Faithlife Sermons

It Is Finished


Introduction & Review

Atonement - peace with God - reconciliation w/ our Creator
Isaiah 53:5 ESV
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
Substitute, sacrifice // justification - righteous by faith // forgiveness of sins // adoption - children of God

I. See the Messiah enthroned (13-22)

Jesus bears his own cross to the gate, at which point the soldiers have Simon of Cyrene take over (per - he was coming into town). Part of the punishment - to bear your own cross - but exhaustion, injury, loss of blood made it necessary to pass off the task to Simon.
Crucified “between two others” - numbered w/ the transgressors ()
Pilate’s inscription - Jesus the Nazarene the King of the Jews (v19).
“Many read this description” - crucifixions were public spectacles, people were attracted by compassion, sorrow, morbid curiosity, cruelty. Also, deliberately “in the way” if you were coming/going from the city. The sign written in the language of the Jews (Aramaic), the legal language of Rome (Latin), and the common language of the province (Greek). Literacy widespread. Crosses were typically not very tall, would have been easy to read - like a street sign from the road.
Why did Pilate write this? The chief priests wanted to be distanced from Jesus’s claim - after all, they had just shouted “We have no king but Caesar” in 19:15.
Pilate, in 18:33-38, asked him point-blank: Are you the King of the Jews? Jesus says, “My kingdom is not of this world.” Pilate knows: This man is not the earthly political threat that the chief priests claim. But when he tries to release him, they say
John 19:12 ESV
12 From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.”
And that’s where it all changes - Pilate knows Jesus is not guilty of their charges. But they have framed it in terms of treason.
We know from the writings of other first-century authors that Pontius Pilate was a brutal, vindictive governor. This is not a man who gets backed into a corner and forgets it. He gets his revenge.
He hangs the title “King of the Jews” on this man whom the Jews had rejected. When they protest, Pilate refuses to change the title. Not because it was true, but precisely because it upset them. Pettiness was Pilate’s specialty.
Imagine what message he sent with that title. Pilate says, “Your king is pathetic. A mockery." Kings and monarchs have always been symbolic of the people they rule. Pharaoh represents the might of Egypt. Queen Elizabeth II represents the strength and stability of the British people. In ancient Israel, David was a picture of his people - a reminder that just as he was a man after God’s own heart, Israel was called to be the same. And the wicked kings of Israel showed how far Israel fell into sin.
Pilate now says to these chief priests and Pharisees, “This is what I think of you, too."
But what Pilate intended as an insult, God made into a decree of coronation. Pilate wrote it in three languages to shame every Jew in Jerusalem, expecting the joke would die with Jesus.
But what he wrote on one wooden plaque in one city has now been proclaimed in books, and letters, and articles, and songs, and Facebook posts, and emails, from one end of the globe to the other without ceasing for 2000 years. Jesus is Lord. Jesus is King. The Messiah. The King of the Jews.
And what Pilate wrote in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek has been declared in English, and Spanish, and Amharic, and French, and Japanese, and Chinese, and Russian. The name of Jesus outlived the languages of Aramaic and Latin. Missionaries for generations have labored in dozens and dozens of people groups without written languages, to develop writing systems for the first time, so that God’s Word and the proclamation of Jesus’s Lordship could be proclaimed to the ends of the earth.
The slogans of Rome in Pilate’s day were “Roma Aeterna” - Rome is eternal - and “Roma invicta” - Rome is unconquered. But the man on the cross has outlived Rome.
And this is where we see God’s hand at work in the hand of Pilate. What Pilate intended as an insult, God intended as an unintentional truth. Don’t let anyone tell you God doesn’t understand irony. The words, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews,” proclaim for all eternity that the cross, that instrument of punishment and humiliation, has become a symbol of Christ’s kingship.
At his coronation, a king climbs up the steps of a royal dais, a platform, and takes his seat on his throne for everyone to see. Here, Jesus climbed the hill and took His place - See the Messiah, enthroned - the symbol of His kingship is not earthly power, but humility. One day earlier, in , Jesus recognized that the time had come for Him to lay down His life for us, and He said to His disciples,
John 12:27–28 ESV
27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”
And then Jesus said,
john 12.27
John 12:31–32 ESV
31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
APPLY: This was Jesus’s mission. This was the purpose of the Messiah. The entire Old Testament had pointed forward to this one moment: The Cross is the King’s seat, set upon the dais the Father had prepared.
We must look at the words Pilate wrote and decide whether we will take them as Pilate intended, or as God intended. Do we see in Jesus the triumphant Messiah, the King of Israel, the fulfillment of God’s promises to us, or do we see in Him a joke, a slap in the face, a mere tool in an empire’s oppressive hand?
The course of history has demonstrated the truth. 2000 years later, we still look back upon the death and resurrection of Jesus as the turning point of history. No other event has so shaped the world. No other man's death has transformed the world like His death. Why is that? Because He is who He claimed to be.
Friends, whether you’ve been a Christian for years or you’re still investigating the message of Jesus, consider the wonder of God’s plan for our salvation, that in such an unexpected and astonishing way, He would turn the insults and mockery of Pilate, and the chief priests and crowds, on their heads. That it was precisely because the Messiah’s mission was to be our atonement, our substitute, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, that what looked like defeat turned out to be triumph; that the taunts turned out to be true. He is the King of Kings. And here He is, enthroned. Pilate and the chief priests thought the Cross would end His story, but look again at history and be amazed: We bow to Him because of the Cross.
on the lips of every Christian for 2000 years. Jesus, the King of the Jews. Jesus, the Christ. It’s

