My dad died 25 years ago, almost right to the day (March 1st). His last couple of days were spent in a coma. But just before he died, a tear streamed down his cheek. It was only one tear, but I believe it communicated much………Sorrow…….”I am going to miss you”…….Regret……..My dad was only 53 years old when he died.
I have never forgotten that tear. I hope it was a tear of repentance. My dad was not a Christian before he came to the doorsteps of death. We shared Jesus with my dad as he lay in the coma and the nurse assured us, “He can hear you”. Even though my dad could not verbally speak, I do believe that he communicated volumes with us in that last tear.
When a dying person is able to speak, their last words spoken to loved ones are usually full of meaning and significance. This is especially true of the dying Jesus on the cross.
The Significance of “Seven” Last Sayings of Christ
The 4 Gospels record the 7 last sayings of Christ in their passion narratives of Christ’s crucifixion. In the Judeo-Christian Scriptures, 7 is a number which signifies fullness or completeness or even perfection.
The cross of Christ revealed the fullness of God’s love for wayward humanity. It was no mere coincidence nor mere accident that there were 7 last sayings of Christ on the cross. Just like it wasn’t an accident that Jesus ended up crucified on a cross. In the first message of the Church era, Peter proclaimed these words in Acts 2:23: “This man (Jesus) was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.” In the fullness of time, God’s Son entered the human race and redeemed us through His life, death and resurrection (Gal. 4:4,5).
A Shout of Victory
In this blog, which is a summary of a message I preached last week, I want to take a look at one of those last sayings of Christ on the cross, the one recorded in John 19:30: “It is finished!” In the original Greek, this saying is actually just one word that Jesus uttered: “Tetelestai!” or “Accomplished!” or “Completed!” It is a shout of victory and not a whimper of defeat. It captures the powerful paradox of the message of the cross.
In His death, right at the point He seemed to be at His weakest, Christ accomplished the greatest victory imaginable. In the cross and in His subsequent resurrection, Jesus defeated all the powers of darkness: human evil, death and the demonic. This trinity of malignant forces were dealt a decisive blow when God’s Son was humiliated and crucified on a Roman cross.
In our media-saturated culture, in which the cult of the celebrity reigns, it is easy for Christians to think that God seeks to advance the gospel through our prominence and worldly power. The message of the cross strongly implies otherwise.
The Scandal of the Cross
The modern-day equivalent that captures the horror and shame of the cross would be the electric chair. Wearing a gold cross around your neck in the Roman Empire of the 1st century would be like wearing a golden electric chair around your neck today.
Christian author and doctor John White, shared a story from his days as a medical student. For one of his classes, he missed a practicum about venereal disease and had to make it up at the clinic.
When he arrived at the clinic, he found himself in a line with a bunch of patients who had actually contracted a venereal disease. White barged to the front of the line and told the head nurse, “I need to see the doctor.” “That’s what everybody says” snorted the nurse, “now get in line.”
“But I’m a medical student”. “Big deal” said the nurse, “You got it the same way as everybody else, now you can stand in line like everybody else.”
John White writes:”In the end I managed to explain to her why I was there, but I can still feel the sense of shame that had me balk at standing in line with the other men who had venereal disease. Yet Jesus shunned shame as He went to the cross. And the moral gulf that separated Him from us was far greater than that separating me from the men at the clinic……But (Jesus) crossed the gulf, joining our ranks, embraced us and still remained pure. He identified with those He came to redeem. He became like us.”
Because Jesus came and experienced betrayal, violence and suffering, we know that these things in our life will one day come to an end. In a very real way, the old creation in Adam has been judged and redeemed in Christ. The old creation has been finished in Christ so that a new creation can begin in and through Him.
The Hapless Powers of the Old Creation
The old creation did everything it could to destroy Jesus, the New Adam. All of its ugliness was exposed in the way they responded to Jesus. On the surface, it seemed like Jesus was on trial when He appeared before the Jewish High Priest’s family (Annas and Caiaphas) and before the Roman Governor Pilate. On a deeper level, when you read the interactions between Jesus and His interrogators in John 18 & 19, you realize it was Annas, Caiaphas and Pilate who were on trial. It was Peter, down in the courtyard, denying Jesus 3 times, who was on trial.
All of the old creation was found wanting. That is why, Jesus, the Son of God, through whom the world was made, came and accomplished or finished God’s will. He fully did what we were unable to do. He perfectly fulfilled our side of the covenant relationship with God in His life and death. He ended the old creation, and began a new creation through His resurrection. Right in the middle of this present evil age, God the Father raised up and vindicated Jesus in a resurrected body. The carnal and dying powers of this old creation cannot do anything to Jesus now.
The Beginning of a New World
In Christ, our New Moses, God has made the way for a New Exodus. He has fulfilled the Mosaic (old) covenant and began a new covenant in His blood, that is, through His death & resurrection (Luke 22:20). In John 1:29 and John 19:31-34, Jesus is pictured as our Passover Lamb who takes away our sin.
As we trust Christ Jesus as our Passover Lamb, we become new creations in Him. As 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he/she is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.” The Gospel imparts the new life of Christ to us and we are empowered by Christ to become partners in His new work of restoration and reconciliation on this world. This is the Good News made possible by the finished work of Jesus, the King. Amen
QOTD: Are you living in the life and power of the New Adam, King Jesus, or are you still living in the powers of the old adamic nature?