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It Really is Finished


Reflecting on the Cross

This week is a great time for us to focus our lives on the most central event in our Christian faith – the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Too often, we get sidelined and sidetracked by different things going on around us and in our churches. This is a chance to remember what we believe and why. Each day this week, I will be posting about a different truth relating to the Passion week.

Holly and I decided to kick-off Passion Week by watching The Passion of the Christ on Saturday night. It was Holly’s first time watching it and my first time in several years. While I’m not much for intense gore, we felt like it would be a vivid reminder for us of what Christ truly accomplished on the cross.

One of my favorite features of the movie is its depiction of the spiritual battle taking place. Throughout the movie, the horrifying Satan figure lurks in the background, staring Jesus down. In the garden scene, he is even attempting to persuade Jesus to give up. But as Jesus comes into the final hours of his crucifixion, he lets out the famous cry depicted in the Gospels – “It is finished (accomplished)!” It’s a moment of bittersweet victory in the Gospels and Mel Gibson captures it well. As he gives up his spirit, the movie cuts to Satan wailing and screaming in defeat.

At the moment Jesus died, the weight of sin ceased to be a condemning force against us. While sin had always been Satan’s weapon for separating us from God and condemning us to hell, Jesus neutralized it with his death. The penalty had been paid. As we give our lives over to him, our guilt, shame, and condemnation are finished. We become free to live again. The problem is that we have the tendency to “unfinish” what Jesus has finished in us. By this, I mean that we often live in guilt for sins that have been already been paid. We subject ourselves to accusations that have no merit in our lives. While we can’t ever undo the power of the cross, we can live as if it never happened and the results are tragic.

Going into college, I thought I had everything figured out. I had grown up in the church and received Christ at an early age. I was deeply involved in my youth group and felt the call into ministry as a sophomore in high school. To be honest, I was so arrogant that I honestly believed I was already prepared for ministry. I probably wouldn’t have admitted it but I thought college was just going to be a formality. It was the pride that came before my fall.

I made a slew of mistakes during my freshman year of college that left me embarrassed and ashamed. I finished that first year angry at myself and hoping not to return. While I knew God had saved me, I was pretty convinced that he had no interest in using me. I may have been wearing the Christian jersey but I felt sidelined and unworthy.

Thankfully, I was very wrong. As I reluctantly returned the next semester, I began dating my wife and entered into several leadership opportunities. By my senior year, God had given me a tremendous platform to proclaim his Gospel to my peers on a weekly basis. Like my salvation, it’s not because I earned it. God simply took a stupid college kid and gave him the chance to speak. He used me in spite of my sins, not as a reward for my good works.

When we allow guilt in our hearts, we are like released prisoners returning home to our old jail cells. The cross frees us from condemnation, shame, and fear. It frees us from the sense of failure and worthlessness that follow. Jesus didn’t die violently on the cross only for us to remain in such a dark place. By allowing our guilt to survive, we are telling Christ that his sacrifice was simply not enough.

If you are one of those people allowing your past to haunt you, believing the lie that God can’t use you, I encourage you with three simple words – It is finished.

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  • Mark

    You make a unique point here. It’s interesting how guilt entraps us back into a life of sin, but admitting our brokenness frees us and glorifies the Father. Like Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christs power may rest on me.” Good word, thanks Matt!

    • Matt Morrison

      Thanks Mark! Those are important Scriptures to remember too.