Seven Sayings of Jesus on the Cross – #7

Luke 23:46
Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.

From noon until 3pm there was “darkness over the whole land”. The Light of the world was being snuffed out. Creation itself was holding it’s collective breath, looking into the precipice as Jesus spent his final breath uttering his final words ”Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”

It is in these deathly words where we find life. With these words Jesus gives us one final act of faithfulness and reliance upon his Father. With these words Jesus finally and fully lets go of the ownership and kingship of himself. He submits himself to the Father and fully gives himself to us. It is the completion of what he said in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before: “Thy will be done.”

In the most glorious way, Jesus gave up. And is inviting us to do the same.

Giving up on insisting on our own way, being our own kings and ruling our own lives. Giving up on building and flaunting our own personal righteousness. Giving up on controlling the universe around us. Giving up on fighting our Father. Giving up on trying to breath life into our old dead and decaying life. When Christ gave himself up to death, the barrier that kept us from the Father was torn in two, recreating us back into His Image:

Mark 15:37
And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last.
38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.

In this death we find new life, new creation (2 Cor 5:17). And this new life comes with it a glorious hope, promise and future:

1 Peter 1:3-4
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,

In this death we find new life, new creation (2 Cor 5:17). And this new life comes with it a glorious hope, promise and future:

1 Peter 1:3-4
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,

And so as we stand beneath this old rugged cross, let us hold in tension the agony and the beauty as we join with the centurion’s confession:

Mark 15:39
And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

Seven Sayings of Jesus on the Cross – #6

John 19:30
When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

There is nothing like finishing a job. To build or fix something and be able to walk away with a sigh of relief and sense of accomplishment. But lots of our “jobs” don’t have a true ending. If you are an artist, many of your pieces may never be (in your own mind) truly done. As parents, we are never “finished” with our kids (or our kids finished with raising us).

On the cross, one of the very last things Jesus said was: It is Finished. His work on this earth, his perfection, his teaching, his steadfastness, his resistance to temptation, his miracle…ultimately his final sacrifice. And this “Finished” doesn’t just mean he’s done working. It means his work is utterly complete, perfect, unchangeable. There will never be any need for repair or additions or subtractions. It was so glorious that he would soon send the Holy Spirit to sink Jesus’ perfection deeper and deeper into our hearts and further and further out into the world.

This has extraordinary applications for us today:

1) There is nothing you can do to add to Christ’s gift of righteousness. It Is Finished. All of our behavior now is given because of the righteousness of Christ, not to get it or add to it. Christ has taken your burden of self-salvation off our shoulders and onto his back.

2) There is nothing you can do to reduce Christ’s gift of righteousness. It Is Finished. All of our sins of selfishness, betrayal and faithlessness have been fully, utterly and finally paid for. Nothing I ever to can reduce God’s love for me and the gift he’s given me.

Given this, the rest of my life is entails:

1) God perpetually finishing me into the man he’s made me to be:

Hebrews 10: 14
For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

2) Me learning how much greater Jesus’ sacrifice was than I thought possible, and how this sacrifice frees me to ENJOY him and EXPRESS it to others:

Philippians 3:16
Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

Seven Saying of Jesus on the Cross — #5

John 19:28
After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.”

Dehydration is excruciating. We likely only know the out edges of this torment, when our mouths feel like we’ve swallowed a handful of cotton. This was a perpetual complaint of Israel while wandering in the desert, wishing they could be back “home” in Egypt. It was the need of the woman in John 4 that went to the well in the middle of the day. And while Jesus hung on the cross literally dying of asphyxiation, one of his final earthly pains was desperate thirst. But I don’t think Jesus was being exclusively literal. Go deeper. Jesus was certainly physically thirsty, it was that, even though he was the very wellspring of living water, he had poured himself completely out. Throughout Jesus’ life, he realized that our greatest earthly need was for water while our True Greatest Need was for Him, the Living Water:

John 4:13-14
Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

And now he had “run dry,” having given us his entire self, from birth to death. It brings new life to Psalm 22 and 69 that speak of this moment before his death:

Psalm 22:14-18; 69;21
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; 15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. 16 For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet— 17 I can count all my bones—they stare and gloat over me; 18 they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots. 69:21 They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.

