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JOHN 19:30

Pastor Stephen Muncherian
April 20, 2014

Would you read with me John 19:30 - the verse that we’d like to focus our attention on this morning:  When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished,” and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.


We have a rough idea of the route Jesus was taken through and Scripture records a good portion of what Jesus went through on His way to His crucifixion - what has led up to this moment that John records for us here in verse 30.


Jesus went from the Last Supper to the Garden of Gethsemane - #1 up there.  Do you see that?    Where He was arrested.  Then Jesus was let to Annas who sent Him to his son-in-law Caiphas - the High Priest - #2 up there.  Then the Jewish leaders appealed to Pilate - the Roman Governor - #3 - to have Jesus put to death.  Luke records that Pilate sent Jesus to Herod Antipas - #4 - who questioned Jesus and returned Him to Pilate without passing judgment - we’re back to #5 - Then Pilates sent Jesus to be crucified at Golgotha - meaning “place of the skull” - #6.


Calvary - by the way - Calvary is the English transliteration of the Latin “calvaria” - which is the Latin translation of the Hebrew “golgotha” - which means... “skull.”


This is slightly different perspective.  Maybe helpful in picturing where all this was.  Golgotha being outside the city walls.


We know that along the route that Jesus traveled He was mocked, beaten, abused, tortured - and ultimately crucified - a painful, excruciating, humiliating death.


We’ve tried in the last two Sundays - these last two weeks - with Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday and the movie on Good Friday - we’ve tried to slow down and ponder the reality of that.  God - our creator - the sovereign God of creation who calls all of this into being - to Whom we owe our very existence.  God - Who is holy - transcendent - incomprehensible in all of Who He is.


God taking on humanity - Jesus being fully God and fully human.  God enduring such rejection and brutality at the hands of His own creation. 


Infinitely worse - Jesus as He bares our sin upon Himself - Jesus being forsaken by the Father.  His separation from the intimacy of the Trinity - a depth of relationship that’s been His for eternity.  A depth of separation that we cannot comprehend.  But, what is a glimpse of Hell and our deserved punishment for our sin.


Trying to process all that.  We don’t get it.  We can’t get it.  But we see the suffering - which to a degree we can relate to.  And we begin to process that God really does love us with a love that is beyond our ability to fully understand but that we desperately need.

Coming to John 19:30 - the verse we’d like to focus on this morning.  Jesus is on the cross.  He has endured the process - the suffering.  He is near the end.  He is offered sour wine to drink.  When He drinks the wine, John record as Jesus’ last words. 
“It is finished.”


Last words are powerful.  The idea that the last thing we say may sum up our lives.


Years ago a mother gave birth to a son and she named him Odd.  Why she did that we don’t know.  But you can imagine that as that boy grew - kids being kids - with a name like Odd he endured a lot of brutal comments and jokes.


He went to college.  Got a job.  Got married.  Had kids.  Through all that he was constantly the punch line of jokes.  The odd man out.  The odd ball.  Looked on as being… odd.  People would just look at him and say, “That’s Odd.”


To the point that he deeply resented his name.  As he got older -  thinking about his death - he told his wife.  “When I die the only thing I want on my tombstone is my date of birth and the date I die.  Do not put my name there.  Promise me that.”


When he died.  That’s what she did.  Just the dates.  No name.  So when people would wander through the cemetery and they would see his tombstone - with just the dates - no name.  They would say, “That’s odd.”  


Last words are like an epitaph.  The idea that the last thing we say may sum up our lives.


When Voltaire died its said that a priest asked him to renounce Satan.  Voltaire replied, “This is no time to be making enemies.”


Steve Jobs last words are reported as, “Oh wow.  Oh wow.  Oh wow.”


George Washington said, “I die hard.  But am not afraid to go.”


Oscar Wilde’s last words - not quite as intense:  “Either that wall paper goes or I do.”


What Jesus says here - “It is finished” - is arguably one of the most significant statements in history.  Top 5 - arguably #1.  Hugely significant.  Significant for every human who has lived - is living today - who will ever live - mankind past - present - future - forever.  What Jesus says has consequences for our lives now and forever.  


This statement of Jesus describes a turning point in the history of history.  In one moment everything changes.  We need to slow down and understand that.  We need to understand how everything changed.  What changes for us.


First:  We need to understand what Jesus meant when He said, “It is finished” - emphasis “finished.”


Can you imagine not having anything left to do?  Most of you don’t have the time to imagine that because you’re sitting here looking at me and thinking about all the things you have to do this afternoon.


