Date: 
Sunday, April 8, 2012 - 10:45am
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Luke 23:44-49

FINDING HOPE IN TRUSTING GOD

LUKE 23:44-49

        The message of Easter is simply, “The one place in this world we can truly find hope is Jesus”.  That is not a religious cliché or a pious platitude, or a cheesy sentimental expression.  It is the simple truth.  Our world is suffocating under an avalanche of despair and the reason there is so much hopelessness in our world today is because people are looking for hope in all the wrong places.  They are looking for hope in people and positions and in circumstances and situations and in money and power.  Hope is found in Jesus. 

        This Easter Sunday we are going to look at the very last statement Jesus made from the cross.  In all, Jesus made seven statements during the six hours He hung on the cross – seven statements in which you and I can find hope.  Here is how the Gospel of Luke recorded the last statement. 

 

44 By this time it was noon, and darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock.  45 The light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn down the middle. 

 

46 Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words He breathed his last.  47 When the Roman officer overseeing the execution saw what had happened, he worshiped God and said, “Surely this man was innocent.” 

 

48 And when all the crowd that came to see the crucifixion saw what had happened, they went home in deep sorrow.  49 But Jesus’ friends, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance watching.

 

          Now we need to take a moment and look at the Roman officer.  He had probably seen hundreds of crucifixions.  It was pretty common for the Roman Empire to execute political prisoners and military enemies.  But this crucifixion was unlike any crucifixion this centurion had ever seen.  Watching Jesus die on the cross changed His whole worldview and made a radical impact on his life.  What so impressed this centurion was Crucifixion victims didn’t die graciously, humbly or compassionately. 

        This centurion saw Jesus dying and recognized that Jesus was not bitter or angry.  He didn’t fight back or lash out.  He did not complain or condemn.  He didn’t shout out His innocence.  He was not scared or stressed out.  Instead, He prayed for His enemies, cared for His mother, forgave one of the thieves and ignored every insult hurled at Him. 

        Jesus died in peace.  He wasn’t a victim.  He was the victor.  You have to ask yourself how did He handle the cross with such grace?  And the answer is, He completely and totally trusted in God the Father. 

Jesus was falsely accused, illegally tried, beaten unmercifully and crucified between two thieves and yet He died with love and compassion for those who put Him to death,… because He completely trusted God.  In trusting God we find the hope we need. 

        When you are facing disaster, defeat, difficulty, disillusionment, despair or even death, you can face it with hope, assurance and peace, with strength and confidence if you learn to trust the Heavenly Father the way Jesus did. 

        This morning I want to give you a simple 3 word Easter message found in this statement of Jesus that can fill your life with hope. 

 

1.  FATHER

        The first word I want you to see is the word “Father.”  When you are going through a difficult time, when you find yourself in a dark place, when discouragement is all around you, Easter reminds us that the God of Heaven wants to be your Dad.  The message of Easter is that God is willing to step into your life and be your Father.

        Some earthly fathers can be absent or abusive. For some people, the word father is not a word of comfort or security.  But God is perfect in all His ways and He will be a perfect Father to you in everyway. 

Look what the Psalmist wrote:

Psalm 103:8  The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.

 

        Some are not used to hearing God described that way.  You don’t normally think of God in those terms.  But that is the way the Bible describes our heavenly Father. 

 

Psalms 103:13  As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.

       

When the marriage crumbles and there is no chance of reconciliation, you need a heavenly Father. He is your source of hope. 

When the diagnosis is bad and there is nothing the doctor can do, you need a heavenly Father.  He is your source of hope. 

When the termination notice comes and there are no jobs and the unemployment runs out, you need a heavenly Father.  He is your source of hope.       

And here is why knowing God as Father is so important.  When we find ourselves in a dark place, our first tendency is to ask why.  We want to know why this happened.  Of all people, why did I get sick?  What did I do to deserve this?  Why did this happen to me?

And then the next question we ask, “Why did God let this happen?”  “If God is good and God is powerful, why didn’t He stop this from happening?” 

If you haven’t learned to trust God as Father, to have the assurance that He loves you and the confidence He will take care of you, you will crumble under the strain of the questions that come in hard times.  But if you learn to trust God like Jesus, then even when you are experiencing great pain, even when you are falsely accused and unjustly mistreated, you can still have hope because you know your Father in heaven will take care of you.  No matter what happens, the Father has you and you will be okay. 

       

2.  TRUST

        The second word I want you to see is the word “TRUST”.  When we get to the place where we can completely trust God as Father, then we can live with hope even in the worst of circumstances. 

        One of the great questions in life is, “Who or what are you going to trust?”  How you answer that question will determine if you experience a life of spiritual and emotional abundance or a life of anxiety and stress, conflict and pain. 

        Some trust in success, in money, in power, in achievement, in knowledge, or in talent.  Those are all good things, but they are not your source of hope. 

        Some trust in the church.  And the church is a good thing, but the church is made up of fallible human beings that cannot do for you what only God can. 

Some trust in the government and as much as we need all levels of government, government can only do so much.  Government cannot and should not be your source of hope. 

        Some trust in entertainers, but the winner of American Idol and Dancing with the Stars is not going to be there for you during your darkest hour.

        Some trust in themselves.  They think they don’t need God.  There are many who do not acknowledge God.  But without God your heart doesn’t beat, your lungs don’t work and we don’t get up and walk out of this room. 

Psalms 33:4  For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything He does.

 

        The message of Easter is you need Him and you can trust Him.  The Empty Tomb tells us He is the only hope you really have in this world. 

 

3.  HANDS

        The third word I want you to see is the words “HANDS”.  Jesus said, “Father, into your hands…”  That is an expression of trust, security, and care.  It is an expression of hope.  Jesus was about to die.  But He died in a calm assurance because He placed His life in the hands of God.  He gave God control.  We like to be in control.  We want things in our hands.  But we are far better off when we put things in God’s hands. 

        When the hard times hit, and we are in over our heads and we don’t know where to turn, and we can’t see the cavalry coming to the rescue we need to trust in the hands of our great God.

John 10:27-28 My sheep know my voice, and I know them. They follow me, 28 and I give them eternal life, so that they will never be lost. No one can snatch them out of my hand.

 

        This is where we find hope.  We can rest in the security and comfort of knowing we are in God’s hands and no one and no thing can snatch us out. 

        Now let me put this in context.  Jesus is hanging on a cross, falsely accused, dying on behalf of others, and paying the price for sins He didn’t commit.  It is not fair, not right, not just.  There has never been a situation more unfair in all of human history.  But Jesus died at peace because Jesus had hope and Jesus had hope because He had entrusted His life to the Father’s hands. 

        Wouldn’t you like to live with that kind of peace?  You can if you learn to trust God.  If you are willing to come to Christ and surrender your life to Him, give Him everything, then you can have a relationship with the Father that can fill you with hope even when you are going through the toughest of times.   

         How about it?  Wouldn’t you like to turn your life over to the one who conquered death and rose from the grave?  You can.  Here’s how.

 

FINDING HOPE IN TRUSTING GOD

LUKE 23:44-49

The Roman Centurion

 

1.  FATHER

 

Psalm 103:8 

 

Psalm 103:13

 

2.  TRUST

 

Psalms 33:4 

  

3.  HANDS

 

John 10:27-28

 

Trusting God leads to a life of hope, filled with peace.