Good Friday

In the afternoon, Nahim, Golu, Vinod, Arshana, Anu Didi, Aashima and I went to a few slums for an Easter outreach.  When we arrived at the fist slum, we noticed that the government had completely torn it down.  All of the homes were destroyed.  It was very sad to see.  It almost looked like a major earthquake had hit the area.  There was rubble everywhere.  However, as we stopped and waited for people to gather, a nice large crowd gathered.  We sang songs with the children.  Then I told them the story of Easter.  Then, we offered to pray for the people.  You could tell that some wanted prayer, but they were all hesitant to be the first to come forward.  A few children came and got prayer for their studies.  One boy, Ravi, said he will start coming for tuition.

The second slum we went to, we were told that a majority of the kids had just left to go to tuition.  However, we stopped anyway and sang songs and shared the story of Easter.  Then, when we offered to pray, the different ones began coming forward for prayer.  Rather than praying for them myself, I handed the people off to Aashima, Anu Didi and the boys to pray for.  Anu Didi was amazed that as she prayed, a lady who had pain in different parts of her body slowly began to be healed.  The pain left her head, her arms, her back and her legs, one by one.  Aashima prayed for a lady who had pain in her legs.  As they prayed through, the pain left completely.  I had the boys pray for a man who had been lying down because he had extreme pain in his leg.  He came limping and left walking with no pain, in a state of awe.  There were a few more miracles, like a boy with pain in his thumb that went away after prayer.

The third slum we went to, at first, we could hardly gather a crowd of five children.  And, the children were so shy, they wouldn’t sing or dance with us.  However, we didn’t let that deter us.  We just continued to sing and praise God.  Slowly, a crowd began to gather.  First the women came, and then the men.  We probably had a nice crowd of 30-50 people by the time we were done.  After singing, I decided to share a story with them.  Instead of the Easter story, I shared the story of the man at the pool Bethesda whom Jesus had healed of the infirmity he had had for 38 years.  Many listened intently.  Then we passed out cookies to the children.  When we offered to pray for needs, again the people were hesitant to come forward.  One man asked, “If your God is such a healing God, then why hasn’t he healed you yet?”  I told him of God’s promise to me and the miracles we had seen.  I told him I am sure the Lord will heal me in His time.  The man said that my answer satisfied him.  A lady asked if Jesus could bring peace into a turbulent household.  We said that Jesus can do anything.  So, a young girl came forward for peace in her family.  Still, the others were hesitant to come forward for prayer.

Since it was 5:45 PM and we needed to be home by 6:00 PM, in time for the Good Friday service at home, we decided to leave.  As we were leaving, the people, although they didn’t want to come forward for prayer, also didn’t want us to leave.  So, they followed us.  Then, finally one man asked a question.  I turned around. 

He asked, “Is Jesus different from Krishna?” 

My sister replied, “Yes.” 

The man continued, “If Krishna has made everything, sustains everything, protects everything…how can there be another power in this world?”

“Why don’t you get prayer and see.  Jesus will show you His power.  Then you will know.”  I replied.  I told the people that we did not expect them to believe our words.  We didn’t believe in Jesus because of stories someone told us.  Jesus showed us His reality himself.  I told them to give Jesus a chance.  If they asked Jesus, only then could they see the power of God.  

Finally, one brave soul put his son forward.  He said the son had gotten an injury and his face was swollen and hurting, preventing him from speaking properly.  As we prayed for the child, the pain left.  Because everyone’s eyes were on the boy, he was shy and flustered, but he admitted that the pain was gone.  Then, one by one, people with various needs began asking for prayer.  There was a rickshaw driver with pain in his foot.  As we prayed for his foot, the pain left.  Another man had constant back pain.  With prayer, that too left.  Then, others came forward for prayer.  I handed them over to my sister, Aashima, and the boys.  Since I had brought them on this outreach, I wanted them to pray for people and first hand see the power of God at work.  They were all happy as the Lord healed the people they were praying for – a toothache, a back ache, a leg pain, dizziness – all healed by the power of Jesus.

We arrived home a little late for the Good Friday service.  Dharna, Amit, and Sarika were waiting.  After washing our hands, we began to worship.  After worship was over, the children were too tired to sit through a message, so I sent them home.  However, Dharna wanted to hear a message, so I began sharing the message I had prepare with her.  Near the end of the message, the Agarwal family showed up.  Mrs. Agarwal testified that her cervical problem had been healed since Wednesday.  Mr. Agarwal testified that he had gotten prayer for diabetes.  When he got tested earlier this week, all the tests came normal.  He said he will get tested again in a week and if the tests are still normal, he will know he has been healed of diabetes.  Praise God!

The message was on the phrase “It is finished,” that the Lord said as he hung on the cross.  It went something like this (minus the illustrations I used):

When they had hung Jesus up to die on the cross.  When they had mocked Him, and beat Him, whipped Him and pierced Him, He simply said, “It is finished.”

