“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all,” Isaiah 53: 5-6.
When a loved one passes away, one of the hardest things to do is plan their funeral. It’s in the thickness of grief that family members are forced to pick out floral arrangements, songs, program designs, and other silly things that in a twisted, parallel universe are also key elements in weddings.
Many hold celebration of life services for their Christian loved ones in lieu of a funeral. People might wear the deceased’s favorite color, they may exchange stories, and there is usually some type of gathering afterwards to fellowship and celebrate their life. And always, in every Christian funeral that I’ve been to, the Gospel was preached. Funerals are when people think the most about death. It’s when they wonder what comes after life. And it’s one of the few times that they’re most open to receiving the Gospel.
When Jesus calls a believer home, there is peace. Tremendous peace. Peace which surpasses all understanding. We have this peace because we know that they are in a place better than even the best that our world has to offer, better than even what paradise looks like in our most creative imaginations. Whatever maladies they had are gone. We celebrate their victory from this life and yet we grieve because they are no longer with us. We grieve for the missed moments that we’ll never get to experience with them in this lifetime.
If they’re not a believer, we mourn and grieve for their souls while holding on to the faintest of hopes that they accepted Christ into their life before taking their final breath. And we vow to use their passing as motivation for us to share Jesus with Christians in the making.
On March 30th 2018, Christians all over the world will grieve. We will reflect. Many wear black on Good Friday as an outward nod to remember that day on Calvary. And we remember Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross. Good Friday is in many ways a funeral. Only, it’s not. It’s a celebration of life – Christ’s and ours.
We take communion to acknowledge Jesus’s sacrifice for us on the cross. The bread represents His body – pierced by nails, whipped by lashes tenfold, crushed by a crown of thorns, and broken – completely broken by the weight of His enemies’ sins. And the cup is a representation of His blood which dripped from His brow and out of the lashes and wounds which were meant for us.
Christ was beaten, betrayed, and brutally murdered. In today’s world if an innocent man were executed in the same way He was and especially for the “benefit” of others, there would be riots, reform, and restitution. There might even be anarchy for weeks, months, possibly years. But what if the entire world collectively, because of our own shortcomings decided to savagely murder this innocent man?
As Jesus hung on the cross, about to give His last breath, pleading with God the Father that if it is so His will then please let the cup pass from Him, the crowd jeered. They threw on Him a robe fit for a king and mocked Him. Some even spit on Him. Others flogged Him. But He endured, because for Jesus, it was worth it. The physical torment was worth it. The social humiliation and ostracization was worth it. Even bearing the combined weight of humanity’s sins was worth it. The single toughest thing for Jesus to do though was break communion with God the Father. Never in the history of histories had this happened before. But the only way for us to be reconciled to God was for this precious and holiest of holy communions to be severed. There was and is absolutely no other way that our relationship with God can be restored. He though perfect had to bear our imperfections so that we can be made unblemished. He fell to redeem ‘The Fall’. And to Him, it was absolutely worth it. Every last drop of blood, every second of public humiliation, every stripe, even His separation from God was worth it. Because to Him, you’re worth it.
We should feel unsettled by Jesus’s death. We should grieve it. But we should also commemorate it with a celebration of life service, with fellowship, and with stories of Jesus’s 33 years on earth. We should share stories of our relationship with Christ, and especially of that time He literally saved us from spiritual death. And we should also share His famous last words with others.
When Jesus said it is finished, He meant it with His entire life.
It is finished because He died on the cross for our sins.
It is finished because death as we know it is finished. He conquered death and is very much alive today.
Jesus, by dying on the cross, gave the death blow to Satan. It is finished. Done. No more.
Gone are the Old Testament days of making sacrifices to atone for our sins.
Gone is that veil which separated us from Him.
Gone are our sins if we believe in Him. Jesus was and is the final Passover. Our sins are passed over because the blood of the Lamb is on our souls.
It’s done. Our sins are gone. It is finished.
Next week, our blog will visit Silent Saturday – the “in waiting” day that’s not often talked about but nonetheless important. Then, as the sun begins to peak through the horizon, we rejoice.
Because Sunday is here.
Written by Christine Hu