Thursday, April 17, 2014

God draws close at Easter

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, "Woman, here is your son." Then he said to the disciple, "Here is your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home. After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), "I am thirsty." A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, "It is finished." Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. 

    The Gospel of John offers these details about the last moments of Jesus earthly life in chapter 19. Jesus' final words were "It is finished." His body could no longer endure the suffering. Yet, there is something more going on with Jesus' last words. Marcus Dods, from his Footsteps in the Path of Life, suggests:

The purpose of God in the history of man was accomplished when Jesus breathed his last upon the cross. The cry “It is finished” was not the mere gasp of a worn-out life; it was not the cry of satisfaction with which a career of pain and sorrow is terminated; it was the deliberate utterance of a clear consciousness on the part of God’s appointed Revealer that now all had been done that could be done to make God known to man and to identify him with men. God’s purpose had ever been one and indivisible – declared to men in various ways, a hint here, a broad light there, now by a gleam of insight in the mind of a prophet, now by a deed or heroism in king or leader, through rude contrivances and through the tenderest of human affections and the highest human thoughts. God had been making men ever more and more sensible that his one purpose was to come closer and closer into fellowship with him, and to draw them into a perfect harmony with him. Forgiveness and deliverance from sin were provided for them, knowledge of God’s law and will, thus they might learn to know and to serve him – all these were secured when Jesus cried, “It is finished.”

   God draws closer to women and men at Easter. History is indeed filled with the efforts of God to awaken humanity to the goodness of intent of our Creator. God hinted here, revealed there, spoke then, and nudged us again and again. Easter is different. Easter is both declaration of intent and the erasing of past grievances. Easter is the forgiveness for the past and the new promise of the future.
   May our songs, as varied as we are, and our attention to God's holy story draws us and others closer to the truth of all that Jesus accomplished in that first Holy Week.
   Grace and Peace, Scott

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