Wednesday, April 24, 2019

“Love’s redeeming work is done; fought the fight, the battle’s won; Vain the stone, the watch, the seal, Christ has burst the gates of hell.” (Methodist Hymn Book no 204.)

The Roman soldiers in cohort with the Jewish authorities had been satisfied with what they considered a successful execution of their plan to get rid of Jesus. He had on several occasions embarrassed them and challenged their authority; and worst still, He had claimed to be the Son of God. It was clear from His arrest, that the wings of this ‘upstart’ and ‘rebel’, who had become so popular with the masses, had to be clipped before they (the custodians of the Law) should lose their God-given authority. That was their success story. The ‘impostor’ who had given them so much trouble had been done away with. For them the matter was sealed!

On the cross where they had nailed Him that fateful Friday, our Lord Jesus, as He was breathing His last, had cried with a loud voice; “It is finished!” Indeed, on the cross of Calvary He also had accomplished the assignment His Father had given Him, that is, to offer up His life as a sacrifice for sin.  

By that declaration, our Lord Jesus was making a statement that the prophecy made by God, the Father Himself in the Garden of Eden---that the war that would be waged to secure victory over sin and death --- had just been won. “It is finished!”

By that singular act of sacrifice, humanity has been set free. Death and sin brought into the world as a result of the disobedience of Adam and Eve has been vanquished. Henceforth, eternal life in Christ Jesus is available to all! 

God’s purpose for humanity was fulfilled on the cross on Mount Calvary. The prophet Isaiah had prophesied seven centuries ago: “He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him and by His wounds (stripes) we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5).

Our Lord Jesus, the posterity [son] of the woman, is the One mentioned in the prophecy God made in the Garden of Eden. “He will crush your head, and you will strike His heel.” (Genesis 3:15) This prophecy alludes to the manner our Lord Jesus was going to die. In essence, He would die by crucifixion on the cross (strike His heel) whilst He would give Satan a death blow.

Our Lord Jesus died a gruesome death. “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; he was led like  a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so He did not open His mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7) “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hid their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.” (Isaiah 53:3) 

As He hung on the cross, He carried on His shoulders humanity’s sin-debt which He would pay in full. Humanity would then be reconciled to God through the shedding of His blood. On the cross, Christ bore the sins of the whole world. The apostle Paul captures it briefly with: “Yes, all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious ideal; yet now God declares us not guilty of offending Him if we trust in Jesus Christ, who in His kindness freely takes away our sins.” (Romans 3:23. (The Living Bible).

Hymn writer Cecil Frances Alexander (1823-1895) penned these words which adequately depict what the Lord has done for humanity.   

“There is a green hill far away, without a city wall,

Where the dear Lord was crucified, who died to save us all.

We may not know we cannot tell what pains He had to bear; But we believe it was for us, He hung and suffered there.

He died that we might be forgiven, He died to make us good, That we might go at last to heaven saved by His precious blood.

There was no other good enough, to pay the price of sin;

He only could unlock the gate of heaven and let us in.” (Methodist Hymn Book no 180.)

Christ’s death voluntary

Our Lord was born to die as portrayed in Genesis 3:15. Aware of the liberating power of His shed-blood, He boldly went to the cross to give up His own life as a ransom for all of us. “I lay down my life---only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.” (John 10:18)

Before His arrest, He prayed; “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

The sinner’s hope

“For the wages of sin is death, but the grace of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) Our Lord Jesus did not have to die, so by His death He has released us from the pangs of death. Because Jesus has conquered sin and death, He has gained for humanity, eternal freedom.

All those who accept Him as Lord and Saviour will enjoy the eternal grace of freedom from the slavery of sin. When you accept Christ and take on His nature, you become Christ-like. And because He has triumphed over sin and death, you also can claim His victory as your own.

Sin can no longer be your master when Jesus Christ dwells in us. Unrighteousness and sin can therefore no longer be our portion. Jesus has trampled death underfoot and we should not be afraid of dying. His crucifixion and death has opened a new way of ‘salvation’ into His kingdom to all -- without exception.

He did not have to die on our behalf because He committed no sin; that He did, is a sign of love for you and for me. Praise God! Alleluia!

Author: Galandou Gorre-Ndiaye