He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross (Colossians 2:13,14).
Even a Sunday School child can tell us what was nailed to the cross on Golgotha. The hand would shoot up and the voice would call out: “Jesus!” And, of course, the child would be right. The mental picture of Jesus being nailed to the cross has been reinforced by countless illustrations. We could give the details from memory. But there is more. By inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul paints another picture of Golgotha on Good Friday. In this scene, Jesus is no longer hanging on the cross. Something else is nailed to the wood. It looks like writing. What could it be?
It is the written code of the Law that God had delivered to Israel so many years ago on Mount Sinai. That Law is finished. But wasn’t that God’s Law? Was it not holy? Was it not to be obeyed? Was something wrong with it? No, it was perfect.
But now it is canceled. It was canceled because it has been fulfilled. It pointed ahead to a Savior. Old Testament people could not keep that Law. None ever did. Nor could we. It only condemned. It only damned. It became a curse. God did not change his mind about the level of holiness he demanded. He did not lower the passing grade for sanctification. Instead, he satisfied every last piece of all the details of the deadly Law.
He did it in the life of one Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus could do that because he was born holy. He was the Son of God. Lying, stealing, envy, lust? Never happened. Idolatry, rebellion, murder? Never happened. Not in thought. Not in word. Not in deed. That was the life of Jesus. But it was not an easy life. He groaned. He wept. He bled. He died. And he won. We have seen football players spike the ball after a touchdown. It serves as a testimony to their success. The goal has been scored. Through the eyes of God, we can see Jesus slam the nails into the decree of our death and damnation. It may have looked like his bruised and bloody body was defeated as it was lowered from the cross. But his Father knew better. The Holy Spirit was not dismayed. Satanic hordes may have jeered in celebration.
But that was short-lived. By the dawn of Easter, the report spread through the dungeons of hell. Jesus lives! Those who follow him will live also. Will live with him forever. The news must have been numbing to the spirits in prison. More so, when Jesus made his victory lap down there before he showed himself alive on earth. We still confess, “He descended into hell.” Not to suffer. On Easter, he entered into the stronghold of Satan to demonstrate that he had won. The battle was over. He won. We win. Does that mean we can now ignore God’s commands? Of course not! We strive to do his will out of love for him. But failure does not condemn those who hold to Jesus as their Savior. About that attempt of Jesus to win my salvation? He nailed it!
We pray, Lord Jesus, too often we live like losers. We act as though your victory over sin, death, and the devil was not won and the trophy of Life Eternal not handed over to us. Remind us again—and then again—that we serve in the army of the heavenly victors. Refresh our memories to the fact that we are now on the march home, where saints and angels will welcome us. Point us back to that cross that we might see again that you have nailed our salvation. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military