주일설교

SEVEN WORDS FROM THE CROSS VI - A Cry of Victory

페이지 정보

작성자 최고관리자 작성일15-12-29 23:01 조회922회 댓글0건

본문

 

<John 19: 30>

 


 Not long ago, an inspirational story appeared on the Internet Edition of Chosun Daily.  It was an article about Miae Kim (34), who passed South Korea’s Law Civil Service Exam (equivalent to BAR Exam in the US) last year and is currently going through training to become a judge at the National Civil Law Research Institute. 

 

 After her mother had passed away in the 8th grade, Miae Kim had to endure extreme poverty.  During the day, she worked at a textile factory, and at night she attended night classes at a woman’s vocational high school.  In order to eke out a living, she worked in a shopping center and once opened a sushi shop, working as the cook, waitress, and cashier, doing three-person amount of work.

 

  After toiling year after year, working during day and studying during night, she went on to study at the Dong-A University’s Law School in Pusan, and at the age of 33, passed the difficult Law Civil Service Exam to walk the path of law and justice.

 

  Miae Kim lives by the word, “all is in God’s grace.”  When she could not afford medicine for her mother when she was sick, she put her mother in a wheel barrel and took her to a church.  There, she became a Christian.  Kim would confess that every time her life ran into a dead end, her only friend, God, had always helped her out.

 

 This was such an inspirational story.  Miae Kim overcame great difficulties to achieve a huge goal.  Achieving something that is beautiful or long yearned in our hearts realization of such endeavors is truly a precious thing.  What could be better than setting out and realizing your life-long goal, something that you had worked hard for your entire life?

 

  Realizing one’s life-long dreams, accomplishing that one thing one yearns in one’s heart within this endeavor lies the sixth topic of seven words from the Cross.

 

 Let’s take a look at the latter part of today’s scripture once again.  He said, ‘It is finished!’ And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.”  It is finished!”  What is finished?  Before we answer this question, let’s take a look at the phrase “It is finished” and re-look at its meaning.

 

  In the original Hebrew, ‘it is finished’ is ‘tetelestai.’  It is a short, single-word phrase.  Charles Spurgeon, famous orator of 19th century, once defined the importance of this phrase as such.  “This one word would need all the other words that were ever spoken…It is altogether immeasurable.  It is high; I cannot attain to it.  It is deep; I cannot fathom it.”

 

 It is true.  If this phrase summarizes the life of Jesus on earth, then we cannot begin to fathom the height and the depth of its meaning.  Nonetheless, we must try, albeit through our limited language and understanding.

 

  The Hebrew word ‘tetelestai’ comes from a verb ‘teleo,’ which means ‘to bring to an end,’ or ‘to complete,’ or ‘to accomplish.’  This phrase is used to express a successful completion or end to an action taken.

 

 One can use this phrase after paying for an item one just bought, or after one had just completed a foot race.  When a servant completes a task given to him by his master, the servant can report back to his master using this phrase to denote completion of the task.  In sum, ‘tetelestai’ is a word used when we successfully complete an action that we had started.

  

 ​But within this phrase, we must pay attention to one thing.  There is no subject or object associated with this word.  In another word, it is unclear as to who completed what task.  This facet of the word is clearly shown in its English translation, “It is finished.”

 

 The Bible translators did not interpret this phrase as “I am finished,” because they clearly understood the nuance of this phrase.  Had Jesus said “I am finished,” it could have meant exactly that He was finished.  It could have denoted that Jesus was finished on the Cross as the loser; hence, that translation is very inappropriate.  Death on the Cross is not the end; rather, it is a new beginning that opens the door to the everlasting world.

 

Regardless, the translation of ‘tetelestai’ into ‘it is finished’ is a good, fitting translation.  The question that asks what had Jesus accomplished on earth can only be answered by dissecting the Bible from cover to cover.  It is a secret that can only be discovered through all the annals of human history.  That is why this phrase uses the infinitive ‘it’ to translate its meaning.

 

What meaning does the greatest proclamation of victory in the history of man, ‘tetelestai,’ convey?  Just what did Jesus accomplish, or finish?  If the word accomplish means finishing those things that one had planned, then just what does it mean?  I would like to tell you the two most important points associated with this question.

