John 19:30 (NIV)
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Can you hear it? Do you feel the earth moving beneath you? It makes my heart beat wildly and the hair rise on the back of my neck. It’s Good Friday. That means that it’s almost here. Just a little while longer. I haven’t always felt this way about Easter. When I was a little girl, my grandmother insisted on sewing my sister and me matching dresses with cute little bonnets. The trouble was that my sister and I are seven years a part in age, so while she looked adorable at four or five, I looked ridiculous at that age. I remember brightly colored baskets filled with plastic eggs, a big chocolate bunny and other little trinkets. I can smell the ham roasting and taste the rainbow deviled egg that was made from the eggs once colored. I had no idea as a child what I know now as an adult. Easter is the greatest day in history. It was the day everything changed for me. My past, present and future all wrapped up in a single moment of time. It began on Good Friday on an old rugged cross. My Savior, my Lord, and my God hanging there on the brink of death. Bearing every sin, shame, burden and sickness, Jesus fulfilled every single line of the law for me since I had fallen short. He made sure that every weakness was sufficiently covered by His Grace. He took stripes to ensure that sickness and disease would not live in my body. The Lord allowed a crown of thorns to be pressed deep into His Precious Brow not bloody and swollen from all the beatings that He endured for me so that I could one day have the Mind of Christ to overcome the lie of the enemy. All of this for me. One might think it was over but oh no friend it was just the beginning.
This would be the beginning of the end. These final moments on the Cross. The disciples watching and waiting anticipating the death of their dreams and end of all hope. How could this be? This is not what they expected? The hero doesn’t die but lives to overcome the enemy. Where is He going? He promised never to leave us or forsake us but He is definitely on His Way Out. I wonder if Mary pondered this in her heart along with the promised that God had given her. Did she realize that her Son was born to die? All things thoughts on this day as the Savior of the world died.
This morning as I contemplate Easter, I do not for a moment discount the magnitude of this moment when Jesus died. Jesus declared it was finished. “Telelestai” is a comprehensive, comfortable and confident word. In the Greek, this is considered to be a “perfect passive indicative” which is very important. This is definitive. What exactly had been done? Jesus had fulfilled the requirement of God’s Law. He fulfilled every New Testament prophecy concerning the Messiah. Jesus ended the power of sin in that moment because it was not ineffective. The Blood of Jesus poured out in sacrifice covered every possible transgression that might keep us from peace with God. Jesus finished the Work of His Father to perfection. In that moment, the suffering of mankind found an end. No longer were we victims of the fall of humanity, but now overcomes through the Blood of Jesus Christ.
Jesus bowed His Head and gave up His Spirit. Two things of importance here. Most people who were crucified kept their head up to continue to breathe from such a position. At the time of death, their heads would fall after their soul left their body. But Jesus bowed His Head in submission to God first, and then He released His Spirit. His Life was not taken from Him but freely surrendered to God in absolute obedience and submission to His Father’s Supreme Power and Authority. A sacrifice is to surrender something. It cannot be taken but must be freely given. All of this in one moment and one verse that would change history forever.
Matthew 27:50-54 (NIV)
And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people. When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
The moment that Jesus surrendered His Life, He released or gave up His Spirit. This was not the sound of His Final breath escaping along with His Soul. No He cried out in a loud definitive voice, “It is finished.” Work complete. Game over. In that second, He released His Spirit the earth quickly responded. The veil in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. Mankind could now access God the Father all by himself. The earth responded to the Spirit as it began to quake with purpose and fulfillment. Tombs opened and many holy people who had died were raised to life. Why? They could now access Heaven through Christ – their long wait had ended. Before leaving, they went about the city. Salvation was released in that moment as the first soul saved is captured in these verses, “When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, ‘Surely he was the Son of God!’” This was the moment everything changed. Resurrection Power released by His Spirit encircling the earth. Wow…what a moment! In Acts 2:1-4, the Spirit finds His Home as He begins filling people empowering their faith to do the impossible.
