Wednesday, April 30, 2014

5/1/14- Do Not Be Deceived

4Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8All these are the beginning of birth pains.
9“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come...
. 23At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it.24For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25See, I have told you ahead of time.(Matthew 24)

Thoughts: Before he died, Jesus spoke of people deceiving others in the faith.  It is therefore possible and common that people would be in the Church to deceive others.  Jesus also warns all of those who seek to follow Him that they need to be careful that they too be deceived.  Jesus also forecast that in the end times (and by this also the end of cultures) the love of most will grow cold.
    He tells us this that we might guard our hearts and souls.  We are not to live in fear, but to live in caution of those who would pour cold water on the flames of our love for God and faith in Him.  Jesus would have us ready and steady ourselves.  

Prayer: Lord, keep my heart and soul strong for you.  

Today is National Day of Prayer.  It is a good day to pray for the nation you live in and those over you in government.  

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

4/30/14- Real Children

7But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. (Matthew 3)

Thoughts: The lesson of Jesus to the Pharisees is that just being religious is not enough.  Having an intellectual belief in one God is not enough.  Just being sincere in your belief is not enough either.  Instead, it is a matter of having a love for God that produces fruit.  Without fruit, we are like discarded branches.  The fruit- is the fruit of reproduction- reproducing faith and the fruit of the Spirit.  There are physical-visible children of Abrham, and real spiritual descendants of him.  
    In our day, many people think that because they are religious and go to church, they are a part of the family.  But the heart has to be right and if the heart is right, the right kind of life and fruit are produced. A sign of religious ferment is trusting in habit instead of trusting in the heart.  The corollary is also true- to trust the heart without habit destroys the depth of our belief.  Hopefully we have our hearts right with God and are consistent in serving Him in worship and helping others.  The invisible church of the heart shows itself in bearing fruit.  

Prayer: May my heart show in my life. May my devotion show itself in my going to worship you.  

Monday, April 28, 2014

4/29/14- The Invisible Church

Nevertheless, God's solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: "The Lord knows who are his" and ""Everyone who confesses the Name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness." (2 Timothy 2:19)

Thoughts: The church is seen in that it has buildings, budgets, memberships.  But there is a sense in which God alone knows who are His.  God alone looks at the heart.  We can fool other people about whether we believe or not, but we cannot fool God.

Prayer: Lord, you see all things, including my heart.  Search me, O Lord, and know my heart- may it be truly and fully yours.

Night Vision Goggles

Sunday, April 27, 2014

4/28/13- Walking by Faith

6Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7For we live by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:6,7)

Thoughts: It takes faith to live.  It takes faith to believe that the sun will rise in the morning (if you say you have this calculated mathematically, then it takes faith to believe the math equations are correct).  it takes faith to believe the food you eat is safe.  It takes faith to believe the brakes will work in your car when you get in it.  
Everyone lives by a measure of faith.  It takes faith for the atheist to believe there is no god.  It takes faith to believe that it doesn't matter whether we believe in god or not.
    We do not live solely by what we see either.  We know that there is more to life than we can see.  Before the invention of the microscope we had no idea there was a whole world of microorganisms and bacteria.  Before the invention of the telescope we had no idea of some galaxies or stars and now planets.  Can we not also believe there is a spiritual world that we haven't seen.
    It takes faith to have hope and not be so skeptical about life.  

Prayer: Help me Lord to be confident in you and to walk boldly by faith and not by sight. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

4/27/14- John Finishes His Book

24This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.
25Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. (John 21:24,25)

Thoughts: The end of this book tells us much about the book and about our Lord.  John identifies himself as "the disciple whom Jesus loved... this disciple." (vs. 20 and 24).  John witnesses to what he saw as an eyewitness and writes them down for future generations to know.
    We also find that Jesus' actions were not limited to this or the other three cannonized Gospels.  He was very busy in his three years of ministry.  Perhaps we get a clue that John knew it was time for him to end this writing.  

Prayer: Thank you Lord, for this Gospel that wrote down what you did.  

Friday, April 25, 2014

4/26/14- Peter Compares Himself to John

20Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) 21When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”
22Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” 23Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?” (John 21:20-23)

Thoughts: There was really only one disciple of the twelve who was at the foot of the cross.  There was one disciple who followed Jesus to the High Priest's house.  There was one disciple who ran to the tomb beside Peter.  There was one disciple who didn't die a martyr's death.  That was the disciple John.  But even after being restored, Peter showed weakness.  He was looking around at what everyone else is doing.  Later, Paul would accuse Peter of saying one thing in front of the Gentiles and another in front of the Jews. We could learn a lesson from this mild rebuke of Jesus to his lead disciple: "What is that to you?"   We would do well to be faithful, and not compare ourselves to others- who may fail or who may succeed in various ways. 

