Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Friday, April 3, 2015
It Is Finished - Good Friday - April 3, 2015 - Text: John 19:30
Our text is John 19:30: “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” This is our text.
Words have meaning. Sometimes words have more than one meaning and sometimes the meaning of a word is only understood in the context of the sentence or situation. Words have meaning and when words are translated from one language to another the fullness of the meaning may be missed. With that stated, this evening we want to look closely at one of the words Jesus spoke from the cross, the words, “It is finished.”
It is Good Friday. On Maundy Thursday we witnessed Jesus give us His Holy Supper out of the celebration of the Passover. We witnessed Jesus praying in Gethsemane. We witnessed Jesus being arrested. We witnessed the trials of Jesus through the night. We witnessed Jesus being striped, beaten, spat upon, slapped, and mocked. And now we witness Jesus nailed to the cross, suffering the punishment for our sins. In the four Gospels we hear a total of seven recorded statements of Jesus from the cross. This evening we will address the sixth statement.
In the fifth statement from the cross Jesus said, “I thirst.” In response to Jesus statement, implying a request from something to drink we are told that a sponge with sour wine or wine vinegar or gall were given to Him. The intent of this mixture was to relieve some of the pain and suffering and we might note that it was not until the end that Jesus made this request, indeed not until He had suffered the complete suffering.
After the sponge touched Jesus’ lips He said, “It is finished.” It is finished. What is finished? Did He finish drinking what was on the sponge? What did He finish? Is there more to these words of Jesus than simply what we are offered in our English Bible? Have these words lost something in the translation?
What is the meaning of the word “finished?” The word that is translated as “finished” in English is the Greek word τετέλεσται tetelestai and means “end, complete, fulfill, conclusion, finish, obligation, even toll or tax. The goal, result, or conclusion of the word can have such senses as forever, completely, perfectly, to the limit, and denotes something that has been completed continually and constantly or in full measure.” What a great word Jesus uses on the cross as He ends His suffering and is ready to be received into His Father’s house.
When Jesus says, “It is finished,” He was not simply speaking about the fact that He had finished drinking whatever had been given to Him to drink. Certainly He wet His lips and sucked in some of what was on the sponge so that He would be able to speak and speak more clearly, after all, He had been suffering, hanging, suffocating and dehydrating on the cross from some time and certainly He was finished with the sponge.
More importantly than simply being finished sucking from the sponge is the fact that Jesus was speaking in context of His goal for coming to earth, to live for us, obey all God’s laws perfectly, to fulfill all the prophecies concerning the Messiah, the Christ perfectly to take our sins upon Himself, to suffer and to completely pay for, to perfectly in full measure pay the price for sin. Indeed when Jesus announces “It is finished,” the whole of His intervening in human history, the salvation of all mankind was complete, finished.
What does this mean? It is said that when someone was put in jail for a debt, the list of debts was posted beside the person’s cell. As each debt was paid it was marked, tetelestai, finished. Now understand, the debt was paid, not by the person who was in jail and owed the debt, but by someone on the outside, someone who did not owe a debt and could therefore pay the debt.
We owe a great debt, indeed we owe our very lives. We are conceived and born in sin. We daily sin much in thought, word and deed. We sin sins of omission, not doing what we should be doing and commission, doing what we should not be doing. As in the parable of the unforgiving servant, someone may owe us for a sin against us, but our debt before God is millions times greater as we owe the complete price for our sins, death, eternal spiritual death. And we cannot pay our own debt because we owe such a large debt. We are trapped in the prison of our own sin and cannot pay our debt.
By faith in Jesus, faith given to us, Jesus took our debt. Jesus comes from outside of us. He owes no debt and so He was able to pay our debt. Jesus does it all for us and gives it all to us. Jesus gives us faith which He gives through the very means He has given to give us faith. He gives us faith through the waters of Holy Baptism. He gives and strengthens us in faith through His Holy Word. He gives us forgiveness of sins and eternal life through confession and absolution. He gives us forgiveness of sins and strengthening of faith through His Holy Supper wherein He gives us His body to eat and His blood to drink so that we participate in His sacrifice for us on the cross.
Jesus paid the complete price for our sin, eternal spiritual death, for us, for all people of all places of all times. Jesus did not simply suffer and die to pay the price for some sins. Jesus did not suffer and die to pay half the price and ask us to pay the other half. To say or even imply that there is something else necessary on our part to complete what Jesus did on the cross is to say that what Jesus did was not enough. In other words, to say there is something we must do to earn, deserve or get the forgiveness Jesus earned or to add to the forgiveness He earned is simply to say what He did was not enough and simply erodes the gifts and grace He gives to us. Indeed, Jesus paid the price completely and He gives us the forgiveness He earned unconditionally, meaning with no effort or doing on our part. He gives and we are given to.
Jesus completed the punishment so that the debt was paid in full, and thus He speaks boldly and clearly from the cross, before He gives up His spirit to return to heaven, “it is finished.” Nothing more needs to be done. The price for sin, for our sin, for all our sin has been paid. We use accounting terms such as being reconciled meaning that there is a balance between what is owed and what is paid. Jesus has reconciled our account. He has paid what we owe because we cannot. We use words like redeem meaning to trade something for something else. Jesus redeemed us, He traded His perfect life, death and resurrection for our imperfect life, death and resurrection. By the faith that He gives to us His perfect life becomes our perfect life, His perfect obedience becomes our perfect obedience, His perfect death becomes our perfect death. And His perfect resurrection will become our perfect resurrection when we will be raised from the dead to live with Him in heaven for eternity.
Jesus gives us the forgiveness He earned and with forgiveness, we know we have life and salvation. God’s demand is perfection. We are born in imperfection. Jesus was born in perfection. God’s demand is perfection, we disobey the laws of God continually every day. Jesus was completely obedient even to the point of death. What we cannot do Jesus did for us in our place. Because we are completely spiritually sinful and bankrupt, Jesus gave His all, His life, His death for us in our place, paying the price, earning forgiveness and giving that forgiveness to us, completely free with no charge for us.
The price for sin is death, eternal spiritual death, hell. Jesus paid the price of hell for us in our place because of His great love for us and He gives this forgiveness, freely with no strings or requirements attached. He gives and we are given to. He paid the price so that it was finished. Nothing more needs to be done, He had done it all, completed it all, fulfilled it all, for us and He gives it to us. To Him be the glory for Jesus’ sake. Amen.