As we are in this most holy of weeks, I’m caught up in the profundity of six words that define Easter… three that bring down the powers of darkness and three that are the most incredible ever uttered. While all six words have become very familiar, they are loaded with theological significance.
The first three words were spoken around three in the afternoon on the day of Christ’s crucifixion. Darkness had enveloped the land. For six hours, Jesus had been hanging on a cross at a busy thoroughfare, suffering excruciating pain, and bleeding to death. But what wasn’t seen was the intensity of what was happening in the spiritual realm.
Here’s what I mean.
For sin to be defeated, it had to be destroyed, which is why we are told in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (ESV).
In the Greek, the original language of the New Testament, the verse literally reads, “The one who knew no sin was made sin.” Paul is being careful to emphasize that Jesus was absolutely sinless, yet He took on the fullness of sin itself, including our transgressions.
It’s profound because Jesus was made to be sin so that in His death sin and its power would be destroyed.
It’s brilliant. God used Satan’s most potent weapon – death – to destroy the cause of death, which is sin, by imputing sin to Jesus. The sinless One broke the back of sin in His death.
You and I can’t begin to comprehend the depth of Christ’s suffering to achieve this victory over sin. But Isaiah 53 offers some stark language to describe the reality of what Jesus endured as the object of God’s wrath against sin itself.
In looking over that passage we are told…
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed…. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth…. Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer.
Take a moment to read just the bolded words. This is not just the physical suffering of Jesus. This is the spiritual crushing of Jesus that was the only way we could be redeemed from the power of sin.
Can you even begin to imagine what it would be like to be, “punished by God, stricken by him?” The all-powerful, omnipotent God?
I have to believe this is the greatest violence ever experienced by any human being. We just have no way of fully comprehending the intensity and fierceness of the punishment against sin. No wonder we are told in Luke 22:43-44, that when Jesus was in the garden earnestly praying before His arrest,
And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
That’s why the first three words of Easter are so profound.
“It is finished.”
Jesus endured. The. Price. Had. Been. Paid.
Debt canceled. Chains broken. Darkness shattered. Redemption complete.
Finally, peace with God is possible. The power of sin is destroyed.
That brings us to the final three words of Easter, which are utterly amazing.
They are spoken by an angel to three women who are standing in shock looking at an empty tomb. With the women confused and dumbfounded, the angel simply says…
“He has risen.”
Stop and think about these three words for a moment. The power of sin has been destroyed. And the end result of sin – death – is defeated. The resurrection shows for all to see that the grave has lost its power. The grip of death has been broken for all eternity.
As the apostle Paul tells us in Romans 6:9, “For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.”
Those three words were a triumphant declaration over death as in Jesus, resurrection power was unleashed. And why?
The power of sin was not only destroyed. Through the resurrection, the power of death was defeated. Forever.
This is why Paul could exclaim in 1 Corinthians 15:54-55
“Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
Jesus paid the ultimate price so you can live in the fullness of that victory. Lean into that today.
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