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God’s Son “Forsaken,” His Sacrifice “Finished!”

What could be worse than the taking of innocent life?  And who more innocent than the Son of God! How could God the Father be pleased that Christ the Son was scornfully beaten and then nailed to a wooden cross to die an excruciating death?  And yet this was God’s plan from eternity past.  Christ did not die as a martyr for a just cause; rather, He (the Just One) died as a Savior for unjust sinners.  His life was not taken from Him, but rather, He gave it!  We tend to focus on the physical suffering and death that Christ experienced, but as this book explains: “When Christ died on the cross in payment for our sin, it was not just a physical death that He experienced; eternally more significant, it was a spiritual judgment exacted upon the Son of God as He bore the sin of the world.”
Of the seven statements Christ uttered from the cross, two stand out as being extremely significant in confirming what was being accomplished through the atoning sacrifice of Christ.  The question, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” gives us a sense of what was in “the cup” of God’s wrathful judgment, which Jesus drank to its bitterest dregs on our behalf.  The exclamation “It is finished!” unquestionably assures us that the Savior’s atoning sacrifice accomplished what was necessary in satisfactorily paying the debt owed for our sin.  Your gratitude and faith will be strengthened as you read this book.
    While there are other books on the subject of the “seven last words of Christ” (as they are called), none of those books deal with these two statements:

  1. with the concentrated focus and depth offered here,
  2. with the inclusion of alternate viewpoints (including historical perspectives), and
  3. with biblical applications in relation to church practices today — including the sacraments of penance and the Eucharist.
Would you like a “faith lift” today? Would you like your heart to grow in love and gratitude toward the Savior? If so, this book is for you!

 


This image is from the cover page to Part Two of the book. It depicts the empty tomb reflected below the empty cross. Hebrews 9:28 states, “Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.” The resurrection assures us that His atoning sacrifice fully satisfied the debt of our sin.
(Image created by Kevin Carden; reproduced with licensed permission from Christian Photoshops.)

The book cover image is of the cross silhouetted against the backdrop of a beautiful sunset. On the day Christ was crucified, as the sun was setting, the cross was empty. The atoning sacrifice on behalf of mankind had been completed. “It is finished!”
(Image reproduced with licensed permission through ColourBox.)

Excerpt from the Preface:

Two of the most profound statements in all of Scripture were uttered from the lips of Jesus as He sacrificially shed His blood on the cross of Calvary.  Both were expressed as loud cries coming from deep within the soul of the Savior, and both are among the shortest statements spoken by our Lord, as recorded in Scripture.  One statement was comprised of only four words in the vernacular language that Jesus spoke in Palestine, and the other statement was fully expressed with just one Greek word — “Tetelesthai!
Though brief, these two statements of Christ testify to the greatest fact in all of history, and the greatest truth ever revealed in holy writ.  Indeed, they give testimony to the fact that Christ accomplished the primary objective for His having come into this sin-cursed world as the unique God-man.  They give witness to the truth that the penalty of sin had been fully atoned for and “propitiated”: satisfying God’s holy wrath through the shed blood of Christ.
One of the statements was in the form of a question; the other, in the form of an exclamation — without any question about it!  One was a cry of agony; the other, of victory!  One was a deeply personal cry, addressed only to the Heavenly Father; the other was a public cry for any and all to hear and believe.  One serves to confirm that Jesus did, indeed, experience the judgment of God for our sin; the other assures us that the Father accepted the atoning sacrifice of the divine Son.
The intent of this book is to explore the meanings of these two statements and the significance they hold in our spiritual regeneration and growth.  Along the way, we will consider related church doctrines and historic perspectives to see if they are consistent with the teaching of God’s Word.  It is my prayer that through the reading of these brief chapters, you will come to a deeper understanding and appreciation of the significance of Christ’s atoning sacrifice, and be spiritually enriched as a result.

Kenneth P. Lenz

Excerpt from Chapter 2:

When Christ died on the cross in payment for our sin, it was not just a physical death that He experienced; eternally more significant, it was a spiritual judgment exacted upon the Son of God as He bore the sin of the world.  Jesus’ fourth statement was an agonizing cry recorded by Matthew and Mark.  Mark quotes Jesus as having spoken in the vernacular language of Aramaic, explaining, “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ which is translated, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’ ” (Mark 15:34; cf. Matt. 27:46; Ps. 22:1–3).  Jesus, the One who had never existed outside of the presence of the Father and the Spirit — the One who was and is an eternal member of the Triune Godhead: fully God (as well as fully man) — at this point in time had sensed the estrangement from God the Father that our sin brings and which we deserve.  The wrath of God was being poured out in judgment upon the Lamb of God as He bore “the sin of the world” (John 1:29), spiritually becoming “a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13).
Christ’s cry was addressed to God the Father, and yet the heavens were silent!  The Father did not respond to the Son in answer to the agonizing cry that echoed through the darkness.
Could it be that while Jesus had been infused with every vile sin of humanity, that God the Father had “forsaken” (Gk.: enkatelipes) the Second Person of the Trinity, turning His back on His only Son?  How could such a cataclysmic event ever occur?  The splitting of an atom would be miniscule in comparison!  For that matter, how could the Holy Son of God, whose everlasting character is only pure in every regard, become the very embodiment of sin in its abject fullness?  Such a condition and such an estrangement are beyond our human capacity to understand. Yet the Scriptures teach of this: “We esteemed Him [the Messiah] stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. . . . All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way [in sin]; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:4b, 6).

 
Excerpt from Chapter 15:

After hanging on the cross for six hours, Christ exclaimed: “It is finished!” (John 19:30).  What was finished?  Ultimately, He was declaring that the atoning sacrifice was complete.  The Epistle to the Hebrews explains that “without shedding of blood there is no remission” (i.e., forgiveness) for sins (Heb. 9:22).  In the days of the Old Testament, the blood of sacrificed animals merely covered over the sins of the people, anticipating the day when the Messiah would finish the work.  The writer of Hebrews reveals that it was “not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption” (9:12; cf. 10:10–12).  It was a sacrifice that was offered once and for all time, purchasing our “eternal redemption.”  It is finished!
Therefore, Christ was not only the ultimate Sacrifice, but He is also the final High Priest (who “entered the Most Holy Place once for all”).  Furthermore, He now serves as the Mediator of the new covenant — the new way in which we approach God.  The writer of Hebrews goes on to state that “for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance” (9:15).  This and other verses tell us that His death also redeemed those Old Testament believers who had transgressed (i.e., sinned) “under the first covenant” and had offered animal sacrifices.  Christ’s sacrifice, however, put an end to animal sacrifices and the “old covenant.”  It is finished!
Book Trilogy by Ken Lenz