Friday, April 6, 2007

Good Friday

Almighty God, graciously behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, to be given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death on the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Throughout Lent I have been preaching on the Seven Last Words from the cross. Although this is technically the 6th word, it seemed the most appropriate of the last words to reserve for today. For here his work finds its completion. Actually his entire life has been leading to this point in time. He was born to live and die on our behalf. It has been over 30 years of often quiet, unnoticed labor - living under the law, living to fulfill the law. It culminates as the skies above darken and veil the earth in deep sadness, and our dear Lord must now enter into the utter blackness of hell's pit. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" he cries from Psalm 22. The mystery of his suffering is greatest now. Who can begin to comprehend the forsakenness of the Son? Who can understand how God abandons his own to such pain? God himself stands in the dark gap and shoulders the world's entire guilt. Nothing more can be done. Yet, nothing more needs to be done.

And what a comfort this is! For all those who have thought that they had to do something to earn God's favor, hear him again: It is finished. For all those who often wondered if their sins were too great to be forgiven, hear him again: It is finished. For all those who struggled to believe that this could be enough for all of eternity, Him him again: Iit is finished. He has done it all. Paid the entire price. Offered the whole, unblemished sacrifice. Our sins are forgiven, as he prayed in the very first word from the cross. We are saved.

This word from the cross, unlike many of the others, is only one word in Greek - tetelesthai. In the perfect tense it means: "It has been finished and will remain finished." This is why we still look to the cross in our earthly journey. Where else do we see the assurance of our salvation in such fullness and certainty? And unlike so many of the loose ends of life, the equipment that always needs to be repaired and updated, the records that are broken by the next contestant, the efforts to get well that require another treatment, -this work will never be updated or need to be completed again. It is finished. For all time.

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