John 19:28-30 (Good Friday)
“It is Finished”
Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Enfield CT
April 2, 2021
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Our text is from our Lord’s Passion, recorded in John 19:
28After this, Jesus, knowing that now all things stood accomplished, in order to fulfill the Scripture, said, “I thirst.” 29A jar stood there full of sour wine. So they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and offered it to His mouth. 30When, therefore, Jesus received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished,” and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.
“It is finished!” It stands completed and accomplished, from that moment on and into eternity.
But what is fulfilled, accomplished, completed or finished by Jesus on the cross? A very quick read might produce the answer of the sour wine. “When, therefore, Jesus received the sour wine he said, “It is finished.” It’s very unlikely that Jesus meant that He had finished or completed sucking the sponge dry of its vinegar-wine contents. Given that He had been beaten and had been hanging on the cross from some six hours, Jesus would have been fortunate to get a taste on His lips, let alone drink it. So we can safely rule out that “It is finished” refers to drinking the wine from the sponge.
What, then, is finished by Jesus on the cross? John tells us at the beginning of our text, “After this, Jesus, knowing that now all things stood finished, in order that the Scripture should be finished, said, ‘I thirst.’” What is fulfilled and completed and finished by Jesus Christ in His death on the cross is salvation from sin and death in accordance with the Scriptures. Jesus completes the Scriptures as they pertain to the saving of humanity from sin and death. He thus completes salvation for the world.
Consider God’s first promise to save a newly fallen humanity. Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” The Seed or Descendant of Eve would one day bruise the head of Satan, that ancient snake, although that Descendant would be injured in the process. As the promise of a Savior unfolds throughout Scripture, we learn that the injury sustained by the promised Messiah would be fatal. In fact, He would die for the sins of the people, and through His death, secure forgiveness and everlasting life for the world. From Isaiah 53:
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? (Is. 53:4–8 ESV)
It was for our sins, for our iniquities, and for our falling short of the glory of God that Christ suffered and died on the cross. There was no way possible that we could save ourselves from death and hell. It was not possible that we could c any of the Scriptures since we can’t even keep the Ten Commandments. So our heavenly Father sent us His Son to complete in our place what we could not ever accomplish. Jesus Christ, as True Man, fulfilled (completed) God’s Law for us as our substitute. Where we daily sin and fall short and fail, Jesus did not. Jesus kept the Commandments perfectly. He fulfilled the divine law to love the Lord our God and to love our neighbor. To fulfill the Scripture and to be our substitute, Jesus was “born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Gal 4:4-5).
But because of our sins and utter failure to fulfill God’s holy Law, Jesus also had to satisfy the demands of God’s justice. “The wages of sin is death” and “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Rom. 6:23; Heb. 9:22). Therefore, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, took on human flesh and dwelt among us without sin, full of grace and truth, for the very purpose of completing the salvation of all people by shedding His holy, precious blood in death. Only Jesus Christ, true man and true God, could accomplish this. The salvation of a person costs too much—the very blood and the very life of Jesus, the Christ, God-made-flesh. The fact that it was God the Son who fulfilled the Law and suffered for our sins gives infinite value and saving power to the work our Redeemer completed—finished— on the cross.
In cosmic darkness on that Friday, it reached 3:00 in the afternoon. Jesus knew that now everything stood completed regarding the salvation of all people. He had carried our sins in His body on the tree that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds [we] have been healed (1Peter 2:24). Jesus had been forsaken—abandoned—by God the Father, left totally alone to suffer the punishment of hell as He hung on the cross in that black darkness. His blood had been poured out to cleanse all people from their sins (1 John 1:7). Our salvation had been won! Forgiveness for us had been obtained. And there was only one thing left to fulfill Scripture, “I thirst.” Psalm 69:21, “For my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.” And from Psalm 22, “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death” (Ps. 22:14-15).
When, therefore, Jesus received the sour wine He said, “It is finished.” It is as if He had said, “The work of saving people from their sins is done. I have suffered their punishment of hell. I have shed my blood to purchase their forgiveness and atone for their sins. Now I will suffer death for them so that I might forever defeat death by my resurrection.” And bowing His head He gave up His spirit and died.
It is finished! It stands completed! Forgiveness is yours. Everlasting life is yours. Sin, Satan, and death have been vanquished. Jesus lives, and the victory is won! Amen.