It was finished. Jesus was crucified. His permanent sacrifice would take the place of all the temporary sacrifices people had used for centuries as payment for their sins. The separation between a perfect God and rebellious people had been removed. Jesus had made a way for people to truly, intimately, and eternally know their heavenly Father. This day of Jesus’s death is remembered each year on the Christian holiday of Good Friday.
But Jesus’s sacrificial death is only part of the story. Three days later, his return to life—his resurrection—became the defining element of our faith. It’s his resurrection that reminds us that God has the power to overcome death—his own, as well as ours. If Jesus is able to predict his own death, allow it to happen, and then return to life, God is able to do the same for us. The resurrection gives enormous credibility to all of Jesus’s talk about a heavenly life after death.
It’s easy to gloss over this more than 2,000 years later, but the death and resurrection of Jesus ushered in a new way of connecting with God. This was a new era. For thousands of years prior, God’s chosen people, the Jews, had operated under a particular covenant—a promise God made to provide them with their own permanent territory and to use them to bless the entire world—a promise to restore things to their proper order. That promise had been passed down through a series of covenants God made with people like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, King David, and the prophets.
But those covenants were all foreshadowing the next—and ultimate—part of God’s plan with Jesus.
In this new covenant, people related with God in a new and restored way. God’s love for them hadn’t changed. People’s love for God hadn’t changed. But the way people related to God and the way God related to people did change. And it changed in a way that made God much more accessible and understandable.
This new era—this new kingdom, as Jesus called it—was not just for the Jews. It was something everyone could participate in, no matter where they were from or what they had done.
After Jesus’s resurrection, he spent several weeks with his followers before leaving this earth to return to his heavenly Father. He instructed his followers to keep the message of the new covenant alive and make sure it was spread to the entire world. God provided a permanent way for a broken relationship to be restored, and now it needed to be shared.
As part of his church, that’s where we come in. We’re charged to follow Jesus in a way that shows the people of this world they are not forgotten. They matter. And they are invited to participate in the kingdom of God. It’s our responsibility to make sure they know that.
“Heavenly Father, thank you for your love. Thank you for calling us sons and daughters. May we follow Jesus in a way that inspires others to follow him as well. Amen.”
It was finished. Jesus was crucified. But Jesus's sacrificial death is only part of the story.