John 19:16-18, 26, 28a, 30b - So he (Pontius Pilate) delivered Him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified Him, and with Him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. ... When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, "Woman, behold, your Son!" ... After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, ... He said, "It is finished," and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.
In our modern mindset, we seek to bridge the distance between us and God. We want to draw near to the Divine through our own powers, somehow closing the gap between Him and us. We search but we come up empty. It seems beyond our power to do.
Instead, God came to us, as one of us, bridging the divide we could not cross on our own. This He did in Jesus Christ who was born to live, die, and rise again, triumphant over sin, death, and the devil.
It was our sins, the Bible tells us, that permanently alienated us from our Heavenly Father. Isaiah, the prophet, writes: "but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you" (Isaiah 59:2a).
Yet, though our sins separated us from our God, when the Roman soldiers drove those nails into Jesus' hands and feet, and when Jesus cried out from the cross "It is finished!" a new connection, an everlasting reconciliation was established between God and mankind.
Of Christ, St. Paul writes, "For He Himself is our peace, who has made us both one (Jews and Gentiles) and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility" ... so that He "might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility." ... "For through Him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father" (Ephesians 2:14, 16, 18).
The truth of what Christ's crucifixion would mean was given to the prophets by God Himself. In Hebrews, we read how "Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world" (Hebrews 1:1-2).
Seven centuries before Jesus was born into this world as our Savior, God the Holy Spirit moved Isaiah the prophet to write these words: "Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed" (Isaiah 53:4-5).
Because of Jesus we are no longer strangers, alienated from God by our sins. Instead, now, by faith in Jesus we can become God's own sons and daughters. "But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His Name, He gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12).
WE PRAY: O Holy Spirit, open our hearts to receive the forgiveness of our sins won for us by Jesus on the cross. In His Name we pray. Amen.
From "Finished!" a sermon excerpt from Rev. Dr. Wallace Schulz, former Speaker of The Lutheran Hour
1. What caused the gap between us and God?
2. What has God done to bridge the gap for us?
3. In your spiritual conversations with others, do you hear people trying to "find" God in their own ways? What are some of those ways?
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