This week’s reading is found in the Gospel of John chapter 2:1-10. When the master of the wedding feast tasted the wine that Jesus made, he said to the bridegroom, “You have kept the good wine until now!” It seems from reading this story that Jesus had no intention of making any wine for this wedding that He was invited to, but His mother urged Him to help the bridegroom out because he had run out of wine at the wedding. Jesus was just starting His ministry. He had just gathered His disciples. They were expecting Jesus to make His first move as the Messiah of Israel. You can imagine what they might have been thinking. Maybe Jesus was going to raise an army to overthrow the Romans. Maybe Jesus was going to perform some great miracles like raising the dead or healing the sick. At least He would have chosen a better place for His unveiling. Jerusalem would have been better than this little backwoods town of Cana. But instead, Jesus’ first miracle was making wine from water! What was up with this? If I was Jesus’ personal relations manager or promotions manager, I would have chosen a more exciting first miracle. I would have invited the news media and all the religious big wigs. This was Jesus’ coming out! This was Jesus revelation of being the Messiah. But this is what I love this about Jesus. He does the unexpected, or at least not what the religious people expected! I believe He still does this today. Our walk with Jesus is unpredictable but that is what makes it exciting. Who knows He might want you to make some good wine!
There is Allstate Insurance commercial that talks about all the accidents that can happen to a person and how important it is to have good insurance. It ends with this: “Mayhem is coming, whose hands are you in?” It is a funny commercial, but it has some truth. Mayhem is coming and the point of the commercial is, ‘Whose hands are you in?” This weeks’ reading in found in the Gospel of Luke 23:46-48. It is Jesus’ final words from the cross. Perhaps no other subject fascinates us more than death. It represents the great unknown. We know that death is an inevitable experience for all of us unless we are alive when the Rapture of the church takes place before the Tribulation.
For various reasons, the words of a dying man are always sacred. The last words spoken by those whom we love seem to linger in our minds with infinite tenderness. We cherish their memory and treasure their influence because they help to recall the face and life of the one who has gone. Probably most of us, if not consciously then subconsciously, have pondered, “What was really going on mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually underneath the skin of the person dying?” Their last words often can give us a clue: What did they feel before death? What thoughts did they think? How severe was the pain, or if they were in any pain? Were evil spirits active taunting, teasing or tempting them before death? What did they see before their eyes were closed to this world?
In the final words of Jesus spoken from the cross, we catch a glimpse of what went on underneath the skin of the Son of Man before He breathed out His last breath. “Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit.” He was in good hands! Since He had lived His entire life putting His life in God’s hands, He does what He only knows to do, put His life in God’s hands as He dies. I believe this statement to be very true: “We die as we live.” Of course, there is always a chance for a deathbed conversion, as we see in the thief on the cross, but this is more of the exception than the norm. We die as we live is more the norm, and here we see Jesus dying as He lived. He lived His life in submission to His Heavenly Father and as He is about to experience the ultimate penalty of sin, death, He does what He has done His entire life, commits Himself to His Father’s hands.
An individual who wishes to die the death of the righteous must first live the life of the righteous. Whatever has filled a person’s life is almost always what is on their minds at death. If it is unnatural for a man or woman to walk and talk with God when living, it is most unlikely they will turn to God in the hour of death. People generally are sealed by their choices, and death only brings out what their choices were throughout their lives.
Sometimes at funerals, you will hear a pastor commend the spirit of the departed saint into the Father’s hands. To commend someone to the hands of God is a powerful thing. After that, the Bible says “So then each of us shall give an account of himself to God.” If you have lived your life in God’s hands when you die you will for sure be in good hands! “Mayhem is coming, whose hands are you in?”
Whenever someone dies a tragic death, people often say, “You will not be forgotten.” Many times a special fund is started in that person’s name or parks or buildings are named after them. On the anniversary of their death or on their birthday often people will take a few minutes to remember the life of the person who passed. There is something in each of us that yearns to be remembered after we die. This in some way meets that desire to know that we have lived a life that was meaningful and made a difference. My nephew Titus Reynolds was killed in action in Afghanistan on September 24, 2009. Barth Cotner from Cotner’s Funeral Home had a mural painted on the side of his building along Main Street. It is sort of a historical wall painting and as part of it, he included the portraits of several military people who were from Reynoldsburg, who died in action. He included my nephew’s picture. Now every time I drive by that building I salute my nephew. It is sort of my way of saying, “Thanks, Titus. You will not be forgotten.” In Luke 22:17-20 when Jesus ate His last meal with the disciples, He instituted what we now call ‘communion’ or the ‘Lord’s Supper.’ It is interesting that when Jesus shared the bread and the wine He asked them to “do this in remembrance of Me.” Jesus wants us to remember Him. Jesus wants us to remember the tragic death that He died for us. Every time we partake of the bread and wine we are basically saying, “You will not be forgotten Jesus.” Every time we partake of the ‘Lord’s supper’ we are saying, “Jesus your life and death made a difference in me.” I don’t know how often we are supposed to partake of communion but I like taking the bread and wine every Sunday as we celebrate the life that God has given us. It helps me to get focused again on what is meaningful and important, and it reminds me again of what Jesus did for me. “Jesus, You will not be forgotten!”
This week’s reading comes from Luke 19:12-27. Jesus tells a story about a nobleman who goes away but before he does, he gives his servants ten minas (about $500) each. He returns from his trip and gathers his servants. The one who got 100% profit is rewarded with, “Well done, good servant: because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.” It is clear that Jesus is teaching about the importance of being faithful with whatever God gives you to do, but it is also clear that He expects good returns or high profits. The one servant who did not gain anything is told, “…I will judge you, you wicked servant…” In order to gain 100% the first servant had to take some risks. The wicked servant was not willing to take any risks and on top of that he tried to blame his laziness and lack of production on the nobleman in the story. Today it seems that America is teaching its young people that only wicked people gain large profits and that it is done by taking advantage of poor people. While this may be true of some who are rich it is surely not true of all who become wealthy. It must be possible to gain a lot of wealth and do it in a way that honors God or Jesus would never have told this kind of story. Let’s make sure we are making good use of the resources that God has given us and make every effort to make large profits both spiritually and materially.