Close your eyes and picture Calvary. Jesus, the Son of God, hanging between two thieves, His body badly beaten and bloody; nails hammered into His hands and feet. Frankly, if I linger on this reality, tears will flow for I know God sent His Son to be a ransom for me, for my sins! In fact, a ransom for every wretched sinner, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)
In the Bible, as we read the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, we discover that while suffering unbearable agony upon the Cross, Jesus Christ spoke seven times. Each time, every word uttered was meaningful and powerful. But the words He cried out - "It is finished" (John 19:30) - changed life for all humanity! Salvation was made possible, and redemption became available for anyone who would receive and believe. Jews and Gentiles alike! (Galatians 3:28)
Mankind was presented with the way, the only way (John 14:6), by which to escape eternal damnation. No longer did men have to offer animal sacrifices to atone for their sin. (Hebrews 9:12-14) Jesus was the sacrifice! "?Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.: (John 1:29) "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye were healed." (I Peter 2:24) Without the shed blood of Jesus, we would be trapped in our sins for all eternity. "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)
"Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him." (Romans 5:9) We need not fear God's righteous judgment and eternal punishment. Through Jesus' atoning blood, each of us can escape sin's bondage and the second death (eternal separation from God), spent forever in the torments of the Lake of Fire. "And death and hell (all unbelievers) were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death." (Revelation 20:14).
Thankfully, believers can confidently ask "... O Death where is thy sting?" (I Corinthians 15:55) When certain insects sting, the stinger is left in the person they pierce, and the insect dies. Satan must have gloated at his seeming victory over God as Jesus was pierced and died on the Cross. However, due to Jesus's life-giving resurrection, death was swallowed up by God, and Satan's so-called triumph was empty! When Jesus cried out "It is finished", sin lost its bite and, since "The sting of death is sin..." (I Corinthians 15:56), death no longer has a stinger.
"I am the resurrection and the life" Jesus said, and even though believers may physically die, He explained that "whosoever liveth (physically) and believeth in me (spiritually) shall never die (the second death)." (John 11:25-26) Every believer will put on incorruption and immortality, "? then shall be brought to pass the saying that?Death is swallowed up in victory." (I Corinthians 15:52-58/Isaiah 25:8) At Jesus's resurrection death died to all who believe!
With Jesus's uttered words "It is finished", personal contact with God was established. "For through Him we ? have access by one Spirit unto the Father." (Ephesians 2:18/Romans 8:26). Unlike the Old Testament days when only the High Priest could approach God, every born-again believer now has the liberty to approach the throne of grace at any time. When we are in need, His grace and mercy are always there (Hebrew 4:16). Because Jesus's selfless sacrifice was finished, every true believer, through prayer, has instant access to the Heavenly Father.
When Jesus was crucified, people viewed His suffering as just another routine crucifixion. But it wasn't. As He cried out "It is finished", the Bible's divine authority was vividly revealed. Biblical prophecies addressing Christ's sufferings were being precisely fulfilled before the very eyes of men! (Psalm 22: Isaiah 53: Luke 24:25-26, 44; John 19:28; I Peter 1:11, 3:18) Yet much of mankind remains blinded to the truth.
Why can't we see? Why can't we comprehend the suffering Jesus endured in order to provide eternal salvation for all? Everyone is identical at the foot of cross: no distinction of race, color, gender, or class. The only common denominator is sin, and the only way by which to defeat sin is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ! "?without shedding of blood is no remission (forgiveness of sins)." (Hebrews 9:22b)
The very Son of God was crucified, buried and rose again so that we can be born twice, yet die only once! In Jesus's words, "?Except a man be born again, (born from above into divine life) he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3)
"?I (Jesus) say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life." (John 6:47) Be victorious in Jesus.
Nancy Hamilton is an author of Christian books and a member of Souls Harbor Baptist Church. She can be reached at website wordsontheword.com and by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thoughts of Faith is a weekly column written by various ministers and lay people.