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Christians refer to this day as Good Friday. It is the day Christians remember Jesus’ crucifixion. Although there is much about this day that would rightly be considered bad, for Christians, because of what it means, it is not only considered good, it is truly good. Jesus death (and resurrection!) is the only means by which sinners are, by faith, enabled to be made right with God. It is referred to as the great exchange, or imputation (double imputation): my sins are placed on Christ and Christ’s righteousness is given to us (2 Cor. 5:21). Referring to this day as Good Friday is a theological statement/truth.

Another fitting way this day could be described is as dark Friday. From 12:00 noon until 3:00 PM (according to the Jewish reckoning, these hours were known as the time between the 6th and 9th hours, since the day began at 6:00 AM), there was darkness over the whole land: “And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. (Mk. 15:33; cf. Matt. 27:45; Lk. 23:44). These three hours of darkness ended with Jesus’ death. Referring to this day as dark Friday is a historical statement.

Before focusing on the final words of Jesus from the cross, “It is finished” (Jn. 19:30), it is important to recount the events of the day (these events are compiled through the reading of the synoptic gospels along with the Gospel of John, and they are included in a number of different published sources):

  • Judas betrays Jesus and his arrested (Matt. 26:47-56).
  • Jesus appears before Annas for an informal hearing (Matt. 26:57, 59-68; Mk. 14:53, 55-65; Lk. 22:63-71).
  • Peter denies Jesus (Matt. 26:58, 29-75; Mk. 14:54, 66-72; Lk. 22:54-62; Jn. 18:15-18, 25-27).
  • Judas gives the silver back and hangs himself (Matt. 27:3-10).
  • Jesus is questioned by Pilate, who sends him to Herod Antipas (Matt. 27:11-14; Mk. 15:2-5; Lk. 23:1-7; Jn. 18:28-38).
  • Jesus is questioned by Herod Antipas, who sends him back to Pilate (Lk. 23:8-12).
  • In this second appearance before Pilate, Jesus is condemned to die (Matt. 27:15-26; Mk. 15:6-15; Lk. 23:13-25; Jn. 18:38-19:16).
  • Jesus is mocked and led to Golgotha (Matt. 27:27-34; Mk. 15:16-23; Lk. 23:26-49; Jn. 19:17).
  • Two thieves are crucified with Jesus (Matt. 27:35-44; Mk. 15:24-32; Lk. 23:33-43; Jn. 19:18-27).
  • Jesus breathes his last breath (Matt. 27:45-56; Mk. 15:33-41; Lk. 23:44-49; Jn. 19:28-37).
  • Joseph of Arimathea buries Jesus in a new tomb (Matt. 27:57-61; Mk. 15:42-47; Lk. 23:50-56; Jn. 19:38-42).

Immediately prior to his death, John records Jesus’ final words and his final voluntary and obedient act: “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, 1It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (Jn. 19:28-30). Everything about this dark/good Friday, and everything about Jesus’ death is important for us to grasp, with the implications of Christ’s death (and resurrection!) vital for us to experience for new life. Of these many truths and implications, I focus upon five.

First, Jesus is aware he is here for a divine purpose, a purpose arrived at through one divine will. This is not the Father against the Son. This is the Trinity – Father, Son and Spirit – willing from eternity past (immanent Trinity) to redeem a people for himself, and this is the means by which that redemption becomes real in time (economic Trinity).

Second, Jesus is aware he is fulfilling the divine plan and purpose that had been prophesied earlier. His statement of “I thirst” is a fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures (cf. Ps. 69:21; one concludes, “the hermeneutical assumption is that David and his experience constitute a prophetic model, a ‘type’, of ‘great David’s greater son’.”). This “jar full of sour wine” is not to be confused with the “wine mixed with myrrh” (Mk. 15:23), which Jesus was offered on the way to the cross. That was used as a sedative intended to alleviate the pain, to dull the senses, so that one would not feel the pain of the suffering. This Jesus refused. He was committed to obey his Father to the end, voluntarily and obediently to drink the full cup of suffering assigned to him in his role as the God-man. Being the opposite of dulling the pain, this “sour wine” would prolong life and therefore prolong pain (cf. Mk. 15:36).