Prayer: Lord, keep me true and faithful to you.  

Thursday, April 24, 2014

4/25/14- Peter's Martyrdom Predicted

 18Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!” (John 21:18,19)

Thoughts: This passage tells us that Jesus predicted Peter's death by martyrdom and also that the author was writing after the fact- confirming the prediction was true.  St. Peter's Basilica and Vatican City is a monument to the death of Peter by the Emperor Nero around 65 AD.  St. Peter's is built on Nero's Circus Maximus- and the ground of his palace.  Strong tradition has it that when the Romans told Peter he would die on the cross he asked them to crucify him upside down.  
Peter changed from the one who denied him to the one who thought it unworthy to die right-side up.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for Peter's example of bravery.  Help me to not deny my faith.  Keep me from shying away from doing what is right- and speaking up for you.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

4/24/14- Peter Reinstated

15When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.  (John 21:15-17)

Thoughts:  Peter had denies Jesus three times and was despondent and depressed.  Apparently he was leading the men to go back to fishing as he had failed at being a disciple..  He was bolder than most, but then he cowered. Jesus had to do something dramatic to encourage him.
So he asked him three times "do you love me?"   Three times Peter replied yes. Love erases denial.  We are all called to love Jesus.  Jesus then gave him a purpose and a calling again- to feed His sheep.  Those of us who have messed up need not only the assurance that we can be forgiven, but also direction and purpose.
The sheep, of course, is the Church- the flock of Jesus.  Peter was called to feed the followers of Christ with His teaching and His love.  Jesus most often does not feed His church directly, but feeds the Church- His sheep through us.

Prayer: Lord, help me to know my calling and my purpose in serving you.

Water front view of Sea of Galilee where Church of the Seven Springs (traditional site of Peter's restoration occured).  

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

4/23/14 Disciples reinstated

7Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards.c 9When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. (John 21:7-9)

Thoughts: "The disciple whom Jesus loved" is another name for the disciple John.  He was placed next to Jesus at the Last Supper. He was with James and Peter going up on the mountain of transfiguration. His mother asked Jesus for permission for him to sit at his right or left in the kingdom- with the assurance that he was loved.  Jesus had such a trusting relationship that on the cross He entrusted His mother to John's care. The title is not a bragging one, but a way of speaking of himself as the author in the third person.  21:24 says that this person wrote the book. Tradition is strong that this "disciple" is the Apostle John.  When Jesus called John, James, and Peter (recorded in Luke 5) he similarly told them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat.  So John recognized Jesus from a distance in the early morning lake fog.  John's exclamation was an exclamation of worship- "It is the Lord."  Jesus is John's friend, but also His Lord and Master.  
     Peter was so excited to see Jesus again, that he wouldn't wait for the boat to turn around and pull in- he jumped in the water and swam to the shore.     
     When the disciples landed with the fish Jesus helped them catch, they found a hot breakfast waiting for them.  Jesus was no ghost, and no hallucination.  A ghost/hallucination cannot cook breakfast.
      This is a reinstatement of all the disciples.  When Jesus called his disciples (Mt. 4) he asked them to drop their nets and follow Him.  He called them to go out and be fishers of people.  In Luke 5 this calling was portrayed as Jesus showing His divinity and provision by telling them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat. It was as if Jesus was calling all of these seven disciples to follow Him once more.  This time Jesus not only provided the fish, by telling them where the fish were, he also cooked fish for them.  Those who seek to serve Christ do not need to fear of lack of provision.  The risen Christ wins in the end.    

Prayer: Lord, may I trust in your provision, and may I love you with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

4/22/14- The Resurrection and Fishing

1Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee.a It happened this way: 2Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymusb ), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3“I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
4Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
5He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
6He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. (John 21:1-6)

Thoughts: The disciples had gone back to more mundane things.  Maybe they thought now that Jesus was gone-- even if he was resurrected- they could ignore him and go back to their old way of life.  But Jesus would not be ignored.  
The first time Jesus called them he told them he would teach them to leave their nets in order to be fishers of people (Mt. 4:19).  It was also Jesus who told the disciples who on a different occasion were not catching fish, to "cast their nets on the other side" earlier and they hauled in so many fish that their nets started to break (Luke 5).  So this, was very similar.  As such- the timing and the duplication were miraculous. Perhaps both of these instances were in the minds of the Apostles and helped them to recognize Jesus.  Jesus was in effect calling them all over again to the ministry- with renewed and resurrected vigor.   

Prayer: Help me, O Lord, to not neglect your call.  

