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Finished!: A Message for Easter

Category Articles
Date March 28, 2024

Think about someone being selected and sent to do an especially difficult job. Some major crisis has arisen, or some massive problem needs to be tackled, and it requires the knowledge, the experience, the skill-set, the leadership that they so remarkably possess.

It was like that with Jesus. Entrusted to him by God the Father was a work more demanding than any ever attempted in all of human history. The work of securing the forgiveness of our sins. The work of bringing us back to the God from whom our sin had separated us. The work of defeating Satan, delivering us from death, and winning for us eternal life. The work of banishing evil and renewing the whole fabric of creation. What a task! And Jesus was the one selected to do it.

This is Easter. What is Easter all about? It’s about Jesus finishing the all-important first part of this work – the part he had to do here on earth. It’s about Jesus doing and enduring all that was needed so that the good things planned for us could be ours. All the blessings listed above will be everlastingly enjoyed by those who receive him as their Lord and Saviour. And all because by his sufferings and death he brought the work he had been given to a triumphant close.

His work wasn’t easy to finish

You know how it is with ourselves. Finishing is sometimes the easy part. The hard part is getting started. Or getting through the early stages. Not with Jesus. For Jesus, finishing the work was by far the hardest part of all.

Consider what we might call the outer history. People subjected Jesus to one of the cruellest forms of capital punishment ever devised. They crucified him. It was a slow, a shameful, and an agonising way to die.

And then to the outer history add the inner history. There was more going on at Calvary than met the eye. Onlookers saw only the physical suffering. That in fact was the least of it. From a judicial standpoint Jesus was an innocent man. He had done nothing to deserve this awful death. But there was another side to it; a side known only to God. The guilt of countless sinners both from all across the world and from all across the ages had been laid upon him. He had voluntarily accepted it as his own and consented to be treated as if it were his own. Wasn’t that amazing? Jesus, the holy Son of God, made guilty with our guilt, dying our death, suffering in his own soul and body what we deserved to suffer in ours. And all so that we might be free of sin forever and enjoy instead the gift of eternal life.

His work had to be finished

Imagine you are moving house and the house you have bought needs a lot of work done to it. You get the keys a few weeks before moving day and you begin to work through the list. How nice if you could get all the work finished in advance! And it’s frustrating when you find that you can’t. But it doesn’t prevent you moving in, unpacking, and getting settled.

What about Jesus’ work? He had done a lot already. His work was literally a life-long work and he had been at it for over thirty years. So much had been accomplished through his teaching, his miracles, and the beautiful life of love and obedience he had lived. Was it really necessary for him to go as far as the cross – with all the suffering, visible and invisible, that that would involve? Could we not have had the Saviour we needed without the horrors of Good Friday?

It’s a question we hear Jesus answering himself. In one place, for example, referring to his death, he says this: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life” (John Ch.3.14-15). The key word is must. He cannot stop short of the cross. Or here is something he said when the cross was at last behind him. It’s the day of his resurrection and he’s speaking to two disciples who are thoroughly perplexed at what has happened: “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” (Luke 24.26). The key word now is necessary. Finishing the work by enduring the cross wasn’t an optional extra. It was an absolute necessity. There would be no restored relationship with God, no new hearts, no resurrection bodies, no new world ahead of us, had it not been for his suffering and death.

His work got finished

As Jesus was about to breathe his last he cried out, “It is finished” (John 19.30). He had gone through with it! The whole of what was needed in order to atone for our sins and open the way to heaven had been done. And we can be sure of it. That’s the message of Easter Sunday. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead (and the exaltation to heaven that followed) is the testimony of God to the completeness of his beloved Son’s accomplishment. The one who died for sin now lives to bless us with the fruits of his finished work.

Which brings us to the all-important question: how do we get the benefits of what Christ has done on behalf of sinners? We’ve heard the answer already. We must receive him as our Saviour and Lord. It is a terrible mistake to think that eternal life comes to us automatically – as if no response on our part was necessary. It is a terrible mistake, too, to imagine that the good things purchased for us we must somehow or other earn. No! There is certainly something required of us. But it’s not to work for our salvation. The work has already been done. Jesus has done it all. And the fruits of that work are freely given to all who welcome him.

Welcome him as your Saviour. You cannot save yourself. Say then to Jesus, “Come, and be to me the Saviour that I need”. From this day place all your reliance on him.

Welcome him, too, as your Lord. His rightful place in every life is that of king and lord. Cease, then, from your rebellion. Stop living the way you wish to live. Place yourself entirely in his hands – to direct you and change you. His golden promise is that none who do so will ever be turned away: “whoever comes to me I will never cast out” (John 6.37).

 

David Campbell is the minister at North Preston Evangelical Church and a Trustee of the Banner of Truth.

 

Featured photo by Jonas Allert on Unsplash

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