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TEXT: John 19:30
SUBJECT: Last Words #6: It is Finished
God created the world in six days and then He rested. He did not rest because He was tired or lazy but because He was satisfied. He set out to make a world that would reflect the glory of its Maker and that is the world He made. God is not a half-hearted worker putting in a minimal effort and hoping no one will notice. He is a perfectionist who, unlike others who go by that name, really is perfect. On the First Sabbath, He was perfectly content with His work because His work was perfect. He told us so at the end of Genesis 1-
Then God saw everything that He had done and behold, it was very good.
Jesus Christ is the Image of the Invisible God. Whatever else this means, it must mean He reveals God in a way no one and nothing else can. While other things hint at God's wisdom or power or goodness, He reveals them in all of their fullness. To the devout but silly friend who wanted to see the Father, Jesus replied,
Have I been with you so long and yet you have not known me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father!
Our Lord's character is identical to God's character. This means, like His Father, Christ does perfect work, He is satisfied with His work, and He says so in public.
This is what the Sixth Word from the cross is: It is a judgment on the work He came to do.
THE JUDGMENTS OF MEN
In the last eighteen hours of His life our Lord faced one judgment after another. First He stood before the Ruling Counsel of Israel. Then He faced the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate. Next He appeared in King Herod's court. Then He was brought before the people who had come to Jerusalem for Passover. Finally, He went back to Pilate.
All of the trials went against Him. He was not the Messiah-they said-or if He were, He was the wrong kind of Messiah. In either event, the people were not satisfied with His work.
THE JUDGMENT OF CHRIST
But He was.
It is finished does not mean 'it is over', as though He were thinking merely of His life or of His pain. The word, finished, carries the idea of 'accomplished' or 'fulfilled'. He set out to do something, He did it, He was satisfied with what He did, and He said so.
What was finished on the cross? Some say everything pertaining to our salvation. If this is a wonderfully pious thing to say, it is not entirely true. In fact, our Lord had other saving works still to perform. The New Testament underlines four of them. They are (1) His resurrection from the dead, (2) His ascension to God's Right Hand, (3) His outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and (4) His Second Coming. Until these things are done His saving work is not.
What He finished on the cross was His Sacrifice. He went to Mount Calvary-not as a criminal or as a victim or as martyr-but as The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. What does this mean, The Lamb of God? In one place, it stands for His meekness. Like a lamb led to the slaughter He did not open His mouth to protest His death. This is one use of the word, but not the one used here. Here the Lamb of God does not refer to His character but to His work.
LAMBS OF GOD
Animals did a lot of work for Israel. Oxen pulled plows, donkeys carried burdens, horses were ridden, and dogs kept an eye on the sheep. But the most important work animal in Israel was a lamb. A lamb? What can a lamb do for people?
It can die for them.
Twice every day lambs died for the nation, and at Passover, thousands of God's People came to Jerusalem to offer lambs to the Lord and to dine on the roasted meat. The sacrifices did much good for the people. When offered properly and sincerely they won God's favor and brought a bundle of blessings: good health, long life, big families, peace, prosperity, and more.
As good as the sacrifices were, they did not result in the forgiveness of sin, and this means: they did not satisfy the justice of God, they did not free the people from their sin, guilt, and fear, and they did not reconcile them to the Lord.
Because the lambs' work was never complete, it had to be done over and over again. Lambs by the thousands died every year and you if multiply that by the hundreds of years the Temple stood, the sacrifices must have numbered in the tens of millions! But the work was never finished. A New Testament writer hints at the monotony, Hebrews 10:11-
And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices which can never take away sins.
Underline the words: every priest reminds us that thousands of men were in this life of work. The priests stood because their work was never done. They ministered daily and offered repeatedly.
No priest could ever say, It is finished! Because the sacrifices they offered, though good, were not good enough.
THE LAMB OF GOD
The sacrifice our Lord offered to God, however, was good enough! In the passage I referred to a minute ago, the priests were always on their feet and never had a day off from their work. But when Christ offered His sacrifice, what did He do?
