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It is Finished

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This evening are you starter or a finisher.  I am convinced what people break down into two groups; starters and finishers.

Some people are great starters; they are great out of the gate.  They charge into a new project filled with fire and enthusiasm.  But, after the first burst of energy fades, after the luster dulls, and they loss their zest, and the project is dropped.

Then there are the finishers.  Finishers stay at it.  They start with the same excitement.  But when the work on the projects becomes dull, they never give up.  They keep plodding away.  The fever may be gone, but they keep going.

I confess, I am a starter.  You can tell us starters from finishers.

Starters have begun many projects, and they litter their lives with half completed endeavors.  Their juke room is filled with a lot of great starts.

Finishers are different.  First, they don’t take on an assignment unless they are sure they can complete it.  Instead of half completed endeavors, the have completed projects.  Their juke room, what juke rooms?  They even have organized juke rooms. 

Therefore which are you, a starter or a finishers?

Where I am starter, Jesus was a finisher.

Listen to what John says about Jesus.

28 Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 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. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Notice with me not once, but twice in this brief picture of Jesus on the cross, we see Jesus as a finisher.

Look at verse 28 it says “all was now complete.”  Now look down at verse 30, that famous line that has been the foundation for numerous Easter cantatas, “It is finished.”

Both of these are the same words in the Greek, “teleo.”  Besides completed and finished, it also means preformed, accomplished, and perfected.  As Jesus hung suspended between heaven and earth, he saw all his work was complete.  His death on the cross was his final act of obedience.   Let me see if I can example.

As you know Crucifixion probably had its origin among the Persians and Phoenicians. This type of capital punishment was reserved for the lowest kind of criminals, particularly those who promoted rebellion against Rome. Today, we think of the cross as a symbol of glory and victory.  We proudly but in Pilate’s day, the cross stood for the lowest kind of rejection, shame, and suffering.

It was customary for the criminal to carry his cross, or at least the crossbeam, from the hall of judgment to the place of execution. Jesus began the mile-long walk carrying His cross, but He was relieved by Simon of Cyrene whom the Roman soldiers “drafted” to do the job. We do not know why Jesus was relieved of this burden; the Scriptures are silent. Was He too weak from the scourgings to carry the load? Was His weakness holding back the procession at a time when the Jews were anxious to get it over with so they could celebrate their Passover Sabbath? One thing is sure: the bearing of the cross was a mark of guilt; and Jesus was not guilty, WE ARE THE GUILTY ONES.

It was also required that the criminal wear a placard announcing his crime. The only announcement recorded in the Gospels is the one that Pilate wrote: “This is Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews.” The chief priests protested the title, but Pilate refused to change it. It was his final thrust against the Jewish religious establishment. He knew that the priests and elders envied Jesus and wanted to destroy Him (Matt. 27:18). A shrewd politician like Pilate well understood the workings of the Jewish religious establishment. He knew that his placard would insult and embarrass them, and that is exactly what he wanted.

The fact that this title was written in Hebrew (Aramaic), Greek, and Latin is significant. For one thing, it shows that our Lord was crucified in a place where many peoples and nations met, a cosmopolitan place. Hebrew is the language of religion, Greek of philosophy, and Latin of law; and all three combined to crucify the Son of God. But what He did on the cross, He did for the whole world!

 What he did on the cross he did for you and me.

That is why, as writhed there in pain and suffering, he mustered his fading strength and cried out, “It is Finished.”

The word finished was used by various people in everyday life in those days. A servant would use it when reporting to his or her master, “I have completed the work assigned to me”.

It was this same report Jesus gave to His father in John 17:4.  Listen to His prayer, “4 I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.”

Teleo was used by a priest examined an animal for sacrifice and found it faultless, this word would apply. Jesus, of course, is the perfect Lamb of God, without spot or blemish.

An artist who completed a picture, or a writer a manuscript, he or she might say, “It is finished!” The death of Jesus on the cross “completes the picture” that God had been painting, the story that He had been writing, for centuries. The picture that began before the earth was formed, was now complete. 

Perhaps the most meaningful understanding of finished 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. None of the Old Testament sacrifices could take away sins; their blood only covered sin. But the Lamb of God shed His blood, and that blood can take away the our sins.

Even John saw this, he John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

            The Hebrew writer puts it this way.  P.

         4 For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. 25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

There was once a rather unconventional evangelist named Alexander Wooten, who was approached by a flippant young man who asked, “What must I do to be saved?”

“It’s too late!” Wooten replied, and went about his work.

The young man became alarmed. “Do you mean that it’s too late for me to be saved?” he asked. “Is there nothing I can do?”

“Too late!” said Wooten. “It’s already been done! The only thing you can do is believe.”

            This Good Friday, we gather, some of us, are great starters, some of us are practices finishers.  But weather we are starters or finishers, does not really matter, because nothing we have done, or can do we bring us salvation.

            For all of us it is too late.  But the good news is everything for our salvation has been already been done.  Listen, can hear it, the voice of our angushied Lord crying out from the cross.  Sound forth through the centuries.  A promise for you and for me.



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