Jesus finished your work so you could rest in His

God’s Hope for Your Heart from John 19

JESUS FINISHED YOUR WORK SO YOU COULD REST IN HIS

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

Some ancient sources report that sponges dipped in sour wine were used to clean public toilet facilities.  Being offered a drink from one was the last in a series of humiliations Jesus endured in the process of crucifixion.

Again and again, Jesus endured shame and suffering, but all these paled in comparison with the weight of His true burden–your sin and mine.  It was not the pain or public ridicule that caused Jesus to suffer the most.  It was the sin of the world.

But then, the work was complete.

The job was finished, the deed done, payment for sin was delivered.  Then at last, with His final breath, Jesus signed the receipt with these last words: “It is finished.”

Do you know why He said “It is finished?”  Because it is!

There is no more atonement to be made for sin, only grace to receive through faith in Christ!  There is no more work to be done for God’s acceptance, only favor to receive through faith in Christ!

This means that to the degree you freely trust and fully surrender to Jesus, you can walk in freedom because there’s nothing for you to earn anymore.  Yes, you owed a debt to God that was well-deserving of death (Romans 6:23).  But, Jesus died for you so you wouldn’t have to!

Christian, relax.  Let this good news set you free to obey God out of joy, not obligation, and may you be filled with hope as you trust in this truth: Jesus finished your work so you could rest in His.

-Pastor Phillip

p.s. For more encouragement about resting in the finished work of Christ, click here to listen to a message called “It is finished,” part of  the “Sufficient” teaching series from outpostChurch.


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Instead of Himself, Jesus saved you

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Luke 23

INSTEAD OF HIMSELF, JESUS SAVED YOU

And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at Him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!”  The soldiers also mocked Him, coming up and offering Him sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!”  There was also an inscription over Him, “This is the King of the Jews.”  One of the criminals who were hanged railed at Him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!”  (Luke 23:35-40)

It would have been easily within His power and well within His rights for Jesus to save Himself.

No other was so ill-deserving of the shame, the sorrow, and the suffering that Jesus experienced than the One who not only created the world, but entered it of His own accord to redeem its people.

No hands were less deserving of the nails than the hands of the Healer.  No feet were less deserving than the feet of the One who brought the Good News of peace to mankind.

It would have been such a simple thing for the maker of heaven and earth to simply say, “ENOUGH” and be done with the whole ordeal.  It would have been so easy for Him to vindicate His claims and bring vengeance on His tormentors.  Yet, Jesus ignored the taunts and temptation to save Himself because He knew that if He did, He would be giving up a greater prize…

Saving you.

Don’t let repetition or tradition rob you of the wonder of this simple fact that has such profound implications for all who trust in Him.  Rather, let your heart be filled anew with wonder at the incredible depth of God’s love for you in Christ, and may you discover fresh hope as you meditate on this truth: instead of Himself, Jesus saved you.

-Pastor Phillip


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Jesus was forsaken so you could be accepted

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Psalm 22

JESUS WAS FORSAKEN SO YOU COULD BE ACCEPTED

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  (Psalm 22:1a)

For centuries, these opening words of Psalm 22 were spoken or sung by the people of Israel in times of suffering.  This Psalm was used as a prayer of lament and petition, asking God to deliver and praising Him for the deliverance that was sure to come.

That’s how Jesus, used it, too.

Imagine these words echoing through His mind as He was laid on the wood of the cross and the metal spikes were prepared for Him:  “For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet.” (v. 16)

Imagine Him looking down in anguish at the mocking crowd before Him, seeing Roman soldiers playing games as these words must have come to mind, fulfilled before His eyes: “They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” (v. 18)

Imagine His heartache and suffering, the feeling of being utterly alone as God the Father was forced to turn away from His Son because Jesus had taken on Himself the sins of the world.  That’s when Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  (Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34)

Jesus knew all along that He would be forsaken in that moment, but He did it anyway.  The writer of Hebrews reminds us why as he, too, quotes from Psalm 22.

For it was fitting that He, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.  For He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source.  That is why He is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”  (Hebrews 2:10-12)

Brothers.  Family.  Bringing many to glory.

Jesus knew He would be forsaken, but He did it anyway because He knew that only through His perfect sacrifice could sinners be made righteous and welcomed home to the praise of the glory of God.

Sinners like me.

Sinners like you.

In whatever situation you find yourself today, take time to ponder that.  As you do, may you have hope and confidence in this simple truth: Jesus was forsaken so you could be accepted.

-Pastor Phillip


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Why God Killed His Son (pt4)

How could God plan to sacrifice His Son?  How is that a loving, good, and right thing to do to a son whom you love?

