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Opinions of Friday, 2 April 2021

Columnist: Benjamin Osei Boateng

TETELESTAI: Message from the Cross

Good Friday is undoubtedly the darkest day in the history of mankind. It was the day when the only begotten Son of God surrendered His precious life to atone for the sins of mankind.

Though there are other celebrations like Christmas on the calendar of many Christians, the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ must perhaps be the most important activity for all Christians.

This is so because it marked the transition of the human race from our forbearers to the new dispensation which is Christianity. In effect, Christianity did not even exist when Christ was on earth.

It was after the shameful death and subsequent resurrection that birthed Christianity. How He was murdered must be re-lived to properly appreciate the sacrifices made by Christ.

Today, we execute criminals by a variety of means: Lethal Injection or gas, Electrocution, Firing Squad, and Hanging. Many have been executed through these means and most of us shudder as we think of the horror, shame, and pain this brings.

This brings into sharp focus the “Black Lives Matter” protests which swept across America and other countries after the Minneapolis police killed George Floyd on May 25, 2020. It has been described as the largest protest in the country’s long history of mass movements for civil rights and racial justice. But the death of Christ had far-reaching consequences on humankind.

The fact is that the ordeals George Floyd and many others went through pale into insignificance compared with the shameful murder of Jesus Christ. He died the death of criminals and incorrigibles for the sake of mankind. Crucifixion was shameful not only as a penalty, but the process in itself was unthinkable.

It was pure torture and excruciatingly painful. It was considered a curse to die on the cross and the Bible gives credence to this in Galatians 3:13 “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us for it is written, and ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree

But for the activities of ISIS and other terrorist organizations, only a few persons are crucified today. Crucifixion was a well-orchestrated death sentence to produce a slow death with intense maximum pain.

Before this, Jesus had to go through verbal, emotional, and physical abuse from the hands of the very people He came to save. He was blindfolded and because He was unable to anticipate blows, slaps, and torture, he was severely bruised.

The Son of God had to go through serious emotional and psychological trauma from false allegations. His disciples denied him and fled when He needed them the most. In His trying moments, Peter denied Him three times, and strangely, the third time he did so with an oath. Yes, the very man he had handed over the keys of His kingdom to in Matthew 16:18-19 “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

The innocent Jesus was stripped of His clothes with His hands tied, then severely whipped with the flagellum. The flagellum was designed to make a devastating punishment, bringing him close to death. The small metal balls on it first produce large, deep bruises which are broken open by further blows.

In Jesus’ scourging, the heavy leather thongs produced superficial cuts, then deeper damage to underlying tissues. Other accounts have it that he was at the point of collapse when he was cut down from the flogging post.

The real horror of crucifixion began when He was finally nailed to the cross. When the wrists were nailed to the crossbar, it is believed that the elbows were strategically left in a bent position so that He would hang with his arms above his head.

At this time, the pain had become unbearable. He hung on the cross with the weight of the world's sin on His shoulders. He struggled to breathe with every breath He took. He was given vinegar just to wet His parched throat. When He received the drink, He said His final words Tetelestai (It Is Finished) and died.

John19:28-30 reads, “After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. It was the saviour’s final cry of victory. When Jesus said “it is finished”, He didn’t only mean that His life on earth was finished. He was also declaring that all of our sins had been washed away by His blood.

Though Jesus died one of the most terrible, gruesome, and painful deaths in history, He paid the price for our freedom and redemption. We all have an overwhelming sin debt with God, and the penalty is death. But the good news is that He paid the price in full for You. Your freedom was bought by the precious blood of Christ.

He did not make just a down payment but paid in full. Jesus accomplished His purpose on earth on the cross of Calvary and left nothing undone. Some of us forget that it is finished. We live in a shadow of sin and guilt, constantly thinking our sins are too enormous to be forgiven. We forget that Christ paid it all.

The devil tries to tell us that our sins are too hard to forgive; convincing us we are inadequate and unworthy to be in His presence. We believe the lies of satan and dwell in our transgressions forgetting that there is no sin too great or too small for the blood to cover. He declares you debt-free once you accept Him as your Lord and personal saviour, thanks to the ultimate sacrifice on the cross.

As the world commemorate the death of Christ, Do not let the sacrifice be in vain. The blood still speaks, so take few minutes to reflect on what Christ had to go through to pay the full price. Tetelestai!