Grace Complete

“It is finished.”

The words that marked a dying man’s last breath.

His words are a comfort to know that it is by grace we are saved, that not of works so that no one can boast. It is finished because He has finished it.

What is it about grace that frightens us so much? The idea of receiving something with no strings attached. Don’t we do that for our friends and loved ones? Then if we who are evil know how to give good gifts to those we love, how much more will our Father who is in Heaven give what is good those who ask of Him? The gospel is His gift to us. Gospel from Old English meaning “good news.” Can there be a greater gift than perfect love and divine royal blood given on our behalf? Can there be better news?

Yet the idea of grace has us running and screaming like the plague. From a God who is so amazing, we believe there must be some kind of “catch” to this gift. Do we question when we receive a gift from our friends? Generally not. There might be a “why” involved, but we usually accept it because we know they gave from their love as a means to show us they care. So why is it different when God is giving us a gift? He’s given many others before. Our breath and our life are beautiful gifts from God. Yet He loves us so much that He is willing to go even further. So that we are not forever bound by sin, God cast Adam and Eve away from the Tree of Life, and though because of their sin they could not reside with God, He never left them. His presence is a gift we receive when we choose to receive His grace.

What is it about grace that frightens us to the point where we decide that it can’t be all there is? To the point where we add onto it things that really don’t factor into what grace in the Gospel does for us? We tell people to live this way or that way. We tell people that they are wrong. We tell people that they have to DO MORE STUFF to keep their salvation. We profile a believer and tell others to measure up to it.

Beloved, don’t you see that these are our responses to His gift rather than ways to receive it?

Because if these are what’s important….. why did the story not end sooner? Why didn’t it end with Jesus’ baptism? Why didn’t Jesus just say “peace out” after He gave us some nice lessons? Why did Jesus have to keep pushing the buttons of the religious leaders who thought they had salvation worked out? Why did Jesus have to shed His blood and suffocate on a cross?

Do you know the Savior? Why is He the Savior if His gift is not enough? If what He went through is not enough to give us life? We spit on grace when we choose works instead. If it is by our means and our works and things that are humanly possible, then why did the sinless God have to die on our behalf? What kept Him on that tree, waiting for death to take Him?

Love. Love that killed a man who had no fault. Do you know that the Savior is in love with you?

Grace.

Grace, beloved. Grace that tells us this is something that we can NEVER earn, that our sin is something we can never atone for on our own. To atone for a sin, one must give his life. The wages of sin is death. And this man took our death that when the righteous Judge looks upon us, He sees the blood of the Lamb who was given on our behalf. In the Old Covenant, God allowed an animal to be sacrificed for a family’s sin. Blood was shed and a death gave way to life. There were restrictions. The animal had to be pure and devoid of blemishes. The blood of the last Passover Lamb signed the New Covenant. That through this sacrifice all mankind can come to the Father. And who was more blameless than Jesus Christ, the Son of God?

God has written us a beautiful love story through the life of His Son. So why are we trying to alter it? God is as creative as He is sovereign. Just look at the world around us. The green leaves of spring topped off with blossoms of bright reds and pinks. The stars that dot the night sky. The sun that gives us warmth. The human body and all its complexities. Can man or other creature have this creativity?

Grace came from Love. True Love died to bring us to Himself, that we may die to our old selves and have life anew in His resurrection. Grace is grace because it cannot be earned. Grace is beautiful because it cannot be earned.

“It is finished.”

If He says it’s finished…… I’m sure as heck going to believe it’s finished.

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Who is Jesus?

There is a guy we tend to call the Prince of Peace, the Holy One, the Savior. But who is He really? To us? to the world?

He is a man we claim to know yet pretend we don’t. He is a man we claim to love yet we continuously break His heart. He is a man we claim to follow yet the paths we walk don’t reflect it. Who is He, really? To us? Who should He be to us?

We always see Him depicted as a white man with an ethereal glow. Sometimes clothed in splendid robes, sometimes looking solemn and serious. Sometimes He’s holding a lamb and looking up toward heaven. Sometimes He’s smiling gently. Many people believe He is a condemning, angry, and spiteful being. Many people believe He is as tender as a mother toward her child. No wonder we think we know who He is. No wonder we don’t.

Our culture, our society keeps trying to tell us who He is. We see the images painted across stories and artwork and rantings and ravings. No wonder we are confused.

