 10:30)

A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. (Luke 10:31)

So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. (Luke 10:32)

But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. (Luke 10:33)

He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. (Luke 10:34)

The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ (Luke 10:35)

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” (Luke 10:36)

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him,
“Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:37)

Dr. Matt Carter notes there things about this story:

  1. a. Mercy sees. When he “saw him,” he had compassion. It begins with our eyes.
  2. b. Mercy feels. He felt compassion. We often skip this step. We need to empathize. Jesus had compassion on us. He had sympathy.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15)

  1. c. Mercy acts

Mercy is a feeling that moves you to action.

Mercy is when you see the need, feel the need, and act.

Are you a merciful person? It’s more than just something you do in your head. It involves your heart and your hands.

Who do you assume the worst about? It might an individual or a group. Maybe it’s a political party or government official. Are they beyond God’s love? What would mercy and compassion look like toward them?

Are you holding a grudge against anyone? What would mercy and compassion look like toward them?

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. (Matthew 5:7)

Jesus’ teachings were not meant to be hypothetical. The Beatitudes are not impossible ideals meant for God alone. They are announcements of both present and future realities as the Kingdom of God and the will of God is expressed on earth as it is in heaven. These are not things to do, but declarations of what it means to be, to follow Jesus, to live a radical, counter-cultural life.

The LORD’s Prayer asks God to forgive us as we forgive others. We receive and we give. We show mercy and will be shown mercy. It’s a both-and.

But mercy always costs something. Time. Money. Reputation. Comfort. It cost Jesus his life!

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. (Matthew 5:7)

God is on your side when there’s no reason He should be on your side…and we are to be on the side of others who don’t deserve it.

A few notes on forgiveness from Lysa TerKeurst from the Global Leadership Summit 2020

The real payoff of forgiveness is that you deserve to stop suffering because of what other people have done to you.

Forgiveness is that God’s forgiveness has flowed to me and now we cooperate with it and let if flow through us. It’s not made because of my determination but because of my cooperation with what Jesus has already done.

Sever your suffering by making a choice to forgive. You have the right to make this decision. You’ve changed even if they haven’t changed. Your healing is not tied to them.

“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘carefull,’ you find yourselves cared for. (Matthew 5:7, The Message)

Finally, meditate on these ancient words from the prophet Micah:

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

Credits: Some ideas from The Beatitudes Project, D.A. Carson, Lysa TerKeurst, and Dr. Matt Carter.

You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.