There’s always one more paper to write - one more email to respond to - one more post - one more tweet - one more activity with the kids - one more meal to prepare - another load of laundry - something around the house that needs fixing - another client to deal with - a voicemail that needs to be answered - a text that needs to be responded to - on and on.  Right?


More than at any other time in history we live with a perpetual “to do list.”  Nothing is ever complete - finished.


Which makes what Jesus says here even more astoundingly significant for us.


“It is finished” in Greek is actually only one word:  “tetelestai” - which comes from the verb “teleo” - which has the idea of arriving at a goal - reaching the end - the purpose - for why something exists.


One of the meanings has to do with paying bills - making a final payment on an account.  Archeologists have found papyrus tax receipts with “tetelestai” written across them - meaning “paid in full.”


It would be perfectly legitimate to think about Jesus’ “tetelestai” as Jesus emphatic declaration that the debt of sin has been canceled - completely satisfied.  That debt paid - John then records - Jesus bowed His head and gave up His spirit.  Willingly Jesus then gave over His spirit to death.


We’re together on that?  Right?  Jesus told His disciples, “No one takes My life from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.  I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.”  (John 10:17,18)


Jesus is not a martyr for a cause.  An unwilling victim of circumstance.  Jesus is the Savior choosing to give up His life at the time and place of His choosing for us.


John 4:34:  Jesus said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.”  Meaning that Jesus understood that the goal of His life - in humanity - was the doing the work that God had given Him to do.  His whole life has been leading up to this moment.  With this cry Jesus is declaring that He’s done it.  He’s accomplished everything the Father sent Him to accomplish.  Its done.  Really completely done.


Genesis begins how?  “In the beginning.”  Genesis records our fall - this terrible disaster of humanity entering into sin and the ongoing disaster we struggle with because we live in sin - because we sin.  Scripture goes on to describe God’s steady and purposeful - intentional - plan - working through history to restore what our sin has removed us from - the relationship that God desires for us to have with Him.

That account of God’s working includes prophets and kings and queens and shepherds and basic ordinary people like us.  There are some hugely dramatic moments - promising moments in evil times.  People act with courage and foolishness.


The whole account of God’s working in history leads to this one moment.  Jesus accomplishing - completing - what God had already begun.  What God had been about doing throughout history.


Jesus’ statement is the summary of where history has been going.  It puts all of history into perspective.  It is unanticipated.  Imagine God allowing the crucifixion of the Messiah - our Savior - His only Son.  And yet, here it is - the climax of history.  In this one moment everything changes.  The work of the Son is finished.


Second - going even deeper in our understanding what Jesus means by “It is finished” we need to think about the “it.”  What is “it” that’s been finished.  How did a man dying on a cross change everything that’s anything?  What changed?  What happened on the cross?


To describe the “it” theologians use the word “atonement.”  The atonement is the “it” in “it is finished.”


Atonement may sound like a $20 word that only a theologian would love.  But, most of us use the term - maybe not the word - but the idea - all the time.


This afternoon how many of you are planning some kind of gathering with family or friends?  For how many of you will that involve food?  Maybe lots of food?  Maybe uncomfortable amounts of food?  Leftovers?  And more food?  Dessert?  Made out of the major food groups.  Flour, butter, and sugar.


Which means that hopefully - tomorrow - many of us will cut back a tad on our food intake.  Yes?  That’s atonement.  Working to reverse the consequences of our self-gratifying semi-unrestrained bingeing this afternoon.  We only wish the effects of our over indulging could be finished at one moment.  Right?


When we drive over the speed limit and we’re blessed with a reminder from the police that what we’ve done is not right.  When we write our check to the city we’re making atonement.  Rectifying a wrong.  Which is what Jesus does in our place on the cross.


Are we together?


We might think of atonement as “at one moment.”  Meaning that “at one moment” - by Jesus’ atonement - at that one moment everything about the broken relationship between God and man changed.  At that one moment - Jesus’ work of reconciliation - of restoring the broken relationship between God and us - that work is finished.


John Wesley said, “Nothing in the Christian system is of greater consequence than the doctrine of atonement.” (1)

Jesus Christ dying on the cross - in our place - taking our sin upon Himself - reconciling us - our relationship with God - is at the very core of what we believe as Christians - at the very heart of Scripture.  Everything in history leads up to it.  Everything since then.  Everything that will be from now on - flows from it.


Let's be careful.  Theologians use the word “atonement” to describe all that - Jesus’ work on the cross.  But all that is the mechanism - the means.  It’s the process of restoring our relationship with God.  The cross is the “how” of all that.  The question - in trying to understand just what “it” is - is trying to understand just what Jesus’ atonement really has accomplished for us. 