John 11:25-26 (NIV)
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
I remember my favorite Sunday school teacher, Mrs. Strock, sharing the story of Passover around the time of Easter. I was fascinated by the story of blood on a doorpost that would cause the death angel to “pass over” that home. I had no idea of the significance. As I shared before, although we went to church on Easter, my memories are more about the holiday than the Hope found that day. That was then and this is now. As a child, I naturally anticipated Christmas more than Easter. Now, I am more excited about Easter than any other day of the year. Jesus Christ is the Resurrection and Life. Anyone who believes in Him will live and death becomes a crossover point to everlasting life. The same power that God exerted to bring Jesus back from the grave now is available to us. We can live with a holy inhabitation of the Holy Spirit that brings every dead thing back to life. He is the One who cultivates every seed sown in faith to become fruit worthy of God. Do you believe? When we believe, God’s Power fills us and the Potential in our life becomes limitless. If only we could believe…
I Peter 1:3-9 (NIV)
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
I have living hope today through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Hope that breathes new life into everything I put my hands to as a Spirit-filled and surrendered servant of the Most High God – His Favor is in me so that when I set out to do something it is supernaturally accomplished by faith because I have the Resurrection of Christ in me. Genuine faith is of greater worth than any commodity traded on the earth. His Love produces in us something far greater that is intangible and cannot be taken by the enemy. With this idea in mind, I challenge you to see today that His Power in us is not going to change the condition of the world. It is not designed to end circumstances, change consequences or eliminate situations. His Power is here to save us. It is here to change us. It is bringing dead things to live but the world will continue to die and fade away. Things will steal be corrupted and eaten by moth. Resurrection Power is for the human soul. It is the procurement of every promise hidden in God’s Plan for us. It is produced to complete us from the inside out. The end result of faith does nothing for our natural condition but does everything for our soul condition. As our soul prospers… so will we.
Ephesians 1:18-23 (NIV)
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
Jesus is now King Jesus. He reigns supreme with all power and authority. God gave this to Him. Jesus chose to give His Power to us. He decided to invest His Spirit in us when it was released in the atmosphere and breathed into humanity once again. We have a glorious inheritance of completion and total fulfillment possible when we surrender our life to Jesus Christ. God never intended to stop at the time of salvation though many will give their hearts to Jesus on Sunday few will every move past the moment to experience full growth and development in Jesus Christ. He offers us His Fullness but too many times, we settle for something less. Something familiar. Something comfortable. Something in an ugly shade of gray rather basking in the Light of His Love. The same power that raised Christ from the dead and exalted Him to the Right Hand of God is living and breathing in those who choose to believe. Why don’t we do what Jesus did? Why not surrender our life in submission to God? Why not release His Word, His Spirit and His Power on the earth? Why not here? Why not now? Do you believe? Lord, help my unbelief so that I can experience more of Your Power in my life today.
Philippians 3:10-14 (NIV)
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Yesterday, I received the wonderful, miraculous news that our son is still in remission. It has been almost two years since his bone marrow transplant. The transplant was part of a clinical trial to save his life after it was clear that cancer had the upper hand. I had the Word of God that said, “He would live and not die.” At first I carried that Word over my head like a banner that was the first time. But there would be a second, third and fourth time followed by an fifth. By the time we had been denied the final time exhausting all earthly avenues to allow him to undergo the experimental clinical trial, all I had left was God’s Promise. I bowed my head at my desk in the empty building. I did not cry and I am not sure why. I simply told God what His Promise to me was and laid it all at His Son’s Feet. I felt a burden lift. I cannot explain in when all earthy options were exhausted and we were completely denied. I still had this Word that I was clinging too although my banner now resembled the strip of paper in a fortune cookie. I clung to it. My God is not dead. My Jesus is alive. He will do as He promised. Well, as most of you probably know by now, the approval for his procedure was waiting in the fax machine the very next day. No one knows who did it or where it came from. No one cared they literally ran with it. This is not the miracle though.
The clinical trials all come with information that is required reading by the participant. As I read each one, I was not at all encouraged. There was a 2% survival rate among patients participating in the trial. Most died before they completed treatment and even more in the first ninety days. Of the 2% who did survive, no one made it more than two years. We have entered the twentieth month. The doctors have given him a clean bill of health. Other than some inconveniences post treatment that are considered minor, they marvel at his resilience. He has recently been able to visit another young man who is battling the same cancer. He is giving away encouragement and hope. He is a full-time engineering student at a major university who filled with the Resurrection Power of Christ never gave up faith that God would restore his life. God did it for Him. He wants to do it for you! Our son’s story is far from over. Cancer is not the climax. The wonderworking power of God inside of Him is still working its way out.
Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, are your pressing for the goal to win the prize for which God has called you today? Why not? Do you have dead dreams? Do you have a broken heart? Is their sickness in your body? Are you a captive fear? Whatever insufficiency is in your life today – His Grace is enough! Jesus is declaring “IT IS FINISHED” for you today. Will you believe? Will you take Him at His Word? Pass by the Cross, leave your sin and shame but move from the death to life. Claim His Resurrection Power. Let Jesus breathe His Spirit and new life in you this weekend as we celebrate an empty tomb and Risen Lord. Don’t leave this moment unchanged. Everything in your life can change in a single moment. The moment you believe. It is finished. It is over. The battle is won. You are saved, healed, delivered, and complete in the Name of Jesus Christ and His Resurrection Power. To know Jesus to know His Power to share it with others – this is my goal. This is my race the one called faith. This will be my moment that changes everything because I choose to believe.
I Corinthians 15:54-58 (NIV)
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.