“It is finished.”  Although it is a simple phrase of three words, the meaning behind it is great. 

One might ask, “What is finished?”  God’s plan of salvation and healing for mankind was finished.  God’s plan of love and forgiveness for mankind was finished.  God’s ultimate sacrifice of His only begotten Son was finished. 

Why did Jesus come to earth?  To save us.  If you look at the original Greek for the word translated save it is “sozo,” which means heal, preserve, save (self), do well, be (make) whole.  It isn’t just salvation that God came to give us, it is total wellness, in this life and the life to come.  

We have talked about this before – God’s plan for the redemption of mankind. 

We have talked about how in the beginning of time, God created the Heavens and the Earth.  He created the sun and the moon, the birds and the beasts.  He created the trees and the flowers and every living thing.  He created man and woman.  To man and woman He gave free choice.  God put man and woman in a garden.  He said that they could rule over everything in the garden.  He said they could eat any fruit in the garden, except the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  That was the one thing God told them they were not to eat.  Now, God’s plan for man and woman was that they would obey God and live happily in the garden.  God has such close communion with Adam and Eve, He used to talk to them in the garden like I am talking to you.  They used to have conversations.  But man and woman chose to disobey God and go against His plan.  They were tempted by satan and they chose to eat the fruit that God had forbidden them to eat.  They chose to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  And because they did that, sin entered this world and man and woman were sent out of the garden, and no longer had the close relationship with God.  They chose to go against God’s plan.

From the time Adam and Eve disobeyed God and fell into sin, God had a plan for the salvation of man.  He had a plan to reconcile His creation back to Himself.  Despite man’s failure to achieve God’s highest plan and purpose in his creation, God did not forsake him.  His plan from the beginning was to send His Son to be "the propitiation for our sins" by dying in our place.  See I John 2:2. 

Approximately 2000 years ago, God sent Jesus into this world to fulfill that plan.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16.

The Bible clearly states that it takes blood to pay for sin.  “[W]ithout shedding of blood there is no remission.” Hebrews 9:22.  Both Biblically and historically we can see that our ancestors sacrificed animals in order to seek atonement for their sins.  Every lamb, bullock, heifer, goat, turtle dove and pigeon offered in the Old Testament times on the altar pictured this: that man, a guilty sinner, must have some innocent one to shed his blood to pay for one man’s sins.

Holding true to this law requiring the shedding of blood for the remission of sins, the Father sent Jesus into this world as a sacrificial lamb.  In John 1:29, it is written, “Behold!  The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”  Jesus was sinless.  He was without fault.  There was no “reason” for Him to be nailed to the cross.  Yet, He allowed Himself to be hung on the cross, giving His life for the atonement of the sins of this world.  He humbled Himself and became the sacrificial lamb, for the remission of the sins of those who will believe in Him.  He nailed our sins to the cross "by the sacrifice of Himself."

That phrase ‘it is finished’ is an amazing Greek phrase. It was used 3 times in society. 

1. When a business transaction was made between 2 people, if one owed the other, after final payment was made they would write ‘Tetelestlia’ -the debt has been paid off in full.

2. When one was released from prison he would have a parchment that listed all of his crimes and stamped over that was the word Tetelestlia – the punishment for his crime has been served. Colossians 2:14

3. When one army fought against another army, the winning army would parade the Prisoners of war , the king and all of his officials who were still living, through there streets. The crowds would rejoice by saying ‘Tetelestlia,’ total victory over the enemy is finished.

And if we look at what Jesus did for us, He did all three of these things for us. 

First, He bought us with His blood.  Jesus paid the price for us.  He has taken the debt, and written “It is finished,” when He died on the cross.

Second, we have all sinned, big or small, but we have sinned.  And the Bible says, “The wages of sin is death.”  We all agree that a sinner cannot go to Heaven.  Jesus became the sacrifice so we can be saved from the punishment we should get for sinning.  In a way, we are all criminals in God’s eyes.  We have all broken His laws.  But, He has taken a stamp, and with His blood, He has written, “It is finished.” 

Third, because Jesus died for us, and He rose up three days later, we have victory of sin and death.  Our enemy, Satan, is defeated.  We can shout, “It is finished!”  The victory is won.

In closing I want to make one last point.  Jesus’ cross has two sides.  So, when He says, “It is finished!”  He is saying, a complete work is finished in our lives.  From the front of the cross, what do we see?  We see the nails in his hands.  The nails in his feet.  We see the crown of thorns.  And we receive salvation.  And from the back of the cross, what do we see?  We see his torn back.  We see the 39 lashes that He took for us.  And we receive healing.  By His stripes we are healed.  We need to remember both sides of the cross.

So, today as we are celebrating Good Friday, we should be thankful to God that, “It is finished!”

Scripture for the Day:
 
And Jesus cried out with a loud voice and breathed His last.  Mark 15:37.

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