Today is Good Friday. As Christians, we know exactly what this day is. On this day, Jesus was taken to a small hill outside of Jerusalem and crucified for our sins. He was subject to a sham of a trial. He was taken and beaten. He was forced to walk through the streets of Jerusalem carrying his own cross. Just think about this. Less than a week ago, Jesus was entering Jerusalem to cheers. Now, Jesus was leaving the city to jeers. Upon his arrival at that small hill, Jesus was nailed to the cross he carried through the streets and hoisted up to die between two thieves.
After years of study, there are a few things that stick out in my mind as important items for consideration. I try not to get lost in the details of the story and work to keep to the “bigger picture”. However, there are some details that require a second look and a little deeper understanding. At the surface these details may seem insignificant, but they are more meaningful when you look closer at them.
In chapter nineteen of the Gospel that bears his name, John writes, “After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, ‘I thirst!’ Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.”
When Jesus said that it is finished, we need to consider the entire context of that scripture. Look closely at the beginning. It tells us that Jesus, “knowing that all things were accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled” was ready to give up his spirit.
By considering both sets of words in the context of the other, you see that there is a deeper meaning. On the surface, Jesus is announcing that he is ready to give up his spirit. But, it is that deeper meaning that gives us the power over death.
In chapter nine of the Book of Hebrews, the author gives us true insight into the meaning of Jesus’ final words by writing, “That is why even the first covenant was put into effect with the blood of an animal. For after Moses had read each of God’s commandments to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, along with water, and sprinkled both the book of God’s law and all the people, using hyssop branches and scarlet wool. Then he said, ‘This blood confirms the covenant God has made with you.’ And in the same way, he sprinkled blood on the Tabernacle and on everything used for worship. In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.”
The author sums up the requirements for sin in just a few sentences. All sins required a sacrifice. All covenants required blood. No forgiveness could take place without the shedding of blood. When you read the Book of Leviticus, it goes into great detail about the nature of the sacrifice and offering and how it is to be made. Shedding blood is required for the atonement offering.
But, when you consider our sins and every single time we are disobedient, there really isn’t enough blood to cover all of our sins. That is why God’s plan of salvation is so meaningful. Through the spilling of blood by the perfect lamb for all, there is no need for the atonement sacrifice. God has provided the perfect sacrifice to cover all of our sins once and for all.
The author of Hebrews, in chapter nine, further writes, “For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven. He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf. And he did not enter heaven to offer himself again and again, like the high priest here on earth who enters the Most Holy Place year after year with the blood of an animal. If that had been necessary, Christ would have had to die again and again, ever since the world began. But now, once for all time, he has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice. And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.”
The key to this passage is “offered once for all time as a sacrifice”. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for all of us. There was no need for continuing to make atonement sacrifices. Jesus’ blood became the only thing that we needed and our salvation. There is no way that we can wash away our own sins and repay the debt.
Paul, in chapter six of his epistle to the Romans, writes, “We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.”
Jesus died once to break that grip that sin had on us. All we have to do is accept that truth and confess our sins. Paul later writes that we have all sinned and fallen short. But, the free gift of salvation from God’s own hand is His son, Christ Jesus, our once and for all time sacrifice.
When Jesus was on that cross, he became our perfect sacrifice and paid our debt of sin for all time. All we have to do is acknowledge that we are sinners and accept that gift of eternal life with our Heavenly Father.
Once we do, our sins are forgiven and we can walk in newness of life without the grip of death squeezing the life out of us. Death and sin have no hold on us and we can begin our new life and daily walk with Jesus and follow our new master.
If you haven’t accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and the Lord of your life, the Holy Week is the perfect time to reflect and think about the sacrifice made by Jesus. Jesus loves you so very much and laid down his life for you so that you can have eternal life. All you have to do is take a few moments and bow your head. With your head bowed and eyes closed, offer God your prayer and let him know that you are a sinner and you ask to be forgiven of your sins. You don’t have to list them. He already knows them. Declare Jesus as your personal Savior and Lord. Once you have prayed that prayer, you are forgiven. I ask you to find another Christian or join a church and ask to be baptized. By following Jesus in believer’s baptism, you are showing your obedience to follow Him. When you do these things, you will know that you are standing firm in His grace.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.