Third, John records that the “sour wine” Jesus requested was given to him “on a hyssop branch.” This is only mentioned by John, and this little plant, of which a sprig is ideal for sprinkling, was regularly used in the Old Testament for this purpose. In one connection to God’s divine will, and the fulfillment of the prophetic Scriptures, and the fulfillment of the types foreshadowing Christ, this is the plant used to sprinkle the blood on the doorposts and lintel at Passover (Ex. 22:22). For those homes who engaged in this obedient act commanded by God, the promised response was “the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you” (Ex. 22:23). Jesus is the “lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29, 36).

Fourth, Jesus utters his final words from the cross: “It is finished” (Jn. 19:30). This not only refers to the end of Jesus’ earthly life, a time at which he dies, but, more importantly, the fulfillment and completion of the work he came to do. It is not merely a chronological reference, pointing to the end-point of a period of time. Significantly, it is also a theological reference, the completion of his work of addressing sin (Gen. 3; Rom. 5:12-21), so that we might have peace with God (Rom. 5:1). Jesus came to propitiate God’s wrath and to forgive sins (Rom. 3:21-26; 1 Jn. 4:10), to remove the fear of death (Heb. 2:14), to destroy the works of the devil (1 Jn. 3:8), and to triumph over the principalities and the powers (Col. 2:14-15). D. A. Carson writes,

In the Greek text, the cry itself is one word, tetelestai. As an English translation, It is finished captures only part of the meaning, the part that focuses on completion. Jesus’ work was done. But this is no cry of defeat; nor is it merely an announcement of imminent death (though it is not less than that). The verb teleō from which this form derives denotes the carrying out of a task, and in religious contexts bears the overtone of fulfilling one’s religious obligations. Accordingly, in the light of the impending cross, Jesus could earlier cry, ‘I have brought you glory on earth by completing (teleiōsas; i.e. by accomplishing) the work you gave me to do’ (17:4). ‘Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them eis telos—not only ‘to the end’ but to the full extent mandated by his mission. And so, on the brink of death, Jesus cries out, It is accomplished!

Another gloriously concludes, what is most important about Jesus’ last works is the truth that “Jesus work was finished. He came to work God’s work, and this meant dying on the cross for the world salvation. This mighty work of redemption has now reached its culmination. . . . Jesus died with the cry of the Victor on his lips. This is not the moan of the defeated, nor the sigh of patient resignation. It is the triumphant recognition that He has now fully accomplished the work that He came to do.”

Finally, Jesus final earthly act voluntarily and obediently experienced is that after confessing “it is finished,” he “bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (Jn. 19:30; cf. Matt. 27:50; Mk. 15:37; Lk. 23:46). He is the sovereign one over life and death, and although many are humanly responsible for Christ’s death, no one ultimately took his life. He is the one who had authority to lay it down of his own accord (Jn. 10:18), which is the final filial act of obedience to his the will of his Father (Jn. 8:29; 14:31). Jesus’ final utterance of “it is finished” (Jn. 19:30) reveals the truth Jesus stated earlier, “he loved them to the end” (Jn. 13:1). The end of his love was his death on the cross. This love of the Son is also reflected by God the Father who loved, and his love was the ground and basis for the propitiatory sacrifice (1 Jn. 4:9-10).

This “giving up” or “handed over” is the last one in a series of uses of this verb (note the different ways the word is translated). The devil through Judas Iscariot “betrayed” Jesus to Caiaphas (18:2), and Caiaphas “delivered” Jesus to Pilate (Jn. 18:30), and Pilate “delivered him” to the Jews for crucifixion” (Jn. 19:16). But ultimately and absolutely, Jesus was in control of it all, in that he is the one who “gave up his spirit” to the Father (Jn. 19:30; cf. Matt. 27:50; Lk. 23:46).

I conclude in this way. Jesus’ “it is finished” refers to the fulfillment and completion of the work he as the God-man came to accomplish. Part of his completion and fulfillment is as the second Adam. Where the first Adam failed, the second Adam, Jesus Christ, faithfully and fully fulfilled, captured in his last earthly words on the cross: “it is finished.” Here is how one summarizes this wonderfully amazing truth:

The first Adam yielded to temptation in a garden. The Last Adam beat temptation in a garden. The first man, Adam, sought to become like God. The Last Adam was God who became a man. The first Adam was naked and received clothes. The Last Adam had clothes but was stripped. The first Adam tasted death from a tree. The Last Adam tasted death on a tree. The first Adam hid from the face of God, while the Last Adam begged God not to hide His face.

