“It was finished upon that cross” – as we are singing this tune – a huge new and deeper understanding and awakening strikes me. I suddenly see the whole event of the cross and what was happening in a new and deeper light. At that moment when Christ called “It is finished” (teleo – it has been completely accomplished), there was a total momentum shift in all creation. Locally there were dramatic signs – darkness, an earthquake, people rising from their graves, the temple curtain torn, but I can almost imagine a huge thud that shuddered throughout the whole of God’s creation – the whole universe. Everything started anew from that moment and our calendar is just a small reminder of that. Jesus had accomplished a task which had been planned from the beginning of all creation centuries before. Everything we see and are aware of and much we haven’t seen was different from then on. From that moment on it was and still is possible to be free – really free, not the freedom of slogans called out but true freedom – freedom from slavery to sin to the devil and ourselves – free to worship and follow Jesus completely, unhindered by any force that would drag us down. It seems more important than ever to embrace that freedom and live in it – this is the only way.
So as I completed a careful study of Hebrews 11 this morning, something struck me which is relevant to understanding the “melody line”. We have said the main purpose of the whole letter has been about salvation. In 10:39 we have a sort of summary verse bringing up two important points, in contrast. On the one hand those who shrink back and are destroyed and on the other those who believe and are saved. The question in chapter 11 is what characterizes those who are saved? Well it is the fact that they believe. So the chapter then focusses on that fact, that characteristic of the ones who are being saved -faith, and explores it deeper.
We’ve seen last time some of the characteristics which accompany “saving faith”. 11:39 and 40 summarize what was said – the reality that faith brings hope for a city without end, which one must have patience and perseverance to wait for it, since we only receive the fruit of that belief once we leave this world. And then come the key words – God has a plan for us all , but note that it is a community plan – “together with us” then the word “perfect” which I have explained earlier is another way of describing salvation. So while God is interested in each one of us as an individual, we are taken back again to several places in the letter where he mentions the importance of the church community working together for the common good of salvation. eg 10:24,25. There is no place in the kingdom for ‘loners.’
The one thing that really struck me also, as I studied the various characters in ch 11, is that while there is a common thread, the temporariness of this life and the permanence of the life to come, each person is an individual and their particular experience and role they had in this great plan of God, varied with each one of them according to many factors. There is no common plan, which fits all.
So as I listened to what Jesus was saying to me, I was again reminded of the fact of His plan for me, which is completely unique yet intimately tied up with the community of believers which I mix with.