Good Friday: “it is finished…”

April 14, 2017

“When He had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished!’”
(John 19:30)

These last words of Jesus actually are one word in the original language: “Tetelesti.”  This word was written over the record of a prisoner after completing his or her sentence in a Roman prison. “Tetelesti” was also written above the cross of a prisoner crucified by Rome. What a providential irony that Jesus chose this word at the end of His suffering for your sins and mine.

What Jesus meant is that He paid in full a debt He did not owe because we owe a debt we cannot pay. Theologians refer to this as the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. One thought is that we cannot possibly add anything to what He finished for us there on that cross. A more profound thought is that we must put our faith in what He did for us there.

Still another thought is if we could add anything to what He did, or be forgiven on the basis of our own good works, then Christ did all that suffering for nothing. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus sweat great drops of blood as He pleaded with the Father to let this cup pass from Him.

The Father’s response was that there was no other way, so Jesus had to go to and through the suffering of the cross. To think that we could save ourselves by our works is like saying to the Father and to our Savior: “You really didn’t have to go through all that suffering because I can save myself by the good works I am doing.”

We must believe in what Jesus finished on the cross: “It is finished.”

Dick Woodward, 28 August 2009


The Cross of Christ: Mercy & Grace

April 11, 2017

“Goodness and mercy shall pursue me all the days of my life.”
(Psalm 23:6)

“God is able to make all grace abound toward you, so that you, always, having all sufficiency in all things, may abound unto every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)

Two of the most beautiful words in the Bible are mercy and grace. The mercy of God, which is the unconditional love of God, withholds from us what we deserve, while the grace of God lavishes on us all kinds of blessings we do not deserve, accomplish, or achieve by our own efforts.

As we thank God for our blessings, at the top of the list we should thank Him for the mercy that withholds and the grace that bestows. The good news of the Gospel is that when Jesus Christ suffered on the cross for our sins, everything we deserved was laid upon Him that we might have peace with God. (Isaiah 53: 5, 6; 2 Corinthians 5:21)

If you want to grasp the meaning of these two words observe when and why they turn up in the Bible. Try to understand what we deserved and why. That will grow your appreciation of the mercy of God. Then investigate all that is bestowed upon us by the grace of God. As you find these two beautiful words throughout the Bible, you will understand why I challenge you to pray with thanksgiving for:

The mercy that withholds and the grace that bestows.

Dick Woodward, 26 February 2009


Easter: The Supreme Eternal Value

March 27, 2016

“I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me — that Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said.  He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, as the Scriptures said.”  (1Corinthians 15:3-4)

There is another value I must share with you because it is the supreme and absolute value, the “door” that must be opened if we are to find all the eternal values.  This is the value we place on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Let me explain.

Suppose I asked you to write your answer to this question: “What is the Gospel?”  Imagine that I asked you to accompany your answer with Scripture verse references.   How would you answer my question?

As you search the Scriptures, you will discover this eternal value:  Easter is far more important than Christmas.  When the Apostle John wrote his Gospel, he devoted approximately half of his twenty-one chapters to the thirty-three years Jesus lived on earth and half his chapters to just the last week Jesus lived.  Of the eighty-nine combined chapters of the four Gospels, four chapters cover the birth and first thirty years Jesus lived, while twenty-seven chapters cover the last week Jesus lived.  Why is the last week of the life of Jesus so very important, and why is Easter far more important than Christmas?

Easter is when Jesus died and rose again for our salvation. The cry of the church all over the world on Resurrection Sunday is:

He is risen, indeed.   

Dick Woodward, 02 August 2013

May you have a blessed Easter — Jesus Christ is risen, He is risen, indeed!!!


Good Friday Message

March 25, 2016

“God put the wrong on Him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.”   (2Corinthians 5:21, The Message)

So what is the biggest weekend in the Church year all about?  What does it mean to you and me personally?  In the verse above the Apostle Paul answers that by putting the Good Friday message in a nutshell.

Because of what happened on Good Friday God has offered to put all of our wrongs on Jesus, and in exchange put all that is right with Jesus on you and me.  That’s the best offer we’ll ever have.  All we have to do accept the offer is believe it!

In 1949 while doing social work in Pittsburgh, one night a man asked if he could speak with me.  As we sat in the darkness outside a closed recreation center he told me that near the end of World War II he was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge.  While still under fire he saw a chaplain crawling from one wounded man to another.  This chaplain apparently had something very important he said to those men.  He hoped the chaplain would make it to him, but after taking several hits the chaplain stopped moving.