The first Adam blamed his bride, while the Last Adam took the blame for His bride. The first Adam earned thorns. The Last Adam wore thorns. The first Adam gained a wife when God opened man’s side, but the Last Adam gained a wife when man opened God’s side. The first Adam brought a curse. The Last Adam became a curse. While the first Adam fell by listening when the Serpent said “take and eat,” the Last Adam told His followers, “take and eat, this is my body.”

This day is historically referred to as Maundy Thursday. The Maundy comes from the Latin mandatum, which means command, and refers to the new commandment Jesus gave to his disciples to love one another, as recorded by John (Jn. 13:34-35).

Jesus gave this command in the midst of the celebration of the Passover with his disciples. It is helpful to recount the events of this day of this final week of Jesus’ life prior to the cross. Jesus initially instructs his disciples Peter and John to get a room for the celebration of Passover (Matt. 26:17-19; Mk. 14:12-16; Lk. 22:7-13). Jesus and his disciples celebrate the Passover meal, at which time he informs them of the coming betrayal, and he institutes the Lord’s Supper (Matt. 26:20-29; Mk. 14:17-23; Lk. 22:14-30). This Passover becomes the Last Supper and the Lord’s Supper, which marks a transition between the two, and marks the beginning of the new covenant ushered in through Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, the new covenant in my blood” (Lk. 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25). Finally, Jesus washes the disciples’ feet, interacts with them and gives the Upper Room Discourse (Jn. 13:1-17:26). One has written that the purpose of this section of John’s Gospel “is to ‘unpack’, before the event, the significance of Jesus’ departure – his death, burial, resurrection, exaltation and the consequent coming of the Holy Spirit.”

In this section of John’s Gospel focusing on the Passover and the washing of the disciples’ feet (Jn. 13:1-38), there are a number of key truths that are important for us to grasp to understand the significance of Jesus and his work, leading to the cross.

  1. When John reaches this point in his Gospel, he notes of Jesus that “his hour had come to depart” (13:1a). The “hour” is related to the culmination of Jesus’ earthly ministry which is the cross, the place where Christ experiences the depths of sin, yet also the beginning of his exaltation through resurrection and glorification. It is important to note John’s transition. When Jesus was asked to do certain things, He made it clear that the “hour had not yet come” (Jn. 2:4; 7:30; 8:20). But Jesus final journey to the cross marks his transition such that John records Jesus as saying, “The hour has now come for the Son of Man to be glorified” (Jn. 12:23; cf. 12:27(2x); 13:1; 17:1). The cross is the unique way through which He will be glorified. Jesus’ High Priestly prayer begins, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you” (Jn. 17:1).
  2. God loved the world that led to the giving of his only-begotten Son (Jn. 3:16). God’s love for the world is not that it was good, but in order to draw men and women out of it. This is why he gave his Son. God’s love is the reason he sent his Son, and the Son’s death was the propitiation for our sins. God is not moved from wrath to love because of Christ’s death. Rather, it is God’s love that leads to his satisfaction of his wrath against us and our sin. This is how John states this truth: “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 Jn. 4:9-10).
  3. Jesus loved his own from the beginning, but now he reveals the full extent of his love (13:1b). This expression could mean either “to the end,” viz., he loved them to the uttermost that he could not love any more. Or it could mean Jesus loved them to the very end of his life. Whichever way it is understood, “the text presupposes that the way Jesus displays his unflagging love for his own is in the cross immediately ahead, and in the act of self-abasing love, the foot-washing, that anticipates the cross.” Jesus “loved them to the end,” which culminates in Jesus’ statement “It is finished” (Jn. 19:30), and bowing his head and giving up his spirit (Jn. 19:30). God the Father’s love was the ground and basis of the sending of his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 Jn. 4:9-10). God the Son loved to the end, to death on the cross (Jn. 13:1; 19:30). The Father and Son are one in will, intent and purpose.
  4. Jesus, being the God-man, knew the “Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God” (13:3). Jesus knew his purpose and he trusted his Father. We confess that Jesus is fully God and fully man, one person in two natures. This is revealed in Jesus’ prayer in the garden of Gethsemane where “his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Lk. 22:44). Knowing what was before him he prayed, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matt. 26:39). And yet, the Scriptures also reveal that “Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2).
  5. Because he knew who he was and what his purpose was, he served. Jesus takes the humble posture as he “laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him” (13:4-6). This reflects the nature of God, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:6-8).
  6. In addition to revealing the sacrificial love of God, which will be expressed fully by Jesus giving his life at the cross, this foot washing also serves as an example to Jesus’ followers. Jesus says, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you” (13:14-15). Jesus takes the form of a servant and serves. We, as his followers, also serve.
  7. It is in knowing the Lord Jesus and the truths about him and doing them, living by them that brings blessing. Jesus emphasizes, “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them” (13:17). It is the knowing and doing. The doing is not the basis of life, but the fruit and manifestation of life.
  8. After Jesus stated one will betray him, he also acknowledged that it was through this means he and the Father would be glorified: “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once” (13:31-32). The purpose for which Jesus came was to be the propitiation for our sins (1 Jn. 4:10) and to destroy the works of the devil (1 Jn. 3:8). And the means by which these would be realized, and the way in which God the Father and God the Son would be glorified is through his death on the cross.
  9. Finally, Jesus gives a new command: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn. 13:34-35). This command is not new because nothing like it had ever been said previously. Rather, as noted by D. A. Carson, it was new on the basis of it being a “new standard (‘As I have loved you’) [and] with the new order it both mandates and exemplifies. . . . This commandment is presented as the marching order for the newly gathering messianic community, brought into existence by the redemption long purposed by God himself. It is not just that the standard is Christ and his love; more, it is a command designed to reflect the relationship of love that exists between the Father and the Son (cf. 8:29; 10:18; 12:49-50; 14:31; 15:10), designed to bring about amongst the members of the nascent messianic community the kind of unity that characterizes Jesus and his Father (Jn. 17). The new command is there not only the obligation of the new covenant community to respond to the God who has loved them and redeemed them by the oblation of his Son, and their response to his gracious election which constituted them his people, it is a privilege which, rightly lived out, proclaims the true God before a watching world. That is why Jesus ends his injunction with the words, All men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. Orthodoxy without principial obedience to this characteristic command of the new covenant is merely so much humbug.”

