28 Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
For Texas Tech fans it was a dream come true! The Red Raiders basketball team made it to the final four of the Men’s NCAA basketball tournament. We all were pulling for our Texas team to win. We all wanted the final seconds to tick away of the whole season, the final buzzer, the bust of confetti and streamers all announcing…. After a long season…. We are the champions—finished! But, as exciting as it was, they didn’t win the final game and they were finished.
“But” you are saying, “you can’t compare that to the scene here. On a hill called “The skull” under skies of divine darkness.” Of course, you’re right! Here, on a hill outside Jerusalem, is a scene more like when the Allies broke into concentration camps at the end of WWII and the starving survivors could hardly believe the torture and pain was over. The scene on Calvary is more like the victims caught in an earthquake, or buried in an avalanche and surviving after being in dark confinement for hours or even days! Now brought to the surface –in shock, breaking down in tears because the whole ordeal is—finished!
YET—even those situations can’t compare to what happened on Good Friday. Who can even begin to understand the torments of body, the whipping and nails, the crown of thorns that the Son of Man endured on the cross? Who can even begin to comprehend what he went through as he was despised and humiliated before the Sanhedrin, ridiculed by soldiers and even rejected by his disciples! And then it was over—finished!
However—even all this physical pain and suffering can’t compare to the worst of it all. He was forsaken by God his Father as he endured the eternity of hell while hanging on the cross! Nothing in all creation can compare to the pain of death Jesus endured on the cross. Additionally, Jesus wasn’t alive by the end of Good Friday, shedding tears of a survivor’s relief with his family and friends. No. When Jesus was all finished,
“he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”
On the cross the Son of Man and the Son of God died. The soldiers even pierced his side to proof it was so. Then they placed him in a nearby tomb. He started his life and ended his life the same way—wrapped in clothes and placed into borrowed lodging.
But, just before Jesus died, he spoke three words of truth. Perhaps the three most important words he ever spoke: “It is finished.” John the disciple was close by with Jesus’ mother and heard the words he recorded in his gospel for us to hear. These words have echoed down through the ages in heaven and hell—and continue to echo in this sin filled world, yes in every heart that is here this evening. Of all the words Jesus spoke, these three words give hope and comfort to all who hear and believe:
It Is Finished!
Everything done for the Father’s glory
There was a sign placed above Jesus’ head, often abbreviated, “INRI” representing the first letters of the Latin phrase: “Iēsus Nazarēnus, Rēx Iūdaeōrum.” Yes, Jesus was from Nazareth in the sense that is the place he grew up from toddler on as the son of a carpenter. The people who grow up with Jesus knew he wasn’t your typical boy. We saw a glimpse of this when the 12 year old Jesus traveled with his parents to Jerusalem for the festival. They knew Jesus to be Joseph’s son, but he was also the Son of God, sent by his heavenly Father to do his business. As Jesus began his public ministry the Father opened up the heavens with his voice to publicly recognize the vital work of his Son,
“This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased”
After his baptism the list of things his heavenly Father wanted him to accomplish become more detailed as he was led out to the desert to face his enemy—Satan. Satan met his match in a man that he failed to tempt into sin. The Word was out! Jesus began preaching and teaching the very words his Father gave him to proclaim. The same was true of his miracles! They were all planned out by God the Father to bring glory to his name. Jesus wasn’t living a holy life as he pleased, or just “doin’ his thing”—he was on a mission!
Jesus told us his mission recorded by John at the beginning of his gospel,
“No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known”
Because no one has ever seen God, our natural picture of God is reflected in the religions all around the world. Everyone by nature has a fear of God that looks like a huge shadow, towering above us—dark, holy, demanding, unsatisfied with humans. That’s what hearts separated from God see because
“No one has ever seen God.”
“but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.”
The person of Jesus Christ stepped out of the shadows of glory (such as on the Mount of Transfiguration) and what do we see? We see a face of deep, deep love! We hear words of incredible comfort. We see our warrior who came to destroy the devil’s work. We see a God who desires nothing more than that we have an eternal bond of love and fellowship like the one that once existed with God at the crown of his creation before the Fall into Sin! We see Jesus fulfilling the mission the Father sent him to accomplish to his glory!
Look at the cross. See Jesus hanging there revealing the Father’s glory! Can you see it? You can only see it through the eyes of faith—the deep love of the Father to sacrifice his one and only Son. The deep love that is powerful enough to destroy sin and death with his heart beating and bleeding for our salvation! Yes, Jesus said it, “It is finished!” because he accomplished the mission his Father sent him to do. He finished it so that all of us sinners might know God for who he truly is—our glorious God who saves us all!
Everything done for us and our salvation
I can see it on your faces as you look at the cross of Jesus. You see the love and power of God doing what you could never do—pay the penalty of all your sins. I know we are mocked for believing such a thing. Honestly, being the proud Americans that we are, our human mind can’t hardly wrap itself around this amazing thought. Maybe we just think of it all that often. Let me try to make the point.
Mr. Jones was training for his Olympic race and expected to win his running event. But, two weeks before the race he was hit by a drunk driver and lost his leg. He was heard saying, “I can’t believe this happened to me. I just don’t think I’ll ever be able to forgive that man who did this to me!” Yes, we feel for Mr. Jones, but really? He can’t ever forgive him? Well, have you ever stopped to think that every time you sin you amputate one of God’s legs? And there are plenty of sins to go around! Begin with Scripture who says by nature you are
“Dead in your transgressions and sins”
Yet the greatest display of sin isn’t in the dark alleys and jail cells. Rather, it’s found at addresses on your street, found at your workplace, found in the rich homes of suburbia and the poverty-stricken cities all around the world! What is this great sin? It is to spit on God’s face by looking at the cross, looking at the Father’s incredible sacrifice and saying, “No thanks, Jesus. I would rather run my own life. I’m basically a good person and I don’t need you. Or even worse, I know what you’ve done but I don’t care!” That’s what Satan plants into every human heart at birth. And every time people sin they break God’s legs. But, not you. You’ve never broken God’s legs, have you? NO!—you did worse! With your sin you nailed him to the cross! And the irony of it all? The sinful mind does not comprehend how serious sin is, how dangerous, what it deserves! It deserves punishment from a holy and just God in hell forever! There is no quicker path that takes you away from the glory of the Father than choosing to stand on your own goodness or merits. You can not save yourself!
There, on the cross—we see God’s way. It is the only way. There on the cross,
“for us and for our salvation, he came down from heaven, was incarnate by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried!”
There, and only there on the cross, It Is Finished!
It is Finished:
Jesus suffered as our substitute for the sins of the world
Jesus paid the whole payment for our sins
Jesus paid it perfectly and completely
Jesus crushed Satan’s head
Jesus removes the fear of death
Jesus opened the gate of heaven and closed the gate of hell.
The work is done, and the results are ongoing. They are yours in your baptism, for you died with Christ. The results of Jesus’ death are yours, for when you die, there is one thing that isn’t finished—life with Jesus in heaven. Amen!