- It Is Finished
- John 19:28-30
- Lyndol Loyd March 26, 2017
We’ve been looking at the things that Jesus said as he was hanging on the cross and finding out how these incredibly deep, theological statements impact our lives still today.
To set things up for today’s statement I think it is important that I remind us of the context. If you’ll remember, shortly before the cross Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane. The Bible says that He was in such agony that, literally, drops of blood were coming from His brow, as he thought ahead to what He would experience on the cross.
Sure enough, it was worse than any of us could ever imagine. If you know much about what was about to happen, the Roman soldiers beat Him senseless, after whipping him thirty-nine times across His back, to where, very likely, His internal organs would be exposed. They beat Him again and again in the face. They mocked Him, they spit on Him, the creation abusing the Creator. They took a crown of the sharpest thorns you could ever imagine. Thorns, really long, pushing it down across His brow so that blood streamed across His bruised face, which barely even looked human at all. The soldiers then took long stakes and drove them through His wrists and through His ankles and suspended Him midair on a cross.
We pick up the story in John 19:28, and here’s what the Bible says: “Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.’”
Now, why did He say that? Well, it’s interesting that in the Old Testament, there are a lot of different prophecies about what would take place in His life and there was one that was yet to be fulfilled. That was, that they would give Him vinegar to drink. By faith, or maybe even with the knowledge of God, we are not sure, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.”
This prophecy was fulfilled, John 19:29-30: “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. When He had received the drink, Jesus said, (the three most amazing words that we could ever imagine) ‘It is finished.’”
Could I get all of you to say those three words. One, two, three say, “It is finished!” Imagine the moment when they finally fulfilled that very last, unfulfilled prophecy, and Jesus, maybe in a triumphant cry, or maybe in a private whisper, declared before God, “It’s done! We did it! It’s finished! Everything that you sent me to do, God; it’s done!” Jesus said, “It is finished.”
The Bible goes on to say: “With that, He bowed His head and gave up His Spirit.” John 19:30
He did what God sent Him to do. The words, “It is finished”, actually come from one Greek word, it’s the word, tetelestai (te-tel-les’-ty). This word means: To end, to complete, to execute, or to discharge a debt.
Jesus said, “tetelestai.” I did it, I paid the debt, I finished it. I discharged it, I did precisely what you sent me to do. This one little word has so much rich meaning.
You may say, “Well, what did He finish?” So many things. Think about the many prophesies which had been fulfilled. In fact, in the Old Testament, I will just list a few of the prophesies that were uttered literally hundreds of years before this event that were fulfilled:
- Amos prophesied that darkness will befall the land and it was fulfilled
- Isaiah said Jesus would one day be rejected, and He was
- Psalms said He would be betrayed and mocked
- Zachariah said He would be forsaken by His friends, and He was
- Isaiah said He would pray for His persecutors and He did, and He would be crucified by thieves and He was
- Psalms said, He would cry out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And He did
- It was also prophesied that they would give Him vinegar to drink and He said, “I am thirsty” and he did.
“It’s finished.” All of those prophesies had been finished. What else was finished? Well, Satan’s plan had been thwarted since the beginning of the birth of Jesus. Satan did everything he could to take Jesus off of the track to the cross, but Jesus finished it. He completed what God sent Him to do. The best news for all of us is that Jesus finished the work. That’s the good news.
The bad news though, even though He finished, you haven’t. That’s right, none of us have. If you are alive today, you have unfinished business. There is more that God wants to do in and through you. We all have unfinished business.
In Revelation 3:1-2, I want you to let this Scripture sink into your spirit, and even disturb you if you find yourself in it just a bit. Look at what Scripture says: “I know your deeds; you have a reputation for being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God.”
We have unfinished business. We all do. I’ll never forget the day that my own unfinished business rose up and bit me. One day my parents called to let me know that my old high school teacher and coach had died in a tragic accident. While I didn’t say it out loud, the thought in my mind was, “He finally got what he deserved.” After getting off the phone I was a little bit taken back by my response to the news. I remember thinking “Where did that come from?” and what I discovered was that although I had been out of high school over twenty years at that point I had never forgiven him for some of things he did and said to me. I had preached countless sermons about forgiveness, but I carried unforgiveness in my heart.
Unknowingly, I had become the personification of that scripture passage. I had a reputation for being alive in Christ, but in me resided something that needed to die. I had unfinished business. Having an awakening about this, my challenge became to live the rest of my life in such a way that the outward passion I have for Jesus Christ is matched by the inward character I have in Christ. That was my unfinished business.
May I ask, what’s yours? What is it? In fact, maybe you want to take the edge of your bulletin and quickly jot down what comes to mind for you as a way of expressing your own unfinished business. What is the first thing that comes into your mind?
It may not be anything like me, but maybe it’s something that God has burdened you to do, created you to do, that you have not seen through. Maybe your unfinished business is to forgive someone. Maybe your unfinished business is to get out of debt. Maybe your unfinished business is to share the love of Christ with someone you love who is far from Him.
In the next few moments, what I want to ask you to do, as God by His Spirit reveals His Word, I want you to let Him speak to your heart in light of what you just wrote down.
Why? Because every single day that God blesses us with another opportunity to live is another opportunity to take one step closer to the purpose that He has given you.
