John 19: 28 – Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 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, “It is finished.” With that he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”
…Refer to painting by Jim Tissot / Scrolls now able to be read /at the moment of death veil in temple rent in two, earthquake and saints raised / angels and archangels rejoicing
So far in this Lenten season, we have heard Christ speak from the cross five times.
First, we listened in as He prayed for His Father to forgive soldiers who were not sorry for what they were doing, they were not apologizing, they were not believing, and they were not about to change their sinful ways, and we learned how anxious is our God to have mercy.
Secondly, we listened in as Jesus promised paradise to a thief who was sorry for what he had done, he was crying out for mercy, and so we learned how wide and how deep and how long and how nearby is our God’s love.
Third, we listened in as Jesus made sure that his mom would be taken care of by his disciple John, and we learned from Jesus what it means to be sons and daughters of our father in heaven.
Fourth, we heard Jesus cry out in the darkness and ask why His father had to forsake him, and we were comforted in knowing that because he was abandoned, we will never have to travel through life alone.
Fifth, we heard Jesus cry out for a drink, even though he is the very fountain of living water. We saw how He suffered in both body and soul and how all that He endured He did so for us.
Today we hear Jesus cry out with a loud voice that IT IS FINISHED and in his next breath, other Gospel writers indicate that He commended his spirit into his father’s hands and he died.
First of all, we ask what did Jesus finish? When Adam and Eve sinned, God promised that their Descendant would crush the devil’s head. With his suffering and death, Jesus completed that.
God had promised Abraham that his descendant would bless the nations. With his suffering and death, Jesus did that. In English, “it is finished” is three words. In Greek, it is only one word. It is perhaps the greatest word ever spoken. The world could never speak this word to us the way Jesus did. Jesus finished the race he came to run. He completed the course assigned for him to endure. He fought the battle his father asked him to fight and won the war he was sent to wage.
• Story of my dad’s four brothers going off to fight in WWII, not so much drafted into war, they enlisted. I can only imagine Grandma and Grandpa Griffin worrying and praying and yearning for that day when Francis, Ray, Cleo, and Don were finished. Some may have felt the war was finished when Hitler died, or the day the bombs were dropped on Nakasaki and Hiroshima, or maybe when the treaty was signed. But for Grandpa and Grandma Griffin, there were no doubt four separate days when their four boys finished their fighting and came home. How how they must have celebrated those homecomings.
• Ken Harstad – his suffering was finished the day he came home from prison.
• Jan Rux – her suffering was finished today about 10:20 with daughters, son, sister, husband, and Pastor Muther at her bedside. Months of doing battle with cancer, days and days of death apparently near, hours of restlessness, and then it was finished. I received the report as a text from Pastor Muther – Jan Rux has passed away.
• The next text I received was from Debi – Do not eat the hard boiled eggs, need to cook them more!!!!
• In our text for today, the Son reports to his father he was finished. All of the ridicule, the misunderstandings, and the plotting of his enemies was finished. All of the arresting, the unfair trials, the slapping, the mocking, and the spitting were finished. All of the beatings and the whippings were finished. All of the nailing and the railing and the crucifying and the bleeding and the excruciating agony were done, and as the Son reports to the Father, we listen in, no doubt the angels and the archangels of heaven are listening in, and thank God the suffering is completed.
• But when Jesus said tetelestai, he wasn’t just thinking about himself, he was thinking about a world of sinners. He wasn’t just relieved that his suffering was over, he was rejoicing that the cup of his father’s wrath had been drained, he was reporting to his father in heaven and to anyone who has ears to hear that the curse of the sinful Adam had been reversed, he was reporting to his father in heaven and to anyone who has ears to hear that prophecies had been fulfilled, that all debts had been paid, and that heavenly mansions had been prepared. He was reporting to his father in heaven and to anyone who has ears to hear that all that needed to be suffered had been suffered, that all the laws that needed to be kept had been kept, that all the blood that needed to be shed had been shed, and that all the works of the devil that needed to be destroyed had been destroyed.
• We may picture Jesus as standing with one foot on the devil’s neck as he lies chained on the ground. The devil’s crown has rolled away into a ditch, he’s king no more, he has no power over us now, when we die, or after we die.
• While it is true that the devil is on a chain, it is also true that in the latter days, that chain will be lengthened. And because the devil has a longer leash in the end times, it means he will be stepping up his attacks on the called, gathered, enlightened, and sanctified people of God. Two temptations in particular come to mind today.
First, he tempts us to forget that our salvation is a done deal and to think that we still have to do something to be saved. It’s when we think that we have to do something ourselves to stay in or earn the favor of God that we are more likely to feel we are failures. To be sure, we fail every day in our marriages and in our family life, we fail every day in the bad that we do and the good we fail to do. But the fact that we keep on failing has no effect on our Lord’s success on a little hill outside of Jerusalem. Our Lord’s success keeps on getting delivered into our hearts in the preaching of the Word and in the pronouncement of absolution and in the eating and drinking of the Supper. The world can deliver all kinds of messages into our hearts, but only the Church can give us this pure and simple good news, that our sins are forgiven, our salvation is accomplished, heaven is ours.
A second temptation is to live as if the crucifixion and death of our Lord doesn’t really matter. In fact, our #1 problem in life has already been solved, all other problems are secondary. In fact, our #1 challenge has already been met, all other challenges pale in comparison. In fact, our #1 question in life has been answered, all other questions are by definition less important.
The kingdom of God is like a widow who misses her husband in a strong way, but even stronger is her confidence that her name is written in the book of life. It’s like a married couple that spends all kinds of energy worrying about their future and the future of their children and grandchildren, but over the years they have developed a wonderful habit of taking all their worries to God in prayer at the end of the day, and as often as they do so, their worries have a way of melting away and they lay their heads down in peace. The kingdom of God is like a young man devastated by the idea that his wife would end his marriage, but even stronger than that devastation is his confidence that he has been baptized and that God will be faithful to the promises of Baptism. It’s like a busy and stressed out and hard working person who has a long to do list and imagines some days she will go crazy if she doesn’t get everything done, but then she travels one more time through the season of Lent and into Holy Week, and one more time, she knows that all is well with her soul. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Worship Sermons & Letters
Pastor Paul Muther