What are three of the last words Jesus spoke, recorded in the Gospel of John, as He hung on the Cross?
“So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.” (John 19:30)
“It is finished!” After Jesus spoke these words, the veil in in the temple was ripped, from top to bottom (see Mark 15:38).
The veil was of considerable size and weight. I’ve been taught that it was 30 feet wide and 90 feet high, supported by four pillars. So when we read that the veil was torn from top to bottom, a supernatural event is being described, as if some great pair of hands took to the veil and tore it as if it were nothing. We are looking at nothing less than the hands of God reaching down to rip away that which separated us from His presence!
This veil in the temple separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies, because the holiness of God would not allow the presence of sinful flesh before Him. No one was allowed to go behind the veil into the presence of God except for once a year, on the Day of Atonement, when the High Priest was permitted to enter and make atonement for the people.
When Jesus, the High Priest of the New Covenant, finished His work on the cross 2,000 years ago, He exclaimed, “It is finished!” His sacrifice was not only acceptable, it was so perfect and powerful that it ripped away the veil of the temple, from top to bottom, giving all of us access to the presence of God through faith.
“For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.” (Ephesians 2:18)
Jesus, through the Work of The Cross, now gives us access to the Presence of God, Forgiveness, Salvation, Healing, and Freedom, as we choose to surrender to Him. The Great Exchange and His High Cost of Love grant us the power of the Holy Spirit and the Hope of Glory, Christ in us.
He is Risen Indeed
Throughout the world during the season of Passover, Passion Week, and Resurrection Weekend, many reflect on the High Cost of Love that was displayed on Calvary. For many others, however, it is a time for Easter Bunnies and eggs. There is a total contrast and distinction between the merchandizing of Easter and the sacredness of the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Jesus. For millions of Christians around the globe it is a holy time and a reminder of the Great Sacrifice that bought our salvation and freedom. May we never forget the price that was paid for us.
Each time I’ve visited Jerusalem, I’ve gone to the empty tomb. When leaving the tomb, the inscription on the door reads, “He Is Not Here, For He is Risen.” Throughout the Middle East during Resurrection Weekend, Christians often greet one another with “He is Risen!” And the response is “He is Risen Indeed!”
“Surely He has borne our [a]griefs and carried our [b]sorrows; Yet we ]esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded[e] for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-5)
Wow! What a prophetic picture of the fulfillment that took place 2,000 years ago. I call this “The Great Exchange through the High Cost of Love on Calvary.”
What Are You Living For?
Perhaps you are asking yourself: Is what Jesus did on The Cross 2,000 years ago really pertinent to me today?
It is impossible to have a strong foundation as a Christian unless we have a clear revelation of the passion of Christ and how it can transform our lives. Without that understanding, we will be apathetic believers at best.
I like the question that the late Leonard Ravenhill used to put on all of his notes and cards: “Are the things you’re living for worth Christ dying for?”
In one of the many handwritten letters I received from Brother Ravenhill, he said:
“If God wills, we will come to Houston… Presently, dear Martha and I are recovering from a tough attack of flu. Then the sciatic nerve in my left leg struck a painful blow. Now I have a limp, but so had Jacob, and it does not seem I shall travel much this year. But with the Psalmist we say, ‘My times are in Thy hands,’ ready to stay, ready for my place to fill, ready for service, lowly or great, ready to do His will.” His letter ended with this: “He is no fool who exchanges his burden of sin for the burden of the Lord.”
Brother Ravenhill had all kinds of phrases that seemed to leap right up and hit me square between the eyes. This one was certainly no exception. As I considered his attitude during a stressful time in his life, I was convicted of my own self-centered murmuring. But I was also greatly encouraged in handing my own “burden” before the Lord, despite the way I was feeling at the time.
As I meditated on Brother Ravenhill’s concluding statement about the exchange of the burden of sin for the burden of the Lord, I began to see how Jesus exchanged our filthy rags for His robes of righteousness. There is an old hymn that says, “We owed a debt we could not pay; He paid the debt He did not owe.” Yes, He exchanged His own life and holiness for the debt of sin which we could not pay. He willingly experienced our sin, our hell, and our separation so we could be brought into loving fellowship with the Father.
The Exchange of Burdens
The first exchange Jesus made on our behalf was to give us eternal life in exchange for our sentence of hell and eternal death. But the exchange doesn’t end there. We should be willing, as Brother Ravenhill said, to exchange our burden of sin for the burden of the Lord. By that I mean we should cultivate a burden to do the will of God, whatever the cost.
Although this could be manifest in a variety of ways, in many cases it will mean reaching out to hurting, broken, and lost people. But whatever the Lord’s burden is for our lives, that is what we should be willing to embrace in exchange for our sins. If our sins have been cleansed yet we have no passion to follow the Lord’s heart for our lives, something is seriously wrong!
When we exchanged our filthy rags for His perfect righteousness, we made a commitment to the Lord. In that commitment we said, “Not my will, but your will be done. I no longer belong to myself. You have bought me with a price, and that price was your very own blood.” Paul challenged the Corinthians on this very matter:
“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
Paul seemed to be wondering if the Corinthians had forgotten this foundation stone of a fruitful Christian life. Christianity is not living any way you want, with a quick call to Jesus for help whenever you get yourself in trouble. The life of faith is not a “pick and choose” game where we keep what we like and discard what we don’t. Christianity is not making the Word of God fit what we want so we can continue to satisfy our own fleshly desires and greed. Our quest should be to fit into God’s plans rather than trying to squeeze Him into ours.
This is still a watershed issue that should challenge our values today. Despite the fact that Jesus died to give us new life through His resurrection, we are often too busy thinking about and doing things which amount to resurrecting the “old man” rather than living the resurrected life, so it becomes very easy to get off into error.
Crown of Thorns for Crown of Life
Just prior to Resurrection weekend of 2020, I had a conversation with my friend Pastor Jeff Kersey of Mt. Horeb United Methodist Church in South Carolina. He shared part of the message he was going to share in his Sunday service, and it very much resonated with me:
“The spikes on the surface of coronavirus gives this virus its name – corona, which is Latin for ‘crown.’ In the Greek, korṓnē means wreath or crown. The coronavirus has brought nothing but fear, anxiety, suffering and death into the world.
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Doug Stringer is founder and president of Somebody Cares America and Somebody Cares International, a global network bringing hope and healing to communities through prayer initiatives, compassion outreaches and cooperative efforts. He is the author of numerous books, including In Search of a Father’s Blessing and Leadership Awakening: Foundational Principles for Lasting Success.
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