Good Friday
Rev. Dr. D. K. Schroeder
John 19:16b-30 Sermon
April 14, 2017

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Hymns (from The Lutheran Hymnal):
154  "Alas!  And Did My Saviour Bleed"
172  "O Sacred Head"
170  "O Perfect Life Of Love"
-----  "Old Rugged Cross" 
180-186 "Jesus In Thy Dying Woes" 

Repent: Turn to Jesus; He and He Alone Finished Your Salvation

 TEXT: So they took Jesus,  and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha.There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them.  Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”  Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek.  So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’”  Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”  When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom,so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, “They divided my garments amongst them, and for my clothing they cast lots.”  So the soldiers did these things; but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.  When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!”  Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.  After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.”  A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth.  When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

            Finishing something is often a good feeling for us.  We like finishing something, especially if a lot of work went into it.  Think of a wood worker, who buys lumber and other materials, assembles them together, and finally produces a piece of furniture with it.  And after it is put together, the wood worker sands it, stains it, and applies varnish or acrylic.  Once it is all rubbed down, the work is finished, and the wood worker experiences a real sense of accomplishment.

            It's that way with many things in our life.  We set out to do something; and when it is finally finished, we assure ourselves that whatever we did to bring it to fruition was well worth it.

            But sometimes we fool ourselves in to thinking something is finished, but it really isn't.  A basketball team has a great first half. It has to keep up the momentum, however, because the game isn’t finished until the final buzzer sounds. You just got an A on a semester examination. Excellent! School, however, is not finished until you open your diploma on graduation day and find it signed.

            “It is finished!” Those are perhaps the most famous words that our Lord spoke from the cross. But was he really finished? What did he just finish? What had to happen for him to be able to say he’s finished? What do those words really mean? Today, let everyone who has ears listen carefully as Jesus proclaims salvation’s grand finale with these precious words from the cross. Today, let everyone who has a heart that beats and a soul that yearns for heaven turn to Jesus in repentance; for he and he alone finished our salvation!

            It certainly seems as if Pontius Pilate was finished.  With a bowl of water, Pilate thought he had washed innocent blood from his hands. With a sign on the cross, Pilate was publicly proclaiming the reason for the crucifixion—and likely poking the Jewish leaders in the eye! “The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, ‘Do not write “The King of the Jews,” but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.’ Pilate answered, ‘What I have written, I have written.’” Pontius Pilate was certainly finished! Finished with Jesus, finished with priests and people, and finished with this whole frustrating ordeal.

            By the appearance of things, it looked as if Jesus was finished too. There he was, nailed to wood and hung out to die. His end was coming. The Romans would make sure of that. But Jesus was not finished. Not yet. Jesus was not yet finished fulfilling the law with a perfect love.  In a shocking act of love, he looked down from the cross and forgave the very soldiers whose fingerprints were on the hammer. In a saving act of love, he looked over to a criminal and assured him that that very day he would be with Jesus in paradise. Then in a son’s final act of love, he looked down from the cross and made his mother, Mary, the object of his loving concern.

            But being Jesus’ mother was a blessing that was destined to cause her heartache. Thirty-three years earlier, Simeon had this to say about her forty-day-old baby boy.  Luke records these words in chapter 2, verses 34-35" “‘This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of may in Israel. . . . And a sword will pierce your own soul too.’”

            The great theologian, Johann Gerhard, paints a pathetic picture of Mary at the cross: “She sees Jesus lifted up, but cannot touch him; sees him nailed and cannot loose him; sees him dripping with blood, but cannot remove it; sees his body wounded, but cannot bind them up; she hears his cry ‘I thirst’ and cannot give him a drink; as many torments there are in the body of Christ, so many wounds are there in the mother’s heart.”

            And Jesus knew it. Jesus dealt with the sword in Mary’s soul with his perfect love for her soul.  His was a love that brought him from heaven to her womb, a love that had caused him to obey her every word as a child, and love that looked down from the cross and took care of his mother’s future needs.  

            Jesus provided for his mother’s physical and emotional well-being. But he provided the world with far more! With nails in his hands and his end in sight, Jesus shows perfect love for his earthly mother and, in so doing, perfectly fulfilled the law of his heavenly Father. Only then could he provide the world with an innocent substitute, a perfect sacrifice, a holy Saviour.

            But Jesus still was not finished! His love went to work on the cross so that he could be the pure Saviour. While on the cross, we see Jesus still actively fulfilling the prophecies of Scripture so that we can have 100 percent certainty that Christ is our only true Saviour.

            The first fulfillment of Scripture was done to Jesus by the soldiers.  They had a lottery to determine who would get his clothing.  The Bible says, “This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said, ‘They divided my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.’ So this is what the soldiers did.” That was the prophecy God gave in the words of Psalm 22 one thousand years before the soldiers ever tossed the dice. The Lord used the soldiers’ greed and cruelty to provide us with proof and surety that Jesus was the long-promised Saviour!

            The first fulfillment of Scripture was done to Jesus. The second fulfillment of Scripture was done by Jesus.  Scripture says, “Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that 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.”

            Jesus’ thirst was a terrible result of his crucifixion. Jesus knew that one more prophecy had to be fulfilled, that of Psalm 69:21: “They . . . gave me vinegar for my thirst.”

            We must remember that Jesus was not finished until he fulfilled every single prophecy of Scripture in minutest detail, and fulfilling every letter of the law.  Jesus fulfilled Scripture 100 percent so that we might have zero percent doubt, no doubt whatsoever that our salvation has been accomplished!

            Then and only then was Jesus truly finished.  The Bible says, “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”

            Jesus’ word “it is finished” is the “final word” on the fact of your forgiveness! I say "word" (singular), because in the Greek language, it is only a single word: TETELESTHAI.  The translation?  “It is finished.”  You might find it interesting to know that shopkeepers of Jesus’ day would write that very same word on the bottom of bills once the bill had been paid in full.

            What a thought! Our sin was a hopeless debt. There is nothing we can give, say, think, or do to pay off a single sin, let alone a whole life of them.  Our sin, our debt, is paid for, paid in full.      There is no small balance of sin remaining that we are supposed to pay down. There is no “to be continued” payment plan when it comes to our salvation. It is, simply put, FINISHED. The whole Bible is summed up in this one word: FINISHED. The Son of God who cannot lie said it: the debt of your sin has been paid for; paid in full!

            So, let there be no “ifs, ands, and buts” this Good Friday. Instead, be still.  And in simple faith turn once again to Jesus; he, and he alone, finished your salvation. Salvation is accomplished always and forever through Jesus. Salvation is yours only and solely though Jesus.  It is finished!