[NOTE: This is part four of a four-part series of posts based on a question brought to me by a friend.  If you haven’t yet, check out Part 1 , Part 2, and Part 3.  I hope it’s helpful to you. -Phillip]

I lay down my life that I may take it up again.” -John 10:17b

In any discussion of the cross, we must never forget the resurrection.  Jesus says that He is sacrificing Himself, but that embedded in the core of the plan to die is also the joyful expectation of resurrection!  To forget this is to miss the heart of the story.  God doesn’t sacrifice His Son so that the Son will be dead, but so that the Son may be resurrected and in the process bring many more to new life with Him.

Jesus doesn’t have some maudlin death wish or misguided martyr complex.  He is fully aware and fully in control of His destiny, and He knows that on the other side of the cross is an empty tomb and a glory that surpasses even the glory he had before.

We are such finite creatures, locked into a world where death seems so final and suffering so unwelcome.  But in the mystery of eternity, God Himself prepared His grand drama of love and salvation, and of His own free will chose to play all the parts Himself.

That’s His prerogative.

That’s His plan.

That’s His love, painted in deeper colors than we can fully grasp, but painted boldly for all to see.

(Missed the previous posts? Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3)

Why God Killed His Son (pt3)

How could God plan to sacrifice His Son?  How is that a loving, good, and right thing to do to a son whom you love?

[NOTE: This is part three of a four-part series of posts based on a question brought to me by a friend.  If you haven’t yet, check out Part 1  and Part 2.  I hope it’s helpful to you. -Phillip]

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” -Hebrews 4:15

Anyone who has been through suffering can tell you that the comfort and love and encouragement that meant the most to them was that which came from someone who had been through similar suffering, too.  Nothing connects two hearts more deeply than suffering, and the greater the pain, the greater the bond.

Hebrews 4:15 speaks of Jesus as the “High Priest” of a new covenant between God and humanity, one who can “sympathize” with us.

A few verses later, the writer continues, “In the days of His flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to Him who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence.  Although He was a son, He learned obedience through what He suffered.  And being made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.” (Hebrews 5:7-9)

If Jesus truly loves “His sheep” like He says He does in John 10, then it makes sense that He would want to be able to empathize with them.  We don’t often choose pain only for the purpose of empathy, but if we do find ourselves in that place, we can appreciate that after we ourselves have suffered we can better show love to those who have felt the same way.

Jesus doesn’t want to be a far-off deity who looks on with cold indifference at the human condition.  He wants to enter in to it Himself because of His love and care for us.  Note how the writer of Hebrews highlights the fact that Jesus prayed to the Father in the midst of His suffering, and he was heard.  Not ignored, not abandoned for the long-term, but heard.  What, then, was Jesus praying about?  Surely not for escape or deliverance from the trial, because He Himself said in Matthew 26:53 that He could have stopped the whole thing at any time (“ten thousand legions of angels” is a hefty backup force.)

Jesus did indeed pray that if there was any other way to accomplish redemption for humanity, it would have been His preference.  However, His desire is not to escape pain but to complete the mission of love for which He volunteered and was therefore sent by the Father.  Luke’s Gospel records that “there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening Him.” (Luke 22:43)  Jesus’ prayer was answered with strength from heaven, enabling Him to go forward with the plan.

What’s more, Hebrews tells how He “learned obedience through what He suffered, being made perfect.”  It is not that Jesus was lacking perfection, but that through the cross He was given the opportunity to manifest it fully through His voluntary obedience.  It is not obedience if one is forced into something.  That is slavery.  What Jesus experienced was both being chosen and sent by the Father, AND volunteering and initiating a mission of redemption for the fallen humanity that the Father, Son and Spirit all deeply love.

But that’s not all.

To be continued… (Missed the previous posts? Part 1 | Part 2)

[NOTE 2: You might know this already, but you can get the next post and more delivered daily to your e-mail inbox!  Just use the “Subscribe via e-mail” form above on the right, and you’ll get a new article each day.  You can also unsubscribe at any time.  Give it a try!]

Why God Killed His Son (pt2)

How could God plan to sacrifice His Son? How is that a loving, good, and right thing to do to a son whom you love?

[NOTE: This is part two of a four-part series of posts based on a question brought to me by a friend. Part 1 can be found HERE. I hope it’s helpful to you. -Phillip]

For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” -John 10:17-18

At one point or another, most people have heard that “God is love.” Of course, while it doesn’t seem at all loving to intentionally wound your own son, the situation looks different if the son offers himself on his own.

