Christ the Lord is Risen Today
By: Charles Wesley, 1707-1778
Listen as you read. This is a neat orchestral karaoke version.
The first and last lines of this weeks stanza allude to a couple of Jesus’ last words from the cross. He speaks a promise to a thief, and then quietly declares His work is done before taking his last breath. Both of these “words” or phrases evoke a response in our hearts if we will let them. Will you let them?
Jesus…said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30
Finished means complete or perfect in all details, as in a product. The work the Father had for Jesus to do, “Love’s redeeming work”, was done. Several times earlier in the book of John Jesus had referred to finishing the work the Father had for Him, using this same word translated finished. He completed that cycle when He declared “It is finished”.
His sacrificial death satisfied the wrath of God. As we considered a few entries ago, sin has a consequence. Death. Jesus paid in full the debt we owed to a Holy God. Sin had to be atoned, and Jesus did just that. He redeemed us, purchasing our forgiveness at a great price when He said, “It is finished.”
I wonder if the devil might have been confused thinking Jesus had misspoke. Notice He did not say, “I am finished”.
I wonder how often we find ourselves confused thinking there is still something we need to do to finish our salvation. There is nothing more we need to do.
Let me be clear. Jesus still had to leave the tomb empty to demonstrate His victory over sin, death and the grave. The unleashing of His resurrection power for all who believe had not yet occurred, but Love’s redeeming work was done. He opened paradise, but before we consider the effect of His sacrifice, allow you heart to revel in the juxtaposition of these two extremes: death and life, suffering and paradise.
His going to Golgatha, while it purchased our access to paradise, was the antithesis of it. This is the connection between these two. So, once again, Jesus brings together two very disparate things. Take a few moments and let the wonder of that sink deeply into your heart. He took what we deserved to give us what we could not earn.
(Jesus) said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43
What do think the thief on the cross felt when Jesus spoke those words to him? I wonder what paradise would have meant to him? Anything would be better than the anguish he was experiencing on the cross, but paradise? I have a feeling he took Jesus at His word. Was is that sometimes so hard for us to do?
How does the word paradise make you feel? What words would describe those feelings?
Our answers would probably be about as different as you could imagine because we would likely each define paradise very differently. When you try to imagine paradise what comes to mind? Does it have some of the elements of this beautiful image?
This is actually a Thomas Kinkade work titled “Stairway to Paradise”. I like some of the elements here.
- the light
- the warmth
- the mist
The most obvious thing it is missing is people. I suppose you can imagine they are just out of view, but the idea of paradise without others to enjoy it makes it something less, even for introverts like me. This is especially true for the Christian, which I suppose would describe the thief as well, since the very presence of Christ is the essential figure that makes any place a paradise. After all, Jesus told the thief he would be with Him in paradise.
We should find great comfort in that we can not only face death knowing it has no dominion over Jesus, but that when we die we will be with Him, like the thief. We can say with Paul,
“Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:8
Jesus, thank You for completing the work the Father gave you to do. Thank You for opening paradise for all who believe in You. Help my hear to believe that Your work is finished and paradise is mine, today. In Jesus name. Amen.
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Video 5.3 Transcript
Welcome to Tuesday Tunings at Resonant 7, where we reflect on the reality of God and resolve to let it resound in our lives, repeatedly. Let’s tune our hearts.
Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!
Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!
Before He breathed His last Jesus said, “It is finished.” He came to seek and save the lost, and with His death He completed that work. You are redeemed because you are loved. Marvel at His gift of love today.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, as in anguish He sweat drops of blood, Jesus asked His Father “Let this cup pass from me. Yet not my will but Yours be done.” In His surrender, He was victorious. How can you follow His lead today?
What a shock Death must have had on that Resurrection morning when Jesus rose to life. Death tried, but could not hold Him down. Accordingly, Death will be equally unsuccessful with you. Give Jesus praise for completing His Father’s assignment so powerfully.
One of the those who hung with Him on Calvary acknowledged who Jesus was and asked to be remembered when Christ would come into His kingdom. Jesus rewarded his belief by responding, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” That promise echoes in every heart of faith. Listen, can you hear it?
Take a few moments to talk to Jesus about what has surfaced in your heart, or just listen to what He is saying to you, then we will sing once more
Take the awareness of God’s presence cultivated in these last few minutes into the next ones and beyond. Until next time, be Resonant.