Since 1908

Worship with us Thursdays at 5:30 PM and Sundays at 8 & 10 AM

Pastor's Blog

The Question of the Week 4

April 23, 2019

media/posts/april24.png

In the question box on Kidspace, I received 6 great questions during Holy Week.  Way to go!  I’ll tackle all these questions as blogs and newsletters over the next six weeks in the following order:

April 23 (blog and newsletter):

If Jesus was crucified on the cross and said “It is finished,” why did he rise from the dead three days later?
April 30 (blog)

Why are there no pictures of God on the stained glass windows?

May 7 (blog and newsletter)

Did Jesus clean himself by taking showers and brushing his teeth and having clean clothes and having good fitting clothes?

May 14 (blog)

Why did Martin Luther build Grace Lutheran Church?

May 21 (blog and newsletter)

Why doesn’t God come down with Jesus?

May 28 (blog)

Why did they choose to crucify Jesus?

If Jesus was crucified on the cross and said “It is finished,” why did he rise from the dead three days later?

 

“It is finished,” is the last thing Jesus says from the cross in the Gospel of John.

This question correctly points out that Jesus didn’t think the cross was the end of the story. 

Still, something did get finished by Jesus’ death on the cross.

One Part of the Project

One of my favorite Christmas presents as a kid was a plastic model of the Apollo 11 rocket.  It included three different projects:  part of the Saturn V rocket, the lunar lander, and the command module.  Once each project was finished, I could put the lunar lander inside the Saturn V rocket and the command module on top and it looked just like the top half of the Apollo 11 rocket.

 

So what part of  Jesus’ project was finished when he died on the cross?

In the Gospel of John, one of the first things we hear about Jesus is from John the Baptist.  He calls Jesus “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).  John the Baptist thinks Jesus is like a Passover Lamb. Which is why, in the Gospel of John, Jesus dies on the cross at the same time the Passover Lambs are being killed. 

 

The Passover Lambs

Why were lambs killed on Passover?  Passover is still celebrated by the Jewish people to remember how they were freed from slavery in Egypt by God.  The night before they were freed they ate a special meal that included lamb.  The lamb was a special lamb because after it was killed, some of its blood had to be put over the doors of the homes of Jewish people, so the angel of the Lord would “pass over” that house and not carry out the last plague on the people of Egypt. 

 

What’s a Plague?

The people of Israel believed bad things happened to the people of Egypt, because they forced people to be slaves.  These bad things are called plagues.  The last plague was the death of all first born children and animals.  The blood of the Passover lambs above the doors of the people of Israel saved them from the last plague.  Like the Passover Lamb, Jesus died to free people: not only from slavery, but from other sins and from death.  How does this happen?

 

The Next Part of the Project

Right after Jesus says, “It is finished,” he gives up his Spirit.  This is very important in the Gospel of John.  When God’s Spirit leaves our bodies, we die.  When God’s Spirit left Jesus body, God’s Spirit got to work on the next part of Jesus’ project:  freeing all people from sin and death.  In the Gospel of John, the first time the Risen Jesus visited the disciples, he breathed his Spirit on them (John 20:19-23).  It reminded the disciples of how God breathed the Spirit on Adam after he was created.  The disciples then believed that the Spirit made people New.  They remembered how Jesus said people could be “born again” of the Spirit (John 3:1-8).  Later the Apostle Paul wrote.  “We know that our old self was crucified with Jesus so we might no longer be enslaved to sin” (Romans 6:6).  Once Jesus had breathed the Spirit on the disciples and made them New people, they had his Spirit who helped them do the next part of his project:  forgiving sins.  So all the people in the world would be free of sin and death.

Forgiving Sins

This is a part of our faith in lots of ways: 

Baptism

Communion

Praying

Teaching and Preaching

Art and Music

Living

Especially when the Spirit gathers people together for worship, the Spirit helps free them from sin and death when these things happen in worship.  Next time you’re in worship, think about how the Spirit might use each of these things to free people from sin and death.

Sin and Death

One last thing about sin and death.  If people lived only doing and saying and thinking bad things (sin) the world would be a terrible place.  Terrible things would be happening even more often than they do now.  So people need to be freed from sin and death.  And Jesus and the Spirit are making that happen.

 

 

Posted by Larry Lange