Why would Jesus offer Himself like this, though? Is this an example of undue influence on the part of the Father? After all, Jesus says, “For this reason the Father loves me…” so perhaps Jesus really doesn’t really want to die, but He is doing it under coercion, more fearful of losing the love of the Father.

This isn’t the case at all.

In another section of the Gospel of John, Jesus says something that is crucial to the equation: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) From Jesus’ own mouth, we see that the most supreme display of love is that act that sacrifices oneself for the good of another, and that is what Jesus wants to do.

Look again at John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. Jesus’ motivation is not a fear of losing the love of His Father, but a desire to show His love to us.

Returning to the first Letter of John, from which we get “God is love,” we see this: “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)

Why does the Father send the Son to die? Because the Father loves us. Why does the Son choose to come and die? Because the Son loves us, and the Son loves the Father.

But that’s not all.

For any good parent, they long to see their children achieve the goals they set for themselves. Good jobs, nice families, stable futures, personal growth; these are the things parents wish for their children, because they love them. If a child wants to do something that will fulfill them and bring them joy, any good parent wants the child to have every opportunity to have their dreams come true.

If Jesus is telling the truth, and He truly desires to show His love by laying down His life, then for God the Father to allow and even plan for that is not unloving at all. In fact, to deny His Son the right to lay down His life would be the unloving thing to do.

God the Father plans for God the Son to sacrifice Himself, because that’s what the Son wants to do.

But that’s not all.

To be continued… (Missed Part 1? Click here.)

[NOTE 2: Do you have an e-mail address? Do you want to get updates from phillipgonzales.com in your inbox? Good news! Just use the “Subscribe via e-mail” form above on the right, and you’ll get a new article each day. You can also unsubscribe at any time. Give it a try!]

Why God Killed His Son (pt1)

How could God plan to sacrifice His Son?  How is that a loving, good, and right thing to do to a son whom you love?

[NOTE: This is part one of a four-part series of posts based on a question brought to me by a friend. I hope it’s helpful to you. -Phillip]

GOD IS LOVE. (1 John 4:8b)

It is one of the most quoted and most popular truths of the Bible.  People all over the world –whether followers of Christ or not– smile and nod in agreement, for who wouldn’t want to hear that God is love?

How, then, can such a loving God be willing to sacrifice His Son for His enemies?  It’s all well and good for the enemies, but what about the Son?  Doesn’t He deserve more love from the Father than anyone else?  How can God be good and yet plan to sacrifice His son?

It’s a valid question, and a deeply important one, because if God says He is loving and isn’t, then how can He be trusted, much less loved in return?  On the other hand, if He says He is loving and we can discover that He truly is, then we can take Him at His word after all.

The key to the question lies, unsurprisingly, in the person, the work, and the words of Jesus Himself.  In the Gospel of John, we find Jesus speaking to His disciples about just what type of person He really is, and what is the nature of His relationship with His followers.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep…just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
(John 10:11, 15-18)

Jesus makes it clear that He is not being subjected to death unwillingly, but that He is volunteering for the cross.  He emphasizes this again shortly before His arrest, a moment recorded in the Gospel of Matthew:   “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and He will at once send me more than twelve legions [72,000] of angels?” (Matthew 26:53)

“God is love,” yes, and while it doesn’t seem at all loving to intentionally wound your own son, the situation looks different if the son offers himself on his own.

Why would he do this?  Is this an example of undue influence on the part of the Father?  After all, Jesus says, “For this reason the Father loves me…” so perhaps Jesus really doesn’t really want to die, but He is doing it under coercion, more fearful of losing the love of the Father.

This isn’t the case, either.

To be continued…

[NOTE 2: Did you know you can get updates to this and other posts delivered to your e-mail inbox directly?  Just use the “Subscribe via e-mail” form above on the right, and you’ll get a new article each day.  You can also unsubscribe at any time.  Give it a try!]

Lay it Down

Don’t miss this: Jesus got himself killed on purpose.

“I lay down my life that I may take it up again.  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” -John 10:17b-18a

In the Gospel accounts, Jesus is not some naive travelling teacher from the sticks who runs his mouth in the big city and gets killed for it.  He is not some peasant preacher who gets Himself in trouble with the authorities because He doesn’t know when to shut up.  He knows exactly who He is, what He’s doing, where He’s going and what is the cost, and He proceeds willingly to His destiny of self-sacrifice.

It is love that drives Him, love for the Father and for the sons and daughters that His death and resurrection will redeem.  It is this love that moves Him to lay down His life, to make willing, painful sacrifices for others’ good at the cost of His own.

To truly follow Jesus means we must do the same.

PRAYER: Lord, help me see how you’re calling me to lay down my life for others today, and help me have the strength to DO it.

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