The Cross; August 5, 2018


John 19:30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

The different Gospel writers each brought out different details of Jesus’ crucifixion, thus reinforcing the authenticity of the total narrative. John was the only one to record Jesus entrusting His mother Mary to him, just before the end, and here he records a theologically vital detail. In English we use “finished” in various ways, but the Japanese is very specific here, rendering it as, “It is completed.” Jesus had indeed completed the work for which His Father had sent Him. Another reason that statement is important is that we can neither add to nor subtract from what Jesus did on the cross. We love to take credit for things, but there is no opportunity for that here. Paul spoke of “fill[ing] up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church,” (Colossians 1:24) but that isn’t a matter of adding to salvation, rather it is of being willing to take up his own cross, just as Jesus had spoken of. (Luke 9:23) Various religions promote abusing the flesh for “spiritual gain,” but neither Jesus nor Paul did that. We will all have our own encounter with death, but that is in God’s hands and we are not to try to take it into our own to any degree. The final detail in John’s record here is how he saw what was going on. Jesus here fulfilled exactly what He had said: “The reason my Father loves me is that 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 10:17-18) That’s why John chose to express Jesus’ physical death as, “He gave up His spirit.” That was the ultimate provision for our salvation.

I have known the facts of Jesus’ crucifixion since I was a young child, but my awareness of it keeps getting deeper and deeper. I am very aware that no suffering I might be called on to endure could compare with what Jesus went through for me. As several of the New Testament writers expressed in various ways, the magnificence of what happened for our salvation is beyond human words to express fully. It follows then that the only appropriate response is total love and obedience. I strive for that, but I constantly come up against my own humanity. I could never earn what God has provided in Christ; every bit of it is grace. And as the Lord told Paul, that grace is all I need. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Father, thank You indeed for the cross, for all You did for me in Christ. Thank You for revealing more and more of that to me as I walk with You. Help me share the reality of Your grace more and more effectively with more and more people, so that they too may fall totally in love with You in response to Your love for them, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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