Posted by: pmarkrobb | April 4, 2021

all was not finished

As darkness blanketed Golgotha, the curtain in the temple tore in two, the earth violently rumbled and shook, and the last breath left the lips of our Savior, we expect it to be as He said … “It is finished.” Jesus took the incalculable weight of the sins of all, for all time, on His own body and died as their only ransom.

“It is finished.”

“It is finished.”

That is what Jesus said.

But here is what He didn’t say …

“All is finished.”

Yes, it was finished. Please don’t mistake my drawing attention as a suggestion that our Savior misspoke. In His death on the cross, Jesus once and for always paid the penalty and broke the power of sin. Since we said “Yes” to the serpent, the power of sin has been ever-present. Each new baby is born with a second nature — a compel to choose other than God. As Jesus hung on the Cross and the Father placed the full measure of every sin for all time on His shoulders, He became its ransom and broke its power in breathing His last. But becoming that sacrifice, and taking every sin to the grave, still left something undone.

The essence of God is expressed in Three. God is relationship. And so, the essential work of redemption is incomplete without relationship. God’s nature is justice, but justice is not all of His nature. And so, redemption requires a ransom, but is incomplete without a reconcile. Forgiveness-only is a flat earth fallacy. Sin’s debt had to be paid, but that was only part one of God’s plan of redemption. The second part is pursuit. And so, comes resurrection morning! The Good Shepherd’s great beginning of leaving the ninety-nine to go after the one.

And so it is that we find the precious friend and follower of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, at the tomb early on resurrection morning while it was still dark. She is stunned to find the mammoth stone that had sealed Jesus’s tomb rolled to the side. She went running to Peter and John to tell them, and they both raced to the tomb to see. Consumed with sadness, Mary returned to the tomb herself, stopping at the opening to have a look in. John’s gospel tells us that she saw two angels who asked her why she was crying. In turning away after answering, Mary turned and saw Jesus (or, at least, she saw someone). Either because her consuming sadness or His new countenance, Mary did not recognize the man who had become her everything.

He asked her why she was crying and who it was she was looking for. Thinking He was the tomb’s gardener, she answered His question with an impassioned ask. “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Now, this is the part where I am eternally grateful to be writing all this to you. For, in a few seconds, I would utterly lose it if I was to have to read these next words out loud.

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

In what was undoubtedly the most rapturous moment of her life, Mary’s everything spoke her name. And she instantly knew who He was. And she instantly knew who she was again. I am wrecked at the thought of that moment, placing myself in her place at His tomb. Her precious friend, her Lord and Savior, Jesus, is not dead! He’s alive! He’s alive! Make no mistake, forgiveness was essential and a treasure to Mary. But what happened in her heart and life when she heard Him call her name?!

If the Cross meant finished, I wonder where that would have left Peter in the mornings after his rooster crowed. With Jesus’ death, Peter’s sins of betrayal were paid for, but of what consolation would that have been to him? In truth, it meant everything. But from my own experience, I suspect Peter might have said it felt like an empty everything.

Just as Jesus had said, in the pre-dawn chaos of His capture and being dragged between multiple trials, Peter denied His Savior. Peter denied, the rooster crowed, and the enemy of God began the work of locking Peter up in the prison of that single, tragic sin. Jesus’ death that same day was the insult to Peter’s injury. It was the extreme heat Satan wanted to use to set the stain in Peter’s heart and make it permanent. But that stain would not set, and very early on the third day the angels announced something deliberate that would change Peter’s story forever.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”
Mark 16:6-7 (NIV)

Whom should the women who had come to the tomb go and tell? “… go, tell his disciples and Peter (my emphasis added). In the immediate aftermath of Peter’s denial, God began the work of pursuing and restoring him. It was neither a random detail nor flippant mention of Peter’s name as the angels said “go, tell.” It was an intentional and purposeful step Jesus took in Peter’s direction … and He wasn’t finished yet. Jesus appears to His disciples several times between His resurrection and ascension into heaven. On one of those occasions, He specifically turned to Peter and asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter quickly answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus asked again, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter answered once again with the same words. Then Jesus asks a third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” This time Peter seems a bit injured, but answers “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” (Conversation from John 21:15-17)

Was Jesus looking to make sure Peter loved Him? Were His repeated questions an attempt to make an example of Peter? I am certain Jesus did not need Peter’s assurances, and I do believe Jesus’ questions were making a statement — a profoundly intentional and meaningful statement to Peter and to us all. Jesus sees through to Peter’s heart and knows the holes which remain from the devastating denials. With the very same question asked intentionally three times, Jesus heals the holes, speaks His forgiveness, and fully restores Peter.

Please let me be clear. When I mentioned previously that God’s plan of redemption had two parts, I was not suggesting a theology. Who am I to put pen to paper and “explain” the fullness of redemption and God’s intentions for its plan? Who I am is a wretched sinner forever changed by God’s grace and Jesus’ giving of His life as the ransom for my sin. Who I am is a harlot like Mary and a betrayer like Peter who is no longer how I was before I met Jesus. He has made me new as He is making all things new. So, please do not hear teaching in my observations of the story of Jesus’ dying and rising and appearing to Mary and Peter. The unfinished nature of redemption absent relationship is not a belief to be shared as much as it is the sharing of my belief in the One who is my everything and the story of His giving everything in order to ransom and rescue me.

It has been a great privilege to walk through this set-apart week with you. Happy Resurrection Day, brothers and sisters!

He is Risen!

He is Risen, indeed!



  1. He is risen indeed! May we recognize His voice each day as we seek Him!

  2. Thank you brother, Brother and Father!! What a glorious day!! Jesus, Your face and countenance light this new day and shine upon us!! You have Life!!! Mark, I so enjoy the words our Father has shared with you, and through you, this morning (and all week)! The “undone” and “two parts” that you speak of today draw my mind to John 10:10, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Not the removal of death (and it’s “killing, stealing and destroying”) alone, but also the giving of LIFE! A new LIFE that that begins with resurrection and the speaking of my name (😊) and heralds in an eternity of “full”!! Both the means and the invitation to Live!!

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