Thursday, April 21, 2011

Is it Finished?

The great cry of the Savior from the Cross was "It is Finished!". What did Jesus mean when he said that? The fuller context of John 19.30 tells us that "...Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." So to what was Jesus referring?

One thing that was over was the humiliation of the privileges of Heaven and embracing the role as a human. Paul would write many years later, "He made himself nothing, taking the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form." (Phil 2.7)It is almost unthinkable of the condescension of God to walk as a man, to face temptation as a man, to live an exemplary sinless life as a man, and to walk pointing to God with his whole life but in human strength. None of this could be possible unless he was empowered by the Holy Spirit. In this was Jesus could say as so many have said in their last days of life- It is finished. It is a statement of hope and a declaration of confidence that he "would not be left to see decay" but would be vindicated.

Another thing that Jesus is referring to is the agony of the Cross. Clearly, the pain of the cross was on his mind. He was in excruciating pain. He was humiliated as a criminal guilty of a capital crime. He was hung before the public naked and was publicly beaten and spat upon. Medical descriptions of the cross, even those that are conservative, describe a horrific pain. But Jesus was enduring this for me and you. He was guilty only of love and obedience to the Father. This pain was tweaked by the sense of abandonment that Jesus died with. His cry "why have you forsaken me" describes the feeling in his heart. But Jesus was able to push past his feelings and cling to the hope of life eternal gained for others. Above all this was a truly heroic moment. It is finished refers to the agony of the cross.

But more so than all that was the determination that Jesus was "finishing" the atonement. The term is a declaration of completion. Salvation accomplished on teh cross is complete. To the thief on the cross the promise of paradise demonstrates that even if our hands and feet are nailed down we can be saved. There is literally nothing left for us to accomplish! All the human emotions of trying to earn God's love or trying to justify ourselves are inaccurate feelings. Rather, the Christian believer needs to walk in the confidence that all that has been accomplished on the cross is enough to satisfy the love of God and the justice of God. Our sins of the past and future are washed away. Our failings are linked to our inability to think of ourselves as redeemed people. The longer I walk with the Lord the more I recognize that Christ's loving sacrifice is all there is for me to stand upon.

"When all around is sinking sand, On Christ the solid rock I stand..."

This week as we look to the wonderful cross- be careful not to add a single effort of your own to salvation. It is not because you chose so correctly, nor that you attained some spiritual wisdom, nor that you have straightened out your crooked life. All these have happened because of the cross.

Glory to the Lamb of God that took my sins to the cross! Glory to the love of God that sent the Son! Glory to the One who sent my sins to the depths of the sea. My life can begin again because "It is finished!".

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Holy Week Poem by Max Lucado

Road. Dark. Stars. Shadows. Four. Sandals. Robes. Quiet. Suspense. Grove. Trees. Alone. Questions. Anguish. 'Father!' Sweat. God. Man. God-Man. Prostrate. Blood. 'NO!' 'Yes.' Angels. Comfort. Footsteps. Torches. Voices. Romans. Surprise. Swords. Kiss. Confusion. Betrayal. Fearful. Run! Bound. Wrists. Marching. Courtyard. Priests. Lamps. Sanhedrin. Caiaphas. Sneer. Silk. Arrogance. Beard. Plotting. Barefoot. Rope. Calm. Shove. Kick. Annas. Indignant. Messiah? Trial. Nazarene. Confident. Question. Answer. Punch! Peter. 'Me?' Rooster. Thrice. Guilt. Proceedings. Court. Rejection. Prosecute. Weary. Pale. Witnesses. Liars. Inconsistent. Silence. Stares. 'Blasphemer!' Anger. Waiting. Bruised. Dirty. Fatigued. Guards. Spit. Blindfold. Mocking. Blows. Fire. Twilight. Sunrise. Golden. Jerusalem. Temple. Passover. Lambs. Lamb. Worshipers. Priests. Messiah. Hearing. Fraud. Prisoner. Waiting. Standing. Shifting. Strategy. 'Pilate!' Trap. Murmurs. Exit. Stirring. Parade. Crowd. Swell. Romans. Pilate. Toga. Annoyed. Nervous. Officers. Tunics. Spears. Silence. 'Charge?' 'Blasphemy.' Indifference. Ignore. (Wife. Dream.) Worry. Interview. Lips. Pain.

Determined. 'King?' 'Heaven.' 'Truth.' 'Truth?' Sarcasm. (Fear.) 'Innocent!' Roar. Voices. 'Galilean!' 'Galileee?' 'Herod!' 9:00 A.M. Marchers. Palace. Herod. Fox. Schemer. Paunchy. Crown. Cape. Scepter. Hall. Elegance. Silence. Manipulate. Useless. Vexed. Revile. Taunt. 'King?' Robe. Theatrical. Cynical. Hateful. 'Pilate!' Marching. Uproar. Prisoner. Hushed. Pilate. 'Innocent!' Bedlam. 'Barabbas!' Riot. Despair. Christ. Bare. Rings. Wall. Back. Whip. Slash. Scourge. Tear. Bone. Moan. Flesh. Rhythm. Silence. Whip! Silence. Whip! Silence. Whip! Thorns. Stinging. Blind. Laughter. Jeering. Scepter. Slap. Governor. Distraught. (Almost.) Eyes. Jesus. Decision. Power. Freedom? Threats. Looks. Yelling. Weak. Basin. Water. Swayed. Compromise. Blood. Guilt. Soldiers. Thieves. Crosspiece. Shoulder. Heavy. Beam. Heavy. Sun. Stagger. Incline. Houses. Shops. Faces. Mourners. Murmurs. Pilgrims. Women. Tumble. Cobblestone. Exhaustion. Gasping. Simon. Pathetic. Golgotha. Skull. Calvary. Crosses. Execution. Death. Noon. Tears. Observers. Wails. Wine. Nude. Bruised. Swollen. Crossbeam. Sign. Ground. Nails. Pound. Pound. Pound. Pierced. Contorted. Thirst. Terrible. Grace. Writhing. Raised. Mounted. Hung. Suspended. Spasms. Heaving. Sarcasm. Sponge. Tears. Taunts. Forgiveness. Dice. Gambling. Darkness. Absurdity. Death. Life. Pain. Peace. Condemn. Promise. Nowhere. Somewhere. Him. Us. 'Father!' Robbers. Paradise. Wailing. Weeping. Stunned. 'Mother.' Compassion. Darkness. 'My God!' Afraid. Scapegoat. Wilderness. Vinegar. 'Father.' Silence. Sigh. Death. Relief. Earthquake. Cemetery. Tombs. Bodies. Mystery. Curtain. Spear. Blood. Water.

Spices. Linen. Tomb. Fear. Waiting. Despair. Stone. Mary. Running. Maybe? Peter. John. Belief. Enlightenment. Truth. Mankind.

Alive. Alive. Alive!