#138 "When Hope Is Hanging On A Cross"
March 11, 2008
"Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for His needs. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's sons." (Matthew 27: 55-56)
The men couldn't be there. They more than likely would be arrested. But if the women didn't interfere, they would be allowed to witness the event. So there they stood. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's sons. Watching the One they had followed, the One they had supported out of their own means and the One who meant everything to them, nailed to a cross.
Mary Magdalene remembers the day she received her freedom. Jesus freed her from seven demons that possessed her, causing her to do, we don't exactly know what. Christ had set her free and she had followed Him ever since. She just couldn't get over Him. Mary the mother of James and Joses, followed Jesus from Galilee and moved with Him from place to place during His ministry. Her sons were part of His following and maybe she came along at first to be near her boys. But she would soon find out that there was something about this Man. Something she could not resist or ever walk away from. And Salome, the mother of Zebedee's sons ... well ... she had once harbored such high hopes for James and John. And she remembers being so bold...bold enough to ask the Lord for seats in His kingdom, at His right and His left, for her sons. Remembering, Jesus' words to her sent chill bumps from her head to her feet. "You don't know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?" (Matthew 20: 20-28) She sure didn't get it back then. But could this be what He had meant? Three women stood at a distance and watched their Hope hanging on a cross.
What do you do when everything that you have hoped for and hoped in, suddenly crumbles right before your eyes? What do you do when life takes a detour straightaway south? You married that man, and sister, he was fine! He was all that and a bag of chips, but now you're looking at a bunch of crumbs. He said all the right things and made all the right promises and after some years of marriage all you have left are the pieces of those same broken vows. You scrimped and saved and invested all of your money in a sure fire business venture, and now the doors have closed and you're in the bankruptcy court. You held that bundle of joy, baby boy, in your arms and dreamed the world for him and now he's on crack or in jail. Maybe you don't even know where he is. You had your short-term goals and long-term goals and your future all mapped out for yourself, and now you're in a hospital bed facing extended times of treatment or you have to put your plans on hold to care for an ailing loved one. We get discouraged and disappointed when our hope is hanging on a cross.
What must those ladies have thought when they heard Jesus say, "It is finished." Again, they wouldn't understand. Eyes wide open, mouths agape, staring back and forth at each other, saying, "What does He mean, it is finished? What do we do now? We gave up our lives for Him and now it's over??? Just like that?" Ever felt that way? Everything you've banked on, trusted in, planned and worked for is finished... just like that.
Across the centuries, Mary Magdalene is saying to you, "Wait, don't quit..."it is finished" doesn't mean what you think it means! It meant something more wonderful than I could've ever imagined!" You see, Mary thought it was all over but she was the first one that the risen Christ would appear to after His resurrection. The "other Mary" and the mother of the son's of Zebedee are telling you today to hang on. They thought it was over as well. But they were part of the group who went to anoint a dead body and found an empty tomb! The same Greek word, "tetelestai", that Jesus used when He said, "It is finished", is found on papyrus tax receipts and meant "Paid in Full." These same women were in the upper room and were filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. (see Acts 1: 13-14) When it looks like your hope is hanging on a cross ... there's something so much better ahead. Christ knows what He's doing. It may be Friday, but Sunday's on the way!
Christ is so awesome...I can't get over Him! He is so gracious to leave us His Word so that we can pull the curtain back on a scene like this, centuries old, and have Him shine His glorious light on our lives right here in 2008. What He was like over 2000 years ago, He is the same today. He has a plan for your life. You have a purpose for being here, right now, right where you are...for such a time as this. Maybe you thought your life would go one way, but He has a better plan. Trust Him. Believe Him. Things are not always what they seem to be. Instead of being discouraged and disappointed, start eagerly anticipating what is ahead. When you feel like your hope is hanging on a cross, remember this..."do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Corinthians 4: 16-18) I'll choose that any day!!
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