II. See the Servant give all (23-27)

Notice what happens next, in verses 23-27. The four soldiers divide Jesus’s garments, and the four women stand nearby. The soldiers took for granted that the condemned man’s clothing now belonged to them, but what they didn’t know was that even this mundane detail was known, expected, and foretold by Jesus. The night before, as Jesus ate the Passover meal with his disciples, tells us that he rose from supper, laid aside his garments, tied a towel around his waist, and washed his disciples’ feet. They called Him teacher, Rabbi, Lord, master, but here, stripped to his undergarment, He sat at their feet as a servant. His lordship was like no other.
At the time, Jesus told his disciples,
John 13:7 ESV
7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”
john 13.
His lordship was like no other. This King reigned in humility and service.
Now, on the cross, he has given up his garments again in order to serve, and to wash his disciples clean. The soldiers believed they took Jesus’ clothes, just as they believed they took his life. But Jesus walked to Jerusalem in order to lay down His life and take it up again. No one took from Him what He had not decided to give. He served even His captors.
The four women stood by, including three women named Mary. His mother, the woman named Mary wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. Jesus’s mother seems to have been widowed by this point - her husband Joseph is not mentioned during Jesus’s adulthood. And her other sons do not yet believe in their brother’s mission. But Jesus sees John, the son of Zebedee, the disciple who is never named in the gospel that he wrote. John and Peter follow at a distance when Jesus is arrested and taken to the house of the high priest. But Peter has left, ashamed of his own denials of his Lord. Only John and these women stand nearby.
And Jesus gives another gift. His mother will not be left without a guardian. He says to her, “Woman, behold, your son!” and to John he says, “Behold, your mother.”
Here, we see Jesus, the Servant, giving to the very end.
ILLUST: There are many examples throughout history of people we would call Great Men and Women, who sought to do mighty things for humanity with a capital H, but never cared about people as individuals. Historian Paul Johnson authored a riveting book called Intellectuals documenting this fact.
Concerning Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the 18th century Genevan-French philosopher, Johnson says, “Rousseau believed he had a unique love for humanity and had been endowed with unprecedented gifts and insights to increase its felicity… but loving as he did humanity in general, he developed a strong propensity for quarrelling with human beings in particular.”
In another chapter, he recounts a letter written to Russian literary giant Leo Tolstoy, by his wife: “You… may not especially love your own children, but we simple mortals are neither able nor wish... to justify a lack of love for a person by professing some love... for the whole world.”
Great Men are not often good men.
But Jesus cared here in His agony both for the salvation of the world and the comfort of his mother. The individual is never an afterthought to Him. When you look at your own life, do you imagine yourself to be insignificant? Unimportant? Do you look at the so-called Great Men of our generation and feel somehow less?
Maybe sometimes you feel like a cog in a machine. Maybe in the midst of this pandemic you feel less like a cog in a machine and more like a hamster in an aquarium, set alongside billions of other hamsters, all looking out at the world and stuck in your glass box.
But you are the apple of His eye. Mary, the mother of Jesus, she didn’t write down a word that we know of. She didn’t travel the world, she didn’t give TED Talks, as far as we know she didn’t preach in front of crowds telling people by the hundreds about her son’s death and resurrection. The only thing the Bible tells us about Mary is that she considered herself God’s servant.
And God served her. The Son of God cared for her, individually.
And He cares for you. The whole course of history is the unfolding of His plan, and to Him, you are no cog in a machine, you are not a number, you’re not abandoned to figure it all out yourself. Your life matters, and the details matter to Him. The Messiah, the Servant, the King knows your needs as well as He knew Mary’s. Look at the cross and see the Servant who gave all - not just for a nameless world, but for His beloved ones. Every single one, named, precious, and here in the Cross, redeemed.

