Monday, April 29, 2013

Good Friday by the Numbers

One word in the Greek language that sums it all up, tetelestai.  It means, "it is finished."  It is the word Jesus spoke on the cross announcing to the world, to His people, and to His devilish enemies that His mission was accomplished.  It means everything to us weary souls.  It is finished.  It is paid for.  It is over.  Sins are paid for.  Heaven is secure.  Now hope can reign.  One word, tetelestai.

Two natures of Christ are in this one person Jesus: human and divine.  What a strange mixture that isn't a mixture!  What a strange combination that isn't a combination!  He is 100 percent truly divine and 100 percent truly human all at once.  It is mysterious.  It is mysteriously gracious.  He had to be true man to actually live and die in this flesh.  He had to be true God to live and die perfectly for our salvation.  Think about that: God died for you!  Two natures of Christ.

Three persons of the Trinity groan at this event.  The Father, oh, can you imagine the Father, watching His one and only suffer so much?  Can you imagine the groans?  The Son going uncomplaining forth as a lamb to the slaughter.  Innocent, but not naïve.  He knows what is coming.  He knows He has to do it, and He groans.  The Spirit groaning groans that words cannot express.  The Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son to teach you all these things about the cross so that you never forget.  Three persons of the Trinity groaning.

Four legs are broken that day, two each from the thieves who flank the God-man.  Four bones cracking in the absolute horror that is mankind's evil.  How jaded do you have to be to break the bones of a dying man just to make your job end quicker?  Four legs showing us that we really are a rotten human race.

Five wounds on the body of Christ.  Two hands, two feet, and one side.  Five places where foreign metal was inserted into the body, not to help but to harm.  Five wounds that we will never forget.  Five spots wounded in our place and for our salvation.  Five wounds.

Six hours did He hang there.  Six hours of excruciating pain.  Six hours of agony for us.  Six long hours, in which He still found the kindness to save a dying thief and to take care of His mother.  Six hours, six long hours.

Seven words did our Savior speak from the cross.  He asked for a drink, and He got vinegar—more bitterness for a suffering man.  He spoke compassion to His mother and to John, "Her is your son, and here is your mother."  He pleaded for grace for His captors, "Father, forgive them; they do not know what they do."  He spoke grace to the thief, "Today you will be with me in Paradise."  And He spoke grace to us, "It is finished, tetelestai."  He spoke agony, "Why have You forsaken me?"  He spoke relief, "Father, into your hands I commit My spirit."  Seven words did our Savior speak.

Six days we labor on this earth before our heavenly Sabbath rest.  Six long days.  But our burden is light because our Savior suffered for six hours, six long hours.  Your burden is light because you have His grace.  You can suffer through it, you can.  He will never give you more than you can handle.  They are six long days but they are ultimately days of joy and peace because of Christ.  Six days, six good days.

Five wounds still haunt us and still lift us up.  Five wounds of Christ remind us of our sin but also of how precious we are in His sight.  How far He was willing to go so that we could have life!  Five wounds, five wounds we carry around in our hearts.

Four corners of the earth, that's where this message goes.  Almost everybody knows this; everybody needs to know this.  This is the most important event in the history of the world.  God died this day, and He did it for His creation.  And everybody is included.  He died for all.  And they need to know, they need to know this sacrificial love.  All four corners of the earth.

Three Marys stood by the cross.  Three women acting bravely while most of the manly disciples hid.  Three women, humbly pillars of a church.  Not unlike our women quietly holding up families and churches.  Three women who would be eyewitnesses to this horrifying death and eventually eyewitnesses to the Resurrection, too.  Three Marys who proceed into the world with His humble attitude of forgiveness and cross.  Three Marys who are role models.

Two thieves were there that day.  One penitently pleaded, "Forgive me."  One stubbornly said, "I do not need this grace.  I do not need it."  A cautionary tale to us all.  There is no difference between us and the worst of sinners.  We all stand condemned By grace alone are we on the side of the repentant thief.  By grace alone.  Two thieves so much like us.

On God speaking one word which sums it all up: Tetelestai.  It is finished.  One word from one God says it all to our tired hearts.  One God who was always there in the Old Testament, working in the New, preparing this sacrifice for each and every individual.  One God who was forgotten and spoken against and taken advantage of and disgraced.  On God who had the patience and mercy.  One God speaking one word.  One simple, eloquent, earthshaking, life-changing, eternity-securing word.  One beautiful word.  Tetelestai.  It is finished.  Amen.

Michael Berg, Gottesdienst 21.1, p. 6-7

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