Friday, April 22, 2011

Last night as we were leaving our Maundy Thursday service, I looked over and I saw tears streaming down Jacob's face.  I put my arm gently around him and pulled him close.  As his Mom I know his tender heart and that he would need to share with me what was troubling him.  He shared with me how much it bothered him that Jesus had to pay for his sins and the sins of world by dying on the Cross.  I told him it wasn't fair but that I am so glad Jesus did not only consider what we deserved.  Jesus knew the only option to save us, was for Him to take our place.  We cannot save ourselves and the precious truth is we do have to anymore.  Jesus has already saved us.  It is done.  It is finished.

Today we remember that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Sometimes I think we say that phrase without remembering what it really means. The word crucifixion comes from the word “excruciating.” To be crucified is the most horrific and painful death a person can suffer. We can only begin to imagine the physical pain that Jesus suffered. Jesus also suffered spiritually and emotionally in a way that we never will. When He cried out, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?” it was because at that moment, Jesus was separated from God. Now how could Jesus, who is also God, be separated from God? That has always been a great mystery – even to the greatest of theologians... He, who was without sin, became sin for us all and suffered separation from God. That is the only way we could be saved. Jesus knew what would happen and yet the night before He told His Father, “Not my will, but your will.” Our sins nailed Him to the cross, but His amazing love for you and for me held Him there.

If we would have been standing there that day we would have also heard Jesus say, “It is finished.” Jesus did not only say this, He shouted it out. “It is finished,” is three words in English; but in Greek it is one “Tetelestai” as it would be in Aramaic. And “Tetelestai” is the victor’s shout; it is the cry of a person who has won through the struggle; it is the cry of a person who has come out of the dark into the glory of light, and who has grasped the crown. So, then, Jesus died a victor with a shout of triumph on His lips.

“Here is the precious thing. Jesus passed through the uttermost abyss, and then the light broke. If we, too, cling to God even there seems to be no God, desperately and invincibly clutching the remnants of our faith, quite certainly the dawn will break and we will win through. The victor is the person who refuses to believe that God has forgotten them, even when every fiber of their being feels they are forsaken. The victor is the person who will never let go of their faith, even when they feel that its last grounds are gone. The victor is the person who has been beaten to the depths and still holds on to God, for that is what Jesus did.” (William Barclay)