Now with the indwelling Holy Spirit, there is a perpetual spring of living water welling up inside of us, pouring outward from us that will never run dry because of the fount of every blessing that is alive and active inside of us. Paul discovered this, and was empowered by God to “pour” himself out for the blessing of others, empowering us to do the same:

Philippians 2:17
Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.

Seven Saying of Jesus on the Cross — #4

Saying #4
Mark 15:34
And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Not only do believers have a broader and tighter circle of brothers and sisters (think about yesterday’s devotional where Jesus knit together his mother with his disciples), but we have a higher and more glorious Father. This doesn’t diminish our earthly families but completes them because now we don’t have to burden others with the impossible task of “completing us” because our Father has already done that.

This was made possible because of the Father forsaking Jesus on the cross. We read over and over and over (etc etc) throughout scripture that all of us have perpetually forsaken God.

Jeremiah 2:13
For my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water.

Because God is perfectly just, he couldn’t just turn a blind eye to our rebellion. But because God is also perfectly loving, he was able to put our justice onto Jesus on the cross. And how horrifyingly painful that was because “forsaken” doesn’t mean to simply ignore or passively forget, but an active rejection of his only Son. So pain that that it led Jesus to quote Psalm 22:1 “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?”

Because of this dark rejection, the penalty for us forsaking the Lord has been fully paid, AND we have been “Un-Forsaken” by our Father. He has brought us back into his family and assured us that, since our payment has been full paid, we will never been separated from him again. So much so that, even when this world forsakes us, our true Father gives us hope, love and strength.

2 Corinthians 4:8-10
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.

Seven Saying of Jesus on the Cross — #3

John 19:26
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!”

In time, when we look back on this virus and the damage it has caused, as frustrating and even sorrowful as it may be, it ultimately will be a bind that ties us together. We’ll be able to tell stories and remember together what it was like.

In an infinitely more profound and empowering way, Jesus death did this for his mother and John, one of his best friends. We can’t even imagine the desperation they were both in when Jesus, in horrendous pain as he hung moments away from his death, offered hope and love to them. This is one of the many gifts of the cross; it has formed a new community, a new family. His death has knit us together as a “band of brothers” – not in sorrow and death but, because of the resurrection, in joy and life.

Think about it like this. We surround ourselves with different forms of community knit together by certain threads. Our families, knit together by our DNA; our adopted children, knit together by sacrificial promises; our spouse, knit together by humble commitment; our friends, knit together by different forms of mutual interests; our neighbors, knit together by geography. The list goes on and on.

So how much stronger is the knitting of the people of God who are knit together by the sacrifice of Jesus and the empowering indwelling of the Spirit, making all of God’s children a unified family for His glory and our mutual growth and satisfaction. Reality is that we are a spiritually dysfunctional family where we don’t act like we are adopted. But we are learning and growing. Here’s two ways to do that:

1) Lean on each other. We are not alone. Allow yourself to be loved.
Don’t be afraid or ashamed. We all need each other.

2) Love on each other. Love the way we’ve been loved.
What does your Gospel-sibling need today?

The even better news is on the way, and is already here. As we’ll see tomorrow in Mark 15:34, we not only have a broader and tighter circle of brothers and sisters, we have a higher and more glorious Father.

Seven Saying of Jesus on the Cross — #2

Luke 23:34
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

fTo add insult to injury Jesus hung on a cross between two thieves, one cold-hearted and insolent, the other soft-hearted and repentant.

1) Counted Among Criminals
Despite being infinitely higher and wholly other, he submitted to death, even death on a criminals cross (Philippians 2). This is how far he was willing to stoop down in order to bring us up.

2) Sneering
One of the criminals next to Jesus fits the stereotype by being unapologetic and abusive to the very end.