On this day, may we reflect on two critical truths: Jesus “loved them to the end” and on this basis we are commanded and enabled to “love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”

John 12:12-19

The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”

Introduction

Many have read and recounted the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem (Matt. 21:1-11; Mk. 11:1-10; Lk. 19:29-44; Jn. 12:12-19), otherwise known as Palm Sunday. Prior to entering into Jerusalem, Jesus views the city and weeps (Lk. 19:41-44). Once arriving, Jesus visits the temple (Matt. 21:12-17; Mk. 11:11; Lk. 19:45-46) and predicts his death (Jn. 12:20-36).

Historical and Contextual Setting

As we read this text and ponder the events of this first day of the Jewish week, and the last week of Jesus’ earthly life leading to his crucifixion, it will be helpful to address some of the historical and cultural background. The crowd and Galilean pilgrims are there for the Jewish festivities. They spread their cloaks on the ground with Jesus riding on a donkey into Jerusalem.

During the Jewish festivals, especially Passover, Jerusalem was an exciting place. The population of the city was approximately 40,000, and because Passover was one of the major Jewish pilgrimages, during this festival the population would increase to about 240,000 people, six times its normal amount. There was great anticipation for those celebrating this festival, and the city was abuzz. The Romans were on special alert during these days. Having that many Jews in one place concerned them. All the Jews were enthusiastic about their faith and this ritual of Passover, as they relived an important part of their history and their faith. The Romans wanted to control the people and the festivities, so they were extra observant and vigilant.

In addition to these historical and cultural matters, there were significant theological issues as well. Jesus entered into Jerusalem on a donkey. This is a fulfillment of the prophecy given by Zechariah. This was important for the Jews. Furthermore, the way in which Jesus entered into Jerusalem was the same way Solomon entered when he became king. The message communicated through these events, which fulfilled Old Testament prophetic promises, is that the Messianic king entered Jerusalem, God’s holy city. This was exhilarating for the Jews and others in the crowd. They were expecting a Messiah who would be a national deliverer, who would reestablish the Davidic kingdom. Jesus looked a lot like the Messiah who had been promised in the Old Testament Scriptures: he taught with authority, he healed the sick, he even raised the dead. The people welcomed him with this in mind, as they prepared the way for him as the Davidic king entering Jerusalem.

What this means is that Jesus entered into an exciting, tense and potentially explosive situation. The Romans wanted to keep things under control, so things did not get out of hand. The Jewish authorities also had concerns since they did not want to upset the Roman authorities. It was an intense and unstable situation for Jesus and the disciples.

