Life, Heat, Hope
When the heat is on and life begins to boil, peripheral things vaporize and float away; only the solids remain. Hope is just such a solid. The last day of life before the week we call His Passion, Jesus could feel the heat increasing and His solid core of hope emerging.

It was the seventh day, the Holy Sabbath. Not a day for work but for worship and rest. We are not given details of how Jesus rested and worshiped on that particular Sabbath. It is not difficult to imagine that of all the psalms Jesus had memorized and prayed the one we call Psalm 42 may have been His prayer that Saturday. Like a wild deer pursued by frenzied hounds thirsting for a drink of water, Jesus wanted to spend time with the Father in prayer.

“The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”
Though He was a young man at the height of His physical strength, He felt the weakness of His humanity. No innocent man had ever endured the trials before Him and none would ever do anything like it again. He knew that his physical strength and emotional resources were insufficient for His assigned task. He sensed that a moment would come when He would have to throw Himself on the strength of the Father and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. The Garden of Prayer, Pilate’s Judgment Hall, the Sanhedrin’s illegal court, the scourging, the cross, and the final raising of it to suspend Him between heaven and earth, all required the strength of God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

On the Sabbath Day before all of these events started in motion, I imagine that Jesus sought to marshal every ounce of strength or every kind. As the humanity He took on Himself when He laid aside Heavenly Majesty wasted away, a firm hope deep within Him did not at all diminish.

The Coming Cross
When on the cross He would at last surrender His spirit to death.

  • All of the creation that He had made would erupt in protest: storm, wind, lightning, thunder, a quaking earth and a deep darkness at midday. There would be no shortage of power. No one was strong enough to take His life; He would give it.
  • At that moment the hands of God would reach into the Temple and rip the heavy veil from top to bottom. The promises of God would then flood out of that Temple never to return to a forced seclusion made necessary by sin.
  • Sin, wickedness, iniquity, corruption, hate, and violence would all be nailed to the cross, their power broken by the force of love and the power of hope.
  • On the third day after the cross Jesus would walk among people again leading a victory parade in spiritual triumph, having disarmed the devil and won the hoped-for victory.
    For now, on this Sabbath, Jesus worshiped the Father and rested in the Spirit. Hope was his pillow. On the morning to come an impromptu process, one planned since before time began, would start the events of His Passion in motion. Hope sustained Him through the passion week just as it sustains us today.

Psalm 42
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”… Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. My soul is downcast within me; … Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me — a prayer to the God of my life. I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?” Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Isaiah 53:1-12 NIV
Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.… After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light [of life] and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Lord Jesus, You are my hope. You conquered life as well as death. You came into the world You made. You even came into the flesh You created in Your own image. The world did not conquer You; You overcame the world. The humanity You wore did not wear You down. You endured every temptation possible and never gave in. You never slipped; You redeemed the image of God in us. There was still one thing that You had to do. In Your innocence, You took our guilt. In Your holiness, You took our iniquity. In Your pain, You healed our sicknesses. No one has done what You have done. My hope is in You and it is sure. Amen.

The Solid Rock
Words: Edward Mote; Music: Wm. Bradbury

1. My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.

2. When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.

3. His oath, His covenant, and blood Support me in the whelming flood;
When every earthly prop gives way, He then is all my Hope and Stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.

4. When He shall come with trumpet sound, Oh, may I then in Him be found,
Clothed in His righteousness alone, Faultless to stand before the throne!
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

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