3) Repenting
The other criminal next to Jesus has a hear-breaking and life-giving revelation: that he was getting exactly what he deserved while the blameless Messiah-King was unjustly hanging next to him. All he could do was plead for mercy: “remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

We often find ourselves in each of these two criminals. There are certainly times in our arrogance that we don’t take seriously our crimes against a Holy God, while other times we fall on our faces in desperation, only to be met with mercy.

4) Freedom Promised
There was nothing this repentant criminal could do to earn God’s favor. He could make no promises and prove in any way the level of his repentance. All he could do was bring exactly what we are all called to bring: the confession of our need and confession of Jesus’ greatness. And to this confession Jesus, speaking out of his authoritative Kingship, declares that this man who was about to die was actually being born again; that his eternal home, Paradise itself, has been set and prepared, ready for this beaten and broken man. Even more, that Jesus himself was in the final process of conquoring sin and the grave so that, because of his victory, he would personally welcome and dwell with all of us broken criminals for eternity.

Seven Saying of Jesus on the Cross — #1

Luke 23:34
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

It is really natural right now to be worried about our finances; worried about our debt and ability to make ends meet. You may be checking your bank account or are secretly anxious about what is going to happen, especially if your creditors come calling.

This is the exact meaning of Jesus’ first saying on the cross: “Father forgiven them, for they know not what they do.”

Jesus was just illegally convicted, sentenced to death, stripped, beaten, spat upon, whipped and forced to carry his own cross to a hill outside the city to be horrifically murdered, which those he came to love screamed “Crucify Him.”

What would your reaction be to that? What is your reaction to even a little bit of unjust humiliation?

Jesus’ reaction to our infinite debt was love, grace and sacrifice. When I demand my own way and shove Jesus into the corner of my heart, I am participating with the crowds that shoved a crown of thorns on his head. And instead of rising up as my enemy, he is raised up on the cross as my savior.

In 1 Kings 8:63, when Solomon is building the magnificent Temple in which God will reside here on Earth, he “offered as peace offerings to the LORD 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep.” That’s seems outrageously excessive, but it actually reveals how much Jesus sacrifice counted. Those thousands of sacrificed animals were comparably a minor foretaste of the extreme and extraordinary True Sacrifice Jesus would make that would covered over every believer’s sins, past, present and future.

And for what? 1 Kings goes into amazing detail about how shockingly beautiful and glorifying the Temple was where God would reside. And that temple is but a minor foretaste of the current extreme and extraordinary temple of the Living God: every believer. God now dwells not just among us, but in us, because Jesus pleaded and paid for our forgiveness on the cross.


Genesis 2:18
It is not good that man should be alone

Luke 5:15-16
But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. 16 But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.

I have heard several times in the past couple of days people reminding one another (reminding me) of the difference between isolation and solitude. This isn’t a new concept for some of you or to the counseling world, but it’s new to a lot of us, maybe especially us extroverts that don’t do this “alone” thing very well. In light of this, I want to mutually confess the pitfalls of isolation and then wade into the warm spring of Gospel-Solitude.


1 Peter 5:8
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

When a predator is looking to overtake a victim, he begins by trying to separate him from his group which offers him safety. We see it clearly in the animal kingdom, and see it with great horror among abusive people. But it is also true in the spiritual world.

When we are isolated, we become vulnerable to lies from outside and inside. We don’t have an accountability-filter to help us discern what is real and what is false, what is truth and what is a lie. Here are a few of these tactics:

  • When I am by myself, I think I’m actually and truly alone. But I’m not. The Lord has told us perpetually throughout history that we are never alone; that he will never leave nor forsake us; that he dwells within us and we dwell within him.
  • When I am by myself, I begin to believe that I have been abandoned. I feel like I’m not loved, wanted, needed or valuable. This tends to happen because we rate our value and identity on what we accomplish and what others say to and about us.
  • When we are by ourselves we are more susceptible to overt sins. (Think broad here: lust, gluttony, sloth, over-spending etc). We may think that nobody will know and therefore it doesn’t really matter. But sin isn’t a matter of consequences as much as it’s a matter of love, and fidelity to our Lord because of his faithfulness to us. Be alert when you sense yourself falling into a place of isolation.


