I send this post out every year on this day to try to sum up the eternal significance of that first Good Friday.. and the core meaning of Christ’s atoning death on the cross. “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son…” (John 3:16) The Creator of the Universe stepped into humanity, into time and space, became a man, and died to pay the price for our sins so we can all be reconciled to the Father. It’s a gift of greatest love that holds open the invitation to welcome Christ into your life, not once, but continually… for He will always be waiting with open arms for those willing to repent and receive Him. Give yourself that gift today and throughout this Easter weekend. It’s already been paid for.
“He is not here, He is risen.” (Matthew 28:6) And He will come again!
THE FINAL WORD
A Dying Man’s Final Words
Only one person in history never left behind any unfinished business. His name is Jesus Christ. He is the only person who could come to the end of his life and say—with absolute and total truthfulness—”I have finished everything I set out to do.”
It is Friday in Jerusalem and a huge crowd has gathered at the place called Skull Hill. It was on the north side of the city, just outside the Damascus Gate, and located by the side of a well-traveled road. The Romans liked to hold their crucifixions in public places. Killing people in public had a salutary effect on the masses.
This particular crucifixion started at 9 A.M. For three hours everything proceeded normally. Then at exactly 12 noon, the sky went black. Not overcast, but pitch black, so black that you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. It wasn’t anything normal like an eclipse. The darkness seemed to pulse and throb, almost like the darkness was a living thing, an evil mutant creature escaped from some science fiction movie.
Only this was no movie. What happened was real. For three hours darkness fell across the city of Jerusalem. There were screams, hideous cries, moans, and other unidentifiable sounds. Then, just as suddenly as it started, the darkness lifted, disappeared, vanished, and sanity returned to the earth.
One glance at the middle cross made it clear that this man Jesus would not last much longer. He looked dead already. His body quivered uncontrollably, his chest heaving with every tortured breath. The soldiers knew from long experience that he wouldn’t make it to sundown.
Then it happened. He shouted something—”My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Someone in the crowd shouted back to him. Moments passed, death drew near, then a hoarse whisper, “I thirst.” The soldiers put some sour vinegar on a sponge and lifted it to his lips with a stalk of hyssop. He moistened his lips and took a deep breath. If you listened you could hear the death rattle in his throat. He had less than a minute to live.
Then he spoke again. It was a quick shout. Just one word. If you weren’t paying attention, you missed it in all the confusion. Then he breathed out another sentence. Then he was dead.
What was that shout? In Greek it is only one word … Tetelestai … “It is finished.”
Was, Is And Always Will Be
Tetelestai comes from the verb teleo, which means “to bring to an end, to complete, to accomplish.” It’s a crucial word because it signifies the successful end to a particular course of action. It’s the word you would use when you climb to the peak of Mt. Everest; it’s the word you would use when you turn in the final copy of your dissertation; it’s the word you would use when you make the final payment on your new car; it’s the word you use when you cross the finish line of your first 10K run. The word means more than just “I survived.” It means “I did exactly what I set out to do.”
But there’s more here than the verb itself. Tetelestai is in the perfect tense in Greek. That’s significant because the perfect tense speaks of an action which has been completed in the past with results continuing into the present. It’s different from the past tense which looks back to an event and says, “This happened.” The perfect tense adds the idea that “This happened and it is still in effect today.”
When Jesus cried out “It is finished,” he meant “It was finished in the past, it is still finished in the present and it will remain finished in the future.”
Note one other fact. He did not say, “I am finished,” for that would imply that he died defeated and exhausted. Rather, he cried out “It is finished,” meaning “I successfully completed the work I came to do.”
Tetelestai, then, is the Savior’s final cry of victory. When he died, he left no unfinished business behind. When he said, “It is finished,” he was speaking the truth.
What Was Finished?
When you read these words of Jesus, only one question grips the mind—What was finished?
Matthew Henry, who lived and wrote over 300 years ago, in his remarks on this saying of Jesus (volume 5, p. 1201), he lists 8 things that were finished or completed when Jesus cried out “It is finished.”
1. The malice of his enemies was finished. By nailing him to the cross, they had done their worst. There was nothing more they could do to the Son of God.
2. The sufferings ordained by God were finished. Many times during his ministry, Jesus spoke of “the work” he was sent to do and of the “hour” of trouble that was coming. He once spoke of a “baptism” of suffering he must undergo. All those things were ordained by God. None of them happened by chance. Even the evil plans of the Jews fit somehow into God’s greater plan to save the world through the death of his Son (Acts 2:23). But those sufferings were now at an end.
