"IT IS FINISHED"

John 19:17 - 30
(c) Copyright 2000 Rev. Bill Versteeg


The Crucifixion

So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. 17 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). 18 Here they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.

19 Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 20 Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 21 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.”

22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

23 When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.
24
“Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said,

“They divided my garments among them
and cast lots for my clothing.”
 a

So this is what the soldiers did. 25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

The Death of Jesus

28 Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 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. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

 a Psalm 22:18

Brothers and sisters in Christ:

On the surface Good Friday is a tragedy. With the exception of one word, there is no resolution of grief, it ends in the despair of hopelessness.

It was tragic for Jesus.  He had given his life to love those who had turned away from the Father.  Humanity in turn without cause tore his life apart on the cross.

It was tragic for the disciples.  They had expected a Messiah King who would usher in his royal kingdom and destroy the Romans.  Instead Roman soldiers took their Messiah to a cross, and hung him with the mocking title over his head  "This is the King of the
Jews."


It was tragic for Judas.  He had turned against this Jesus possibly because he had begun to recognize that he was not the Messiah that everybody expected.  Driven by greed, he sold him for 30 pieces of silver. Once betrayed, Judas saw Jesus innocence and his own guilt but remorse was to late.  He threw the silver on the temple floor, and because there was no resolution he went out and hanged himself.

It was tragic for Mary.  The son she had been miraculously blessed with on Christmas day was wrenched from her hopes and her dreams.  Before her very eyes she watched him suffocate slowly and then die on the cross.

It was a tragedy for the soldiers and those enjoying the threefold massacre.  They saw how this man died on the tree, they
heard him cry out "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do."   They saw him welcome a criminal into his own unknown kingdom. Having seen how he died, they saw his innocence and went home beating their breasts.  Something terribly wrong had happened.

But there is an exception to all this tragedy.  One Word, Jesus final word. His dying Word.  The first three gospels refer to the fact that Jesus uttered out a loud cry immediately before he died but they don't tell us exactly what that cry was. But the Gospel of John does. John states that Jesus very last Word before he died on that cross was "Tetelestai."

"Tetelestai" doesn't translate simply, we have to make a phrase out of it - "It is finished."  But still some of its power is lost in the translation.  In the Greek it implies that something has come to an end, it has been completed, perfected, accomplished in the full and that something has consequences that will endure on and on.

"Tetelestai." The most powerful single word of all of Jesus ministry.  It was also his last word.  It was the word that turned this apparent tragedy into a scene of Victory that shook the earth, split rocks, changed history, raised saints from the dead and tore away the temple curtain that kept people out of the Holy of Holies.

"Tetelestai" the most powerful word in history.  Even more powerful than the words of creation in Genesis chapter 1 where God spoke and the universe came into existence.  This word could not simply be spoken.  The son of God had to die to speak it.

Though scripture never tells us explicitly what Christ meant by this one word, though the disciples and those who stood by that day clearly did not comprehend it, if we look at all of the scriptures to mine its depths, we find this one word to be the sum of the law and the prophets, the will of God, the transformation of our lives, the whole work of Christ crushed into four short syllables "Tetelestai".

To Jesus it was a celebration of a job well done.  He had come into the world to love those who were his and he loved them to the very end. For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. He had run the race give to him, now the crown was his.

But he cried out "Tetelestai" so that the whole world throughout history could hear it.

For Adam and Eve it meant the curse that they had brought on creation was finished.  In the death of the old Adam came the life of the new man upon which the eternal blessing of the Lord rested.

For Abraham, Tetelestai reminded him of the day he raised his own knife to slaughter his one and only son on the alter but the Lord stayed his hand and gave him a ram in place of his son. Now the true offering of a son had been given, the agony experienced by God himself, the walk of faith had been completed, finished. For Moses too, after installing for the nation of Israel daily sacrifices and offerings, now he saw it come to an end, not by the blood of goats and bulls, rather this time the sacrifice was the unblemished sacrifice of the high priest himself Jesus Christ.

David who first penned the word's My God, My god, why have you forsaken me heard in "Tetelestai" the last words of his
22nd Psalm - "they will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn for he has finished it."

And Isaiah would know that his prophecy came true.  He saw the word of God sent forth in history, now it was returning to the Father, not empty, but fulfilled, having achieved the purpose for which it was sent.

Jeremiah and Ezekiel saw a new covenant, where hearts of stone were replaced with hearts of flesh, sins were forgiven and forgotten, the law written on peoples hearts to obey his will.

To all the prophets who told of the one who would come to suffer and die, each one of them would see in that one word "Tetelestai" that their dreams had come true.

To the FATHER in heaven "It is finished" was a call home to tell his Father that the work had been done, he had forsaken his heavenly crown, taken on the form of a man, a servant, humbled himself even to death on a cross, he had fulfilled the entire will of God, his work was finished, having done his work, he gave up his Spirit.

The Holy Spirit heard this word too, "Tetelestai.  It was a call for him to begin his work in all of its fullness so that the departure of one Paraclete would make room for the fullness of another, the children of God would not be left as Orphans.

The Devil and his minions heard the cry too.  "Tetelestai" undid all their doings, their works crumbled in a moments time, destroyed - they were disarmed.  The law as an instrument of prosecution ripped from their hands, now they were led as prisoners of war chained foot to foot in a triumphant procession with the one who cried "It is finished" leading the way in the triumphant procession.

But Christ cried this word loudly "Tetelestai" so that we could hear it too, so that its four syllables could crash like a symbol to our despondent hearts and slumbering faith and raise us to hope and righteousness and faith and faithfulness and perseverance to run the race following the Pioneer and Perfecter of our faith.  The work has been accomplished, the synonym for Calvary is Victory!

This morning, as you look forward to Easter morning, let this one word ring in your ears and encourage your heart!  Listen to that one word, for you, for me.

TETELESTAI!


(NIV) Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

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