Jesus finished well. Let’s be honest, we live in a culture where people start many, many things and finish few. How do we, like Christ, finish well, when so few of us finish anything? I want to give you a couple of thoughts today, and just write these down as we seek God. God, how can I finish strong? The first thought is this:
1.) Make a commitment
Now, I see some of your eyes already saying, “I’ve done that! I’ve made a commitment!” Have you? I think in today’s culture we have a skewed view of what commitment really looks like.
Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 8:11; “Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means.”
I believe our culture commitment is defined by merely eager willingness, but that isn’t commitment. You commit, “I am going to lose weight”, but friends, that is only an eager willingness because there is still Double-Stuf Oreos in your pantry! Too close to home, isn’t it? It isn’t commitment until you change and you complete what your eager willingness was about.
In Spring of 1519, Hernando Cortez received permission from the Governor of Spain to take eleven ships, and seven hundred men to discover a new world. They sailed with eager willingness to expand the territories of Spain, and to increase the treasures that they would find in this new land. When they landed in Vera Cruz their eager willingness waned quickly. Because what they discovered was the most savage, violent natives were there and they were not prepared. All of a sudden the crew began to descent. They began to talk to one another, “I want to go home! I don’t like the food! I don’t like somebody chasing me trying to cut off my head! I want to go home!” Their eager willingness was gone. When Cortez got wind of the descent, he gave an order to one of his crew, a simple order; burn the ships. And they did. That is commitment.
Commitment is taking your passionate desire to do something, drawing a line in the stand, stepping across that line and there is no turning back. That is how we finish strong, when we commit with that kind of resolve. That’s exactly what we see personified by our Savior, Jesus.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, as we mentioned, He was battling over what He knew would happen. Scripture says that He was literally sweating blood. You hear it in His words. In Luke 22:42, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me…”
“Father, if there is any other way, please!” Then, something changed. I believe this is the moment where our Savior stepped across the line and there was no turning back, and He says:
“…yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke22:42 In that moment, it was on. If we are going to finish strong, we start with commitment, by making a commitment with great resolve.
2.) Take the next step
After that, we are going to take the next step, and after that we are going to take the next step after that. Why? Because the chasm between where we live today and our present reality is so overwhelming to where God wants us.
That’s why most people don’t finish. They look at this huge chasm that separates where we are from where God wants us to the fulfillment of the vision. You say, “I can’t do that!” Yeah, you can! With one step, after another step, after another step.
Like Bill Murray in that old movie “What About Bob?”, we are going to take what? Baby steps to the elevator, baby steps out of my addiction; we are going to take baby steps to the promise of what God has called us to do and who He has called us to be. That is why, in Psalm 119:105, it says: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”
It’s in this place that the beauty of God’s Word comes alive, because He doesn’t give us enough revelation to go the whole way. We can’t see that far, but I can see just enough to take one more step.
Maybe you find yourself a million miles away from the work that God started in you when you became one of his followers. In the goodness of his grace God’s word for you today is that you just need to take a step.
Maybe it is a step of confession and getting honest with yourself. Maybe the next step is to be honest with those closest to you. Maybe the step is to invite some kind of accountability in your life where you surround yourself with others who can help you to keep walking toward God’s best in your life.
Maybe your step is to work on rebuilding trust. Maybe you let God forgive you. Maybe you forgive yourself. You see, each time you take a step you take yourself out of the darkness you are in and into the light of God. You become healed
What is your next step? You don’t have to map out the whole thing. God won’t let you even if you wanted to. What is your next step though? Is it to write the letter? Is it to cut up the credit cards? Is it to make the phone call? Is it to fill out your resume? Maybe your next step is to forgive. Maybe your next step is going to happen today when you surrender your life to Christ for the first time. If we are going to finish strong, we are going to commit with great resolve. We are going to take the next step.
For those of us who still have breath in our lungs, who have not yet finished what God has purposed us to finish, let us be encouraged by the truth of God’s Word, in Philippians 1:6 says: “….being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
In 1968, in the Mexico City Olympics, John Steven Aquari from Tanzania, set out for hopes of an Olympic Gold in the 26.2 mile marathon race. Sadly, for him and his country, midway through the race he had a horrible accident; falling to the ground, gashing his knee wide open and dislocating his knee from the joint, certainly keeping him from finishing the race. All of the other runners left him behind and eventually entered into the stadium for the final lap. Over an hour after the race had been run and all of the other runners had already completed, John Steven Aquari shocked the world. When the stadium was mostly empty, this very injured runner, hobbled into the stadium limping and fighting his way to the finishing line. His leg was wraped with a little towel, with blood gushing down, this very brave hero finished a race that virtually everyone else would have quit.
After the race was won, the interviewers asked John, “Why did you do that when no one else would have?” And John said, “My country did not send me 5,000 miles to start a race, but they sent me 5,000 miles to finish it.”
That’s what we are going to do, because we have unfinished business. God is calling us to finish the race.
God did not send you to earth to start a race, He sent you here to finish it. Commit, take the step and finish. How do you do it? When we get to the place where we know that life is not about us. This is what Paul said in Acts 20:24, “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task….”
For Paul it was the task of testifying to the Gospel of grace. Finish your race. If you are still alive, God is not through with you yet. Keep in step with the Spirit, stay close to God and follow His voice. Commit and take the next step so one day, you can stand before Christ in Heaven and say, “Tetelestai, I did what you sent me to do.” And he will say to you, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” Finish the race.