Summary: This sermon looks at Jesus last words, "It is finished"
“It is finished”
It is Friday, April 3, A.D. 33. It is the darkest day in human history, though most people have no clue of this. In Rome, Tiberius attends to the demanding business of the empire. Throughout the inhabited world, babies are born, barter in marketplaces, sail merchant ships, and tend to their fields people eat and drink. Children play, old women gossip, young men lust, and people die. But today, one death, one brutal, gruesome death will leave God’s only Son (John 1:3), dead, hanging on the cross.
It is mid-afternoon by now and an eerie darkness has fallen on those gathered at the cross. For Jesus, the darkness is a horror he has never known. The Father’s wrath against sin is hitting him in full force. He is in that moment no longer the Blessed One, but the Cursed (Galatians 3:13). He has become sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). And this holy, pefect God has to turn his back on sin and thus, His only Son. In terrifying isolation, he is cut off from his Father as Jesus screams, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46, Psalm 22:1). Not only did Jesus suffer, enduring the pain and panic of slowly suffocating to death, he experienced for the first time in his life separation from the Father. In that moment, God’s only Son was forsaken so that we could be brought back into fellowship with him. Jesus now knew that sense of profound separation and desperate, panic ridden fear of being all alone.
Chuck Swindoll describes these last moments of Jesus’ life when he writes, “On this tree, the one who was sinless now bears our sins in his body (1 Peter 2:24), “the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). At this point, Jesus knew He had accomplished everything the Father had sent Him to do. After being whipped within an inch of his life, after carrying his cross, after enduring the jeers and taunts of the crowd, after experiencing the full pain imposed by the cross as he struggled for each breath and after having God turn his back, Jesus realized the price had been paid in full. He has born the full weight of the curse and has nothing left to give. The wine-soaked sponge is lifted to him and moistens his mouth just enough to say one final words: “It is finished” (John 19:30)
There are several things we learn today. First, death is near. If you remember, John’s Gospel is filled with multiple layers of meanings, each going deeper toward the truths of God. When we take Jesus’ words at their face, Jesus is saying that he is finished. He doesn't have anything left to give. His life is just about used up. The end is near and he is on death’s doorstep. He has been hanging on the cross for almost 6 hours now and the light of his life is just about extinguished. How difficult it must have been for Mary, his mother ,and John, his friend and disciple, and the other followers gathered there that day to hear these words. In all of his humanity, it must have been terrifying for Jesus as well. He was getting ready to walk a journey no one else had, across death itself. That can be a frightening thing for anyone. I’ve seen this many times since as I have sat bedside with those about to die. One which touched me the most was my father. I received word that the end was near as I was driving into worship one Sunday morning. I immediately made my plane reservations with the hope that I would arrive that afternoon before he passed. I preached both services and then a member whisked to the airport. When I arrived bedside, my family spent time together with my Dad and then my siblings, who all had had their time alone with my Dad, left the room so I could be with him one last time and share last words. I spoke to him and shared how much he meant to me and thanked him for all he had done for me. Then I asked him, this man who had served God as a pastor for more than 42 years, “Are you afraid?” He barely was barely able to muster a whisper, “Yes.” I held his hand, kissed his forehead and told him there was nothing to be afraid of, for I knew my hand holding his would soon be replaced by God’s as he ushered him into his kingdom.