A long time ago………..
Blood ran down the sides of the altar and into the trenches. Ebenezer dismembered the goat and cut slabs of meat which would later be cooked on the altar. He never tired of the routine of each day. As special days approached, such as the Day of Atonement, he felt the thrill of excitement mounting, and it was all hands on deck when the time came. The lines of people bringing their offerings seemed never ending, and by the end of the day his arms and legs were aching. What a relief to get home and rest, before resuming duty the next day.
For 30 years Ebenezer had been a priest serving at the temple, and now his sons were serving too. Just like his father before him, and his father’s father before that. How many more generations would it be, he wondered, repeating the same sacrifices day after day, year after year, until Messiah came? He couldn’t see any end in sight, but knew he needed to obey God. It was a privilege, he thought, to help people with their offerings. He lifted his knife as the next goat was laid on the altar.
Several centuries later…………..
A triumphant cry was heard on the hills outside Jerusalem, “It is finished”. The watching crowd had mixed reactions – grief, mocking, derision, sorrow, curiosity, while for some it was the matter of fact business of a normal day. There were many crucifixions to get through each day under Herod and it was a time consuming task.
But there was something different about this one. What did that man mean by saying “It is finished?” What was finished? And what did that soldier mean when he said “Truly this was the Son of God?” How could this bloodied mess on the cross be the Son of God? Surely if that was so, God would have saved him.
Two centuries later………….
I bow my knee. “I’ve stuffed up again, Lord,” I cry. “Please forgive me.”
Graciously he reminds me of his grace, his forgiveness, his sacrifice when he took my place to cleanse me of my sin. The words by Philip Bliss, American evangelist and songwriter, written in 1875 capture the scenario.
Lifted up was he to die,
“It is finished” was his cry,
Now in heaven exalted high
Hallelujah, what a saviour.
Even though I need to come again and again to confess my wrong doing, I know that Jesus sacrifice is accomplished, not to be repeated, finished. When my mind tries to replay an incident like a cracked record, he reminds me that it is finished. “I have forgiven you,” he says, “and the person you sinned against has forgiven you, now you must forgive yourself. It is finished.”
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