3. All the Old Testament types and prophecies were fulfilled. Matthew Henry lists a number of examples—He had been given vinegar to drink (Psalm 69:21), he had been sold for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12), his hands and feet had been pierced (Psalm 22:16), his garments had been divided (Psalm 22:18), and his side was pierced (Zechariah 12:10). There are many other prophesies surrounding his death. All those had been or very soon would be fulfilled.
4. The ceremonial law was abolished. As Romans 10:4 puts it, Christ is “the end of the law.” It finds its completion and fulfillment in him. Therefore, all the Old Testament rules concerning animal sacrifices are set aside. And the rules and regulations concerning the priesthood are out of date since the Greater Priest has now laid down his life for his people. Those laws pointed to the cross. But once Jesus died, they were no longer needed. “The Mosaic economy is dissolved, to make way for a better hope.”
5. The price of sin was paid in full. Do you remember the words of John the Baptist when he saw Jesus? He called him “The lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) That “taking away” of sin was accomplishment by the death of our Lord.
6. His physical sufferings were at an end. “The storm is over, the worst is past; all his pains and agonies are at an end, and he is just going to paradise, entering upon the joy set before him.”
7. His life was now finished. When Jesus cried out “It is finished,” he had only a few seconds to live. All that he had come to do had been fully accomplished. His life and his mission came to an end at exactly the same moment.
8. The work of redemption was now complete. This is undoubtedly the major meaning. Matthew Henry expands on what Christ’s death accomplished in four statements, each one beginning with the letter F. The death of Christ provided a …
Full satisfaction for sin
Fatal blow to Satan
Fountain of grace opened that will flow forever
Foundation of peace laid that will last forever
Paid In Full
But there is more to the meaning of tetelestai. It means all of the above, but it especially applies to the price paid for the sins of the world. Merrill Tenney (Expositor’s Bible Commentary, IX, 185) notes that the verb was used in the first and second centuries in the sense of “fulfilling” or “paying” a debt and often appeared in receipts. “It is finished” (Tetelestai) could be interpreted as “Paid in full.”
“Paid in full” means that once a thing is paid for, you never have to pay for it again. In fact, “paid in full” means that once a thing is paid for, it is foolish to try to pay for it again.
So let me ask you a personal question. What sin is keeping you from God today? Is it anger? Is it lust? Is it a hard heart of unbelief? Is it alcohol abuse? Is it an uncontrollable temper? Is it cheating? Is it stealing? Is it adultery? Is it abortion? Is it pride? Is it greed?
Let me tell you the best news you’ve ever heard. It doesn’t matter what “your” sin is. It doesn’t matter how many sins you’ve piled up in your life. It doesn’t matter how guilty you think you are. It doesn’t matter what you’ve been doing this week. It doesn’t matter how bad you’ve been. It doesn’t matter how many skeletons rattle around in your closet. IT IS FINISHED!! Paid in full.
To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:
…A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance…
– Ecclesiastes 3:1,4
This wonderful gift of life that God created and sustains in His children can bring with it many sudden changes as we go along — stark reminders that this is not our home, and we are but pilgrims on a journey. That truth hit us very hard this week. A family lost a beloved husband, father and grandfather; our community lost a gifted, creative, tireless and dedicated outdoor recreation advocate; and our BOMB fellowship lost a long-time member and passionate rider with the sudden passing of Ted Moon this past Wednesday. In the wake of this stunning loss, BOMB Co-Leader Robert Fairfax shared this poignant tribute:
It’s with great sadness and many tears that I write this. My friend and best riding buddy, Ted Moon passed away yesterday. Probably his heart but it’s not known yet exactly how. He was one of a kind and one of the best friends I’ve ever had. He was the first to pitch in and help and made friends wherever he went. I’m going to miss you, Ted. Thanks for all the prayers, bike rides and laughs we shared.
Ted found our fledgling group sometime during the summer of its first season in 2008, and from then on he was without a doubt one of the most active riders in our humble little fellowship. Not only a skilled cyclist, Ted brought with him an infectious enthusiasm and passion that added the element of fun to our outings. He was constantly inviting other people to join us. In fact, over the course of our 10 seasons since then, you and I probably rode more with Ted than any other rider simply because he came out as often as he could. He loved to ride. One of my earliest memories of our young group included the time four of us gathered on a frosty Thanksgiving morning to tromp through Riverside in anticipation of feasting later in the day. I don’t know how the calorie count worked out but we sure enjoyed the challenge!
Ted always brought thoughtful and encouraging perspective to our devotionals, and also contributed immensely to our local mountain biking community. Working with Friends of Wyakin Park, his efforts improved this wonderful local area and helped open it to more users (not just cyclists). Ted also led us on a couple of trail-building workdays in Riverside State Park. He brought the same passion to caring for and helping the community as he did to his biking.
