The story of the dying thief on the cross next to Jesus is recorded in Luke 23:32-43. Given his circumstances (that he was convicted, condemned and dying), the fact that he found grace in the eyes of Jesus (who was also dying), stands as a testimony to the reality of the saving power of the Saviour. The story teaches us many things, but greatest of all is the challenge to all to come to Christ and find that salvation He offers those who do.
The last words spoken by dying people can be sad, weird or anything in between. Elvis Presley said, “I’m going to the bathroom to read.” Joseph Wright was a linguist who edited the English Dialect Dictionary. His last word was “Dictionary.” Multimillionaire, Richard Mellon enjoyed a game of Tag with his brother through seven decades of his life. When dying, Richard whispered, “Last tag” to his brother who then was “It” for four years until his death.
In John 19:30 we find out what the last words of Jesus were. He said ‘it is finished’. But what was it that was finished? His drink? His suffering? His life? What is sometimes not so clear can be sorted out by going back to the original language that John used. While Jesus spoke in Aramaic, John, like the rest of the gospel writers recorded everything in the common Greek tongue of the day, Greek. And in that language, Jesus said just one word, and that word has the meaning, ‘it is finished, it stands finished and it will always be finished’. A servant would use this word in replying to his master, ‘I have completed the tasks you gave me to do’. A financial or accounts manager in the business world of this time would use it to mean, ‘the debt is paid in full’.
The death of Jesus was no accident. He willingly embraced the cross. His death was not an example either. His death was a payment. And by saying ‘it is finished’, Jesus expressed that salvation of God’s people was now complete. The debt had been paid leaving absolutely nothing to pay. Salvation is God’s work on our behalf.
The story is told of a rather eccentric evangelist called Alexander Wooten who was approached by a young man who asked him ‘Sir, what must I do to be saved?’ Wooten replied ‘it’s too late’ and went on with his work. The man became troubled by this and replied, ‘Do you mean it’s now too late for me to be saved? Is there nothing I can do?’ ‘Too late’ said Wooten, ‘it’s already been done! All you can do is repent and believe!’ Everything hinges on what Jesus completed. Salvation is a gift of God’s grace to be received by faith. This last word of Jesus is a lifeline to the believer. Let His Name be your last word.
Rev Philip Burns
Mark records the occasion at Caesarea Philippi when Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?”. In response, Peter said to Jesus, “You are the Christ”. In response to Peter’s confession, Mark 8:31-9:1 tells how Jesus explained to the disciples what kind of Christ (Messiah) he had come to be, and from that moment, Jesus set His eyes upon the cross and took the road that went to it. The harder road. The one that would end in death for Him. But more than that, He called His disciples to take that very same road.
Have you got some plans in place for Easter this year? Maybe you have. It’s a busy time for travel and holiday making and also the last of the warmer weather. Central Victoria is a great place to visit and there’s lots to see and do in Bendigo. So, if you are planning a visit, then join us on Good Friday at 9:30am and Easter Sunday at 10:30am to hear again the ‘old, old story’ that is ‘ever new’ of Jesus the Lamb of God, crucified in our place and raised from the dead for our salvation. Morning tea follows both services. All very welcome.
When Gough Whitlam won the election in 1973, the slogan “It’s time!” became well-known all over this land. When some Greeks one day asked some of the disciples if they could see Jesus, it became clear from the things that Jesus said in John 12:20-36, that the hour had come for him to die….and so “It’s time” took on a whole new meaning.
The Bible presents some matters as mysteries. The intersection point between what God does and what we do in response to His grace is often hard to locate. In Philippians 2:12-18, the Apostle Paul presents one of those mysteries. God works in us and yet we are called to work out our salvation. In this message that intersection point is located and explored.
Everything that Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount is so important, but these words of Jesus in Matthew 7:13-14 seem to have much more importance and weight than the rest. Why is that? Because eternity hangs on what Jesus said in these verses. The outcome of our response to what He said will either be heaven or hell. There is no in-between. And so what He said is so vital.