 

 First, it means that Jesus’ pain has ended.  The life of Jesus was wrought with pain and suffering.  Without the word ‘suffering,’ we cannot explain the life of Jesus.  He was born in a manger, lying in a stable using hay as pillow.  Even though He was doing God’s work of teaching about the Kingdom of God, spreading the Gospel, serving others, and performing the miracle of healing, he was always ostracized, persecuted, and constantly under a threat of death.  The ultimate apex of the suffering of Jesus was indeed the Cross.

 

 Recalling the crucifixion on the Cross, according to Bible, is as follows.  Before He was nailed to the Cross, Jesus had already suffered mentally through the interrogations of the high priest Caiaphas, Herod, and Pilate.  When He was sentenced to death by the Roman Governor-general Pontius Pilate, He was immediately whipped as precursor to His punishment.

 

 ​The whips of those days were fashioned from heavy leather, with two chunks of leather or sharp animal bone attached to the end.  Think about getting lashed with these whips.  First few lashes will bring about bruises and scrapes.  Subsequent lashes will begin tearing the skin and muscle tissue, exposing and puncturing the veins in the muscles, making blood pool in parts of the body.  After a while, such bleeding will lead to extreme anemia. 

 

After being whipped, Jesus had to carry the horizontal beam of the Cross on his back and started climbing up the Galbori Mountain.  The vertical beam had already been erected in the ground atop the mountain, so Jesus only had to carry the horizontal beam.  This beam weighed about 50 kilograms, or about 110 pounds.  Jesus could not carry such a heavy item in His condition at the time, so one of the spectators, Simon, carried it up for Him, as according to Mark 15: 21.

 

 ​When Jesus arrived at the top of Galbori Mountain, He was stripped of His outer garments and laid on the Cross.  Then He was nailed to the Cross.  The nails were actually driven through Jesus’ wrists, for nailing through the hand will cause the hand to tear, since the hand could not sustain the weight of the body.  Afterwards, the Cross was erected on the ground, and with His feet coupled, another nail was driven through Jesus’ feet. 

 

 The three nails through both his hands and feet tears at the veins and nerve ending, causing heavy bleeding.  When the body sags due to gravity, the weight of the body puts great pressure on the wrist that is nailed to the Cross, causing excruciating pain throughout the arms and the shoulders.  When He tries to alleviate the pressure on His arms by trying to raise His body, excruciating pressure shifts to His feet that is nailed to the Cross.

 

  In the midst of such great pain, most people cry out for a quick, merciful death.  In order to alleviate the pain of the crucified convicts, their legs were often broken.  If the knees were shattered with a hammer, the convict is no longer able to support the weight of his body; moreover, over 1 liter of blood will pool at the knee, causing relatively quick death by anemic shock.

 

 The reason why the legs of the two convicts crucified on either side of Jesus, as according to John 19: 31-37, were broken is precisely for this reason.  But Jesus’ legs needed not be broken, for He had already died.  According to John 19: 34, in order to check and see if He was indeed dead, a Roman soldier takes a spear and pierces the left side of Jesus, near the heart; when he did so, blood and water flowed out from the wound.

 

 As explained in detail, crucifixion brought the maximum amount of pain and humiliation and one can imagine.  “It is finished.”  It means that such great pain and suffering had ended.  The years of pain and suffering, capped with the pain of crucifixion borne to cleanse us of our sins, was finally coming to an end.

 

 Second, it means that the sacrificial ceremony was coming to an end.  When Jesus was crucified on the Cross to become, once and for all, the sacrificial lamb, it signaled an end to all the Old Testament animal sacrificial ceremonies.  Before Jesus carried the Cross, Jews had to conduct periodic sacrificial ceremonies by offering animals.  The fact that such sacrificial ceremonies had to continue is symbolically illustrated well by the fact that the priests had to stand throughout the duration of the ceremony.

 

 But such sacrificial ceremonies were mere ceremonial procedures that could not cleanse our conscience.  It could not cleanse us of our sins.  As such, Hebrews 9: 25-26 states, “not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”  By becoming the ultimate sacrificial lamb on the Cross, the eternal cleansing of the sins has taken place.

