Good Friday

April 10, 2020

 

John 19:28-30

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.

 

How many of you have left things unfinished?  Lots of times, I get a new book to read.  At first, I am all gung ho about the book.  I like the concepts the author is sharing.  But, then, I find this or that that I disagree about or I get bored and I don’t finish.  How many of you have left things unfinished?  Maybe you have a book or two left unfinished.  Or what about a letter you never finished, a phone call or an e-mail or a text never returned.  What about the honey-do list.  You never finish that one.  That job jar keeps getting filled up.  Or how about that diet.  You set out to lose 30 and you only shed 25.  For me, my goal may be 30 but there have been plenty of times that I only lose 3.  Or, maybe I even gain a pound or two.  My ice cream keeps calling me.  Maybe you have a promise you never kept or a degree never finished.  How many of you have left things unfinished?  It is said that the artist who carved Mt. Rushmore never finished.  It was his plan to carve the 4 presidents down to their waists.  I think Rush Limbaugh might say that Mt. Rushmore isn’t complete because his face isn’t up there.  When I was 11 years old, I quit the Boy Scouts.  It was the first significant thing I didn’t finish.  I never made it past Tenderfoot.  Why?  I couldn’t swim and I knew you had to swim to advance.  How many of you have left things unfinished?  Or, do you want to get a little heavier, a little more painful, a little more consequential in the unfinished things?  What about the abandoned child, or the cold faith or the job hopper, or the wrecked marriage, or an unevangelized world.  How many of you have left things unfinished?  What are your unfinished things?  What person has ever gotten to the end of their lives and were able to say, “I was able to accomplish everything, absolutely everything, I set out to do?”  We all have something we haven’t finished—all of us.  Except one man.  That man, of course, was Jesus.  In all of history, only one man completely finished all He set out to do.    

 

  1.  What is Finished?

 

  1.  Meaning

 

Jesus cried out from the cross, “It is finished.”  The Greek has only one word here, tetelestai.  That word could mean to bring to an end, to accomplish, to finish.  But, used those ways might not involve success.  I could finish a course of study.  I could have read all the books, completed the assignments, taken the tests.  In that sense I could have finished.  But, I may have gotten an F for the course.  That is not the use of the word here.      

 

Some archeologists discovered hundreds of papyrus scraps with the word tetelestai written or abbreviated across them.  The context in those meant paid in full.  That is some of what Jesus meant when He cried, “It is finished.” It means paid in full.  It means successfully completed.  It means He accomplished what He set out to do.  

 

This is making the final house payment, always on time and always in full.  This is crossing the finished line at the Boston Marathon.  This is reaching the peak of Mt. Everest.  This is a worker finishing a difficult and complicated project.  This is a doctor saving a life and restoring to health.  This is a woman giving birth after hours of exhausting labor.  When Jesus cried, “It is finished,” it meant way more than, “I waded through,” “I survived.”  Notice Jesus didn’t say, “I am finished,” but “It is finished.”  “I am finished” would mean that He died exhausted and defeated.  No, when Jesus cried, “It is finished,” it meant, “I succeeded,” “I did exactly what I set out to do.”  “I successfully completed the work I came to do. This was a cry of victory.  I love the way author Max Lucado said it, “A cry of defeat?  Hardly.  Had his hands not been fastened down, I dare say that a triumphant fist would have punched the dark sky.  No, this is no cry of despair.  It is a cry of completion.  A cry of victory.  A cry of fulfillment.  Yes, even a cry of relief.” [1]

 

In the Apostle’s Creed, we say that Jesus was crucified, died and was buried.  Then, the next words were, “He descended into hell.”  We don’t know when this happened.  The best we can come up with is that He descended to hell sometime after His death and before Easter morning.  Why did He go there?  The answer is to proclaim victory over the devil and all the spirits in hell.  It was the greatest victory lap of all time.  I know I am pushing the envelope here, but could Jesus have descended to hell sometime after He had the sins of the world placed on His shoulders and the Father forsook Him and before that first Easter Sunday morning.  Could it be that tetelestai was a triumphant cry, “I finished defeating Satan and His horrible hordes?”  That may be going too far, but you get the import of the word.  Tetelestai was a cry, not of despair, but of triumph.  I finished what the Father set out for me to do and I did it completely!  “It is finished!”  

 

  1.  But, what was included?  

 

One commentator, Matthew Henry, who lived 300 years ago, helps us with that. [2] He said that what was included in Jesus’ cry, “It is finished” is first

1. The SUFFERING of Christ was finished.

The pain, the suffering, the blood spilled, the exhaustion endured had come to an end.  So had the impact of the cries of the wicked, the scorn of the passersby, the derision of the religious leaders.  That was finished.  Second, what was finished was;   

2. The MALICE of his enemies was finished.

 

By nailing him to the cross, they had done their best to do their worst. They wanted Him punished. They wanted Him killed. They got their wish. There was nothing more they could do to the Son of God. It was finished.  Next,

 

3. All the Old Testament PROPHECIES were fulfilled.

 

We looked at a number of them last Sunday.  To those we could add, Zechariah 11:12- He had been sold for 30 pieces of silver, Psalm 22:16- His hands and feet had been pierced, Psalm 22:18- His garments had been divided, Zechariah 12:10- His side was pierced.  You might recall that there are over 300 prophecies all fulfilled, all came to completion in Him.  