In short, Ted Moon was a great friend and we are all better for having known him. We will feel his absence profoundly whenever we set out on another ride through the trails he loved and delighted in.
As we try to make sense of the sudden hole that Ted’s loss has left in so many lives, the most important thing we can do is pray. Pray especially for his wife Vicki, along with his children and grandchildren, for the comfort, wisdom and strength they will need as they go through the next few days. Pray constantly as they navigate this valley of tears when so many things can seem so overwhelming. Praise the Lord for the support He is already providing through Ted’s many friends and extended family, but remember that the love and care they need will extend far beyond the next couple of weeks. Ted touched so many lives along the way and we can all play a role in helping his family carry their burden of grief.
Ted’s funeral service will be held Tuesday (December 12) at 11:00AM at the LDS Francis Building (2112 W. Francis, Spokane, WA 99205). Burial will be at Fairmount Memorial Park at 12:30PM, the same day. Everyone is invited, and I hope you will attend if you are able. In the meantime, if you have any particular memories or stories of riding with Ted and BOMB, please share them (if you haven’t already on FB) by either replying to this post or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will gather them up and present them to his family in a week or so. It would mean a lot for his family to meet with and hear some memories from those of us who got to share Ted’s passion for mountain biking and the good times we enjoyed in this community he loved and so selflessly served.
In His mighty grace,
“I, _____ , having been appointed [an officer] in the [Armed Forces], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God.”
The US military’s oath of office (or enlistment): simple words, but profound and life-changing for everyone who has ever raised their right hand and repeated them as they put on the uniform of our military forces, no matter how long they may serve. They embody a promise to be kept, with inherent duties to fulfill. What sets these words apart from similar vows is that no one taking this oath ever knows for sure where it might lead. As long as one continues in service — most times voluntarily, but sometimes not — they are subject to what has been called the “unlimited liability clause:”
Someone who becomes a soldier is crossing a legally defined boundary. A soldier gives up some individual rights (such as the right to withdraw his labour), accepts collective standards which contribute to the common good, and undertakes, in the last analysis, to kill or be killed for a purpose in which he may have no personal interest.
General Sir John Hackett called this ‘the contract of unlimited liability’. However closely the army may come to resemble society, and however rarely it is called upon to apply lethal force, the essential characteristic of this contract still remains.
In other words, only in the profession of arms can one be legally ordered to perform tasks and conduct operations that expose one to the threat of imminent harm or even death. Indeed, that defines the very nature of the military and its purpose: to conduct, and prevail in, armed conflict. As someone once said, “A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States of America’ for an amount of ‘up to and including my life.’ That truth is as humbling as it is remarkable.
Memorial Day is not really about veterans in general, but particularly honors those who have been lost while serving. People join the military for a variety of reasons: some desire the sense of adventure or unique experiences, some the education and training, and some the chance to travel and “see the world.” Most have some notion of patriotism or service above self — dedicating their lives to something bigger than oneself. They understand the tradeoff between individual liberty and the nation’s freedom and security in rendering their service, not knowing how much it might cost. For some, it cost them “the last full measure of devotion” as Abraham Lincoln said at Gettysburg. But they are not the only ones who paid that ultimate price.
This day will be marked by ceremonies and speeches, symbolic gestures and military honors. For many, it will include a trip to the beach or lake, family gatherings, barbecues and celebrating the beginning of summer. Those things are not contradictory. But surrounding them all will be the tears of the the families of the lost, for whom the pain of missing their loved one is not limited to the last Monday in May. Despite that poignancy, know this: It is for those very things that those who chose the military served, and in some cases perished. We enjoyed those freedoms before we enlisted, while we served, and we enjoy them now. And as a nation we will continue to enjoy them as long as men and women are willing to sacrifice themselves for the greater good, to answer the call to service. It is possible to both celebrate and commemorate the incredible gift of liberty and security which makes the United States the envy of other nations, while honoring those who have ensured those blessings continue.
Take a moment to remember them today, and pray for their families. The national moment of remembrance takes place at 3PM local time. Whether you pause then, or throughout the day, give them and their families a dedicated moment in time. It’s all they ever asked for, and all they really need.