You can watch this video and others at the First Alliance Church Video Library

Great is Greater than Your Mistakes, 10 September 2017

Grace Is Greater Than Your Mistakes
Series: Grace is Greater
Romans 3:23; John 4:1-30; John 21:15-19
Series Big Idea: No sin is so great, no bitterness so deep that God’s grace cannot transform the heart and rewrite the story. This 3-week series, based on the book Grace is Greater by Kyle Idleman, explores what the Bible teaches about grace, developing a deep understanding of the life-changing power of God’s unconditional love and forgiveness. For more resources and information on the book, visit
Big Idea: Our sin is ugly, but God’s grace is greater than any past mistake or regret.
I love words. Obviously! I’m fascinated by the use and meanings of words…and the creation of new ones. In his book, Grace is Greater—the source of our title and series outline—Kyle Idleman mentions a few new words.
The affliction of dialing a phone number and forgetting whom you were calling just as they answer.
To sterilize the piece of candy you dropped on the floor by blowing on it, assuming this will somehow remove all the germs.
meeting intended to determine why a deadline was missed or a project failed, and who was responsible. 
Unlike these words, “grace” is a term we’ve heard countless times. People sing about amazing grace. They say grace before meals. People have named their daughters grace. Businesses often talk about a grace period with payments. But what is grace…and what does it matter? This will be our focus during these three weeks.
Grace. It’s a word Jesus never used in the Bible, yet His entire life demonstrated it. The original Greek word is charis (χάρις). It is where we get our word charm. It is simply is unmerited favor. A free gift. It is not deserved. It is not earned. It truly is amazing for those reasons. God’s grace is more beautiful, freeing, and altogether greater than we could ever imagine. I’m no expert on the subject but I know I love it. But before we get to the wonder of grace, we need to begin with a harsh reality…
We’re not ok.
Let me say it in a way I often say: we’re not perfect. No perfect people are allowed at First Alliance…except Jesus. If you are perfect, you are invited to get up, grab some great Claro coffee in the lobby and head home. There’s not much here for you! But the Bible says that
…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23)
See, God is perfect. He is God and we are not. The sooner we grasp this, the better. I’m messed up…really messed up. I’m selfish. I’m prideful. I’m judgmental. The Bible calls it sin. I don’t have time to list all of my sins—past or present—but it’s a long list. And God hates it.
The More We Recognize the Ugliness of Our Sin, the More We Can Appreciate the Beauty of God’s Grace. (Romans 3:23)
If you’ve got your act together, don’t worry about God. New York City’s former mayor Michael Bloomberg apparently feels he doesn’t need to worry about God. In a New York Times interview, Bloomberg stated, “I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.” He felt his good deeds were greater than his bad deeds so he can waltz into heaven.
Here’s the problem: we all sin—even politicians, if you can believe it!—and one sin is enough to keep us from God.
Let me reiterate a statement I made several months ago:
Heaven is where God is present.
Hell is where God is absent.
Let me add: God is absent where sin is present. Period.
How much sin? It doesn’t matter. How much cyanide in your water is enough to kill you? A drop will kill you! It doesn’t matter if you place a teaspoon, a tablespoon, or a half-cup of cyanide in your water, you’re dead regardless. You wouldn’t knowingly drink water with any cyanide and God won’t tolerate even a little sin. Maybe you think you’re a better person than the leader of North Korea or Charles Manson or a serial killer but that’s beside the point. Your sin and my sin have offended God enough to separate us from Him.
It’s not that God sends us to hell, it’s that our sin separates us from God. Do you see the difference? God wants to be with us. Just like you might want to drink water on a hot day…but you won’t touch it if you know it’s laced with poison. We try to convince ourselves that we’re not that bad, but any bad, any imperfection, any sin is too much for a perfect, holy God.
And if you think you’re a really good person, let me remind of what Paul said:
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. (1 Timothy 1:15)
Paul—he wrote much of the New Testament…what’s on your resume?—announces he’s not only a sinner, he’s the worst of sinners. No, he doesn’t say I was the worst when I persecuted Christians as Saul, he declares to Timothy he is the worst of sinners. That makes me the second worst of sinners since I’m not arguing with Paul. Seriously. I’m the second worst of sinners. I desperately need grace. I want to go back to that verse in Romans 3 which ended with a comma.
…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:23-24)
Grace! Jesus died to reconcile us to God. He died to offer forgiveness of our sins through his blood and broken body. I hate religion—man’s futile quest to be good enough for God—but I love Jesus. He not only showed us what it means to be human, he sacrificed his life for us…not because we’re so good, but because we’re so loved.
One of my favorite passages in the Bible two chapters over, says
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)
Jesus died for us because of our sin. He recognized how we are not good, yet his love for us compelled him to make such a sacrifice.
Parents understand this in a small way. We make tremendous sacrifices for our kids, beginning with sleepless nights and diaper changings for infants that are so good, so talented, so capable that…all they do is sleep, cry, and fill their diapers! But it’s out of love. Things don’t get any easier when they learn to talk—back—and drive and…well, many of you understand! We invest countless time, money, and energy on our kids often not because they’re so good but because we love them so much. I have often said the day I became a dad was the day I began to truly understand the great love my heavenly Dad has for me…and you…although we can only imagine it.
God’s Grace Is More Beautiful than Your Brokenness (John 4:1-30)
There are two types of people distant from God—those who feel they’re so good they don’t need God and those who feel they’re so bad they can’t have God.
If you think you don’t need God because you’re so good, you are more messed up than you can imagine! Pride is killing you…literally.
Nothing you can do can make God love you more than he already does.
