Friday, March 29, 2013

The Words that Echoed Round the World

Inside Stirling Castle in Stirling, Scotland
     One of my favorite movies is "Braveheart" with Mel Gibson.  It tells the story of William Wallace a brave warrior of Scotland who fought the British to obtain freedom.  King Edward I had deposed the weak King of Scotland and declared himself king.  However, Wallace and his men killed an English sheriff and burned the town of Lanark,  He went on to defeat British forces near the River Forth close to Stirling.  Wallace was able to take Stirling Castle and for a time held the British at bay.  Eventually King Edward I took Scotland back under his rule and captured William Wallace who was hanged, disemboweled, beheaded  and quartered.
     In the movie version, as William Wallace was being tortured, he asked to speak a word.  The guard thought he was going to recant so he could have a quick death.  Wallace, once again, surprised those in attendance at his execution by yelling "Freedom"!  Following his death, Scotland did regain her freedom some fifty years later.  The story was riveting and true.  When we traveled to Scotland, we made certain to visit Stirling where we saw the William Wallace Monument and visited Stirling Castle.  What history surrounded us as we walked the grounds.  In fact, we even stayed in the William Wallace room of Dalhousie Castle near Bonnyrigg just south of Edinburgh.
     As stirring as the story of William Wallace is for us, there is another whose final words have reverberated over the centuries throughout the world.  One who died for the sins of all who are called by His name to receive the gift of salvation.  These three simple words tore the curtain in the Temple that separated man and God.  These words opened the graves of saints who went about Jerusalem testifying to God's great glory.  These three words destroyed the power of sin and death.  Look with me into the Bible.
     John 19:28-30 reads:  "After this, Jesus knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), 'I thirst.'  A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth.  When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, 'It is finished,' and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit."  These three words "It is finished" are words of fulfillment.  Our Lord completed with perfection all the requirements of the Law and prophets.  He was
The William Wallace Room at Dalhousie Castle
the perfect Adam who came to take away the sins of those whom God had chosen before the foundation of the world.  On the cross, Jesus bore in His body the terrible wrath that had been stored up for you and me.  Because He died, we can now live in truth and fellowship with God.  This is so incredible that it is hard to believe!  The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 5:7-8:  "For one will scarcely die for a righteous person - though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die -but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."  These words express the mercy of God towards the unrepentant rebels that once we were outside of Christ.
     As we contemplate these three words today on Good Friday, remember that we were once estranged from God and far from Him.  There was and is even today nothing we can do to bridge that gap in our own strength.  No works, no special formula can put us in relationship with God.  Only the blood of Jesus Christ, the perfect lamb can atone for our sins and allow us to enter God's presence wearing the robe of righteousness which He purchased for us.  Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life;  No one comes to the Father but through Me" (John 14:6)
     When Jesus said "It is finished", all of eternity shook from the power of these words.  Yet, it is just the beginning for all who put their trust in Christ for salvation.  Today is the day of repentance and redemption for all who receive Him as Savior and Lord.
     While William Wallace ignited the hearts of all the Scots, he ultimately died and is buried.  He will be remembered for his bravery, but his cry for "freedom" pales in comparison to the words that echoed around the world when Jesus said, "It is finished."  His empty tomb stands as glorious evidence that He conquered sin and death on our behalf.  Rejoice!  Our salvation is complete!  Selah!

The Church of the Holy Ghost in Heidelberg, Germany

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