How reflecting on Good Friday and Easter connects to the life-affirming mission

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As I prayerfully meditate on the profound realities of the events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday this week, I’m grateful for a new resource I just discovered.

“Seminary Now” offers a series of short YouTube video teachings on the seven sayings of Jesus on the cross.

As I began viewing these videos, I was struck anew by the importance of Jesus’ humanity as an essential, foundational element for the life-affirming mission from a Christian perspective.

When we consider the Incarnation, we often focus on the divinity of Christ.

We conjure up a Jesus in our minds who is other-worldly, one who floats through life using his divine powers.

In other words, a Jesus to whom we can’t truly relate.

But the real Jesus we worship walked the earth not only as a divine being, but a human one. Not 50% divine, 50% human, but rather, in the mysterious math of God, 100% divine and 100% human.

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In the video titled “It is Finished,” Dr. Cynthia Westfall explains a different approach in understanding what Jesus accomplished on the cross.

I’d always understood the phrase “It is finished” as referring to the atonement—that Jesus had completed the task of earning salvation for humanity on the cross.

However, a closer look at the book of Hebrews seems to offer a different perspective.

“The Son is the light of God’s glory and the imprint of God’s being. He maintains everything with his powerful message. After he carried out the cleansing of people from their sins, he sat down at the right side of the highest majesty.” -Heb. 1:3

“But Christ has appeared as the high priest of the good things that have happened. He passed through the greater and more perfect meeting tent, which isn’t made by human hands (that is, it’s not a part of this world). He entered the holy of holies once for all by his own blood, not by the blood of goats or calves, securing our deliverance for all time.” – Heb. 9:11-12

These passages indicate Jesus completed the work of atonement for sins after His resurrection and ascension.

If that’s the case, Dr. Westfall asks, what then did Jesus complete on the cross?

Another clue from Hebrews:

Therefore, he had to be made like his brothers and sisters in every way. This was so that he could become a merciful and faithful high priest in things relating to God, in order to wipe away the sins of the people. He’s able to help those who are being tempted, since he himself experienced suffering when he was tempted.” – Heb. 2:17-18

Flipping back to the beginning of John sheds some light as well:

“The Word became flesh and made his home among us.” -John 1:14a

When Jesus took on human form, his assignment was to live the full gamut of human experience so He could relate to us in every way.

At the moment of His death on the cross, Jesus completed His task of living the full human experience.

It is finished.

The God-man was conceived, developed during gestation, and was born.

He grew physically and socially and intellectually. He got hungry and dirty and exhausted. He felt physically weak. He became exasperated. He cried tears.

Finally, He died the most agonizing death possible for the sake of rescuing humanity.

John is the only Gospel writer who records the phrase, “I am thirsty,” which Jesus uttered on the cross.

“After this, when Jesus knew that everything was now finished that the Scripture might be fulfilled, he said, ‘I’m thirsty.’ A jar full of sour wine was sitting there; so they fixed a sponge full of sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it up to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ Then bowing his head, he gave up his spirit.” (John 19:28-30)

One’s final words shortly before death carry great weight.

Dr. Nijay Gupta points out that “I am thirsty” is not the profound or lofty statement we might expect from Jesus at the end of His life—rather, it is utterly human.

In this moment on the cross, we see the paradox of the incarnation—God becoming weak for our sake.

From womb to empty tomb, our beautiful Savior skipped nothing of human suffering and limitations.

His journey on earth as “the Human One” began with nine months of gestation, just like every other human being ever created.

Jesus can relate to human beings because He walked the earth as one of us. He can relate to the preborn among us because He has been one Himself.

He existed as a zygote, then an embryo, then a fetus, and finally an infant.

These early stages of Jesus’ life were all part of the task He completed on the cross when He said, “It is finished.”

This wonderful Savior we worship, this compassionate God who suffered willingly for our sake, compels us to stand up for the least of these.

Tweet This: This wonderful Savior we worship, this compassionate God who suffered willingly for our sake, compels us to stand up for the least of these.

It is for His sake that we rescue the little ones and hold out hope to their distressed mothers.

It is out of gratitude and adoration that we celebrate what He has accomplished on our behalf through His death, resurrection, and ascension.

May your Good Friday and Easter be rich with meaning and filled with joy.

Oh, what a Savior. He is risen indeed!

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