We have pretty well covered what this series set out to do. We’ve discussed being a Christian and becoming a Christian. We talked about not getting bogged down with a bunch of man-made rules and regulations. Today, in this final post on the subject, we will examine Jesus’s final statement on the cross.
If you have not read the earlier posts on this subject, find the “Categories” list in the right-hand column of this page and click on “Christianity 101.” This will pull up all the previous posts so you can read through them in order.
Our basic text for today consists of three words. These three words were the last uttered by Jesus before He died on the cross, so they must have some pretty special meaning to us as Christians.
John 19:30 says: Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.
As a side note, it’s interesting that John didn’t say He died. He said He gave up His spirit. No man could kill Jesus. Man couldn’t even have put Him up on that cross. He allowed them to do that. And He gave up His spirit—voluntarily dying to complete the work He set out to do.
What was finished? Obviously, Jesus’s life as a man here on earth was finished. Obviously, also, the work of His ministry here was finished. But is that all?
To answer that, we must ask the question, “Why did He come?” His incarnation and life here on earth allowed Him to spend some 33 years living among us and to spend some three years preaching, teaching, ministering and healing. But was that all?
As important as all those things were, the real reason for His incarnation, life, death and resurrection was to triumph over sin, once and for all. In order to do this, He had to replace the Old Covenant, which could not save anyone, with a New Covenant under which God extended His grace to all who would receive it.
It was the Old Covenant which was finished. Up until the moment Jesus gave up His spirit on the cross, God’s people were subject to all the Mosaic laws, which no man could live up to and which, therefore, could save no one. But when Jesus drew His last breath, that Old Covenant was replaced by the New Covenant.
Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38, and Luke 23:45 all three report that the veil in the temple was ripped in two at the moment of Jesus’s death. Was that ripping necessary in order for Jesus’s life and ministry to be over? Of course not. There was a much deeper reason for the tearing of the veil.
The temple veil represented the priesthood. It also separated the people from God. God caused the veil to be torn down as a sign that the priesthood was abolished and that, under the New Covenant, He was accessible to His people.
That’s right: accessible. You and I have just as much right and access to God as Billy Graham or Paul or any other Christian who has ever lived. We don’t have to go through temple rituals. We don’t have to have a priest intercede for us. We have direct access to God the Father, and He tells us each to approach His throne boldly.
There are religions in this world today which teach that you must have a priest to intercede between you and God or to represent God in forgiving your sins, but the New Testament of the Christian Bible says no such thing. God listens to you when you pray. He forgives your sins when you confess them.
1 Peter 2:9, which is speaking to Christians in general, says: But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood . . .
You and I are priests one to another. You not only can pray directly to God without the aid—or intervention—of any clergyman, but you and I can also pray for each other. We don’t need professional help.
It’s a shame that so many Christians are burdened by man-made rules and regulations telling us we can’t dance or go to movies or drink alcohol if we’re Christians, or that we have to have a paid priest pardon our sins or pray for us or administer some kind of rite over our dead bodies in order to go to heaven.
It’s very simple. To be a Christian, you have to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Once you have done that—from your heart—no man can add to or remove your salvation. The Christian life is a simple life if we’ll allow it to be.
If you abide in Me and My word abides in you, then you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.
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