Before the world was established, God—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—dwelt outside of time in pure righteousness, holiness, and absolute justice. And the Almighty, infinite One had a plan: to make man after His own image and to create a perfect world in which man could live and walk in fellowship with Him. So God got started on this massive project, and within five days had breathed stars into existence, shaped the earth, formed the dry land, placed the sun and moon into orbit, and brought forth life in the many forms of plants and trees, birds and fish, and creatures to dwell on the earth. When all was ready and perfect, then and only then, God created His greatest masterpiece. He took dust from the earth, forming it into the image and likeness of Himself, and breathed into it His very own breath of life. Thus man became a living being, created by the very hands of God and brought into existence by the same breath that spoke the world into being and placed the galaxies in orbit. Next, God deemed that it was not good for man—His prized creation—to live alone. So while man was under God-induced sleep, the Creator took from man a rib and hand-fashioned another human being later named woman. Thus, in a perfect world under God’s direct management, began the history mankind.
But all was not to remain so idyllic…
God’s plan for man was for him to worship God freely and to love the Maker by choice not force. So out of the great love of God and because He wanted man to have the power to choose, God put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil into the perfect world that He had made and told man not to eat of it unless he wished to die. For the knowledge of both good and evil would cause man to become unclean and unable to walk in fellowship with the perfect, holy God thereby sentencing God’s just wrath upon himself. At the beginning, the first man and woman heeded God’s command not to eat from that tree and enjoyed intimate fellowship with God, walking and talking with Him in the garden called Eden. However, that was not to last. In due time, both Adam and Eve chose to willfully disobey God and eat the forbidden fruit in the desire to become equal and just like their divine Creator—a desire that has been passed down through the ages and is at large in our modern world. This act of disobedience greatly grieved the Maker’s heart since a huge wedge called sin now separated man from God. But God still had a plan, and that plan included allowing Adam and Eve to live for a time and populate the earth. Then in the fullness of time, God would send His only Son—a part of Himself and closest to His heart—to the sin-ridden world, and through His obedient and perfect Son bring reconciliation between fallen man and holy God.
This was the plan from before the world began. It was initiated on the first day of creation and came to completion about four thousand years later on the day before Passover with these words:
“When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Last week, we looked at the meaning and understanding of truth and hopefully grasped a deeper extent of the holiness, righteousness, and justice of God. So with all that in mind, let’s go back and re-look at what we just read.
The greatest truth of the gospel was spoken by the dying Son of God as He hung from a cross and cried: “It is finished.” It was a declaration of surrender, completion, and victory. But that begs the question: what was finished? We might not have even realized that something was started, so what could be finished? The answer lies in the first book of the Bible and is reiterated throughout Scripture, and can be summarized as the work and plan of God that started before time began, before the earth was formed, and before man even existed.
Going back to our opening story, did you notice that God’s original plan was fulfilled on the sixth day of creation? Genesis records that “God saw all that He had made and behold it was very good.” Everything was perfect and pristine; there was no sin, no death, and no pain, and man walked in perfect fellowship with God. So what happened? Man—in his greed—messed everything up. And because Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, sin, death, pain, and suffering entered the world. But did this come as a surprise to God? No! He knew what man would choose—possession and knowledge of sin over fellowship with God. So He already had a part two in His plan. And part two was really the best part because it would bring Him the most glory and show to the greatest extent His boundless love for mankind. However, part two would also require extreme sacrifice—that of His Only Son.
Do we truly realize how much it cost to appease the wrath of God? I think not, and I don’t think we’ll ever be able to fully understand the price Jesus paid. But just because we could never truly grasp the magnitude of what was accomplished on the cross, doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try. So let us take some time to ponder the reality of what took place on Calvary. Below are some of my ruminations from Good Friday.
As Americans, we have little experience with true suffering and live our entire lives in relative ease and luxury. Thus, we tend to shy away from things that are painful and difficult to ponder. Why, because it makes us uncomfortable. We, therefore, romanticize the gospel and soften its edges, from dressing up the Nativity scene to glossing over the events of and leading to Calvary. But by doing this we lose sight of reality, the truth of events, and the great significance behind them, and thereby lessen what Christ truly did.