He said since then he had been wondering what it was the chaplain had to say to those men.  After watching me for a couple of months, he told his wife he believed I could tell him the important message that chaplain shared with those wounded men.  Building on the witness of that chaplain, I was able to share the Good Friday message of Jesus with that WWII soldier.

This Easter do you have a Good Friday message for dying people?  Do you have a message for people who are going to live?

Dick Woodward, 26 March 2013


Absolute Eternal Value of Easter

March 31, 2015

“Christ died for our sins, in accordance with the scriptures… and on the third day, He was raised to life..”  (I Corinthians 15:3-4)

Have you discovered that, to the authors of the four Gospels, Easter is far more important than Christmas? Of the 89 combined Gospel chapters, 4 chapters cover the birth and first 30 years Jesus lived, while 27 chapters cover the last week He lived. Why is the last week Jesus lived so very important?

The obvious answer is during that one week Jesus died and was raised from the dead for our salvation. In I Corinthians 15, after clearly stating that the Gospel is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Paul focuses like a laser beam on the second Gospel fact – the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  In 58 inspired verses, Paul shows us in a practical way what the resurrection of Jesus should mean to you and me.

Have you ever wondered why the apostles, who were all Jews, changed their day of worship from the Sabbath (seventh) Day to the first day of the week? If you read carefully, they never called Sunday the “Sabbath.”  They called it “The Lord’s Day” because that was the day Jesus rose from the dead.  Every Sunday the Church gathers for worship is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, because on the first day of the week Jesus demonstrated the absolute eternal value.

This is the greatest and most important eternal value: Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead for our salvation. The Good News is that when Jesus died on the cross, God laid on His only beloved Son all the chastisement we rebellious human beings rightly deserved for our sins. In this way, God exercised His perfect justice while also expressing His perfect love.  The beloved Apostle John points to the cross and says, “Here is love. Not that we love God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins, and not for our sins only, but for the sins of the whole world.” (I John 2:1-2)

Isaiah showed us how to confess this eternal value – that Jesus died for our sins – when he wrote: “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.” (Isaiah 53:6)

…Do you believe you are included in the first and last ‘all’ of this verse?

Dick Woodward, In Step with Eternal Values


The Supreme Value

August 2, 2013

“I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me — that Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said.  He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, as the Scriptures said.”  (1 Corinthians 15: 3-4)

I have now shared with you six eternal values that are the hallmark of people who live life in Christ at its deepest level of meaning and then “graduate” into eternal life.  There is another value I must share with you because it is the supreme and absolute value, the “door” that must be opened if we are to find all these eternal values.  This seventh value is the value we place on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Let me explain.

Suppose I asked you to write your answer to this question: “What is the Gospel?”  Imagine that I asked you to accompany your answer with Scripture verse references.   How would you answer my question?

As you search the Scriptures, you will discover the seventh eternal value:  Easter is far more important than Christmas.  When the Apostle John wrote his Gospel, he devoted approximately half his twenty-one chapters to the thirty-three years Jesus lived on earth and half his chapters to just the last week Jesus lived.  Of the eighty-nine combined chapters of the four Gospels, four chapters cover the birth and first thirty years Jesus lived, while twenty-seven chapters cover the last week Jesus lived.  Why is the last week of the life of Jesus so very important, and why is Easter far more important than Christmas?

Easter is when Jesus died and rose again for our salvation. The cry of the church all over the world on Resurrection Sunday is:

He is risen, indeed.   


The Gospel in Reverse

April 2, 2013

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”  (Galatians 2:20)

This past weekend many heard the Good News that Jesus died and rose again for our sins that we might live forever in resurrection power with Him.  Have you ever heard of the Gospel in reverse?  The verse I quoted above sounds like a funeral dirge because it begins with Paul’s announcement that he is crucified with Christ.

But, actually in this verse Paul exclaims three times that he lives! He lives by faith in the Son of God.  He lives because Christ lives in him, and he lives because he is crucified with Christ.  To summarize and paraphrase, in this verse Paul is declaring the Good News that Christ died so he might live and now it’s his turn.  Paul must die so Christ might live His life through Paul.

When our holidays roll around we hear that it should be Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter every day of the year.  If you want to have a perpetual Easter, realize that what was true of the Apostle Paul can be true for you and me.

Jesus consistently challenged His followers to take up their cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9: 23).  In addition to the literal meaning this could have had in that culture, by application to take up your cross daily means to “crucify” all the personal hopes, ambitions and plans you had for your life asking Him to have His will for your life.

Christ died that you might live.  Now it’s your turn.