III. See the King victorious (28-30)

Look at verses 28-30. This is our third point and the climax of today’s text, so I will read it directly. <<READ 28-30>>
At His arrival at the place of crucifixion, tells us that someone offered him wine mixed with myrrh, a sedative, to ease his suffering, but Jesus would not take it. Now, knowing that the purpose of His crucifixion had been fulfilled, He speaks, knowing that he would now be given something else. The text says “sour wine.” It was the cheap beverage used by soldiers and laborers to keep their strength up in the hot sun. So we see two kinds of wine bracket the crucifixion. He would not take the sedative, but now he accepts the sour wine, fulfilling
Psalm 69:21 ESV
21 They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.
And then, verse 30 tells us that Jesus said, “It is finished.”
A single word in Greek - Tetelestai. But what was finished?
He doesn’t say I am finished. He says it is finished.
He also does not say that it is over. A race can be over without it being completed.
This is a word that points to the accomplishment of a goal, the completion of a mission, the fulfillment of a promise.
What is finished? The cross work of Christ has come to its completion. His purpose and God’s promise has been fulfilled.
Several weeks ago, when we began our series with , we saw in
Isaiah 52:13 ESV
13 Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted.
I mentioned then that the word “wisely” there doesn’t just mean the Lord’s servant would be smart or clever - for him to act wisely meant that He would do exactly what needed to be done to accomplish His goal.
Now Jesus says that this is exactly what has happened. He has acted wisely, He has fulfilled His charge, and it is complete. Finished.
John 17:4 ESV
4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.
And what did the Father give the Son to do?
Mark 10:45 ESV
45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Less than 24 hours before He said “It is finished,” Jesus said this:
Luke 22:20 ESV
20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
Luke 22:20–22 ESV
20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. 21 But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. 22 For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!”
Matthew 26:28 ESV
28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
John 6:35 ESV
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
John 6:51–58 ESV
51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” 52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”
What has been accomplished here? The ransom has been paid. The New Covenant between God and man has been established. The Lamb of God has taken away the sins of the world. In Christ, God has reconciled the world to Himself. Atonement is accomplished. He has crushed the work of Satan. He has defeated sin. He has freed us from slavery to sin and death.
And pay careful attention to this fact: He has not merely made salvation possible in His death. He has not merely made provision for salvation. He has not just opened the door to life. It is finished. When you put your faith in Jesus Christ and cross over from death to life, you are not finishing what He started for you. You are receiving the finished work that He accomplished for you. This is one of the great and mysterious truths we find in the Gospel: That Jesus Christ did not die for the possibility of salvation, but to accomplish it. And that means that He knew exactly who His death purchased.
The Good News of Jesus Christ calls to you and to every person indiscriminately that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. And every single one who responds in faith will find that they were already known and beloved by God from all eternity.
It is finished, Jesus cried, and bowed His head and gave up His spirit.
See in the death of Christ the death of death. See the King, victorious.
And Jesus, now, can rest.
Matthew 8:20 ESV
20 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
But after crying “It is finished,” John uses the same language - the Son of Man lays down his weary head.
In , the LORD creates all that is. By His Word, he speaks the world, the heavens, light, and every creature into existence. On the seventh day, Genesis tells us, God rested from His works. All was finished.
Here, on the evening of the sixth day, the work of salvation is done, and the Word of God made flesh says, “It is finished,” and as the sixth day turns to the seventh, he gives up his spirit and lays down his head to take his rest.

