We all know the famous last words of Jesus on the cross: “It is finished.” (John 19:30) Many believe that these words indicate the end of reign of the law in the lives of Christians, just as our friend, nextyearsgirl, indicates in her post, where she writes:
“His sacrifice was supposed to be the ultimate act that would free us from the former laws and regulations and allow us to enter Heaven by acting in his image. That is why he said ‘it is finished’ when he died on the cross. That is why Christians don’t have to circumcise their sons (god’s covenant with Jacob), that is why they don’t have to perform animal sacrifice, or grow out their forelocks, or follow any of the other laws of Leviticus.”
I have to say that this is a grave misunderstanding of Jesus’ death on the cross and the significance of those particular words, “It is finished.”
While, yes, the sacrifice of Jesus did end animal sacrifices (for there is no record in Christian history of Christians performing sacrifices for forgiveness of sins after the death of Jesus), it did not end the reign of the law in our lives. The law is still there, the moral and righteous code we are to follow still applies (though many fell by the wayside in the wake of Jesus’ death and resurrection, i.e. animal sacrifices, circumcision, the growing out of hair and beards for men). We are still expected to live in a certain way and act according to the laws and the examples set forth by God.
When Jesus proclaimed, “It is finished”, we must look at what happened scant miles away in the Jerusalem at the moment of His death. According to the book of Matthew, “And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.” (27:51) Let me tell you about this curtain real quick:
This curtain separated the people from the Ark of the Covenant, the Holy of Holies, the place where God resided in the temple. Only one person was allowed to cross that curtain, and that was the High Priest, and he could only enter once a year. They feared what would happen when he went in each year, so they tied bells to him so they rang when he moved, and they attached a rope to him so that, if he died in the presence of God, they could just drag his body out.
This was also a thick person. Scholars argue that it could’ve been as thick as the width of your hand, so probably two to five inches (depending on how thick your hand is). That is a hard curtain to tear on your own, but Jesus’ death caused it to be torn completely, from top to bottom.
What does this mean? Everyone, not just the High Priest, now has unlimited access to God.
Let’s ask, though, one more time: what is finished?
There is no more separation between man and God. Anyone can come to God with their problems, pain, hurt, sorrow, needs, desires, etc. The only one between us and God is Jesus, and He is loving too.
Sin no longer has reign in our lives. Jesus’ death, the death of the perfect, spotless, sinless, holy Son of God, destroyed the reign of sin in the lives of men. Many still struggle, but simple faith in Jesus’ death on the cross can abolish sin’s reign and His Holy Spirit will aid you in living a life for God.