1998-07-02 - War's End
The Cross Series, Part 46
Matt 27:45 Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour.
Since long before the beginning of time, in eternity past, the members of the Godhead have longed for this moment. The Father stands ready, the Holy Spirit ministers strength to the wounded Jesus, and Jesus has checked off one prophetic item after another until the list has grown very short.
Exactly what transpires during these three unique hours in history no one can say with certainty. It is noon-time near the equator. There is no record of an eclipse, and even a severe storm will allow some light to trickle through. This darkness is unnatural, or supernatural. There is no record of human activity during this time. It is as though the armies of the enemy converged on this one place to try to exercise their power in their realm - the air.
Eph 2:1-2 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.
Every effort is bent against the Creator of the Universe. The original rebellion comes to a head in this moment. If a final stand can not be made here, the throne room of the highest heaven is lost to the fallen archangel forever.
Mark 15:34-37 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" which is translated, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" 35 And when some of the bystanders heard it, they began saying, "Behold, He is calling for Elijah." 36 And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink, saying, "Let us see whether Elijah will come to take Him down."
It is now three o'clock, time for the evening sacrifice. The moment Jesus has dreaded has arrived. He who had never known separation from the Father now bears the sin of all mankind through all eternity. The perfect Father Who can not tolerate sin in His presence must now turn His back on His Son. So that we would know, Jesus shouts the question, "...why have You forsaken me?"
It is ironic that, at the last moment, the mockers would become hopeful that Jesus did have some connections. They misunderstand His cry and think Jesus is calling Elijah. A place for Elijah is always ready at the Passover meal which was just eaten. Jesus had taken Elijah's seat after Judas had left. The crowd now expectantly awaits the Prophet's appearance.
John 19:28-30 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, "I am thirsty." 29 A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop, and brought it up to His mouth. 30 When Jesus therefore had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And He bowed His head, and gave up His Spirit.
The sour wine that Jesus earlier refused is now requested. Every item He came to accomplish from birth to death has been checked off save one. The Master's tortured mouth and throat accept the relief offered by the drink, clearing His throat and loosening His tongue. At the time the Shoffar, the ram's horn trumpet, would have been sounded announcing the completion of the afternoon sacrifice, Jesus shouts for all the world, "It is finished!" His sacrifice on our behalf is completed.
The call is actually an accounting term that could be rendered, "Paid in Full!" Our ledger of debts has been shifted to Jesus account, and our balance has been rocketed from deep in debt to the profit of His riches in Glory. The power of sin to keep mankind from coming to the Father has been shattered, as have been our shackles to the Law which we could never keep. We must still accept Jesus as Savior, His salvation and His life. But our slavery to sin - which we were powerless against - holding us back from the Father is broken, and we are free to come to Him.
Matt 27:51-53 And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, and the earth shook; and the rocks were split, 52 and the tombs were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.
A vivid picture of our liberty to come to the Father is rendered here. The priceless temple veil, woven four inches thick and 60 feet high by the width of the building, ripped wide open from top to bottom. The Father tore open the barrier just as Jesus tore the barriers to the Father away for us. Before that day, only the High Priest - and him only once a year at the risk of his life, could enter the Holy of Holies. Now anyone may come before the Father. Surely anyone can come to God asking for forgiveness and accepting the free gift of salvation - no exceptions.
Luke 23:46 And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, "Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit." And having said this, He breathed His last.
A great sorrow to Jesus' friends, He lays down His life. No one took life from Jesus. He willingly released it. One verse says it better, "He dismissed His spirit." The plan of the ages has been accomplished. Fellowship between mankind and the Father has been restored. We, who were created for God's pleasure, can once again walk with Him in the cool of the evening as Adam did. The disobedience that was done in the Garden of Eden has been atoned, even though at a terrible price: The precious blood of our Savior.
Isa 53:4-5 Surely our griefs He himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.
The jeers and whips and fists were all meant for us, each one of us. If any of us had tried to pay the price, even for just ourselves, we would have found ourselves weighed in the balance and found wanting. Our Creator loved us enough to fight the war of the ages for us. He could have rightly turned His back on us and started over again. But He showed us His heart for us and stood in the gap for us when we could not, and would not.
There are still pockets of resistance in each of us. These are reminders, after images of the power of sin that once held us fast. There are those who hide in the darkness, not wanting to believe the peace they are offered. But the war is over, and if they will put down their pride, they will find that peace is real. One way they can see that peace is in our lives and hearts. Be a lighthouse and lead them home.
Lord Jesus, You have stood in our place and taken our deserved punishment. And then, when the price had been paid in Your blood, You shared Your victory with us. You have given us a down payment, a peace that passes the understanding of this world, as a promise of more wonderful things to come. Give us the courage and the heart to share that peace and victory with those around us. Amen.
Grace & Peace,
All verses are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.