We go to the source to find Him, and even then we run into problems. Verses get taken out of context and twisted to say what we want them to say. We get too lazy to read whole sections and chapters and books, so we’re okay with the verses thrown at us by others since they’re reading out of the bible anyhow.

So how can we know Him?

He is to be sought out. The person of God is not so hidden that man cannot find Him when he seeks Him. The will of God is not so hidden that a man cannot find it when he seeks it.

He was in the beginning. He was with God in the beginning. And in the beginning He was God. He is the Living Word through whom all things were created that have been created and apart from Him nothing was created that has been created. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, but the darkness can not comprehend it.

One spring evening, He came into our world witnessed by the most humble of assemblies. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords born of a virgin with an animal feeder as his crib. Creation witnessed His birth and bowed to Him. A star marked His coming. Men – princes – from all corners of the earth followed this star to find Him. Thousands upon thousands of miles on foot, by animal, using whatever means possible, they came to pay tribute to the One and only King born on a clear evening in the back of an inn.

As He grew, He gained wisdom beyond understanding and used it and taught others of it and equipped them. All man and all God, He forsook His place in the heavenlies to bring those created in His image back into fellowship with Him. The Father, the Spirit, the Son – the epitome of perfect fellowship. And we are invited to join in it as well.

Then one night, His heart became burdened for the destiny of His creation. As a man, He felt the pain of a single cut. As a man, He felt the burden of His mission. He prayed all night, leaving His life in the hands of the Father. He was so burdened that He sweat blood through His pores, making His skin ever more tender to the touch. He hoped for another way, not as He will but as the Father will. The weight of sin rested solely on His shoulders; from the first sin that started with a fruit to the sin just before He establishes His kingdom and every single sin in between. Flesh and bones were never meant to carry this load. Yet He did with the knowledge of what He would be blessed with after it was done: fellowship with His beloved. He prayed. He waited. His heart was broken as a kiss sealed His fate.

And the next morning, he began a journey that would open a path for us to find Him wherever we are at. His tender skin was torn apart, and He had already lost too much blood, yet He continued to stand and walk and carry the instrument of His death on His shoulders. He begged for forgiveness on his children’s behalf. Forgive them. Forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.

He hung for hours that likely felt like eons. A man hung on either side of Him. One chided Him, telling Him to free them all if He is the Son of God. The other… his heart broke at the sight of God’s guiltless Son dying the death that he and his comrade deserved, a death that is thought to be a curse from God. He asked Him to remember Him. The Son looked on Him and loved Him. His heart was repentant. The man would be with Him in paradise.

Many still hoped He would free Himself. If He were truly the Savior, then He would not be cursed by God. They waited and waited, but He stayed on the monstrous contraption. Then with His very last breath, he proclaimed, “It is finished.”

The first man who believed was a Roman soldier. “Surely… surely… this man was innocent.” And others repented at this site. And all creation felt the Father’s broken heart.

And three days would pass until His beloved would see Him again. He rose from the dead and left the world’s sin in the grave. He was the final Passover Lamb, offered as a peace token to the God of justice that He may bring His children to Him without defiling His righteousness.

It is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. It is finished.

“It is finished,” He proclaimed on the cross. So why do we add so much to His sacrifice? We look at someone and pass judgment. This person is not “good” enough. That person is not “pure” enough. Those guys aren’t “doing enough” for Jesus. These people won’t go to heaven.

Who are we to pass judgment on each other? We hypocrites should remove the log in our own eye so we can see clearly enough to take the speck out of our brothers’ and sisters’ eye… that we may see Him clearer.

We mock His sacrifice when we add onto it. In the Old Testament, a family atoned with God by sacrificing the best pure animal as an offering. Blood was shed in this covenant between God and His people. The New Covenant was signed with Jesus’ blood. We have nothing to do to earn a place with Him. He has done the work, and in response to it, He has told us to tell others of Him, to bring His sacrifice into their lives. This is not a command given to us that allows us to be with Him. This is a response to what we have received from Him. This is a gift from us to Him to bring His beloved to Him.

The man who hung next to Him changed his heart even as he was about to perish, and Jesus gave Him life. It is finished. It is finished because He finished it.

We see this Man through so many filters. Television, role models, paintings, writings, teachings. But why? When we try to see Him through other filters, we will never truly see Him. We must look at Him and toward Him, and we will see Him clearly then and only then.

It is finished. So bless Him. True Love died on that day to bring us to Him. And True Love rose and took us in His arms and gave us the opportunity to bless Him.