What really has changed because of Jesus’ atoning work?  Which is - practically speaking - which is bringing theology into the day-to-day of our lives.  What does “it” mean for us?


Which really is hard to process.  Because the scope - the ramifications - the application of Jesus’ work to our lives is so huge.  Because our need is so huge.


The New Testament gives us a number of different descriptions of what God has done for us through the atonement.  Descriptions that are really helpful for us as we’re trying to understand what God really does offer us in Jesus.  There are five that seem to stand out as most helpful for us this morning.


The first description - what has the atonement accomplished for us - first - is relational.  God reconciling us to Himself.


When we sin.  When we disobey God in our speech and our thoughts and our actions.  We fracture our relationship with God.  One of the main themes in Scripture describing the atonement is relational.  God and man having a broken relationship.  That relationship needs to be healed.


We live in a world where relationships are hugely important.  Tweeting and twittering and texting - even with its limitations is all about relationships.  We know - way to painfully - we know what its like to have a broken relationship.  We know what its like to long for reconciliation.  That’s what God has done for us - between us - on the cross.


Colossians 1:19,20:  “For God in all His fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through Him God reconciled everything to Himself.  He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.”  (TNLT)


Jesus dies on the cross to bring about reconciliation between God and us.  Jesus’ sacrifice repairs our relationship with God.


Second - Scripture describes atonement as redemption.


We live in a world where we buy and sell things.  Trade for stuff.  What’s valuable gets paid for.  That’s another way Scripture describes Jesus work on the cross:  Redemption.


Ephesians 1:7,8:  “In Him - Jesus - we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight…”


Those words work just as well at Target as they do in the New Testament.  Application is a tad different.  But the idea is buying and selling.


God’s grace is pictured as riches.  Lavished is a financial word meaning abundance.  Redemption is a market place term used to describe buying back something valuable.  Jesus’ death is the price that was paid - to do what?  To purchase us - to buy us back from our bondage to sin and its consequences - so we could belong to God.


We know about prices.  We know about buying things.  The atonement is a transaction.  God is the buyer.  We’re the goods.


Third - Scripture describes atonement in legal terms - the world of laws and courts and judges - oh my.  In legal terms - before God - we’re guilty as charged.  We’ve broken God’s laws and we have a huge - unsolvable - problem.  Yet God, justifies us.


Romans 5:1,2:  “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”


The atonement is pictured as a courtroom.  We’re guilty.  Yet Jesus atoning work on the cross allows us to be justified.  It takes away our guilt.  God is the judge and offended party and yet because of what Jesus has done we can stand before God innocent - justified of our wrong-doing.  Justified - just as if I’d never sinned.


Scripture also uses religion as a metaphor to describe atonement.  Makes sense that the Bible would talk about religion at some point.


Jesus came as a Jew.  Born into a highly religious culture.  Many people understand following Jesus as a religious experience.  His death on the cross is described in religious terms that most people - Jewish or something else - religious terms that most people can latch on to.


Jesus was our sacrifice.  Sound religious.  Everyone in Jesus’ day understood the idea of sacrifice.  Even pagan gentiles.  Offering something valuable to a divine being in order appease that being or get its favor - better crops - more fertile goats - whatever.


Hebrews 9:14 describes Jesus as the perfect sacrifice:  “Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God.  For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered Himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.”  (TNLT)


Even people today understand about sacrifices.  But Jesus is not just another sacrifice.  He is the sacrifice - the eternal sacrifice - completely without the blemish of sin - able to cleanse us completely - able to completely do what no other sacrifice could - can - and will be able to do.  That is, to please God.


Fifth - Scripture describes Jesus’ atoning work on the cross in military terms.  People conquering other people - fighting and killing and butchering and attacking and defending and defeating and being defeated - all that is well ingrained in our history.  We get this. 


Colossians 2:15:  “He - God - disarmed the rulers and authorities - think demonic powers - forces of evil - and put them to open shame by triumphing over them in Him - Jesus.”      


Imagine the strategy.  God defeating death by dying Himself.  Jesus - when He died and rose again - He humiliated death and evil.  The cross is a decisive brilliant military move.  God using the very tool of evil and death to bring life and victory over evil and death.  The cross is a complete rout - a triumph over Satan and his minions.  The atonement is a triumph over evil.

We need to be honest with ourselves.  The atonement is very complicated thing.  There parts of what God has done for us that - just like we really do not fully understand just how depraved and separated from God we are - we don’t fully understand all of what God has done for us in Jesus.