I love that quote from Philip Yancey. You can’t do enough good things. You can’t earn your way to heaven. You’re not perfect—which isn’t a license to just intentionally be a jerk and do evil—but all of your good works the Bible calls “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).
Nothing you can do can make God love you more than he already does.
But you may feel like you’re not worthy of God. You’ve done so many awful things. “Kirk, if you only knew what I’ve done.” God knows! And I’ve got wonderful news for you:
Nothing you can do can make God love you less than he already does.
Philip Yancey said that, too. There’s a great story in the fourth chapter of John’s biography of Jesus. I wish we had time to study it in detail. It’s a great personal study. In fact, if you have a Bible, turn to John 4. Jesus—a Jew—goes to Galilee through Samaria, a region no Jew ever entered.
When we lived in Ann Arbor I used to joke whenever we drove to Florida we would drive around Ohio! It was just a joke—and I obviously don’t tell it anymore now that I live in Ohio (don’t tell me God doesn’t have a sense of humor!)—but some people do avoid certain cities or neighborhoods, even today. But back in the day Jews hated Samaritans, but here’s Jesus going through Samaria around noontime and sits by a well.
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) (John 4:7-8)
The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans. ) (John 4:9)
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” (John 4:10)
“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” (John 4:11-12)
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” (John 4:15)
He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” (John 4:16)
“I have no husband,” she replied. 
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” (John 4:17-18)
“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. (John 4:19)
That’s an understatement! He didn’t learn about her past on Facebook! It’s nearly impossible for us in our culture to understand just how radical it is for Jesus to engage this adulterous Samaritan in conversation. She is so sinful, so disgraced, so shamed that she goes alone to the well in the middle of the day to get water. First, you never traveled alone and second you don’t go in the desert heat…unless you’re hoping to avoid being seen. She has messed up her life, yet Jesus responds with grace and love.
How do you respond to sinners? It’s a trick question because we’re all sinners! But how do you respond to those “really bad” sinners? Do you avoid people who don’t look like you, act like you, talk like you, or smell like you? I admit there are people that make me uncomfortable and my first thought is usually not to engage them. I want to be safe. I want to mind my own business. I often want to ignore those different from me.
But that’s not what Jesus did. He demonstrated grace…and sets an example for us to follow. I’ve said First Alliance is not to be a museum for saints but a hospital for sinners…and we’re all sinners!
Jesus engages the woman in conversation and later the text says
Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him. (John 4:28-30)
When God’s mercy and grace collide with our guilt and shame it’s messy but it’s beautiful. Jesus knows everything you’ve ever done…but his grace is greater.
Nothing you can do can make God love you less than he already does.
In the words of Kyle Idleman, “The worst thing that could happen is that you spend your life trying to outrun God because you think he’s chasing you to collect what you owe—when he’s really chasing you to give you what you could never afford.”
God’s Grace Redeems All Our Past Regrets (John 21:15-19)
If you could go back in time, what would you change? Maybe a selfish act, a harmful word, a lack of self-control, the beginning of an addiction? It might be a split second or a decade.
I’m pretty sure I know what Peter would do over. He was one of Jesus’ three best friends and despite Jesus even predicting it, Peter denied he even knew Jesus not once, not twice, but three times…all during Jesus’ most desperate hours. Some friend!
After Jesus dies and is resurrected, he cooks breakfast for his friends.
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” 
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” 
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” 
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” 
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” 
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” 
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!” (John 21:15-19)
Peter denied Jesus three times and Jesus asks him three times, “Do you love me?” He knows Peter has great regret about the denials and yet Jesus offers grace. He doesn’t want Peter imprisoned by his regrets. He has a great plan for Peter, a man who will become one of the greatest leaders in the history of the Christian Church. Grace has the power to redeem regret—to save it, to recycle it, you might say. Grace takes our trash and makes it useful, valuable.
We all have regrets, and ever since Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, we often try to hide our sins, thinking they are unforgiveable. Our regrets should lead to remorse, but God doesn’t leave us in our mess of sin. He doesn’t shame us. God’s grace most often finds us in the midst of our remorse and redeems us, forgives us, restores us.
If one of my best friends denied even knowing me three times when I needed him most, I’m not sure I would assign him to be the president of my company, but that’s grace. Remember…
Nothing you can do can make God love you less than he already does.
And God doesn’t tolerate you. He loves you. He forgives you. He embraces you. He redeems you.
I wish I had time to share all of the times I’ve messed up—well, maybe not! That would be the longest sermon I’ve ever preached! But seriously, God has taken my arrogant, wicked heart and a lifetime of failures and done some things in and through me I could never take credit for. Even standing before you today I feel incredibly inadequate and unworthy. I am continually reminded that when I am weak, He is strong and His grace is enough. It is sufficient.
So What?
I desperately want you to know and experience God’s grace.
If you’re like me, you’re not even aware of how bad you are, how sinful you are. We need grace.
Others of you are on the other end of the spectrum, feeling unworthy. You are! That’s grace!
Nothing you can do can make God love you more than he already does.
Nothing you can do can make God love you less than he already does.
Don’t let your past mistakes destroy your future. Become a trophy of God’s grace, trust Jesus, and allow him to transform your life.
Credits: outline, title, and some ideas from Grace is Greater by Kyle Idleman. Other ideas from Philip Yancey.