 

 Leviticus 16: 6-10 speaks of the goat for the scapegoat.  On the day of the sin offering, high priest Aaron casts lot to choose the goat for the scapegoat, puts his hand on it, and casts all of Israel’s sins upon it.  Then the scapegoat is sent out to the plains, never to return again.

 

  What Jesus did on the Cross is as same as what the scapegoat has done throughout the ages of the Old Testament.  Like the scapegoat, God has cast all of man’s sins on Jesus, and through His sacrifice, cleansed us of all our sins.

 

 Furthermore, during the era of the Old Testament, only the high priest could enter the sanctuary once a year.  A curtain divided the sanctum from the temple (Leviticus 26: 33), and the priest could only enter the sanctum through the curtain.  But according to Matthew 27: 51, after Jesus had died, the “veil of the temple was torn in two from the top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split.”  What does this mean?

 

 The fact that the curtain which divided the sanctum from the temple was torn while Jesus was hung from the Cross signifies that the barrier that separated man from God had been torn down.  The days of only high priests being allowed to enter the sanctum, on the day of the sin offering, has ended.  Through the grace of Christ, anyone could stand before the throne of God.  We, in fact, have become high priests of God (1 Peter 2: 9).

 

 So Hebrews 10: 19-20 tells us, “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh.”  The torn veil represents the torn flesh of Jesus Christ, and through the death of Christ on the Cross, all of us were able to gain a path to salvation.

 

 ‘Tetelestai,’ through the Cross of Christ, the sin offerings of the Old Testament had ended.  The sanctum, which could only be entered once a year by the high priest after the sacrificial sin-cleansing ceremony, can now be entered by all.

 

 ‘Tetelestai, ‘It is finished.’  It is a phrase to proclaim that the work of Christ, to save us from our sins and death, has been successfully accomplished.  Without even a trace of regret, this work was carried out to the fullest.  There was no need for Jesus to neither lecture any more, nor heal any more of the sick.  There was no need to perform miracles such as making bread nor turning water into wine.  There was no more work for Jesus to do as a physical being.  All tasks have been accomplished.  All have been eternally finished.

 

 ‘Tetelestai’ is a phrase that was used in the ancient periods when settling accounts during a purchase of an item.  I believe that all of our debts of sins have been settled in full through the crucifixion of Christ.  Believe in the fact that all of your sins have been forgiven through the Cross of Christ.  Believe in the fact that Jesus settled our debt on our behalf, that He has borne the cost of our sins.

 

 Now, it is our turn.  We must be able to finish our tasks, as Jesus had accomplished His.  We need to strive to the end, to be able to proclaim ‘tetelestai,’ or all has been accomplished.

 

 In one of the 1946 editions of the National Association of Evangelicals, I discovered an article that talked about the greatest orator that God had used for His work within the last five years.  A young orator named Chuck Templeton topped the list.

 

 One of the deans of a theological seminary went on to praise Templeton as the “most gifted and talented young man in America today for preaching.”  Many people believed that Templeton would follow in the footsteps of D.L. Moody and Billy Sunday as one of the greatest Gospel preachers and missionaries of the era.

  

Templeton started out well.  But he used his God-given gifts not for God but for himself.  As a result, he fell into the trap of scholastic arrogance, finally ending up as an agnostic.  Do you know the title of the last book he wrote before he departed from this world?  It was a book titled Farewell to God.

 

 When Templeton embarked on his ‘Crusade ministry,’ a young man had worked along his side.  The article published in 1946 did not even mention the name of this young man who worked by Templeton’s side.  His family and friends called this young man ‘Billy’.  He was William Franklin Graham, a country boy from the state of North Carolina.  Graham’s start was ordinarily unspectacular, yet he went on to greatness later in life.  Templeton and Graham, how do they contrast so vividly?

 

 The start is important.  But the end is even more important.  There could be no more a beautiful thing that being able to say, “God, I have completed all your tasks given to me” before we die.

 

 Now is the time to use the gift and materiel that God had provided us to do His work.  We must use these resources from God to completely and fully realize His will.

 

  ‘Tetelestai,’ or ‘It is finished.’  I pray in the name of our Lord that this phrase can become our call, the confession that we make to God when we depart this earth.  We all must work hard to achieve this goal.   

 

댓글목록

등록된 댓글이 없습니다.