Biblical Context

This section in John’s Gospel focuses on the feast of unleavened bread culminating in the Passover. John begins this section in this way: “Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead” (12:1). At Bethany, Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with oil (12:3). Other Gospel writers also include that Jesus’ head was also anointed, indicating there was sufficient oil to anoint both Jesus’ head and feet (Matt. 26:7; Mk. 14:3).

Judas, not unexpectedly, objects, since this oil could have been sold for a full year’s wages (12:5). It was, according to Judas, a waste. In the providence of God, it was a precursor to the anointing of Jesus’ body after his crucifixion and prior to his burial.

Large crowds came to see Jesus and Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead (12:9). The chief priests desired to kill both (12:10).

Jesus’ Triumphal Entry

A great crowd that had come to the feast of unleavened bread (12:12), associated with the Passover (12:1), heard Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, so they followed him (12:12; cf. 12:9). The excited crowd took palm branches and spread them on the road where Jesus rode into the city on a donkey (12:13). As they went out to meet Jesus with the palm branches, they recalled the words recorded in the Old Testament Scriptures. They quoted a text from Psalm 118:25-26, which they believed was being fulfilled by Jesus as he approached Jerusalem.

One has written, “By waving palm branches (a Jewish national symbol) the people hail Jesus as the Davidic king and echo the language of Ps. 118:25-26, hoping that Jesus is the promised Messiah. Most of the crowd probably understood the title King of Israel in a political and military sense, still hoping that Jesus would use his amazing powers to resist Roman rule and lead the nation to independence.”

“Hosanna,” is a Hebrew expression which means “save,” and it became an exclamation of praise. It remains so to this day. The statement “king of Israel” refer to the expectations for this person to be a political deliverer, whose identity is as the Messiah. In the beginning of this Gospel, John records Nathanael saying the same thing about Jesus: “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel” (1:49)!

Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey, which is the fulfillment of another prophecy written by Zechariah (9:9), which identifies the one on a donkey as a king. Jesus came not on a war horse, but on a donkey, depicting his humility. As one concludes, “Jesus is depicted as the humble shepherd-king of Zech. 9:9, who comes to the Holy City to take his rightful place. An early messianic prophecy speaks of a rule from Judah, who, riding on a donkey, will command the obedience of the nations (Gen. 49:10-11).”

His disciples did not understand these things, until after Jesus was glorified (Jn. 12:16; cf. 7:39) At that time, the Spirit brought these things to mind (cf. Jn. 16:13) and gave them “eyes to see” and understand. The same occurred with what Jesus said of the temple and his body (2:22).

The crowd that was with him when he raised Lazarus from the dead continued to follow him. They continued to “bear witness” to what they had seen. It was this sign that led the people to desire to meet Jesus. (John records seven signs or miracles Jesus performed that are truly significant, in that they point to the person of Jesus Christ who is the God-man: water turned to wine [John 2:1-11]; healing the sick [Jn. 4:46-53]; healing on the Sabbath [Jn. 5:1-29]; feeding the multitude [Jn. 6:1-14]; walking on water [Jn. 6:16-24]; healing the blind [Jn. 9:1-12]; raising Lazarus from the dead [Jn. 11:1-44].)

The Pharisees concluded this was getting them nowhere, which meant their earlier desire to kill him was only strengthened. They claimed the “whole world”, was going to see him (12:19; cf. 12:10), a bit of hyperbole to strengthen their justification and resolve to kill him.

Following this, Jesus speaks of his impending death, his “hour” in which he and the Father are “glorified” (Jn. 12:23; 17:1).

Conclusion

The “hour” is related to the culmination of Jesus’ earthly ministry which is the cross, the place where Christ experiences the depths of sin, yet also the beginning of his exaltation through resurrection and glorification.

It is important to note John’s transition. When Jesus was asked to do certain things, He made it clear that the “hour had not yet come” (Jn. 2:4; 7:30; 8:20). But Jesus final journey to the cross marks his transition such that John records Jesus as saying, “The hour has now come for the Son of Man to be glorified” (Jn. 12:23; cf. 12:27(2x); 13:1; 17:1).

The cross is the unique way through which He will be glorified. Jesus’ High Priestly prayer begins, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you” (Jn. 17:1).