But God gives us enough.  Descriptions - comparisons with where we live life - that help us to begin to appreciate that in a world of relationships atonement means our relationship with God is reconciled.  We’ve been bought back - purchased by the blood Jesus - redeemed from our sin.  We’re justified before God.  Jesus is our - in our place - sacrifice.  Jesus - in military terms - He’s victorious.  He’s triumphed over death and evil.


That’s what God has been doing in history leading up to the cross.  And at one moment - all of that “it” is finished.  What is at the core of what we believe.  Reconciliation.  Redemption.  Justification.  Sacrifice.  Triumph. 


In one moment everything changes. 


Thinking about us.  The problem is that way too often we struggle to believe that it really is finished.


Paul Taylor - over at Peninsula Bible Church - about 2 years ago Paul Taylor was preaching on this passage.  What he says just touches home.  See if you can relate to this.


“On the cross, Jesus says that atonement is finished.  He did completely reconcile me to the Father.  He did completely justify me.  He did completely redeem me.  Because He is my perfect sacrifice, God is completely pleased with me.  Jesus did declare a complete victory on my behalf.  The amazing application of all of this theology is that we can stop trying to atone for ourselves before God.  We can rest in the fact that the atonement is complete.  It is finished.  Rest in Christ’s atonement.


“But most of us find that really hard to do.  It’s so hard to rest in what someone else has done.  We want to pay things back ourselves.  We want to fix the wrongs that we’ve caused.  We want to earn our way back to God.  We want to be worthy of His love.  We don’t want to accept His grace because we don’t want to extend grace to others.  We want to be in control so we want to atone for ourselves.” (2)


Question:  Is it finished for you?


We need all those things that God offers us in Jesus.  Those things come to us because of Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection.


We need God’s forgiveness - to know the freedom of forgiveness - of living free because God forgives us.  But we can’t experience that freedom of forgiveness if we really don’t believe Jesus’ statement on the cross.


So many times we’re walking around through our lives as if the atonement isn’t complete.  We’re thinking that God isn’t really pleased with us.  That our relationship is still broken.  That we’re worthless and who really cares about us.  We drag around with us the guilt for stuff we’ve done - our failures as parents and just plain people.  The lies about ourselves that we’ve bought into.  The anger that we can’t seem to let go of.  The bitterness.  The lust that keeps pulling us down.  


We think that we’re guilty and that somehow we have to please God.  We need to do some incredible thing - serving at church - doing some great act of service in the community - something to impress Him - to please or appease Him - to somehow earn His favor and blessing.  Memorizing Scripture - reading through Scripture cover to cover including the maps and concordance.  Praying down lists of requests.  Saying the right things with the right words.  All the stuff of religion.


And yet, way too often we’re living defeated - depressed - unable to conquer what beats us down and tears us apart.  Feeling abandoned and guilty and worthless.  We come to end of ourselves and we’ve got nothing.


But, hear the word of Jesus:  “It is finished.”


Whether we can fully process it or not - the amazing reality of the Gospel - of Jesus’ work on the cross and His resurrection - is that all of what God offers to us in Jesus, God really does offer to us in Him.  We do not need to live defeated lives - estranged from God - fearful and hopeless.  We really can live in His victory - restored and forgiven - with great confidence and hope of all that God offers us in Jesus.


John 3:16 is the gospel in a nutshell:  “For God so loved the world - that’s us - that He gave His only Son - Jesus who fulfilled that giving by going to the cross for us - that whoever - that us - whoever believes in Him - whether we fully understand it or not - but by faith we’re willing to trust that Jesus really has finished what God has given Him to do - whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.  That’s victory.  That’s hope.  That’s forever with God.


For those who by faith will take God at His word and trust Him with their lives.


The work that Jesus finished was the repairing of the brokenness that began with Adam and Eve - when they disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden.  They broke our relationship with God - and whole lot of other things we struggle through.  Jesus died on the cross to fix all that.


When Jesus declares “It is finished” He’s declaring that that work is complete.

Hear this:  He’s also declaring a beginning.  The beginning of new possibilities in our lives - of what we’ve always longed for - the abundant - full to overflowing - life that Jesus talked about.  Jesus - John 10:10: 
“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly”  The beginning of life with God now and forever.  Life - the immensity of - that we can’t even begin to probe the amazing depths of.


That’s what Jesus has done.  The resurrection proves it.  At one moment everything changes.


Question:  Has it changed for you?


There’s nothing left to atone for.  It is finished.  We can stop trying.  We can rest in His atonement.  Have you?  Are you?




1. Cited by Paul Taylor:  John 19:30,  “Completion of the Cross”, 03.25.12, Discovery Papers

2. Paul Taylor:  John 19:30,  “Completion of the Cross”, 03.25.12, Discovery Papers


Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®  (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.