The Purpose of John's Gospel 4/21/14

30Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31But these are written that you may believeb that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30,31)

Thoughts: John was stating that this is not simply a history or a biography of Jesus.  Things have been placed in on purpose, and other things were left out.  This Gospel was written for a purpose- that we might believe.  As such, it is not just a textbook to be studies, analyzed and critiqued.  We are meant to say yes to its message and to the main character after reading it.  Jesus is not a dead figure of history, but a living God who can change our lives for the better, and give us eternal life. So, the question for everyone reading this is not, "Do you find this interesting," but, "Do you believe?"

Prayer: Lord, I believe, help my unbelief. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Thomas- My Lord and my God- 4-20-14

24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20)

Thoughts:  There is so much skepticism in our world.  But skepticism is not an option.  I can remember my two year old girl once telling me she didn't want to eat her supper.  When I asked her if she would eat anything she said, "No!" If I asked her if I could do anything or take her anywhere to make her happy she said, "No! No!  No!"  Skepticism is saying no, but it doesn't really give us any meaning, any hope, any reason love is better than hate.  Skepticism is the attitude that "You have to prove it to me... I won't believe it if I don't see it." 
This was Thomas's problem.  Thomas earlier had inquired of Jesus to tell them the way.  He had said he would go to Jerusalem to die with Jesus.  Thomas eventually here worshiped Christ as his Lord and God- and Christ accepted his worship.  Then he said blessed are those who do not see but believe anyway. 

    We are called to believe more than we can see.  We know there is more out there than what we can see.  Before we discovered microscopes we did not know about germs and bacteria.  Before we discovered telescopes we did not know about other planets and stars that we could not see.  There is simply more over the horizon than we can see.  As Augustine said, "i BELIEVE IN ORDER TO UNDERSTAND."  Christians do not walk by sight alone- but by faith. 

Prayer: My Lord, and My God!  Help me to give myself to you in worship and praise. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

4/19/14- The Prince Of Peace Appears

19On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
21Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” 
(John 20:19-23)

Thoughts:  Jesus not only rose from the dead on Sunday, but He also appeared to His disciples on this day.  So the disciples changed the name of the day to "The Lord's Day" (Rev. 1:10).  
Jesus replied three times in this chapter "Peace be with you."  It is the words of Gabriel to Mary when the angel announced Jesus' coming.  It is the words of the angels to the shepherds- "Peace on earth goodwill toward those on whom His favor rests." In His resurrection, Jesus offers us peace.  Peace about death; Peace in the face of the fear and crosses we face; Jesus offers us peace with God; peace with others and peace within ourselves.  He said the night he was arrested: "Peace I give you.  Not as the world gives give I to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled and do not let them be in me."  Jesus's resurrection is our peace and proves He is the Prince of Peace.  

Prayer: Prince of Peace, let your peace flow into and through me.  

Thursday, April 17, 2014

4/18/14- Mary and Jesus

11Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
13They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
15He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
16Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
17Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ”
18Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her. (John 20:11-18)

Thoughts: This is the first recorded appearance of Jesus.  It is to a woman.  The women were the first to go to the disciples to spread the news that the tomb was empty.  But here it is also clear the women saw Jesus first.  Let us explore this a bit.
     Mary was brave and caring to come to the tomb at all.  She saw the stone rolled away and then saw two angels at the tomb with the body of Jesus gone.  She was convinced someone had stolen the body.  When Jesus approached her, she did not recognize Him. 
Maybe she did not recognize Him because of his flogging and wounds.  While Jesus was healed the scars in his hands, side, and marks on his face were still there.  Maybe her tears blinded her.  Maybe she was not expecting Jesus to be there so she did not recognize Him.  
When Jesus called her name, she recognized His voice, His call, His love and responded.  Mary who anointed Jesus' feet with oil, now hugged Jesus with all her might.  Jesus wanted her to know he would not stay on earth forever, but would ascend to heaven.  So holding on to Him would not keep Him here.
     Mary's response was to tell the disciples boldly.  She was not worried that they might think she had lost her mind.  Instead she was concerned that they hear the good news.  Our attitude should be the same.  We need to tell others the good news no matter what they might think of us- the messengers.  

Prayer: Help me to speak forth your hope and good news, O Lord.  


