Journey Toward Easter: It is finished!
Our text tells us that the life of our Savior is nearing its end. He has already made six statements from the cross.
As the soldiers nailed him to the cross, as the Jewish leaders mocked scorned him, as the thieves reviled him, Jesus says, "Father, forgive them."
As one of the thieves repented, Jesus assured him "Today you will be with me in paradise."
As his mother pours out her grief for a dying son, Jesus tenderly commits her care to the
Apostle John. "Woman," he says, pointing her to John, "Behold your son." And to John he says, "Behold your mother."
As the hours go by and a supernatural darkness settles over the land, Jesus becomes sin for us. As the Heavenly Father momentarily turns His face away from His son, Jesus cries out, "My God, my God. Why have you forsaken me?!"
Knowing that in his crucifixion He has become the "Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world," Jesus reveals his humanity and fulfills the Old Testament Scriptures by saying, "I thirst."
In the final few moments before his death, Jesus utters a statement of confidence in God the Father when he says, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
Now the moment of his death is upon him. Jesus utters his last statement from the cross.
In the original language it is just one word. We need three to properly translate it. Jesus lifts his
head toward the heavens and cries out, "It is finished!" In three hours Jesus has gone from a cry of desolation to a cry of jubilation. He has gone from victim to victor.
I. WHAT JESUS DIDN'T MEAN WHEN HE SAID, "IT IS FINISHED"
- when we read someone's word in print, we do not always know for sure the meaning behind those words
- inflection, volume, facial expressions, body language, and even an emphasis on particular words in a sentence give various meaning to what we say
- ILLUS. Mothers are especially good at this. I know my mother was. For example, all mothers have several special ways of saying the simple little phrase,"Did you hear me?" In one form they, are asking a simple question. A different inflection, with a little added body language, can make it a statement of fact. Raise the volume a notch, add some Body English, narrow the eyes, and you have a threat to do bodily harm!
A. WHEN HE SAID "IT IS FINISHED" DID JESUS MEAN THAT THE SINFUL WORK OF HUMANITY IN REJECTING THE SON OF GOD WAS NEARING COMPLETION?
- that's what some bible scholars believe ...
- perhaps these words were directed at the Jewish leaders with sarcasm
- "Well, you got what you wanted. It's over now."
- perhaps Jesus was looking at his mother and the disciple John when He spoke these words with a note of frustration
- maybe the message meant, "I had hoped for so much more, but my dream of a kingdom is over."
- maybe these words were breathed in anger at the Roman political system that had crucified an innocent itinerant Jewish rabbi
- maybe the message meant, "It's over, a curse on you!"
- Jesus may have meant these things—but I doubt it
B. WHEN HE SAID "IT IS FINISHED" DID JESUS MEAN THAT HIS LIFE WAS FINISHED?
- that's what some bible scholars believe ...
- Jesus was a living, breathing human being
- He ate and drank, slept, walked, preached, and prayed
- but now all that was finished
- His holy hands, which had healed so many and given strength to the lame and sight to the blind, would soon be cold and motionless
- His feet, that had walked on so many missions of mercy, would soon become rigid and unmoving
- His voice, that had spoken countless words of grace and love to so many, would soon become silent
- when Jesus said, It is finished he may have meant that his life was finished—but I doubt it
C. WHEN HE SAID "IT IS FINISHED" DID JESUS MEAN THAT HIS MINISTRY WAS OVER?
- that's what some bible scholars believe ...
- the single word that Jesus spoke and that we translate as, It is finished was a common word
- ILLUS. For those of you who like Bible trivia, this is actually the shortest sentence Jesus ever spoke.
- ILLUS. It was a word often spoken by a slave to his master when he had completed an assigned task.
- ILLUS. When you paid you taxes, it was the word the tax collector wrote on your tax receipt. It was our equivalent of "paid in full."
- for three years he had faithfully taught his disciples about the Kingdom of God
- he had healed the sick, given sight to the blind, cleansed the lepers, and brought the dead back to life
- most importantly, he had preached the good news to the poor
- that he had fought the good fight?
- that he had finished the race?
- that he had kept the faith?
II. WHAT JESUS DID MEAN WHEN HE SAID, "IT IS FINISHED?"
- well, I've shared with you what all the scholars have to say, now let me tell you what the Bible says
- in light of the Scriptures, we must rule out all of these previous postulations
- what other Scriptures you ask?
- “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. 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. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (Colossians 2:13–15, NIV84)
A. WHEN JESUS SAID "IT IS FINISHED" IT WAS A WORD OF AFFIRMATION THAT GOD'S REDEMPTIVE PURPOSE HAD BEEN FULFILLED
- the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke all tell us that Jesus died with a shout on his lips
- It is finished was that shout!
