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At the end of a semester, teachers give final exams.  Students know that they will be tested and prepare throughout the course to be ready for their Final.  Each week during the course, students learn and continue to build on previous lessons.  Eventually, the teacher finds out whether or not students were prepared to pass or fail.  

When I think about the life of Jesus, I love to celebrate his birth and study his words in the Gospels of the Bible.  I can see that he was preparing his followers for what would be his Final Test.  Each interaction he had with people pointed them to him as the One who would save them from their sins.  As we read the stories from the Gospels, we’re reminded that he had his Final moments in mind from the beginning.

Matthew 27:50-51 (ESV) provides a description of the final moments of Jesus on the cross:

“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.  At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.  The earth shook, the rocks split.”

We see a detailed plan that God the Father designed which created a way for us to be reconciled to him.  His plan involved his only son to be crucified on a Roman cross.  The events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus would lead to redemption.  (John 3:16, 2 Corinthians 5:21)  

In the centuries before Jesus’ arrival in Bethlehem, prophecies foretold that there would be someone who would become the final sacrifice to atone for sin.  From the day when sin entered the world in The Garden, sacrifices had been offered as a way to pay for sin. On the day of his crucifixion, Jesus willingly laid down his life substituting his life for our sin.  He was the sinless Lamb of God who came to earth on a mission to get to the cross for you, for me.  

After being mocked and beaten, Jesus arrived at the spot outside of Jerusalem known as the Place of the Skull, Golgotha, where many criminals had been previously crucified on wooden Roman crosses to deter crime under Roman jurisdiction.  It was there that Jesus laid down on the cross and experienced the piercing of nails in his hands and feet that attached him to the wood. He would have been unrecognizable due to how he had been punched and whipped. The crown of thorns placed on his head would have pierced his head causing paths of blood to flow.  Soldiers would pierce his side also causing blood and water to flow.

The weight of our guilt, sin and shame was placed on him as he hung there gasping for air.  (2 Corinthians 5:21)  Isaiah, when speaking of the coming Messiah, wrote, “Yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressor”.  (Isaiah 53:12) The original meaning of the word “bore” is the word ‘nasa’ which means to lift up, to bear, carry, endure, take away and forgive.  In every moment that he hung on the cross until he died, Jesus carried our sinThis was God’s plan to offer us reconciliation because where sin increased, grace abounded all the more. (Romans 5:20-21, Romans 6: 5-11)

In Isaiah 53:6, we see clearly the reason that the crucifixion had to happen: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”  The original word for “laid on”, “paga”, means one would encounter hostility with a sense of a cause.  In this case, picture God the Father on purpose causing our sins to be laid on Jesus.  

It’s a part of God’s plan for us to recognize the sacrifice of Jesus’ life on the cross.  (John 3:17) He knew that we would turn to our own way. (1 John 1:9, Colossians 2:13-14)  God had a plan then and now to offer fellowship with him.  (Hebrews 12:2)

How does Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross encourage you and me?

I am encouraged when I refuse to believe the lies of the enemy which have sometimes tried to block my view of the cross.  Jesus bore my sins allowing the veil of the temple to be torn so that we would no longer be apart but reconciled to God.  I see his divine plan to take our sin and shame away which overwhelms me with gratitude. The person I am now is cleansed, whole and released from a life of sin.  God orchestrated the events that led up to Jesus’ crucifixion so his good plans for us could happen.  By faith, I believe that Jesus took my sin and redeemed my life.  When he said, “It is finished!” and laid down his life, he paid our sin debt in full.  

More Moments about Matthew 27:50-51:

With the sun darkened, at the moment he breathed his last breath, the veil of the temple was split in two.  The sacrifice of his life would forever open access into the most Holy place where we can pray to the Father.

The enemy always wants to discredit what Jesus did and place doubt in minds.  No matter the lies that the enemy hurls, we can come with confidence to the throne of grace to find mercy and help in our time of need.  (Hebrews 4:16) We may have been sinned against and sinned ourselves, but God who is rich in mercy and not willing that any should perish has made a way to be cleansed from sin, forgiven, made right and whole again.  (2 Peter 3:9, Ephesians 2:4-10)

When Jesus died for our sins, he canceled our sin debt.  (Colossians 2:14) We are a new creation when we are reconciled to him.  (2 Corinthians 5:17-19) He began a way to enter into fellowship with God the Father when the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.  We can hold firmly to our faith in him. (Hebrews 4:14-15) 

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