Thursday, May 1, 2014

IT IS FINISHED! (John Chapter 19)

John 19:30, “When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”

“It is finished!”  Through the annals of history have three more precious words ever been uttered?  A man’s dying words are said to be of special import, have there ever been more significant “dying words?”  In three words Jesus founded a message of hope, in the forgiveness of sins, which has resounded through the centuries.  

Charles Spurgeon once wrote concerning this matter: “The Son of God has been made man.  He had lived a life of perfect virtue and total self-denial.  He has been all that life long despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.  His enemies have been legion; His friends have been few, and those few faithless.  He is at last arrested while in the act of prayer; He is arraigned before both the spiritual and temporal courts.  He is robed in mockery, and then unrobed in shame.  He is set upon His throne in scorn, and then tied to the pillar in cruelty.  He is declared innocent, and yet He is delivered up by the judge who ought to have preserved Him from His persecutors.  He is dragged through the streets of Jerusalem which had killed the prophets, and would now crimson itself with the blood of the prophets’ Master.  He is brought to the cross; He is nailed fast to the cruel wood.  The sun burns Him.  His cruel wounds increase the fever.  God forsakes Him.  “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” contains the concentrated anguish of the world.  While He hangs there in mortal conflict with sin and Satan, His heart is broken, His limbs are dislocated.  Heaven fails Him, for the sun is veiled in darkness.  Earth forsake Him, for “his disciples forsook Him and fled.”  He looks everywhere, and there is none to help; He casts His eye around, and there is no man that can share His toil.  He treads the winepress alone; and of the people there is none with Him.  On, on, He goes, steadily determined to drink the last dreg of the cup which must not pass from Him if His Father’s will be done.  At last He cries—“It is finished,” and He gives up the ghost.  Hear it, Christians, hear this shout of triumph as it rings today with all the freshness and force which it had centuries ago!  Hear it from the Sacred Word, and from the Savior’s lips, and may the Spirit of God open your ears that you may hear as the learned, and understand what you hear!”  (Charles Spurgeon, “Christ’s Words from the Cross”).

What did Jesus mean in what He said?  What was “finished?”  1) The Old Testament Scriptures include many types, promises and prophecies that spoke of Him.  They looked forward to the fulfilment in Him of all that was beforehand set forth (Cf. Luke 24:44).  In His death He fulfilled all that which was promised.  2) The Old Testament sacrifices looked forward to a more perfect “once for all” sacrifice.  He finished that work (Cf. Hebrews 10:1-10).  3) Jesus came to do the Father’s will.  It was the Father’s will that He should serve and suffer and die for sins.  He perfectly subjected Himself to the Father’s will and finished the work which the Father had sent Him to do (Cf. John 17:4).  4) He came as the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world (Cf. John 1:29).  Isaiah prophesied that “the iniquity of us all” would be “laid upon Him” and that He would be “crushed for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:6, 5).  He Himself has said that He had come “to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).  In dying on the cross Jesus died “once for all” for sins (Cf. Romans 6:10; Hebrews 7:27, 9:12, 10:10; 1 Peter 3:18).  5) Jesus came and took on human flesh that He might “destroy the one who has the power of death, that is the devil” (Hebrews 2:14).  In dying for sins Jesus utterly destroyed the power of Satan, sin, and death.  He triumphed over them all (Cf. Colossians 2:15).

According to Matthew’s gospel upon His saying, “It is finished,” “the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom” (Matthew 27:5-51).  God dramatically demonstrated for us the practical benefit derived from that which Christ spoke of.  The curtain of the temple was symbolic of restriction of access to God.  There is restricted access because of sin, but “Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18).  He finished His sin-bearing work that we might gain access to God through His sin-cleansing power (Cf. Hebrews 10:19-22).  Jesus finished His work so that sin-rebels might be transformed into glad-hearted worshippers.  An enduring message of hope is bound up in those three precious words!

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