He sat down on the right hand of God.
Not because He was tired or lazy, but because He was satisfied.
WHY HE WAS SATISFIED
He was satisfied with His sacrifice because it did what the other sacrifices could not do.
As good as they were, they did not make propitiation. This means they did not appease the wrath of God or take His wrath off of us. But the sacrifice of Christ has done both. Our Lord has saved us from condemnation, both now and in the future, Romans 8:1, II Thessalonians 1:10-
There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.
Jesus delivered us from the wrath to come.
As good as the other sacrifices were they did not redeem. This means they did not free us from the slavery of sin and set us at liberty to serve God. But our Lord's death did. Zacharias hinted at this in his great hymn and the writer of Hebrews spells it out, Luke 2:68,74 and Hebrews 9:14-
Blessed is the Lord God of Israel for He has visited and redeemed His people.to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear.
How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
As good as the other sacrifices were they did not reconcile us to God. By nature, God and men are friends and colleagues you might say. But sin has stained and deformed our nature and now we are born enemies of God and under His wrath. The sacrifices of Israel could not restore our fellowship with God, but the death of Christ did, Romans 5:10-
.When we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son.
If the sacrifice of Christ was designed to reconcile us to God, free us from our sin, and take His wrath off of us, It is finished can only mean: We are reconciled to God, we are freed from our sins, and the wrath of God has been taken off of us.
Note the decisiveness of these words: not may be reconciled, possibly redeemed, and if we're lucky no longer under His wrath. These things are done and they cannot be undone! Ecclesiastes 3:14-
I know that whatever God does it shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, and nothing can be taken from it.
If the sacrifice of Christ is a finished work, believers in Christ cannot be lost.
We can be fools-and often are-but we're not lost fools! Because Jesus died for us and His death fulfilled its mission, which was to satisfy the justice of God, free us from our sin, and put us back into fellowship with the Lord.
If the sacrifice of Christ is a finished work, believers must find their assurance in what He did and not what we do.
Is holiness necessary? It is-Pursue holiness without which no one will see the Lord. Must we fight temptation tooth and nail? We must-Put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry, because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience. Do we have to do good works? Yes we do--Be careful to maintain good works.
But what we must not do is look for our assurance in ourselves, in what we are, what we do and what we don't do. Looking for holiness within is like looking for the sunset in the east. You're never going to find it, no matter how closely or how long you look! By looking within you're going to find sin. You may be doing better than you used to, but better than atrocious is still plenty bad!
You find your assurance in Christ, in His sacrifice, and what it does for everyone who believes in Him. When a believer doubts his salvation, he doubts His Savior, and says, in effect, the Lord's sacrifice is not good enough! But it is good enough, not because I say so, but because He did. It is finished means: The sacrifice of Christ is good enough to save everyone who believes.
If the Words of God do not convince you, His actions speak louder than His Words. For it wasn't the Son of God who had the last word on His sacrifice, it was God the Father. On the day of His death, Jesus said 'It is finished'. But three days and three nights later, God proved it by raising Him from the dead.
If the sacrifice of Christ is a finished work, the worst sinner can find salvation by looking to Him in faith.
If the Lord died to justify the just, teach the teachable, and reform the reformable, you might be left out. But what if His sacrifice was an offering for sin? What if He died, oh let's say, the just for the unjust? What if He went to the cross for the ungodly? Well, if He did all that, you would have hope, wouldn't you?
In case you don't know your Bible very well, all the what ifs are taken straight out of it-
Isaiah 53:10-Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When you make His soul and offering for sin.the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.
I Peter 3:18-For Christ also suffered once for sin, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.
Romans 5:6-For when we were yet without strength, in due time, Christ died for the ungodly.
Only sinners are eligible for salvation, and lucky for you, you're one of them!
The Savior died, and by His blood
Brought rebel sinners near to God:
He died to set the captives free;
And why my soul, why not for thee?
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