Friday, March 29, 2024

Salvation Paid In Full - Why "Good Friday" Is So Good



       Today is what Christians the world-over refer to as "Good Friday". Why the adjective "Good"? The Son of God incarnate, Jesus Christ, who perfectly, flawlessly, lived the only sinless human life before men, offered Himself up to death on a merciless cross. That act was at once a depiction of human hatred and Divine love (see Acts 2:23; Romans 5:8). 

    What made Jesus' death on the cross good on the Friday He died was what it achieved. Jesus uttered 56 words in the six hours he hung on the cross. 56 words, stretched over seven sayings, emphasized His intent, His love, and His achievement of redemption. His accomplishment signalled the "good" of Good Friday. His forthcoming resurrection proved that what He did was accepted by the Father. That's the good news of the Gospel. 

     At the church where I pastor, we annually celebrate Good Friday by having what is called "The Seven Sayings of Jesus from the Cross" service. The words that Jesus spoke during His crucificxion are what I alluded to above, and which are the focus of the service we'll have at the church this evening. Let me draw your attention to one of those statements expressed by our Lord in the final hours before He died on the cross.

Salvation "paid in full"
    One of the final words Jesus would express before breathing His last is recorded by John the Apostle in John 19:30 -

Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. 

       In the underlying Greek text of this passage, the words, “It is finished” are one word - "τετέλεσται" ("te-tell-es-tie"). Moulton and Milligan’s Greek Lexicon (i.e dictionary), page 630, cites examples from ancient receipts where this word was used to express “payment in full”. I'm sure most readers have had that thrilling experience of making a final payment on something. To see a "zero" balance at the bottom of the bill signals you're no longer underthreat of penalty for late payments, nor the weight of debt owed. The bill is satisfied. 

    Better yet, for perhaps fewer persons who have had someone pay the balance of a long-standing debt, what emotions come to the surface when you realize that someone else satisfied a debt you had accrued? Gratitude? Humility? Wondering why? That's all included in this one little word in the Greek that we translate into the phrase "it is finished". 

    The verb "τετέλεσται" ("te-tell-es-tie"is in what we call the "perfect tense", which means that a particular act, having been done in the past, has abiding consequences into the present. Quite literally, what is intended in the phrase "it is finished" is "it has been finished, and is still finished, never to be repeated". What Jesus said from the cross over 2,000 years ago has ripple effects that changes the life of anyone who receives all He has done and is by faith (Ephesians 1:7). So, what exactly was He claiming to have “paid in full”? 

The cross and the empty tomb demonstrate that the benefits of salvation were paid in full

    The Four Gospels tell us about the events of cross and empty tomb. The Book of Acts contains the preaching of the cross and empty tomb. It is in the New Testament letters and Revelation that we find the meaning of the cross and empty tomb. What follows is a sample of all the benefits of salvation “paid in full” on the cross. As you read each verse below, note the underlined words.

1. Freedom from condemnation. 

Galatians 3:13 "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”

2. Forgiveness of sins. 

Ephesians 1:7 "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace."

3. Full pardon. 

Colossians 2:14 "having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross."

4. Flourishing spiritual life. 

Titus 2:11-12 "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age."

5. Final defeat of Satan. 

Hebrews 2:14 "Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil."

6. Freedom to live for God. 

1 Peter 2:24 "and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed."

7. Forever adoption. 

Revelation 5:9 “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation."

    Every benefit can only become reality in someone's life when they receive what Jesus accomplished by faith. Apart from faith, the debt of sin and judgment is owed (see Romans 6:23).

Closing thoughts for this Good Friday

    When Jesus said those words, all of these, and more, were “paid in full”! For all who receive Him by faith apart from good works, the debt is paid in full. Reflect on what Jesus has done. I close with words from a dear old Hymn "Jesus paid it all" - "Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe, sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow". 

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