- in spite of Satan's plot to destroy the son of God and man's complicity in that plot, God's purpose of redemption was completed that day on Calvary
- in the passage from Colossians, the apostle Paul writes about the handwriting of ordinances that was against us
- the Apostle refers to the list of charges brought against an individual in a criminal case
- every sinner has had charges brought against us
- our accuser is God's holy law
- the witnesses against us are The World, The Flesh and The Devil
- the evidence against us is contained in our spiritual rap sheet and we each have an extensive one
- “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.” (Revelation 20:12, NIV84)
- the Bible says we've all sinned and come short of God's glory—far short
- “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19–21, NIV84)
- “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.” (Ephesians 2:1–3, NIV84)
- when the sentence was finished, and you had served your time, the handwriting of ordinances was initialed by the guard
- you—and a copy of the ordinances—were taken to the judge who would write across that list of charges the same word our Lord uttered from the cross
- tetelestai—It is finished meaning that the penalty had been paid in full, the debt was canceled
- the ancient Greeks boasted of being able to say much in little
- their rhetorical motto was “to give a sea of matter in a drop of language”
- tetelestai is one of those words—wrapped up in that word is the gospel of God
- the despairing cry of a helpless martyr; it was not ...
- an expression of satisfaction that the termination of his sufferings was now reached; it was not ...
- the last gasp of a worn-out life
- rather was it the declaration on the part of the divine Redeemer that ...
- all for which he came from heaven to earth to do, was now done; that ...
- all that was needed to reveal the full character of God had now been accomplished; that ...
- all that was required by law before sinners could be saved had now been performed: that ...
- the flail price of our redemption was now paid
- in Christ, our "rap sheet" has been expunged!
B. WHEN JESUS SAID "IT IS FINISHED" HE REVEALED THE PIVOTAL REASON WHY THE CROSS HAD TO BE
- “Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” (John 12:31–32, NIV84)
- Jesus was lifted up on the cross of Calvary to bring freedom to those in captivity
- we live in a world which has been decimated by sin
- the Scriptures tell us that we are sold under sin
- that's the biblical way of saying that a lost man may think he is in control of his life, but in actuality, sin is his master
- the cravings of the flesh ...
- the lust of his eyes ...
- the boasting of our pride ...
- these are the things that control a man's life when he is outside of life in Christ
- sin has such a strangle hold on us, that unless something or someone frees us from it, we are doomed
- that someone is Jesus Christ
- Jesus has becoming our atoning sacrifice—taking upon Himself all of our sins
- what tens of thousands of animal sacrifices could not do, Jesus accomplished with one sacrifice forever
- ILLUS. Michelangelo is considered one of the greatest artists of all time. He was an artistic genius. He excelled as a sculptor, designer, painter, and architect. His statues of Moses and David and the Pieta, to name but a few, are widely recognized and appreciated. He was also known to be extremely temperamental. He would often begin a sculpture, then abandon it in a fit of temper. Consequently, he left more works unfinished then he did completed. In Florence, Italy, there is a vast display of his uncompleted works.
- He offers salvation as a finished work
- there is nothing left for you or I to do but receive the grace He has to offer
- ILLUS. Suppose the governor of our state granted a pardon to someone who had been convicted of a heinous crime merely because he felt sorry for the criminal. How would you respond? I suspect you and I would both be incensed or even outraged. Why? Because we would know that justice had been violated. We applaud compassion but not when it results in a gross violation of justice. But suppose that same judge said, “I know this criminal. I love this man. I will personally lay aside my rights and serve his penalty that he may be freed.” We would all think the judge an idiot, but he would be within his rights to do so.
- what is true about justice on a purely human plane is much more true with God’s justice
- God could not allow sin to go unpunished
- He could not simply forgive us our sins at the expense of His justice
- God’s justice and holiness had to be satisfied
- in the death of God the Son, God the Father devised a way whereby both His justice could be satisfied and His love and mercy expressed
- we like to say, God loved us so much that He was willing to sacrifice His Son for us, but WOW—do we REALLY grasp the full intent of that verse?
- such love should lead us to worship and adore Him, and then to obey and serve Him
- “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:21–24, NIV84)
- ILLUS. In 1865 Elvina Hall was attending the morning worship service of her church. In the midst of that service, God broke through the routine and touched her life. As the pastor led in prayer she penned a poem in the flyleaf of a hymnal. The last line of that poem reads: /"And when, before the throne, I stand in him complete, Jesus died my soul to save, My lips shall still repeat. Jesus paid it all, All to him I owe; Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.?
- “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference,” (Romans 3:21–22, NIV84)
- ILLUS. Another one of our hymns asks the question, "What can wash away my sin?" The refrain echoes back,"Nothing but the blood of Jesus!" The fourth stanza rings out, "This is all my righteousness, nothing but the blood of Jesus."
- ILLUS. This was the verse that set Martin Luther free!
- a man's own efforts at goodness and right-living can never earn him a declaration of righteousness from God
- simple trust in the Son of God can
- “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20, NIV84)
- here is the key to daily victorious living for Christ
- here is the key to winning the world for Christ
- ILLUS. It will take a crucified church to bring a crucified Christ before the eyes of the world.
CON. What does it mean to be crucified with Christ?
ILLUS. One Sunday on their way home from church, a little girl turned to her mother and said, "Mommy, the preacher's sermon this morning confused me." The mother said, "Oh? Why is that?" The little girl replied, "Well, he said that God is bigger than we are. Is that true?" The mother replied,"Yes, that's true, honey." "And he also said that God lives in us? Is that true, mommy?" Again the mother replied, "Yes, that’s true." "Well," said the little girl, "If God is bigger than us and he lives in us, wouldn't He show through?"