Psalm 46
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”

When Jesus was getting stormed on all sides, he took a personal prayer retreat (Luke 5:15). He knew that all of his strength and hope sprung out of his communion with the Father and the Spirit. He didn’t go off by himself because he was weak but because he actually knew what was real, what was essential. And what was coming.

Right now we are all faced with what is mostly likely the least amount of human contact and connection you’ve ever had. With very few exceptions, we literally can’t be physically near each other. Whether or not you are an introvert or extrovert, we all crave intimacy; we crave affection; we crave loving touch. Science has proven and confirmed what Scripture has always taught: “It is not good for us to be alone.” We were designed in God’s image to be in relationship and we are weakened outside of them.

So what do we do in this time when we are so limited?

This alone-time is an opportunity to truly and deeply strengthen three other relationships. I invite you now to join me in intentionally using this time to re-calibrate what’s most important in life.

  1. With your loved ones. If you are able to be near to your loved ones, what would it look like to take this time to intentionally grow closer? Asking questions. Listening. Sitting down and learning new things.
  2. With the Lord. What a time we have to have actual, deep, undisturbed, quiet time where we can read, talk, listen and invest.
  3. With yourself. None of us truly know ourselves. We are all (to a degree) terrified of what we’ll find if we really look. But it is utterly imperative. So much so that John Calvin, as he began his historical work (The Institutes), his first sentence was this: “Nearly all wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves”

When the time comes for us to come together again, if we could have grown a little more in our primary relationship with the Lord, we will be able to more freely engage with one another. We can enjoy each other without strings, without forcing the other person to make us feel complete, because we’ll already realize that we ARE complete in Christ. This solitude time, though wrought with great struggles, can actually be used by God to grow us in ways we couldn’t have grown because we weren’t willing to engage “self-solitude”.

This challenge toward healthy solitude might feel overwhelming. It leaves me hoping that I have the strength to do it. Then I remember that the power has already been given to me. That I can find joy and health when I’m alone because, in fact, it is literally impossible for me to be alone. I remember the last days of Jesus. He began the week by being with his best friends in the upper room enjoying community, conversation and the Passover meal (that was missing the lamb, because he WAS the lamb). But a short time later Jesus and only a few of his closest brothers went to the Garden of Gethsemane as he was preparing for the Cross. As they entered Jesus (in Luke 22) “withdrew from them” so that he could be in solitude with His Father, face to face. Though a horribly painful time, what intimacy he and the Father had at that time. Deep sorrow, emotion, pain and conversation.

And then…the cross. Jesus was truly isolated in ways we can never remotely understand. He was utterly alone and separated, forsaken, by the Father. In so doing he paid the price of our isolation. And in rising again he has given us new life. And in being glorified into perfect intimacy with the Father, he sent his Spirit to us to dwell in us, and us in Him.

It’s in this truth, this hope, that I can mediate when I am by myself, letting the Gospel remind me of how, when I am listening to the lie that I’m an orphan, I am a beloved, cherished son of God.

Memory Care

Psalm 42
5 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
6 my salvation and my God.
My soul is cast down within me;
therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
from Mount Mizar.
7 Deep calls to deep
at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
have gone over me.
8 By day the LORD commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.

It’s pretty embarrassing when somebody catches me talking to myself. Maybe it’s when I’m doing a project around the house and I complain at myself for not being able to hit a nail straight; or maybe it’s when I’m trying to write a blog and I tell myself how dumb I am for not being able to think of the right word to use. But sometimes when I talk to myself it’s with words of encouragement, like after I finish a workout and (though it feels arrogant) I silently proclaim “Man, I killed it today” or as I eat the brisket that took me 12 hours to smoke I proudly tell myself “This is pretty dang good.”

Here’s reality: we talk to ourselves constantly, proclaiming “truth” to our souls. Sometimes this “truth” is actually a lie, and other times it’s actual Gospel Truth. And it’s often hard for our hearts to tell the difference.

Sometimes I tell myself how alone, unlovable, incompetent and worthless I am. Lies.