Roman crucifixion was the cruelest and most gruesome form of death ever invented by man. And this was the death Christ was destined for. However, despite the extreme physical suffering of this brutal execution, our Lord uttered not a word of anguish or protest. The only exclamation of agony was uttered toward the end: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” These were words displaying not suffering of the body, but rather torment of the soul. But how could Jesus’ greatest pain be from the soul while suffering the most agonizing death in history? How could He bear the physical affliction in complete silence? Because the anguish of separation from the Father far surpassed anything man could do to the body.
Ponder that for a moment…
The agony of the cross could not compare with the pain of separation from God the Father. And we see this anguish in the garden of Gethsemane, as Jesus struggled with the horrors He was about to face. For He, though He was innocent, took the burden of sin upon Himself and, therefore, suffered not only separation from His Father but also the holy God’s just punishment for the sins of mankind. Jesus was fully God and was with the Father since eternity past, yet He chose to come to earth as a man and live a perfect life in order that He might take our sins upon Himself and face the holy wrath of God in our stead all because He loves us. Oh how great and boundless is Christ’s love for us!
This is was the sacrifice that was made to bring us home! And what a sacrifice, that God the Son would take upon Himself the sin of the entire world and bear the just wrath of God the Father! So considering the price that would need to be paid by His Son, why didn’t God just scratch the whole plan, throw it away, and start all over? When we are the creator of something that didn’t go according to our original plan, what do we do? We merely toss it out and start over, right?! We definitely wouldn’t become like our creation, and then let it kill us! So why didn’t God do that? He created everything in a mere six days, so He could probably destroy it all in one and then start all over—piece of cake! So why has God patiently endured the disgusting, wretchedness and depravity of man for the past six thousand years and counting? Because He LOVES us! And that amazing, unfathomable, incomprehensible love compelled Him to send His Son that Jesus might live the perfect life we could not and face the wrath of God on our behalf. This is the message of the gospel, and the work that God has been planning since the beginning of the world and which was completed by Christ’s words: “It is finished!”
The work of our salvation is done. We don’t need to do anything to earn it, or help accomplish it. God did it all, from beginning to end, and He is offering it to us free of charge because the price was paid over two thousand years ago. And that price was the lifeblood of the perfect Son of God, shed for us.
So the question is…will YOU accept the gift offered to you? Gifts can be given, but must also be received. So God is giving you a priceless gift—reconciliation with Him and salvation from His coming wrath—are you going to receive it? Do you accept and believe that Jesus finished the work of salvation on the cross and that you don’t need to earn your way to heaven, because you could never do it? Maybe you’ve already received this amazing gift, but are you guilty of belittling or depreciating it by the way you live? Don’t take for granted the sacrifice that was made for you!
If this is the first time you’ve heard this message of salvation, and/or the first time it has really hit home and convicted your heart of the need to accept the gift of Christ, then talk with a Christian parent or pastor to learn more about the saving grace of God and how to receive it. But if you don’t have any Christian family or friends and don’t belong to a church, then visit Harvest America or contact me to learn more. And to all my readers, I welcome your comments or contact messages about how the Lord has been working in you and what He’s been teaching you as together, we walk this journey of seeking to know He better.
In closing, the message of the gospel and story of redemption should always ignite our hearts with fire and appreciation to God that breaks forth into praise and worship. So join me in praising God with this song written by Matt Redman:
“When I stand before Your throne
Dressed in glory not my own
What a joy I’ll sing of on that day.
Then I will see you as you are
And love you with un-sinning heart
And see how much you paid to bring me home.
Not till then Lord shall I know
Not till then how much I owe
Everything I am before Your throne.
And we will worship, worship
Forever in Your presence we will sing
We will worship, worship
An endless hallelujah to the King.”
~ “Endless Hallelujah”