The Friday Jesus died was not a good day. It was the bleakest and darkest day; it was humanity’s most shameful day ever. The King had come and they did not receive Him. Instead, they slaughtered Him like a common criminal. There is nothing good about that day. Just ask the Disciples; you could have never convinced them otherwise on that day. Their Master was dead and buried.
I wonder about something on that day: did the Apostle John, Jesus’ mother Mary—now John’s mother, Mary Magdalene, Salome, the mother of James and John, and the other women…did any of them remember and share Jesus’ words from the cross? Jesus made seven utterances from the Cross, all of them recorded, so obviously they were remembered. But what about that Friday and Saturday? Did they try to remember the things Jesus had said from the Cross? I want to particularly look at the sixth utterance. But to get there we have to look at Jesus’ third and fifth utterances to set the scene:
“Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’ And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home. 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.” (John 19:25-30)
To read the words, “It is finished!”, brings a fatal sense of finality, that is reading it in English. However, let’s see what He actually said in the Greek. Jesus exclaimed, “Tetelestai!” I’ll defer to one of my seminary professors who has written the quintessential guides to the Bible. Dr. H.L. Wilmington writes:
“The sixth statement of Jesus is actually one word in the original Greek. It is tetelestai meaning, ‘It was finished, and as a result it is forever done.’ This phrase was a farmer’s word. When into his herd there was born an animal so beautiful and shapely that it seemed absolutely destitute of faults and defects, the farmer gazed upon the creature with proud, delighted eyes. ‘Tetelestai!’ he said.”
Jesus had a mission on earth, a mission to save sinners, and now it was done. The price had been paid. Remember His almost forgotten words, the ones that follow the famous John 3:16?
“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:17)
But did not Jesus speak out against sin? Yes He did. And did He not condemn sinners? Not exactly…continue reading in John 3:
“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (John 3:18-21)
We are born with a sinful nature and when we choose to sin we bring condemnation upon ourselves. We when reject Christ we are already condemned. When we choose darkness over light, that is the condemnation we heap upon our spirits. And we hate the Light of the World because we do not want to have to confess our sins and turn from them to a new life of holiness. It reminds me of a line from the Caedmon’s Call song “Thankful” where they sing, “We’re shackled to the sin we hold so dear.”
Indeed we are!
Go back to that day. It is six in the evening and the Sabbath has begun. The eleven disciples and the women are huddled up in the Upper Room where just 24 hours before they were celebrating the Passover Feast with their Master. And now His body lays in a tomb and they are totally defeated.
And if forgiveness of sins was all we received from Christ, were His body still lying in that tomb this very day, well not only would be not be talking about Jesus, our faith would be in vain:
“Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” (1 Corinthians 15:12-19)
So Good Friday is not so good after all. It is a bleak day if there is no resurrection. It wasn’t a good day; it was a necessary day. Jesus had to die not only to pay for our sins, but He also had to die so He could be raised from the dead. So we should not look to the cross; we should look to the empty tomb. If we want to truly represent our Christianity, we should wear a charm of an empty tomb instead of a cross. That is where our victory is; that is where our blessed hope is. No, better yet, that is where our assurance is. There is more to this life; there is life everlasting with the Risen Savior in Heaven.
That is what Resurrection Day is all about. It is not Easter baskets, bunnies, and brightly colored eggs. That has nothing to do with Easter. If you choose to do that this Sunday, then please uncouple it from the Resurrection. The former is pagan and the latter is holy, do not ever combine the two.
Do you think I’m being too harsh? Well feast your eyes on what one of America’s famous mega churches is doing this Sunday:
Rod Parsley Easter Giveaway
That’s right, Rod Parsley is celebrating Easter by giving away a 2009 Honda Civic, 46’ Flat Screen Television, Apple iPad, a laptop computer, Xbox 360 Kinect, trip to Cincinnati, $500 Walmart Gift card, and $500 worth of gift cards. Oh, did I forget to mention there will be more than 50,000 Easter eggs, oh, and I almost forgot there will be special appearances by Elmo and Dora the Explorer!!!
Oh yes, and hallelujah Christ is risen!
Of course what “Bro” Parsley is doing nowhere near comes close to what the moneychangers were doing when Jesus cleared the temple.
No, it far exceeds it!
Do any of you actually believe that our Lord uttered tetelestai and then thought to Himself, now go hide Easter eggs and buy your children pretty Easter baskets in remembrance of me?
Lord Jesus forgive our wicked nation for always embracing the world and coupling it to You.
My spirit is so troubled within me that I can scarcely explain it.
Maybe its just me, but I want this weekend to be about “It is forever done” and not “Don’t miss the ultimate giveaway.”
I feel a great burden for God’s people; we truly are sheep being led astray.
Am I the only one horrified at what Rod Parsley is doing? Am I making too big a deal of all the pagan practices of Easter? Oh I have been guilty of raising my children in this way. I am without excuse and if I had to do it all over again, we would never paint one egg or have one basket full of goodies, at least not on that day.
Oh but Bro Dave it’s all so innocent. Is it? Well, but the children would be deprived of the fun and excitement. Yes, because Jesus is never enough.
If this is too harsh for you then I will understand you no longer wanting to receive these devotionals, but I feel a great stirring in my heart. If we are to overcome the wickedness in our nation, then it will only happen through the resurrection power pouring out of the churches across America.
Beloved, it is forever done; we need not ever add to it. We can celebrate Resurrection Day with reading Scripture, singing songs of worship to our Risen Savior, and hearing the good news of Jesus preached from the pulpits across America. And then we can gather in fellowship and share a meal and laughter and enjoyment knowing that this is just a taste of heaven.
That is what I want my Sunday to be. That is what I want to remember this Sunday.
I’ll share more of it on Sunday; I feel a great need to write on Resurrection Sunday. The Lord willing I’ll see you then.
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Copyright © 2012 David Jeffers
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