 

4. The CEREMONIAL LAW was abolished.

 

All the Old Testament rules concerning animal sacrifices were completed.  They were fulfilled in Christ.  That’s what He said.  He did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it.  All the rules and regulations concerning the priesthood were fulfilled in this Great High Priest, Jesus, who now laid down His life for His people. The sacrificial lamb, slain on the Day of Atonement, the lamb, upon which the sins of the people were laid, was no longer needed because Jesus became that Lamb.   

 

5. Jesus’ MINISTRY was now completed.

 

His preaching and teaching were now complete. 

 

6. The work of REDEMPTION was now complete.

 

Full satisfaction for sin was made.  Satan was defeated.  Grace was given.  Peace was bestowed.  The sins of the world were paid in full.  Rewind to when Jesus was just starting His ministry.  He had gone out into the wilderness to find John the Baptist.  What did John say about Jesus?

 

“Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29 NASB

 

As we have seen, what did the Lamb do?  He had taken away the sin of the world.  He had taken away all of your sins.  This series is called, “Words from the Cross—For You.” Throughout this series, we have asked the question over and over again, “What does this mean for you?”  So, we ask here,

 

  1.  What does, “It is Finished” mean for You and Your life?

 

It means that

 

  1.  Redemption has been accomplished completely for you

 

  1. Redemption has been accomplished completely for you

 

Your sin has been paid for.  The Bible tells us:

 

"As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us." Psalms 103:12 NASB

 

“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow…”. Isaiah 1:18

 

So, [3] "What sin is keeping you from God today? 

  • Is it anger?

 

  • Is it lust?

 

  • Is it a hard heart of unbelief?

 

  • Is it alcohol abuse?

 

  • Is it an uncontrollable temper?

 

  • Is it cheating?

 

  • Is it stealing? Is it adultery?

 

  • Is it abortion?

 

  • Is it pride?

 

  • Is it greed?"

 

Let me tell you the best news you will ever hear. It doesn’t matter what your sin is - it doesn’t matter how many sins you’ve piled up in your life - it doesn’t matter how guilty you feel - it doesn’t matter how sinful you have been this week - it doesn’t matter how bad you are - it doesn’t matter how many skeletons you have in your closet. All of your sins have been taken care of.

 

Anger - taken care of.

 

Sinful ambition - taken care of.

 

Gossip - taken care of.

 

Drunkenness - taken care of.

 

Fornication- taken care of.

 

Embezzlement- taken care of.

 

Lying- taken care of.

 

Disobedience- taken care of.

 

Slothfulness- taken care of.

 

Pride - taken care of.

 

Murder - taken care of.

 

Anything and everything you can think of - has been taken care of. "It is finished."  Redemption has been accomplishedcompletely for you.

 

  1. Redemption has been accomplished completely for you

 

Jesus sacrifice was sufficient for you.  What Jesus accomplished in His death was so awesome, so total, so complete that it could never be repeated.  There is nothing more even God could do to save the human race.  There is nothing more God could do to save you.  This means that all of your efforts are worthless.  They are doomed to failure.  You cannot add anything to the value of what Jesus did on the cross for you.  As a matter of fact, anything you try to add will take you farther away from God.  If you think you can add even one thing to save yourself, it means you don’t think Jesus did enough.  It means you think He did not pay enough for your sins to be forgiven.  God is not trying to sell you salvation or offer it to you for half price.  He is not going, “Dutch treat” with you or offering it to you on the installment plan.  He is offering salvation to you free of charge.  That is the definition of grace.  

 

“For it is by grace you are saved through faith; and that is not of yourself, it is the gift of God.”  Ephesians 2:8-9!  

 

The Apostle Peter wrote 

 

“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.”  1 Peter 1:18-20

 

You would be insulting Jesus if you thought you could add even one good work to earn your salvation.  You would be telling Jesus that what He did was not enough after all, that He did not finish the job.  You could get wracked with guilt over sins you have committed years ago. You can remember all too well that nasty word you spoke, that time you could have helped someone but didn’t, all of those times when you knew God didn’t want you to do something and you did anyhow, you can remember those times all too well.  Maybe they still haunt you.  But, listen to this, Jesus paid it all.  He didn’t pay for some of it.  He paid for all of it.  Your redemption was accomplished completely.   

 

  1. Redemption has been accomplished completely for you

 

Think about it this way, if you were the only person living on this planet, Jesus would still have died for you.  He loves you that much.  Redemption has been accomplished completely for you

 

So, dear friends, that is your take away this evening.  When Jesus cried out, “It is finished,” His mission of redemption was complete.  God’s mission of redemption from the beginning of creation was now complete.  This whole thing on the cross, this whole bloody thing was done completely.  It was done completely--for you.

 

In Jesus’ name.

Amen.     

 


 


[1] “No Wonder They Call Him the Savior,” pg. 72.

[2] The following is adapted from the sermon, “Finished,” by Tom Shepard.

[3] Op. cit. Shepard