Response

Jesus’ sinless life, his perfect substitutionary death and his glorious resurrection and ascension are historical and doctrinal truths we remember this week. More than that, these are truths that we not only believe and affirm, they are truths we have experienced which have transformed our lives. Ultimately, this leads to worship of the Lord Jesus. Like Thomas, we utter, “My Lord and my God” (Jn. 20:28).

Might our focus on the Lord Jesus Christ this week lead to worship of him and proclamation of this truth, as we trust him to work in the lives of people “to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

Our EFCA 2017 Theology Conference was excellent! We learned, we worshiped, we were encouraged – and we encouraged one another, and we were equipped.

Resources

Resources from the Conference have been posted: Reformation 500: Theology and Legacy – God’s Gospel and the EFCA

On the website you will have access to the recordings of all the messages, and you will also find notes that accompanied many of the lectures. You will also be able to peruse or download the Notebook, which consists of information about the speakers, an introduction to the Conference, and bibliographies of each of the lecture themes.

Challenge: Listen and Learn

In light of this year being the 500th anniversary of the posting of Luther’s 95 Theses, I encourage you to “attend” this exceptional Conference by using these outstanding resources. In fact, I encourage you to do it with others. Plan to listen and discuss the material as a ministry team. If you desire to go further, consider choosing one of the books listed in the bibliographies. If you want some recommendations of some key books to read this year on some specific topic or theme of the Reformation, or even Pre or Post-Reformation, ask in the Comment.

Conclusion: Lord, please do it again!

We remember and celebrate the theology and legacy of the Reformation. We do so by focusing on some common and known truths about the Reformation and the resultant fruit from the Reformation. We also emphasize some lesser-known truths from the Reformation that have also shaped our theology and left a legacy. We do so not because it was the discovery of something new, or because that historical period of time is the pinnacle of the work of God.

Rather, we recognize the Reformation as an important time at which the gospel was rediscovered, which formed and shaped all that followed. Furthermore, we do not today want to recapture the historical time period of the Reformation. Rather, we ask God to revive and reform again, based on the truth of the Word of God, the theology of the Reformers, with the prayerful desire we leave a faithful legacy for the glory of God and the good of his people.

Pre-Reformation: John Wycliffe

Greg Strand – February 19, 2017 Leave a comment

On this date this date, February 19, in 1377, John Wycliffe (1330-1384) was on trial at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, for having criticized the Roman Catholic Church.

What were his criticisms? Wycliffe spoke against . . .

  • the sale of indulgences;
  • the worship of saints;
  • the veneration of relics;
  • the meaninglessness of some church traditions;
  • the sloth and laziness of clerics.

These matters sound a lot like the issues the Reformers addressed in their reform from the Roman Catholic Church. Wycliffe stated them 140 years before the posting of the 95 Theses (October 31, 1517).

Interestingly, even though five papal bills were issued for Wycliffe’s arrest, he was never convicted as a heretic.

For the rest of Wycliffe’s story, he died on December 31, 1384. He was officially condemned as a heretic in 1415, the time at which another Pre-Reformer, Jan Hus, was martyred. Finally in 1428, Wycliffe’s bones were exhumed, burned, and scattered in a little river called Swift.

What was the meaning of all this? Did justice finally catch up with Wycliffe? Or was this the ironic yet beautiful providence of God such that Wycliffe’s ashes in the little Swift river were carried into the ocean known as the Reformation?

One writes,

As a postscript to his life, it must be noted that Wycliffe died officially orthodox. In 1415 the Council of Constance burned John Hus at the stake, and also condemned John Wycliffe on 260 different counts. The Council ordered that his writings be burned and directed that his bones be exhumed and cast out of consecrated ground. Finally, in 1428, at papal command, the remains of Wycliffe were dug up, burned, and scattered into the little river Swift. Bishop Fleming, in the reign of Henry VI, founded Lincoln College for the express purpose of counteracting the doctrines which Wycliffe and his followers had promulgated. As history has revealed, Wycliffe’s bones were much more easily dispersed than his teachings, for out of a sea of controversy and angry disputation rose his greatest contribution-the English Bible.

The chronicler Fuller later observed: “They burnt his bones to ashes and cast them into the Swift, a neighboring brook running hard by. Thus the brook hath conveyed his ashes into Avon; Avon into Severn; Severn into the narrow seas; and they into the main ocean. And thus the ashes of Wycliffe are the emblem of his doctrine which now is dispersed the world over.”

 For more, see Christian History, Issue 3 (1983), “John Wycliffe and the 600th Anniversary of the Translation of Bible into English