Summary: A sermon for Good Friday.
"It Is Finished"
Today we come to the Cross.
Crucifixion was a terrifying death.
Some have said that if there was a likelihood that you would be arrested and crucified, it was better to commit suicide.
Crucifixions took place along the main thoroughfares where people would see them.
The criminal, after he was flogged, carried the crossbeam, which could weigh a hundred pounds.
Victims were often left hanging, or their bodies were taken down and left on the ground near the cross until the animals were finished with them.
The goal of crucifixion was to inflict the maximum agony for the longest possible time.
Victims could hang on the cross for days before they finally died.
In art or in movies Jesus is usually portrayed on a cross that towered over the people standing below, but Roman crosses were usually no more than six to nine feet off the ground.
Imagine someone standing on a chair right in front of you.
This was quite possibly how close Mary--Jesus' mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, Mary Magdalene and John were to Jesus as He hung on the Cross.
As they stood by for six hours, they could have touched His hands and looked up into His eyes.
We are told in Matthew that when Jesus was Crucified, the people passing by made fun of Him.
The religious rulers mocked Him.
And even the thieves who were crucified on either side of Him taunted Him.
Jesus hung bleeding, naked, dying and all the people could do was laugh at Him.
And yet, in Luke, we are told that as Jesus hung from the Cross, He prayed, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing."
That sums it up quite well, does it not?
"They do not know what they are doing."
In this world, we have a broken relationship with God.
Because of sin, we live in the darkness, lost, confused, scared, groping.
This world is not right.
It's damaged, broken.
We are damaged and broken.
But God came into our world, because God loves us; God has compassion on us.
Even though our love for God failed, God's love for us never fails.
Remember when Jesus was traveling through all the towns and villages, "preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness"?
We are told that "when [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd."
Jesus has compassion for us--for you and for me.
"Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing."
Jesus prayed this from the Cross, while He was hanging in agony.
Jesus directed this prayer toward those who had arrested Him, flogged Him, crushed His skull with a crown of thorns, spat on Him, drove nails through His hands and feet...
...mocked Him as He hung in agony...
...passed Him by, showing Him no compassion, only derision and hatred.
If Jesus prayed that prayer for these people, what is Jesus willing to do for you and for me?
If Jesus was able to forgive the very people involved in His Crucifixion, are there any sins you have committed, I have committed--anyone has committed that Jesus is unable or unwilling to forgive?
If you haven't ask Jesus to forgive you for something, or if you haven't allowed yourself to accept Jesus' forgiveness for your sins--even yours; if you don't think Jesus can or will forgive you...
...think about Jesus hanging from the Cross and praying: "Father forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing."
That's why Jesus came into this world.
Jesus came into this world to do for us what we can't do for ourselves.
We are told that "knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, 'I am thirsty.'
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.
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, 'It is finished.'
With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit."
We are told that the day Jesus died was the preparation day for Passover.
And Passover is the festival which commemorates Israel's deliverance from Egypt, when the Jews were spared by the angel of death after they spread blood over the door frames of their homes.
Hyssop was the plant used by the Israelites to mark their door frames with the blood of the Passover lamb.
And the fact that hyssop was used to raise the wet sponge to Jesus' mouth, suggests that Jesus has been marked as "God's own" by the hyssop plant, and ultimately will be delivered from the plague of death.