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26Sixth Word: It is finished

Each day of Holy Week, we will post a devotional reflection on the 7 last words of Christ from the cross. 

“It is finished”

All of heaven and earth have been waiting for these words.

Man chose sin. God promised grace. Justice demands more.

God is the essence and enforcer of all justice. He will not, indeed He cannot, excuse evil, even if He loves evildoers.

If God wants His people, then He is going to have to find a way to put an end to their sins without putting an end to them.

His answer for centuries was the sacrificial system, an extensive and complex program of animal slaughter. The Old Testament priests were in the business of blood, tirelessly shedding blood on behalf of God’s people so that God’s people would be spared what they deserved.

I remember a seminary professor taking us through the expanses of this sacrificial system, and it literally brought me to tears.

There was the annual sacrifice, the Day of Atonement, when the sins of God’s people from that past year were all placed upon the scapegoat. But there wasn’t just this annual sacrifice; there were seasonal sacrifices as well. But there weren’t just seasonal sacrifices; there were monthly sacrifices. But there weren’t just monthly sacrifices; there were weekly Sabbath sacrifices. But there weren’t just weekly sacrifices; there were daily sacrifices. But there weren’t just daily sacrifices; there were morning and evening sacrifices. And those were just the regular instituted sacrifices, not to mention the individual sacrifices brought by people to offer for their own personal sins.

The slaughter was perpetual and overwhelming. And the ceaseless stream of blood only testifies to the severity of the problem. The blood never stops because sin never stops. There aren’t enough animals in the world to atone for the sins of just one person, let alone all of God’s people.

The Old Testament sacrificial system was exhaustively crying out for finality.

And then the last great prophet sees Jesus and declares, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” Takes away. Fully and finally the sins of the world will be gone.

But He doesn’t say behold the Priest who will offer up the Lamb of God who will take away the sins of the world. He says behold, the Lamb of God. Jesus has come to be both Priest and Sacrifice. He will offer up Himself, for only the blood of the Son of God can put an end to this mess we have created.

And so the Lamb of God climes Calvary’s hill alone to be slain.

And then, after centuries of blood, our great High Priest says what every priest and every sacrifice and every sinner has always wanted to say but wasn’t able, “It is finished!”

And with those words, it’s over.

Christian, there is nothing to be done that Jesus has not already done.

No amount of self-condemnation or self-righteousness is going to change a thing.

Not only are our measures of self-atonement futile, they are insulting. We call Him a liar when we act like there’s more to be done.

Just accept it. It really is over.

It. Is. Finished.

There is nothing left to be done except to accept.

____________________

-Rev. Robert Cunningham (@tcpcrobert on twitter)

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