  • You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.
  • Hurt: The Death of Jesus, John 19:25-30, 29 September 2013

    Big Idea: We are hurt, we hurt one another, and we hurt Jesus with our sin.


    Have you ever been hurt? Of course! What hurt first came to mind? Physical? Emotional?

    We all hurt others. They say that hurt people hurt people. Sometimes we intentionally hurt others, sometimes it is accidental, and sometimes we don’t even know we hurt someone. Have you ever learned after the fact that you hurt someone unknowingly?

    There is a difference between hurt and harm. A vaccination shot at the doctor’s office hurts, but it is not meant to harm.

    Last week we looked at the crucifixion of Jesus. The physical pain and agony He suffered is hard to imagine, yet the harm done to Him was more than physical.

    Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19:25-27)

    It is believed by most that John is the disciple mentioned. What is noteworthy is the likelihood that John was the only one of the eleven disciples that watched Jesus die.

    In many wars and conflicts, while women are free to come and go since they are not viewed as a threat and they need to maintain the household including shopping. Men, however, are vulnerable to attack, kidnapping, or even murder.

    In this scene, we see women at the foot of the cross, but John, too. He was probably very young and not viewed as a serious revolutionary. He may not have even had a beard, a common feature of grown men.

    Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. (John 19:28-29)

    Here we see another Old Testament prophecy fulfilled in the Messiah. In Psalm 69:21 it says

    They put gall in my food
    and gave me vinegar for my thirst.
    (Psalm 69:21)

    The symbolism in these two verses is vast.

    Jesus often spoke of water. Sign one was Jesus’ first miracle, turning water into premium wine, providing for the thirst of others (John 2). Now he receives low-grade sour wine. He offered living water to the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4). In John 7 He invites the thirsty to come to HIm and drink (7:37).

    N.T. Wright sees a series of signs in Jesus’ ministry, beginning with the first miracle during which He made wine at a wedding, revealing His glory. The second sign is the healing of the nobleman’s son at Capernaum (4:46-54). The third is the healing of the paralyzed man at the pool (5:1-9). Then He multiplied the loaves and fishes (6:1-14), healed the man born blind (9:1-12) and raised Lazarus from the dead (11:1-44).

    Seven is a biblical number and Wright believes the seventh sign to reveal God’s glory is Jesus being lifted up. It is fitting then that…

    When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (19:30)

    In the original language, this phrase means, “It’s all done!” It’s a single word that is written on a bill after it has been paid. The price has been paid. Jesus’ work is complete. It’s finished. It’s done. Jesus has accomplished His mission.

    So much happened in that moment. Although I’ve focused this series on John’s Gospel, Matthew records fascinating details.

    And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

    At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. (Matthew 27:50-52)

    Let’s go back to Jesus’ mission that He accomplished. The hurt Jesus experienced was not only physical, but profoundly spiritual. The writer of Romans tells us

    You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)

    Paul is explicit in his letter to the people in the city of Corinth.

    God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

    I killed Jesus.
    I nailed Jesus to the cross.
    It was my sin that prompted His agonizing mission.

    Hurt by Johnny Cash (originally by Nine Inch Nails)

    The sins of others hurts me.
    My sin causes others to hurt.
    Our sins caused Jesus to hurt.

    I killed Jesus.
    I nailed Jesus to the cross.
    It was my sin that prompted His agonizing mission.

    Reflection and Confession

    It’s easy to reflect on the cross and appreciate the sacrifice of Jesus for us without acknowledging our sins that necessitated it.

    Each of us has a long history of sin. Big sins, small sins, public sins, hidden sins. Sins of things we did. Sins of things we failed to do.

    Sin separates us from God. Sin is deadly to relationships and sometimes even human life.

    That guilt you feel…it’s probably the result of sin. The number one reason people feel guilty is because they are guilty! There is false guilt, but Romans 3:23 tells us that all of us sin and fall short of God’s glory. All of us. You. Me. Billy Graham. All of us.

    This isn’t about shame, but it is about honestly assessing our lives. How have we loved or hated God? How have we loved or hated our neighbor? How have we loved or hated ourselves?

    Kyrie eleison (Greek: Κύριε, ἐλέησον "Lord, have mercy"). The phrase predates Christian usage.

    There’s an old prayer of the Church that says, “LORD, have mercy”

    I urge you to reflect upon your sin. Confess it to God. Repent and turn away from it. Experience His love and forgiveness. That’s why He died. That’s why we call it Good Friday.

    LORD, Have Mercy

    John later wrote

    If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

    That is truly Good News! Hallelujah!

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