Summary: Taking a look at what it meant to be forsaken by the Father and what Jesus meant by saying, "it is finished".
THE DEATH OF JESUS
1) Forsaken (Matt. 27:45-49). “Later, knowing that all was now completed…” What had happened? Three hours of darkness. This could’ve been the result of God’s provision of an eclipse. I don’t know why exactly but it’s been suggested that it represented evil-Jesus taking on the sins of mankind. I could see this as the fearsome kind of darkness that is felt. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This is a pretty sad statement. Jesus is crying out in loneliness and despair as the heavy burden of man’s sins is upon him. It is said that Martin Luther once sat in his study for hours to meditate on this passage. For hours he sat oblivious to the world around him. Finally, someone heard him say, “God forsaking God . . . no one can understand that” and he went on about his business. Spurgeon preached a message on this passage and said, “I think I can understand the words, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" as they are written by David in the 22nd Psalm; but the same words, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" when uttered by Jesus on the cross, I cannot comprehend, so I shall not pretend to be able to explain them.” Both Matthew and Mark note His loud clear cry, addressing God for the only time as anything other than “Father.” The word translated “forsake” means to abandon, to leave behind, or turn away from. Jesus cried out in desperate emotion. Jesus knew he would suffer. He knew he was paying the penalty for the sins of mankind. But he didn’t know how what that would be like. We need to understand that Jesus actually became sin-2nd Corinthians 5:21, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” The Father had to turn his back on him since in his holiness God cannot look upon sin favorably. In this moment when the Father looked at Jesus he didn’t see his beloved Son, he saw sin. In this moment the Father was repulsed; he was furious but he was also grievous. How amazingly hard it was for these two. There was no greater love shared than between the Father and the Son. Now, there would be no greater hatred right now than what the Father had for the Son since Jesus became sin. God had to hate his own Son. As Luther and Spurgeon exclaimed-who can really comprehend this. I can explain the technicality of it but I can’t come close to explaining the reality of it. If we attempt to grasp the depth of it all we will come vastly short. We need to understand the magnitude of what the Father and the Son endured for us. I talked last week about what Jesus went through physically for us but we also need to understand what he went through spiritually for us; which was far worse than the physical. The gruesome, morbid reality of what Jesus went through in his flogging and crucifixion pales in comparison to his spiritual torture in becoming sin. Engulfed in a place where he would find the complete absence of anything good. Pure evil was Jesus’ existence. While with the Father in heaven he experienced nothing but goodness. He came to earth and experienced both the goodness of God and the ugliness of evil. Now, in becoming sin, he would experience nothing but evil. You can’t get any more extreme opposites than what the Father and the Son chose to endure; all for us.
2) It is finished (28-30). I am thirsty (28-29). John points this out for two purposes-to highlight Jesus’ humanity and to show the fulfillment of prophecy. Humanity-Gnostics believed that God, who is holy, would not inherit the body, which they saw the body and all matter as unholy. Therefore, Jesus was not really a flesh and blood human but rather some sort of phantom. John wrote his gospel at the time when the Gnostic heresy was influential and he included the statements like these in his gospel to give evidence to the fact that Jesus did take on the fullness of being a human being. He wanted people to understand that Jesus got thirsty/hungry, that he felt pain, that he had emotions. Jesus was fully God but also fully human. Prophecy-Three times in today’s passage we see John pointing to Jesus fulfilling prophecy; thus solidifying Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah. I can’t imagine-the unbelievable dryness and dehydration Jesus was going through (highlighting his human frailty) and where a sip of water would’ve been so refreshing, instead he’s given wine vinegar-yum. (30) “It is finished”. This comes from one Greek word tetelestai. This word was used by various people in everyday life in those days. Consider how the various use of this word signifies the finished work of Christ on the cross. A servant would use it when reporting to his master, “I have completed the work assigned to me” (John 17:4). When a priest examined an animal sacrifice and found it faultless, this word would apply. We see why this is an apt statement to be uttered by Jesus. He indeed completed the work he was called to do. He indeed is the faultless sacrificial lamb. Warren Wiersbe says, “Perhaps the most meaningful meaning of tetelestai was that used by the merchants: “The debt is paid in full!” When He gave Himself on the cross, Jesus fully met the righteous demands of a holy law; He paid our debt in full.” And when he said “it is finished” he meant there was nothing more left to do; nothing more that could be done. Yet people seem to think that there must be something more we need to do. It can’t be as simple as trusting in what Jesus did. Some years ago a Christian farmer was deeply concerned over an unsaved carpenter. The farmer sought to explain how the finished work of Christ was sufficient for his soul to rest upon. But the carpenter persisted in the belief that he must do something himself. One day the farmer asked the carpenter to make for him a gate, and when the gate was ready he carried it away to his wagon. He arranged for the carpenter to call on him the next morning and see the gate as it hung in the field. At the appointed hour the carpenter arrived and was surprised to find the farmer standing by with a sharp axe in his hand. "What are you doing?" he asked. "I am going to add a few cuts and strokes to your work," was the response. "But there is no need for it," replied the carpenter, "the gate is fine as it is. I already did all the necessary work to it." The farmer took no notice, but lifting his axe he slashed and hacked at the gate until it was completely spoiled. "Look what you have done!" cried the carpenter. "You have ruined my work!" "Yes," said the farmer, "and that is exactly what you are trying to do. You are seeking to nullify the finished work of Christ by your own miserable additions to it!" We make a mockery of the cross when we think that we should add to what Jesus already did; as if what Jesus did wasn’t enough. “It is finished” means all the OT sacrifices for sins were no longer necessary because Jesus’ sacrifice finished the job. Hebrews 10:11-12. No sacrifice for sins is left. Matt. 27:50-54. The tearing of the curtain represents believers’ access to the Most Holy Place. Heb. 10:17-22. Jesus has liberated us from the repetitive sacrifice for sins. He has allowed us intimate access to God that was formerly allowed only once a year by the priest. Col 2:13-15. The restriction is lifted; the repeated sacrifices are gone-finished. The sting of death is finished through Jesus.