“Again Jesus called out with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.”
Jesus struggled to stay alive until all prophecies relating to his earthly life had been fulfilled, including the one in which he would be given vinegar during distress. (Ps. 69:21; John 19:30)
By yielding up his spirit, he willingly let himself expire.
He carried out his commission thoroughly even during the most painful and humiliating moment of his life, until it was time to let go of it.
Sometimes we may want to give up on life when our bodies still have a decent amount of living in them.
Jesus’ example shows me that it’s important to see things through to completion, not losing focus of God’s purpose, even on darker days.
“From now on you will see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Jesus knew he was about to be executed, but he never lost sight of the greater picture. (Matt. 26:55,56)
He understood his role in God’s purpose and was positive he would fulfill it. (Da. 7:13,14)
He had resolved to obey his father, even at great personal cost. (Matt. 26:39,42,44)
He became the “Perfecter of our faith,” the model whom we can follow when we start to lose hope. (Heb. 12:2,3)
“Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful over a few things. I will appoint you over many things. Enter into the joy of your master.”
In Jesus’ illustration of the slaves and the talents, one slave was responsible for the equivalent of 102 kg of silver (~225 lbs.), or what was back then about 100 years’ wages for a common laborer.
The second slave was responsible for 40.8 kg of silver (~90 lbs.), or about 40 years’ wages.
They both doubled their master’s initial capital by immediately investing it. (Matt. 25:16,17)
Jesus focused on the effort each made and in the story, each received the exact same compensation.
This shows me that God does not value my service to him depending on how many privileges I may hold within the congregation, but on how much effort I individually put forth in serving him wholeheartedly.
He focuses on quality, and as long as I am doing everything I can to be a true Christian, I will receive as many blessings as someone who perhaps bears more responsibility. (Matt. 25:29)
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away.”
Are Jesus’ words to be taken literally?
The Bible teaches God made the earth to last forever. (Ps. 37:29; Is. 45:18)
In a previous similar statement, Jesus said: “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to go unfulfilled.” (Luke 16:17)
Jesus was not alluding to a future destruction of the physical universe.
Rather, he was making reference to the opposite.
He was using the permanent nature of the physical world to illustrate how certain the fulfillment of his prophecies is.
In other passages, the phrase “heaven and earth” actually refers to government and mankind. (2 Pet. 3:13)
Jesus was speaking in the context of a coming judgment day, like the one that came through the deluge in the times of Noah. (Matt. 24:37)
Since his kingdom is going to thereafter rule over humans deemed righteous, the current heaven and earth will have come to pass in a symbolic sense. (Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:19-21)
“Regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, who said: ‘I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob’? He is the God, not of the dead, but of the living.”
In the gospel of Luke, the account adds: “For they are all living to him.” (Luke 20:38)
On being asked about the plausibility of a resurrection, Jesus quoted Jehovah’s words to Moses.(Ex. 3:6; Matt. 22:23)
When God referred to himself as the God of Abraham, Abraham had been dead for hundreds of years.
Though the prophets are literally dead, the promise of the resurrection is so sure to be realized that to God, it is as if they are living. (Eccl. 9:5,10; Ro.4:16,17)
Likewise, a person who is physically alive may as well be dead to God if that person commits themselves to an immoral lifestyle. (Ge. 2:17; 1 Tim. 5:6)
When we try to see life and time from Jehovah’s point of view, we can find true comfort in the resurrection hope.
“He said to them: ‘You will indeed drink my cup […].'”
When James and John asked their mother to ask Jesus if they could sit on either side of him in his kingdom, Jesus replied, “You do not know what you are asking for. Can you drink the cup that I am about to drink?” (Matt. 20:22)
To this, they resolutely replied, “We can.”
Jesus’ companions had already left behind a successful fishing business to follow him, and he trusted them. (Mark 1:19,20)
He affectionately called them “the Sons of Thunder” perhaps because of their impetuous zeal. (Mark 3:17)
About eleven years later, James proved he could “drink the cup” of martyrdom when Herod Agrippa executed him. (Acts 12:1,2)
Despite outliving the other apostles, John also followed Jesus’ example of self-sacrifice when he was exiled to the island of Patmos for bearing witness. (Re. 1:9)
Jesus trusted they would remain loyal, and they did not disappoint.
They learned to slave for their brothers instead of seeking prominence. (Matt. 20:25-27)
Like Jesus, we should trust our brothers in the congregation will remain loyal despite their imperfections as we strive to do the same.
“[…] Whatever things you may bind on earth will be things already bound in heaven, and whatever things you may loosen on earth will be things already loosened in heaven.”
When we are waiting for a decision to be made by our congregation’s body of elders, we can easily lose patience if it affects us personally.
When Jesus was talking about things being bound or loosened, he did it in the context of someone on trial.
When a body of elders holds someone to account for their sins, they need to be careful not to rush into rash judgments based on hurt feelings.
Jesus implied elders’ decisions should be based on principles laid down in heaven, and the same principles should guide them when reinstating someone into the congregation. (2 Cor. 2:6-8)
“Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was cured from that hour.”
Does the Bible teach that illnesses are induced by demons?
While the boy in this story did exhibit symptoms of epilepsy, his sudden convulsions were actually being controlled by a demon. (Matt. 17:15)
Jesus’ disciples had Holy Spirit to cure the ill (Matt. 10:8)
The Bible differentiates between those who were ill and those who were demon-possessed. (Matt. 4:24)
Still, Jesus’ disciples could have expelled the demon from the boy’s body had they had sufficient faith. (Matt. 17:19,20)
In Bible history, there was someone who developed a disease as a result of a direct demonic attack.
But in the case of Job, he was being specifically targeted by Satan to try to prove points against Jehovah and against humankind. (Job 2:4-7)
It is not the standard in the Bible that illnesses or diseases are direct results of demon activity. (Rom. 5:12)
But regardless of the origin, God promises to do away with all suffering under Christ’s kingdom. (Isa. 33:24; Rev. 21:3,4)
“[…] Out of the heart come wicked reasonings […].”
Do I ever try to justify unethical behavior to myself when tempted to do something wrong?
It is human nature to have a sinful inclination, but if I am not careful, I could end up a slave to my own whims, and also end up hurting those who matter most, including God. (Jer. 17:9)
Instead of entertaining sinful notions, it is wiser to not let them nest in my heart to begin with. (Prov. 4:23)
“[…] If you had understood what this means, ‘I want mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless ones.”
Often we think of mercy as an accessory to justice. But really, justice is a means for God to express his mercy toward us.
Because of his mercy, Jehovah God sent his only-begotten son to earth to die for our sins. (Ro. 5:8-11)
Jesus thereby satisfied God’s law of ‘a life for a life,’ replacing Adam as our first father, and opened the way for us to reconcile with God. (De. 19:21; 1 Cor. 15:45)
God’s law was founded on mercy, so Jesus highlighted mercy as the underlying principle in the application of his law.
If we are motivated by a sincere desire to aid those who are at a spiritual or material disadvantage, our heavenly Father takes notice. (Prov. 19:17; 2 Cor. 4:1,2)