LENTEN CONNECTIONS 2015: It is Finished

Lent:  A Time to Prepare

“It is finished.”

John 19:30 records these words of Jesus as some of his last on the cross, one of a group of phrases that we know as the “Seven Last Words of Christ.”  All four gospels mention that with a loud cry, Jesus bowed his head and “gave up his spirit,” voluntarily giving up his life according to God’s plan.  These words may have been that loud cry.

What was finished?  What was accomplished on that day so long ago, that we think of as a sad, dark day?

Jesus came to earth on a mission, that of redeeming broken humanity and providing a way to reconcile with the Father.  Every person in history, except Jesus, is broken by sin, doing things to separate him or her from a holy God.  Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is deatheternal separation from Him, because we do what is wrong, or don’t do what is right, or have bad attitudes, or are selfish, or proud, or so much more.  Sin leads to punishment and consequences.

A holy God requires a sacrifice for sin in order for his children to have a right relationship with him.  In the Old Testament, he instructed his people to sacrifice perfect, unblemished lambs in prescribed, elaborate, highly symbolic rituals, which had to be repeated periodically, because man never stopped sinning.  In the New Testament, he sent his Son, Jesus, the Christ—the Anointed One or Messiah—to be the Lamb of God, a perfect and one-time sacrifice for sin.  For Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed (1 Cor. 5:7).

Jesus, perfect Son of God, was the only sacrifice God could make on our behalf that would serve once and for all to take the punishment for all our sin, for all time.  John the Baptist said upon seeing him, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).  The disciple John said, He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2) and This is how we know what love is:  Jesus Christ laid down his life for us (1 John 3:16).

Psalm 22, called by the great preacher Charles Spurgeon the “Psalm of the Cross,” begins with the words Christ quoted on the cross, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?  Jesus asked why God had abandoned him and was not answering his cries of anguish.

Isaiah 53 foretold the suffering of the coming Messiah:  Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him and afflicted.  But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed . . . he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors.  For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Have you noticed who benefits from Jesus’ death on the cross—from the suffering, the pain, the weight of all that sin?  We do—all who believe in him and have asked him to forgive our sin and be a part of our lives.  Jesus took our sins upon himself and was abandoned by God, who could not tolerate all that sin, so that we would never be forsaken by God.  He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed (1 Peter 2:24).  When God looks at us, he sees in us the righteousness of Christ and welcomes us as his children.  Imagine his love for us, for all humanity, to do that!  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

The end of Psalm 22 declares the victorious accomplishment of the Messiah, Jesus:  He has done it!

Listen to this modern-day hymn by Stuart Townend (who also wrote the words to In Christ Alone), reflect on the words, and realize that they apply to you:

How Deep the Father’s Love for Us

Words & music by Stuart Townend (1995)

How deep the Father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure,

That He should give His only Son to make a wretch His treasure.

How great the pain of searing loss, the Father turns His face away

As wounds which mar the Chosen One bring many sons to glory.

 

Behold the man upon the cross, my sin upon His shoulders.

Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice call out among the scoffers.

It was my sin that held him there until it was accomplished.

His dying breath has brought me life; I know that it is finished.

 

I will not boast in anything—no gifts, no power, no wisdom;

But I will boast in Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection.

Why should I gain from his reward?  I cannot give an answer,

But this I know with all my heart:  His wounds have paid my ransom.

 

Prayer: Father, I am so grateful that you did not give up on sinful humanity, but that you sent your son Jesus to bear the punishment for my sin.  Thank you that Jesus accomplished on the Cross what I cannot do by any means—to bring righteousness and life to my soul.  Help me to remember this day the pain and suffering that involved, and to live as Your treasure as a result.  In the name of Jesus, my Savior, Amen.

I would encourage you to attend the Good Friday service at 10:30am, which will also focus on these last words of Jesus. Take the time to be quiet, reflect, ponder, and be grateful that He has paid your ransom.

 

Contributed by Sharon Anderson

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