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

4/17/14- The Empty Tomb

1Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
3So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. 8Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9(They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10Then the disciples went back to where they were staying. (John 20:1-10)

Thoughts: When Mary (and her friends) left it was still dark.  Hope seemed gone.  Death, evil, pride and meaninglessness seemed to win.  Yet that was not the last word.  The first sign Mary saw was that the tomb was empty.
      Jesus' enemies did not dispute that the tomb was empty.  The Jews claimed the disciples stole the body.  The Romans never doubted that they killed Jesus- even Tacitus (116 AD), their senator and historian said, "Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus."  They did not doubt that Jesus died and that the tomb was empty.  But they never admitted to the resurrection either.  The Jews began the rumor that the scared and cowardly disciples overwhelmed the sleeping guard (guards did not sleep or they were severely punished-and if their prisoner they guarded escaped they would be killed).  Peter and John ("the other disciple" here) were brave enough to run and find out what was going on.  They believed the tomb was empty, but they did not fully understand that Jesus was raised until they saw Him.  We do not have to fully understand God or Jesus in order to have faith.  
God leaves fingerprints of His actions everywhere.  The empty tomb is but a fingerprint to tell us God had been there and had done some amazing work.  It is a forensic monument to His stupendous work.  

Prayer: Lord, you leave signposts that point to your work and love.  Help me to believe the signposts not because I fully understand, but because of who you are.  

(Empty first century tomb in Israel)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

4/16/24- The Burial of Christ

38Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 39He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.e 40Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. (John 19:38-42)

Thoughts: The Apostle Paul said that he passed on to us what was of first importance that Jesus died, was buried and was raised according to the scriptures.  We often talk about His dying and raising, but this talks about the neglected of the three- His burial.
       Jesus' burial has significance.  It tells us Jesus really died.  Living people do not get buried- and if they do, they do not stay living long.  A tomb would be the least likely place to  be revived from the dead.
     Jesus burial also means He is able to sympathize with those who die.  He descended into the grave, sheol, hades- the realm of death.  But while He is able to understand death fully, no grave could contain or seal Him in death.
      Some used the burial to raise the question of the descent into hell of Jesus.  The western medieval way of looking at this would be to say Jesus  went to purgatory to preach to the spirits of the saints of the Old Testament and others (1 Peter 3:19- "he also went and preached to the spirits in prison."  This descent is also hinted in the Old Testament (Ps. 49:15; Hos. 13:14; Jonah 2:2,6; Isa. 26:19) an the New (Acts 2:31; Eph. 4:9-10; 2 Pt. 4:6).  While it was not added to the Apostles' Creed til 359, it was part of the writings of Ignatius, Polcarp, Irenaeus, and Tertullian in the early church.  This would not be a universalistic belief as some in hell would still reject the message and person of Christ.  Some Roman Catholics spoke of this as the "Harrowing of Hell" meaning the conquering of the devil and bringing to Himself those who had never heard.  Certainly there is a sense of the conquering of evil in the cross.  Some Protestants following Aquinas (eg. Luther) believed Jesus took the time between His death and resurrection to go to hell and tell those who were there what He has done- so that they too would recognize His justice- with the knees of those under the earth bowing to Him (Phil. 2:10).  John Calvin said that Jesus went through hell on the cross for us when He became our sacrifice for sin and said, "My God, My God why have you forsaken me?"  Hell certainly is a God-forsaken state.  For many Reformed thinkers, the burial of Christ was another part of the humiliation of Christ- along with coming to earth, having no home or possessions on earth, and dying a humiliating and unjust death.  So, many combine His burial with His humiliating descent into hell. 

Prayer: Lord, thank you for your burial, that reminds me of your great love.  No tomb, no grave could hold you.  

(Peter Huys 1545-77 Harrowing of Hell)

     Michelangelo- Pieta- Mary holding the dead Christ before burial

Monday, April 14, 2014

4/15/14- Jesus' Death

28Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
31Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. 32The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.34Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. 36These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,”c 37and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.” (John 19:28-37)

Thoughts: John records two last sentences of Jesus.  "I am thirsty" which emphasizes His humanity, and human weakness.  They offered him bitter drink that would not satisfy His thirst.  They put the sponge on the hyssop plant- which is the same plant that they used for putting the Passover Lamb's blood on the doorpost.  Jesus really suffered for us.  There was an old heresy that said Jesus was just a Phantom- a spirit- and not a real, suffering human.  But "I thirst" is a reminder of His vulnerability and weakness. 
"It is finished" (teletesrtai) is a reminder that Christ's work- His teaching, earthly example, and daily humble sacrifices- culminating in the cross is over and done.  The sins were paid for. The sacrifice is real. 
The last paragraph is a reminder that Jesus really did die.  When they pierced His side blood and water came out.  It is a sign of a broken heart.  The crucifixion causes heart and lung failure- when fluid forms around the membranes of the heart and lungs. The piercing of the side was an indication and affirmation that Jesus really died.  

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, that you became human and suffered for us.  Thank you that you sacrificed so much for us and gave yourself.  Help me to believe and trust in you.
(Velasquez 1632)