Sometimes I tell myself (not in a personally prideful way) that I am a man of value, promise, ability and love. Truth.

Here in Psalm 42 the Psalmist (the sons of Korah) lets us into his inner thoughts; the things he is experiencing, feeling, thinking, saying, fearing, hoping. I want to pull out a handful of truths that we can apply to our real, everyday life. Especially when there is fear, strain and pain (like right now with COVID-19).

Be Honest

Jesus has no care for your buttery religious platitudes. He did not come to pat you on the back while you shallowly proclaim that you are “too blessed to be stressed.” Now, I do know (and struggle with envy) those who have a super optimistic and faithful outlook, and really aren’t (often) struck with anxiety and fear. This isn’t what I’m talking about. I’m talking about how the Lord longs for us to be truly honest with the concerns, pains, fears, doubts, vices, tears and wailings in our life. (He also wants to hear about the sweet joyous things, but hold onto that thought for a second). Enough of the “I’m fine, how are you” conversations we have with ourselves and with Jesus. Dig deep, like this Psalmist, and cry out that there are waterfalls and waves crashing over us, and it feels like we are going under; it feels like our Lord has forgotten us; it feels like we are alone, out life is over, futile, wrecked.

But don’t stop there…this is just the beginning of hope and healing.

Talk to Yourself

Sit in the pain and fear. Try to actually hear the enemy that is trying to convince your heart that you are overcome, and then talk back. Begin to have a back and forth conversation with that broken part of you that is hurting. This Psalmist, when he is feeling overwhelmed, turns to his own soul and says “Why are you downcast?” He says “He little guy, what’s going on? What are you REALLY afraid of? What’s making you hurt?” I think he sits and listens to his little broken soul, and then he calmly, truthfully and hope-fully whispers love into his soul. He tells himself “Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him!” I don’t think this is a directive to us but a directive to himself! It’s not something weird or magical, but a practical way to be honest with what’s happening inside your heart, and letting the Holy Spirit speak Love into the weak and hurting places.

(HERE is a tremendous podcast by Church DeGroat to help explain what it means in times of anxiety to honesty “talk to yourself” in a hope-filled, productive way.)

Memory Work

The practical work of finding this hope is wrapped up in this one word: “Remember.” Over and over and over and over God tells his people to “remember.” God’s people would set up stones and monuments to that, when later generations would ask about them, those who have gone through the Red Sea and Jordan River would remind themselves and others that God’s rescuing steadfast love has never ever ever failed. When the armies attacked; when they were enslaved; when hope seems to have been lost, God himself “remembered” his people and rescued them (No, God never forgets us, but “God remembering” is a literary device to comfort our hearts as it reminds us that we are on His mind, and He longs to save us).

So, what about you? How do you do this? Amy (my wife) knows how much I need this in my everyday life, so she bought me a simple spiral notebook for me to write down what is happening in my heart. It’s not really a diary, but a place where I jot down little words and phrases. My personal way (we can each do it differently) is to have 2 simple columns: one that says “Thankful” where I just write a word of what I am thankful and the other says “Helpful” where I am asking for God to come intervene (I include confession in this columns).

Ultimately, the very best Memory Work and Self-Talk I can do is to hold onto 42:8

8 By day the LORD commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.

Look at the verse more closely. The LORD himself is talking to himself. Even though God is Love itself, he “commands” his HESED (his Steadfast Love) to overwhelm and overcome us. When it feels like the waterfalls and waves are crashing over, it is actually God himself and He steadfast love surrounding us.

Jesus himself allowed Death itself to crash over him; the Father and the Son both went through the cross-centered pain and strain of being “forsaken” so that, even when this world crashes around us, we have a Father that will protect and hide us under His wings. Jesus has secured for us our perfect Home and perfect Family that will never perish, spoil or fade.

This by no means minimizes the reality of pain, hurt and true threats around us. But it can, the Spirit’s power, put them into eternal perspective. Very very slowly, prayerfully, graciously, God’s love can begin to eclipse our anxiety. Our anxiety may (likely will) still be there, but so will our realization of our Loving Father.