IV. See the Fountain opened (31-37)

Look at verses 31-37. The ancient writers tell us that victims of crucifixion regularly took days to die, but the Jews objected with fierceness to dead bodies remaining on crosses after sundown, but especially on the evening before the Sabbath. Great wooden hammers were used to break the legs of crucified victims, which caused the victims to die of shock and asphyxiation as they were no longer able to support their own weight and hung helpless from their wrists. Our text tells us that Jesus was spared this treatment because he had already died.
John is intent on us knowing the strange thing that happened:
John 19:34 ESV
34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.
Then John points us back to , written 500 years earlier:
Zechariah 12:10 ESV
10 “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.
And just a few words later,
Zechariah 12:10–13:1 ESV
10 “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn. 11 On that day the mourning in Jerusalem will be as great as the mourning for Hadad-rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. 12 The land shall mourn, each family by itself: the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves; 13 the family of the house of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the Shimeites by itself, and their wives by themselves; 14 and all the families that are left, each by itself, and their wives by themselves. 1 “On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.
Zechariah 13:1 ESV
1 “On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.
zech 12:10
zech 12.10=13.1
Why did blood and water pour out when Jesus’ side was pierced? Here is the sign to us that the blood of Jesus is the fountain in which our sins are washed away.
John tells us in chapter 20:31 that he wrote down these particular events from the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus so that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing we may have life in his name.
So we come to the question:

Q. What do you see, when you look upon Him who was pierced for our sins?

The fountain has been opened. The covenant has been enacted in His blood.
See Him enthroned and praise Him for the gift that He has given you. Marvel at His victory, and see the fountain of grace and mercy.
What do you see when you look upon Him?
There is no question more important than this one.
This week, as we prepare for Easter, the world will be reminded, perhaps like never before, why the holiday exists in the first place. Egg hunts won’t mean much this time. In Wal-Mart yesterday, I saw people wandering down aisles with Easter baskets on one side and empty shelves on the other. Nearly everyone I saw had some sort of mask covering their mouth and nose.
We’ve seen a new meaning for the term March Madness.
More than ever, you see the need for resurrection. People are shuffling around like they’ve just woken up. I think they have. They’ve woken up from the false promise of invincibility. Maybe you’ve figured you had plenty of time to distract yourself from the issues of life and death, plenty of time to fill with everything else, but now you’re awake, and you realize tomorrow was never as sure as you thought it was.
Maybe you’ve been flipping through channels or searching Netflix for a new distraction, the wine-mixed-with-myrrh of binge-watching. But suddenly, binge-watching feels empty.
Here’s the secret: It always was.
But if you will look upon Him, if you will hear His words, “It is finished,” and believe in His Name, you will be given a truly indestructible life. This is no promise of health and wealth. It’s no promise that a disease will pass you by. It’s a promise that no disease, no poverty, no boredom, no fear can take his life away from you.
Atonement is accomplished in the death of Jesus. It is finished. And no one can take away what He gives.
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