It is Finished - Good Friday 2021
Topic: Good Friday Passage: John 19:30, Jeremiah 25:15–25:17, Romans 5:8–5:10
Good Friday Message
April 2, 2021
Grace Community Church
Pastor Allen Snapp
It is Finished
30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30
These three words, It is Finished, are the English translation of one Greek word: tetelestai. Alistair Begg writes that that one word contains “an ocean of meaning in a drop of language.”
On this Good Friday, let’s wade out a bit into that ocean of meaning, where we find these massively magnificent truths:
- Jesus paid the debt our sins had incurred
It is finished literally means, paid in full.
Our sins have wracked up a spiritual debt to God that we could never pay back, and it’s a debt we keep adding to every minute of every day. Our legalistic tendencies are drawn to the idea of settling our bill with God. Legalism leads us to think that doing good works can balance our accounts. Or that by being very religious we can earn God’s approval. Legalism even whispers an odd sense of competition to our souls: we don’t have to be perfect (we know we never will be), but if we’re better people than most; if we are kinder to the poor, more compassionate to the hurting, more caring to the lonely, God will see us as better than most and forget about our shortcomings.
It doesn’t work that way.
The Bible tells us that God doesn’t grade on a curve: perfect sinlessness is His one standard, and by that standard, even our good works are filthy rags in His sight. Nothing we can do or offer can pay back the debt we owe to God.
We stand before God with an infinitely large debt, empty hands, and no means of paying off our debt.
On the cross, Jesus said, tetelestai: paid in full. In Jesus’ day they used to write tetelestai on business documents to indicate a bill was paid in full. The debt our sin has incurred was paid in full by Jesus on the cross that first Good Friday. When we place our faith in Jesus Christ, God sees our debt as paid in full by His Son’s death on the cross. We owe God nothing further to pay for our sins. It is paid in full.
- Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath to the dregs
In Gethsemene, Jesus prayed that if it be His will, the Father might take this cup away from him. What cup? What was in the cup?
We see throughout scripture that this cup is the cup of the wrath of God over sin. Jeremiah 25:15-17 says, For thus the Lord, the God of Israel, says to me, “Take this cup of the wine of wrath from My hand and cause all the nations to whom I send you to drink it.
What so troubled Jesus’ soul in Gethsemane wasn’t his impending death, it was drinking the cup of God’s wrath for our sin to the dregs.
The idea that God has wrath for our sins is not a popular idea in liberal Christian circles these days. Some have compared God pouring out His wrath on Jesus as cosmic child abuse. They portray it as an angry, petulant God who needs to be placated, and Jesus stepped forward and said, Father, don’t take it out on them, take it out on me instead.
They do not understand the beauty, the power, and the necessity of the cup of God’s wrath being emptied. They do not understand the necessary relationship between love and anger.
Moral outrage against evil is as vital to love as compassion and mercy is. Love and anger have to go together wherever there is moral evil. The more a father loves his daughter, the more angry he will be if someone tries to abuse her. If a serial killer stood before an earthly judge to be sentenced for his crimes and that judge wept and hugged the serial killer and said, “I love you too much to feel anger over the evil you’ve done or to punish you”, he or she wouldn’t be a loving judge, they would be an unloving, cruel person and a perversion to the name of justice.
Sin destroys and corrupts and spreads like a cancer wherever it is not addressed. If God allowed even the smallest sin to go unpunished, sin would eventually pollute and corrupt not only all creation, but the very character of God. God Himself would become corrupt, justice would be destroyed, and heaven would become hell.
But God is so loving that He has righteous wrath against sin. And it has been stored up over history in a cup – the cup of His righteous, loving, good wrath. It’s a terrifying cup, but it’s a good cup! And remember, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one God, not three, so the wrath is the Father’s, the Son’s, and the Spirit’s wrath, not the Father’s only. The cross doesn’t represent God the Father’s anger and God the Son’s love. The cross represents God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit’s wrath, and God the Father, Son, and Spirit’s love. The cross represents God’s hatred for sin and His love for us.
Jesus didn’t do the “hard part” by dying on the cross. Any parent knows it hurts far more to see your child suffer than to suffer yourself. We would die for our children. For God the Father, who has loved and delighted in His Son from eternity past, to turn His face away from Jesus and pour out the cup of His wrath on Jesus, was intensely painful for the Father, and intensely loving as well.
As the sky darkened, God poured out His righteous wrath on Jesus and Jesus willingly drank it to the dregs, not one drop of wrath was left. When we believe in Jesus, we are rescued from the wrath of God…by the love of God.
It wasn’t God’s wrath that hung Jesus on the cross, it was God’s love.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Romans 5:8-10
- It is finished assures those who trust in Jesus that we have been rescued from hell and saved for eternity
There is an ocean of meaning in a drop of language. But in that ocean of meaning, here are some things It is Finished doesn’t mean:
It doesn’t mean, “I’ve done my part, now it’s up to you to do yours.” Or, “I’ve done all that I can do, I hope it will be enough.”
Our salvation has been accomplished by Jesus’ death. The resurrection assures us that God’s wrath was completely satisfied, saving us from hell and for eternity. Our part is to believe in Christ. Look to Christ. Trust in Christ.
When we trust in Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are saved. No doubt, no question. “But I still fall into sin.” Yes, but Jesus has paid for that sin in full. “But I don’t walk with God as closely as I ought”, yes, but you aren’t saved by how closely you walk with God, you are saved by Jesus’ finished work on the cross. “But I don’t love God as deeply as I should”. Yes, but it isn’t how much you love God that saves you, it’s how much God loves you that has saved you.
When Jesus was asked how much he loves us, he spread his arms wide open on the cross and said, “this much”. The cup of God’s wrath has been emptied. Our debt has been paid in full. We have been rescued from death and for eternal life. What blessed words: It is finished!!!
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