Giantest Giant

I suspect that a lot of you are like me. Have you had (or how often have you had) that dream where danger in some form was pressing in on you…your house on fire, an intruder approaching your room, a looming car crash….and. you. are. paralyzed. Your window won’t open; your feet can’t grip the ground; your legs are immovably heavy. You are stuck and have to face sure doom.

This stuckness has sprouted roots into all of our hearts ever since the Garden. It was there that Adam and Eve, after cracking Creation itself, hear the footsteps of the Lord and crouch down in shame and fear. And they’ve passed this inheritance down to all generations like a bad heirloom that nobody wants.

To get a better understanding of this incapacitating fear, let’s look at a beautiful comparison/contrast in Numbers 13 & 14 where God’s people are on the verge of entering the Promised Land after being miraculously rescued from Egyptian slavery through the parting of the Sea:

Numbers 13
30 But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” 31 Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.” 32 So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. 33 And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.”

A collection of men were sent to scout out the land that the Lord has sworn to them. But there was a problem Most of the men came back with a terrifying report that the land was teeming with murderous overwhelming enemies that would surely wipe them out. And then there was Caleb and Joshua who were sure of their victory.

The difference between these two responses has nothing to do with how big or how real their opposition was. It was about how big and how real they saw their Lord, and how sure his promises were. And it still is.

We are currently living in a crisis that virtually nobody alive has ever experienced. Adding fuel to this fire is the instant availability of information, much of it powerful enough to save countless lives (i.e. the “flattening the curve“), some of it so false and/or inflammatory that it might actually cost some lives…for certain cost many of us a peace and strength that the Lord wants for us.

So what does the Gospel actually mean in this territory, where microscopic giants are wreaking havoc? Let me pull a few things out of this passage (and beyond) to give us direction and hope:

  • Use Wisdom: God’s people, holding onto God’s promises, also used the brains, hearts and information available to make the wisest moves forward, especially when it came to protecting the most vulnerable among them. Moses send scouts ahead not out of fear but out of wisdom. As we see at the end of the story, the faithlessness of God’s people caused them to wander in the wilderness, but the Lord still protected His children, the vulnerable ones, and would still guide them into the Promised Land behind the leadership of Joshua and Caleb.
  • Hold onto God’s Promises more than the empty threats of this world. Yes, COVID-19 is a very serious problem and has/will cause untold destruction. And God is even bigger, and has/will bring about untold glory and restoration. We see in Numbers 14:21 this promise among a fainting people: “But truly, as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.”
  • We as a church aren’t going underground or crouching in fear, but mobilizing into smaller “scout groups” (like Moses sent out) so that we can be more relational, more effective, more personally and practically loving than we could be in a larger cluster. This pandemic is absolutely horrible. And yet an opportunity for us to be refined as followers of Jesus as we hold onto him rather than this world, and sacrificially serve others as a living testimony not to our own courage but to the One that has come to set us free.
  • As you read that, please wisely evaluate your current role and calling. Moses sent out “heads of the people of Israel” (Num 13:3). He did not send out those who were the more vulnerable and at risk. If you fall in this category, please allow the rest of the Body of Christ to go ahead on your behalf. Let the body serve the body, and serve the community. To God be the Glory.
  • Finally, in the end not only will God get the Glory (Num 14:21) but he will also bring his people into the Promised Land…in His perfect way and in His perfect time. We know that to be perfectly true because Jesus has already gone before us and defeated the greatest threatening giant: sin, fear and death. On the cross we see the death of death itself. Whereas as ALL fearfully looked on the horizon and saw the grim reaper justly swinging his sickle, Jesus stood his ground, was cut down by the sickle meant for us, and three days later rose again in full beauty and glory so that now the sickle, though it will one day take our flesh, will never touch the hearts and souls of those that know and trust in Jesus as the Giantest Giant of all.

Joshua 1:9
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

John 16:33
(Jesus said) “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

I encourage you to join me in sitting at the Lord’s feet, even if your knees are knocking together and you don’t want to, meditating and worshiping using the song embedded below: Yet Not I But Through Christ In Me