March 30, 2018
“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)
If we want to know what is good about Good Friday Isaiah 53 tells us. Specifically, Isaiah 53:6 describes with great clarity the meaning of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross when it begins and ends with the word: “all.” The verse begins with what we might call “the bad news.” Isaiah tells us that all of us are like little sheep and have gone astray. We have turned, every single one of us, to our own way. If you want to know the meaning of the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross, agree that you yourself are included in that first all.
The all with which this verse concludes is what we can call “the good news.” Isaiah ends this verse by telling us that the penalty for all the things we have done after turning to our own way has been laid on Him (meaning Jesus). I don’t know about you, but for me that is very, very good news! If you and I confess that we are included in the first all and the last all in this great Gospel verse, then we have done what we need to do to turn our bad news into good news.
And we know what is good about Good Friday.
Dick Woodward, 02 April 2010
April 14, 2017
“When He had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished!’”
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
April 11, 2017
“Goodness and mercy shall pursue me all the days of my life.”
“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