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
– John 15:13
Welcome to 2017! The “old” year seemed to pass on more quickly than ever before, and we’re looking out over a new set of 365 unpredictable calendar days ahead. Many of us are probably sighing with relief that 2016 is but a memory now. As we enjoy this last holiday of the Christmas season, did you have a good Christmas? Make any new year’s resolutions? Did they seem oddly familiar? Contemplating this day here at work, I read over last year’s January 1 post and I see some common themes emerging. There are so many ways we can approach the end of a year and the beginning of the next, and the chance for a “reset” is always welcome. But what do you consider your biggest accomplishment of 2016? Was it reaching some personal or financial goal, or did you experience some real growth in your walk with God? Last year I talked about relationships taking priority over resolutions; what about the most important relationship of all, that which we have with our Creator?
IN THE BEGINNING GOD…..(Genesis 1:1)
…”SURELY I AM COMING QUICKLY.” AMEN. EVEN SO, COME, LORD JESUS! THE GRACE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST BE WITH YOU ALL. AMEN. (Revelation 22:20-21)
Those sentences bracket the text of the greatest story ever told, a perpetual bestselling book, in fact the most widely sold and distributed book of all time. Estimates range between 2.5 and 6 billion copies have been placed in circulation since the 1800’s, with millions more added each year, alongside electronic book versions and apps such as YouVersion (itself establishing a record of over 200 million downloads). It’s actually 66 books in one, written by over 40 different authors over the course of some 1600 years. You’ve probably heard all that before. Impressive statistics, aren’t they?
But — so what? What difference does it make?
You’ve probably got one, or two or five, printed copies of various translations at home along with apps on your phone, tablet, and computer (or desktop shortcuts to BibleGateway.com and BlueLetterBible.org). And there is virtually no end to the commentaries, devotionals and study guides we can easily reference with little effort at all. Despite these advantages, here in the United States we live among the most biblically illiterate population this nation has ever seen. There’s only one cure for this condition: We have to actually read our Bibles.
Just 2 days ago I finished walking through the complete Bible for the 4th time since becoming a Christian. The version I used (above) has 1268 pages, which is a daunting prospect no matter how avid a reader you are. Here’s the thing: It actually took me 2 years to read this “Bible in a Year.” Fact is, that’s been fairly typical for me. I have plenty of devos, Christian books on lots of topics, and other edifying publications on hand, but using a daily reading format (chronologically going through daily Old Testament, Psalms, Proverbs, and New Testament passages) I usually bog down for the first time in Leviticus or Numbers. It’s hard to get going again, and then other distractions arise, and discouragement usually follows. But you just have to keep at it. Choose a different translation to liven things up; I chose the NCV and I attest to the fact that it gave me new perspective on particular books like Job and the prophets. I really enjoyed it again toward the end!
So as you set about to start your new year — for most of us it begins in earnest tomorrow — I encourage you to add this worthy goal to your list. No matter what your daily time with God looks like, delve into the riches of the full counsel of His Word. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you, read it cover to cover (Genesis to Maps!). That’s the means He has provided to get to know Him. “Let the man who would hear God speak, read Holy Scriptures” said Martin Luther.
Stay close to your Lord and Savior — the Word Himself, from John 1 — this year. No matter what lies ahead, you’re going to need His counsel, grace, and forgiveness. We all will. But all the treasure worth pursuing in life in found in His presence alone. Start reading now!
In His grace,
Your BOMB servant-leaders have added a new page to our WordPress “blog” — an online place for prayer requests, praise reports, and any other spiritual edification tools we can come up with. (Check it out by clicking on the appropriate “tab” on the page bar at the top of our WordPress blog, just above the header photo). Since this is new there may be a few kinks to be worked out, but let’s try it. You can go there anytime to submit — using the “Leave A Reply” box below all current entries — your own PR’s, or to offer comments of encouragement and support (specific prayers, words of affirmation, a particular Bible verse, etc), or just to see what’s been posted lately and add those PR’s to your prayer list. Hopefully this will keep you coming back to the Blog page on a regular basis, even in the fall and winter when we aren’t riding as much. I promise timely review and approval of all comments submitted. If the nature or significance of a particular intention or request warrants, we’ll do a new “post” as a way of notifying everyone to pray for that PR. Our aim is not to bombard your inbox with an annoying number of e-mails, but to encourage our fellowship to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). Go there right now, I’ve got the ball rolling with a special prayer request for a special trip coming up very soon!
P.S. I forgot to add a few details: Your PR’s can be as general or specific as you wish; names are not required (i.e. you could simply say “please pray for my mother’s health”); and you do not have to “sign” them with your own name if you don’t want to. We’ll know when reviewing comments before we approve and post them that you’re a member of the BOMB fellowship (which will keep random or “spam” comments out), but will keep your identity confidential of you prefer. We can do this by copying your PR into the text area that only we can edit, rather than letting it appear as a comment at the bottom of the page.
As I said, this is new so we might have a few things to learn yet, thank you for your patience!