Tuesday, April 7, 2009

It Is Finished...the Ultimate Sacrifice

The Ultimate Sacrifice...made for us!

"They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. "Hail, king of the Jews!" they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, "You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!"
In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. "He saved others," they said, "but he can't save himself! He's the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, 'I am the Son of God.' " In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"—which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
When some of those standing there heard this, they said, "He's calling Elijah."
Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, "Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to save him."
And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, "Surely he was the Son of God!" (Matthew 27:28-54 NIV)

"Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because 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." (Isaiah 53:1-12 NIV)

So, what exactly happened on that fateful day so many hundreds of years ago? Was just a man put to death for Crimes, or was there more to the story? As you probably guessed, there was more that happened than a simple man being judged and subsequently executed for said crimes.

The first fact, already discussed in earlier posts: Jesus was the Word of God made flesh. (John 1:14) He was God, Himself. The second part of the Holy Trinity. He came as a servant and lived as and lived among men. He allowed Himself to be tried and convicted, and ultimately executed.

Why? Because He had to! For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness for our sins. (Hebrews 9) Man's sin was so great that a simple blood sacrifice of an animal would no longer do, there needed to be something more. Enter: Jesus!

God sent in His own Lamb for the sacrifice. Jesus Christ paid the ultimate price for all of our sins: past, present and future! He bore everything for us. Why did He do that? Simple, God loves us and doesn't want us to go to hell. Thats where the unredeemed will go without accepting His Son, it HAS to be that way. Sin has NO place in the presence of God Almighty, it CAN'T exist there.

Second fact: Jesus went to Hades! He HAD to. The scriptures tell us He became sin through the crucifixion. (2 Corinthians 5:21) If sin, by definition, is separation from God: then deductive reasoning concludes that Jesus died and went to be punished because He was sin. OUR sin! Hades was made for sin. Some sacrifice, the Man that knew NO sin becoming what He hates because He loves us so much. Deep, huh?

Bottom line: Good Friday is the day where we remember and recognize the Ultimate Sacrifice, the Perfect Sacrifice: the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. But it didn't end there. We will discuss Easter on Sunday and what Jesus meant when He cried out "It is finished!" For all the tears of sadness flowing today, there will be more tears of joy for what happened on that Easter. Stay tuned!

God loves you very much, that's why we observe Good Friday. But where there's sorrow, there comes a hope. Meet that Hope and be saved today. (John 3:16)

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