Summary: With his perfect life and innocent death, Christ won for us eternal life in heaven
“It is finished.” The last words of our Lord Jesus Christ before he died. It is finished... What is finished? Is Christ giving up? Are these words of defeat? No, when Christ says the words “it is finished,” he is announcing our victory. In Greek, the original language of the New Testament, this phrase is only one word, the word that in Jesus’ day was stamped on debts when they were “paid in full.” With his last breath, our Lord announces to us the victory that we have in him. “It is finished”; “Paid in full”; “The debt of your sins is gone forever.” And so, today in our meditation, we are going to talk about these words of comfort and we are going to see exactly how Jesus paid our debt. 1) He paid our debt with his perfect life 2) He paid our debt with his innocent.
I. He paid our debt with his perfect life
When my credit card bill comes each month, I get a little nervous. How could we have accumulated such a debt? So, I check the bill to see where all our money went. In the same way, on this Good Friday, in which we are remembering how Christ paid our debt, I think that it would be a good idea “check our bill” to see how we accumulated such a debt. Let’s take a look...
In part we inherited the debt from our parents, i.e. we inherit a sinful nature, original sin. As King David tells us in Psalm 51, from the very moment of our conception we were sinful. But before we go and blame our parents for our debts, let’s see the charges that we have added to our bill. Let’s see: just this month, I have lied on more than one occasion; I have dishonored the government, God’s representative; I have been lazy; I have gossiped; I have had lustful thoughts. After 26 years of accumulation, I have a monstrous list of charges. So, how’s your bill?
And the Bible tells us very clearly what we owe because of this debt. “The wages of sin is death.” And it’s not just talking here about physical death. It’s talking about eternal death in hell. When we start to think that our sins really aren’t that bad, that they are just white lies or just thoughts that don’t hurt anybody, look at the cross. Look at the cross, because there you will see the price of your white lies, the price of your sins that “never hurt anyone.”
But wait, before we talk about the cross, we need to talk about Jesus’ life, because he began to pay our sins long before he was nailed to a cross. Jesus was born and lived as our substitute under God’s law. He lived the perfect life that we have not. Remember a few weeks ago when we talked about God’s law? Remember what one word summarizes God’s law? Love. And Christ showed his perfect love until his very last breath. When the soldiers nailed him to the cross, what did Jesus say? “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And when the thief on the cross asked Jesus to remember him when he entered in paradise, how did Jesus respond. “Today you will be with me in paradise.” And as we see here in our text for this evening, Jesus loved and respected his mother to the very end, asking his beloved disciple John to care for her.
What’s even more, Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies of the Old Testament to assure us that he is the Messiah, the promised Savior of the world. He fulfilled all of Isaiah’s prophecies that we heard in tonight’s first reading: he was despised and mocked; he was crucified with criminals; he was buried in the tomb of a rich man. Or how about the Psalm of the day, Psalm 22? Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The soldiers cast lots for his clothing. Not one of his bones were broken. There really should be no doubt about who Jesus is. With his perfect life, he came to be our substitute under God’s law. He did what we cannot. He showed perfect love every second, every minute of his life, and with his death he shows us what love really is. With his death he paid the debt of our sins...
II. He paid our debt with his innocent death
I’ve got a question. Who here likes horror movies? How about the ones with Freddy or Jason? Or do you prefer ones like “Scream”? One thing that runs consistently through all those movies is the violence, right? The blood and death. The truth is that when you watch a lot of horror movies you become almost immune to the blood and violence. It doesn’t even bother you. Well, something like that happened with the Jews of the Old Testament. They had to offer sacrifices every day. In front of the temple where they offered the sacrifices was a bloody and smelly place. God had commanded daily sacrifices so that his people would have a very vivid illustration of the cost of their sins. “The wages of sin is death.” It is necessary to shed blood to pay for sins. But, just as we saw with those who watch a lot of horror movies, the people came to be numb to the blood and the meaning of these sacrifices. They would offer them up without even thinking about what they were doing.