Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

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Location: Moscow, Idaho

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday Tre Ore

Good Friday Tre Ore
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Grand Rapids, MI
April 10, 2009
It is finished…” (John 19:30)

“It is finished,” Jesus said, as “he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:30; ESV). τετέλεσται, it is accomplished, it is fulfilled. This is to say that the very Scriptures have been fulfilled, brought to completion, all the types, all the messianic prophecies, the whole Old Testament. The promise to the Patriarchs is realized. The Law of Moses is satisfied. The sacrifices of the Tabernacle and the Temple find their culmination and power in the once for all sacrifice of the Lamb of God upon the altar of the cross, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. “It is finished.” The divine mission, the sin-atoning work the Father had given the Son to do is now accomplished. All that is left now is for the Son to take His Sabbath rest in the grave until the third day.

“It is finished.” These words signal the ending of the old, fallen creation. The curse of Adam is brought to a halt. The debt of sin is paid in full by the sinless Son of God. The cup of God’s wrath is drained to its very dregs. The reign of death is coming to an end. The heel of the Savior is mortally bruised by the serpent’s fangs, but in the wounding, the serpent’s head is crushed. “Behold, I am making all things new” says Jesus (Rev. 21:5).

In the beginning, the Son of God was with the Father, and the Father created all things through the Son. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:1-3). “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible” (Col. 1:16). “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done” (Gen. 2:1-2). God finished His work. The word “finished” in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, is the same word Jesus speaks from the cross. God finished His work of creation, the Father creating through the Son, and all that was left to do was to rest and to enjoy what He had made. And this rest was extended to God’s creation as well. Adam and Eve, who had nothing to do with the creation of the heavens and the earth, were given to rest in God and enjoy His marvelous creation, all by grace. There was no strife. There was no sin. There was no death. All of life was doxology, praise to the living God, freely receiving and enjoying His gifts.

Ah, but something went dreadfully wrong. The serpent, Satan, beguiled Eve so that she, in express violation of the commandment of God, took of the forbidden fruit, the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. She took of the fruit and she ate, and she gave some to her husband, and he ate, and all at once there was no more rest. All at once there was shame. All at once Adam and Eve found themselves exposed, naked, and afraid of the judgment of God. All at once Adam and Eve began to age, to die, and were, in fact, spiritually dead already. What God had finished and pronounced “very good,” had been undone by the sin of man, subjected to futility, plunged into the fall, weighed down with the curse. Animals once friendly became ferocious. Childbirth, the command of God to be fruitful and multiply and so be privileged to participate in God’s work of propagation became a painful thing for the woman. And so also the very ground was cursed. It brought forth thorns and thistles and caused much pain and sweat to man. And worst of all, man was promised, “you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Gen. 3:19).

So it goes in this fallen world. “[S]in came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12). We sons and daughters of Adam and Eve are wholly corrupt. We are the begotten enemies of God, born in sin and death. The curse remains with us. We have inherited the guilt and punishment of Adam, and in his tradition we sin against God in thought, word, and deed. The creation which has been subjected is hostile to us. Our very bodies disintegrate under the burden. We are dust, and to dust we shall return. We age. We die. We are born spiritually dead and our transgressions lead us to eternal death in hell. That is, until sin and death and hell are put to an end for us in Jesus Christ. “It is finished. Behold, I am making all things new.”

The words, “It is finished,” spell the end of the old and the beginning of the new. On the cross Jesus is doing the work of the new creation. He is ending the old tyranny. He is undoing the undoing of Adam. He is reversing the curse by becoming a curse for us. He is doing what God promised He would do from the very beginning: “he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15). In dying on the cross, Jesus crushes the serpent’s head. “It is finished.” Jesus, the eternal Word made flesh, looks upon His new creation. Behold, it is very good. There is nothing left for Him to do now but to rest, to rest in the tomb thus fulfilling the Sabbath, and then to rise again on the third day, the firstfruits of the new creation.

Beloved in the Lord, this day you can rest in the knowledge that all is finished now, that Jesus has made all things new, that Jesus has made a new creation out of you. For as many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. You are a new creation in Christ Jesus. His death is for you. You are united to His death in your Baptism, and so also you are united to His resurrection. When Jesus said, “It is finished,” He meant the payment for your sin. He meant His sin-atoning work on your behalf. He meant your reconciliation with the Father. He meant the forgiveness of your sins, eternal life, and salvation, all for you. Now even death is reversed for you. Oh, it may not look like it. You may still be aging. You may still have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death, physical death. And you certainly still sin. But that is only because the new creation is not apparent yet. That doesn’t mean it isn’t real. You are alive spiritually, enlivened by the Holy Spirit sent from the Father and the Son. You will not suffer eternal death. Now, for a little while, you have to suffer in this life, you have to live in Good Friday, but Easter is on its way. And you can rest. God’s rest is extended to you freely. You are given to rest each day in the Sabbath rest that is Jesus Christ, for all your sins have been brought to an end, heaven has been opened to you, and you have the sure and certain promise of the resurrection. You, who have had nothing to do with creating all things new, are given to rest in God, rest in Christ, and enjoy His new creation even now in a life of doxology, praise and thanksgiving to your Creator and Redeemer, receiving every day His gifts in Christ Jesus. You can rest in the knowledge that Christ has brought an end to strife and deliverance from sin, that death is in its death throes. “It is finished.” The Word of God accomplishes what it says. There is nothing left for you to do now but to wait, and to rest. Easter is coming. In the meantime, behold the wounds. Behold the Crucified. His blood covers your sins. His death brings you life. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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