I can’t stand Easter. Too much pomp, not enough circumstance. Trumpets, egg hunts, pancake breakfasts by youth groups, choir after ensemble after choir… it seems that church on Easter Sunday is about almost everything besides Jesus’ resurrection. I understand that it’s a celebration, but the party shouldn’t eclipse the reason for having it in the first place.
And I have to be honest, I’m a little frustrated by all the people who only make an appearance at church on Easter and Christmas. It may be a horrible thing to say, and I’m not suggesting that it would be better if they stayed home. I’m just wondering if it might be better if I did.
For years, something like 16 years, if memory serves, I didn’t go to church at all on Easter Sunday. I cooked pancakes for the Easter breakfast from 5am until 11am and then cleaned up until about 1pm or so. I’d rather serve than be frustrated.
The past couple years I’ve gone to the Contemporary service, or what my family affectionately refers to as “Jiggy Church” for Easter worship. It’s almost always half full and it isn’t much different than it is any other weekend, with the exception of a few potted lilies on the altar.
This year as I sat in a folding chair on the gym floor listening to a very impressive sermon on a passage from Colossians, a phrase that my pastor quoted from the gospel account of Christ’s death instantly struck a chord with me.
“It is finished.”
Christ said these words as he hung on the cross. He said these words right before he died. Can you imagine what the disciples and his other followers and family thought as he uttered these words?
My pastor was going on about how these words are a business term, used to indicate that a transaction is finished. Jesus said “It is finished” to indicate that God had fulfilled his third and final promise to Abraham. He had already made Abraham into a great nation. He had already given the land he promised Abraham to his descendants. And with Jesus’ death, God blessed the whole earth through one of Abraham’s descendents.
But the disciples didn’t know that, they couldn’t have known that. All they knew was that the one they thought was the Savior of the Jews, the promised Messiah, their King, was dead. It probably even sounded like Jesus had finally given up, in essence that he reneged on everything he had said to them while he was alive.
Honestly, I can’t imagine what that would be like. I can’t imagine how completely their faith would have been tested, how hard it would be to believe that there was still some ray of hope when Jesus himself seemed to say it was over.
Thomas doesn’t seem so impudent know, does he? Of course he doubted that the disciples saw Jesus in the upper room, that the women had seen the empty tomb. Jesus said it was over.
But when they were all united, when they all understood, when the whole of the scriptures snapped into focus, when they recognized the full fulfillment of the prophesies and promises of God were completely brought to fruition, then everything made sense.
Jesus said it was over.
The waiting, the doubting, the fear that God’s promises were never going to be completed, that the prophesies were lies; the silence of God for the 400 years before Christ’s birth; the emptiness of the cycle of sin and repentance… It was over. It is finished.
I can’t imagine. I can’t imagine what the disciples felt. I can hardly imagine what I’m feeling. But as I sat there it dawned on me, this isn’t just about God’s promise to Abraham. God had made many more promises including the “new covenant” which is the promise Jesus made during the Passover meal immediately preceding his death. This promise is that his blood is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins and that we would see Jesus again in his Father’s kingdom. He made this promise before he died.
It is finished. The debt is paid. There are no pending promises.
I am forgiven. Not “I will one day eventually be forgiven.” His blood was poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. It is finished.
My place is at my Father’s table, in my Father’s house. I will see Jesus in my Father’s kingdom. This promise is not pending. It is finished. It is true.
He promised that he would send his Spirit. It is finished.
He promised that he would come back for me. It is finished.
Now, I will grant you that I am not in full possession of all these promises. But Jesus Christ laid down his life as the guarantee those promises would be delivered. The transaction is done. Just as I may inherit an earthly fortune that must be invested until I reach the appropriate age, so too the immeasurable fortune of an eternity spent at the foot of the throne of the Lamb who reigns forever by the power of his blood is held as a bond guaranteed for me.
I’m not waiting for a promise. I’m waiting for my inheritance. I’m not wondering if I’m going to get it. I’m planning how I’m going to spend it. I know I’m going to spend it with Him. I hope I get to spend it with you.
As I sat there in a half filled make-shift sanctuary, my head swimming in the pool of “It is finished.” thoughts and emotions, I realized that the sermon had been over and the adult choir had begun singing the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s “Messiah”. As all my thoughts cleared and I started listening to them sing, they were already well into the anthem:
The kingdom of this world
the kingdom of our God
and of His Christ
and He shall reign for ever and ever.
Posted with : The Way