It Is Finished - For You

Text:  John 19:1-42

Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Today is the day that we have been journeying towards in the Church calendar and especially during our Wednesday Night Lenten Services.  Today is the day that Christ was taken before Pilate at 6:00 AM, nailed to a cross at 9:00 AM and suffered until 3:00 PM—for us.  Today is Good Friday.

Now that we are here though, there is a temptation to speedily rush to Easter Sunday and move past Good Friday.  Indeed the enticement is to want to rush to the empty tomb.  Preachers across America today are proclaiming the cross, but sadly many are not allowing their congregations to bask in the events of Good Friday.  The reason why?  The cross is difficult to ponder; it is painful for us.  It is the intersection of sinful mankind and a holy and righteous God.  It is the collision of sin and righteousness; thus leading to the death of the Son of God.  At the cross we hear the unsettling words of Jesus when He cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  We hear the clamor of the whip, and we hear the sound of the hammer and nails.  They are painful and difficult noises for us to hear.  

Not only are the events of the cross sometimes difficult for our modern sensibilities, it is believed by some that Good Friday should be glossed over due to Easter Sunday being the place where ‘real’ victory takes place.  In other words, some will say that the cross is only a part of the Christian message and that we shouldn’t over emphasize it or spend too much time on it, but rather we should hurry to the resurrection where we see true power, true hope and a message of victory that motivates the Christian into his and her future.  Yes, there is indeed an attraction to move beyond the dark day of the cross to the bright morning of the resurrection.

My friends, while we certainly don’t want to pit Easter Sunday against Good Friday, we must always remember that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is icing on the cake. The resurrection of Christ is a validation of what Christ did on the cross.  The empty tomb is like a stamp of approval or a signature on the dotted line to validate, confirm and cement what Jesus said, did, and accomplished at the cross on Mt. Calvary, as well as His whole ministry.  Thus, one should not rush past the cross so easily and so quickly, for indeed much was accomplished and much was done for you and me at Mt. Calvary.  Yes, the cross of Christ is not a detour to the highpoint of Easter Sunday.  Rather, the cross of Christ is the highpoint.  The cross is where the scriptures funnel us, with the powerful validation of life in the resurrection to follow.

Thus, tonight we stop on a highpoint, the summit of the Christian message.  We pause on this Good Friday, this climax of the Christian story, in order to look, ponder, hear, see, and understand the magnitude of what was done by Christ for us.  We slow down to listen to the Passion Story and to hear the powerful words of Jesus from the cross where He said, “It is finished.”  Yes, we stop on this Good Friday to hear these simple, yet profoundly powerful words; words that echo throughout the ages, “It is finished.” 

But what is finished you may ask?  What was brought to a completion?  What was accomplished at this cross?  Did this ‘finishing’ have anything to do with me or for me? 

In answering these questions, we hear in the scriptures that Christ finished God’s wrath.  Christ put an end to the Father’s anger against you and me, anger that is due to our sin and sinful condition.  In other words, Jesus pulled and dragged your sin and the sin of the world to Himself when He was lifted up on the cross.  Indeed, your sin was placed upon Christ as if it was His own.  This resulted in the target shifting from you and your transgressions, to Jesus.  The bullseye of justice was placed upon Christ and the full fury, wrath and damnation of the Father was unleashed on Jesus thus satisfying justice.  Truly, the Father’s wrath, judgment, and vengeance were spent upon Jesus, not you.  And get this, Jesus didn’t cancel the wrath of God nor was God’s wrath withdrawn, but rather Jesus absorbed God’s wrath; He absorbed it for you.  Thus, damnation and wrath are finished.  They have been finished for you in Christ on that Holy Good Friday some two-thousand years ago.

Not only was wrath finished but sin is finished on Christ as well.  Yes, at the cross the curse of sin was finished.  Therefore, no longer do our consciences have to be troubled spiritually speaking for Christ drank all the poison of sin, which resulted in Him being damned and killed.  Jesus’ death put your sin in the grave because through Christ death on the cross your sin was killed. Consequently, the Father does not and cannot hold the debt of sin against you; your sin is forgotten and forgiven; your sin and its curse are finished.

You who have ears do you hear this?  At the cross, wrath was finished and sin was finished as well.  Do you know who else is finished?  Yes, Christ’s cross shatters the power of Satan and it abolishes the sting of death.  Indeed, just when things can’t get any more awesome, we see at the cross that death and the evil one were destroyed; they were finished by an act of self-sacrificing love. 

Wrath has been finished.  Sin has been finished.  Satan and death have been finished.  What else is finished?  Can there be more?

In Colossians chapter two we read something remarkable, that the record that stood against us was erased.  It was erased and set aside when it was nailed to the cross.  Yes, our record of the times that we violated God’s holy perfect Law was canceled, it was finished.  Truly the destruction of our rap sheet of sin leads to something else as well.  It leads to the conscience being purified.  The ninth chapter of Hebrews says that the blood of Christ removes the stain from the conscience.  Certainly, the blood of Christ flowing from Calvary cleanses and gives relief to the conscience.  The blood of Christ is the only cleansing agent that the universe knows that can give the conscience the relief in life and peace in death.  Yes, the Gospel actually ‘purges’ or ‘cleanses’ our conscience.  It reaches back into your history and deep into your closets and washes you clean.  You, who have ears, listen to the Words of the Gospel, “Your Sins are forgiven, Christ has atoned for your sins, and it is finished for you.”  These words are not abstract ideas, but God’s Word for you.

Wrath . . . Finished.  Sin . . . Finished.  Satan . . . Finished.  Death . . . Finished. 
A record of wrong . . . Finished.  A stained conscience . . . Finished.

My friends, whenever you feel sorrow, doubt, fear, and on account of sin, the devil, death, God’s wrath, or a burdened conscience, look at Christ on the cross, remember Good Friday.  Against your sin, against the devil, against death, against the burdened conscience, and against God’s wrath which all lay you bare, you will find upon Good Friday’s cross one whom: absorbs God’s wrath, kills sin, destroys the devil, conquers death, and cleanses the conscience.  Yes, Jesus the crucified damns and devours sin.  He destroys death and He renders the devil powerless.  Instead of these things damning and devouring you, the crucified one damns and devours them and then He appeases God’s wrath.  All of this happens because the Son of God chose to go to the cross.  All of these things happened due to Good Friday where Jesus shouldered all the evils of the human race.  At Good Friday’s cross sin, death, the devil, and hell all died in Christ, because by His death He indeed finished everything—finished everything for you. 

Do you see the implications of Good Friday?  Do you see why the cross is the climax of the Christian story?  Do you see why the cross of Christ is our theology?  What this means though is that we don’t disregard the themes of Christmas, Easter Sunday, Pentecost, and so forth.  We don’t dismiss other teachings like the creation of the world, the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church, the Resurrection, and so forth.  Rather, when we speak of all these other topics and events in the Christian faith, we speak of them with seeing the cross in the background and in light of the cross.  Yes, it is always from the cross that everything is understood, because in the cross we have the deepest essence of God’s work of salvation for mankind. 

In the words of Martin Luther, “Our theology is the Cross.”

Now, the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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