What Jesus Finished – John 19:30b

Congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ,

If I were to ask you for a two word summary of this passage, I think most of you would say, “Jesus died.”  And because Christianity is about Jesus and because Jesus is especially about the cross, the death of Jesus is massively important to the story of the Bible – it really is the very heart of the gospel message.  But as we saw last week, there is something quite unique and special about the death of Jesus.  You see, when we say that So and so died, we typically mean it in the passive sense of something that happened to them.  But when we say that Jesus died, we mean it in the active sense of something that He did – He entered into death. 

  • And we saw this last week with Jesus drinking the sour wine.  The sour wine was effectively a cheap and nasty energy drink that revived Jesus and made Him able to consciously and deliberately do the last thing that He had come to do, which was to die. 
  • We see it here in v30 also in the words, “He gave up His spirit.”  Luke tells us that Jesus did this having said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”  So Jesus entered into death; He embraced death; He actively died.

And we noted last week that this made His death not a defeat but a victory!  And we saw that one consequence of how Jesus died is that we, as believers, do not need to fear death. 

But we can only have this peace about death if we know why Jesus’ death was a victory.  And this is brought to the fore in the words of Jesus that John records in v30: ‘It is finished.”  And they are three of the most important words in the whole Bible. 

And here is why these three words are so important.  If we were all down in the hall after the service and someone shouted out, “It is finished,” we would immediately wonder and eventually someone would ask, “What have you finished?” 

And that should also be the question on the hearts of all of us in relation to these words of Jesus – what was finished?  John has recorded the life and ministry and death of Jesus in order to show us that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing in Him we may have life in His name.  Thus, whatever Jesus finished here is a vital part of John’s message.

So as we think about what it is that Jesus finished on the cross, the two main threads of John’s Gospel that are drawn together are the atoning character of Jesus’ finished work and the absolute necessity for Jesus’ finished work.  And for us to have the hope of eternal life, we need to understand both of these things.

  1. So let’s begin with the Atoning Character of Jesus’ finished work.
  1. Throughout this sermon series we have noted that a very common modern-day view of Jesus is that He was just a kind man and a good teacher.  But if that is all that Jesus was, then He is no different than many other kind human beings who taught things.  So who is the Jesus that we have seen in John’s Gospel?
    1. Well, to start with, the very first verse of the Gospel states that that Jesus existed in heaven, eternally, with the Father, before He was born in Bethlehem.  And John 1:14 explains that He “became flesh and dwelt among us.”  So Jesus is fully God and fully human.
    1. In John 1:12 we see that Jesus came to earth to give to all who would receive Him and believe in His name “the right to become children of God.”  
    1. In John 1:29, John the Baptist said of Jesus, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
    1. You might also remember from the Christmas story that when an angel told Joseph about the circumstances of Mary’s pregnancy, he said, “You shall call the child Jesus for He shall save His people from their sins.” 
    1. And on Friday evening at our carol service we noted the words of the angels to the shepherds about the birth of Jesus who would bring “peace on earth.”
    1. So already we can say that Jesus is the Son of God and He came to bring peace by saving us from our sins.  But what exactly does that mean?  Why is that needed and how does Jesus do this?
  • Well, one of the classic explanations of what Jesus came to do is a small essay or booklet by a man named Anselm who was Archbishop of Canterbury from AD 1093.  You see, there were all sorts of wrong ideas at that time about What Jesus came to do.  So Anselm wrote his essay, which he called ‘Cur Deus Homo,’ which means ‘Why the God-man?’ or ‘Why did God Become Man?’  One commentator says, “If any one Christian work outside the canon of the New Testament may be described as ‘epoch-making,’ it is the Cur Deus Homo of Anselm.”  And the basic thrust of Anselm’s essay is that Jesus became man in order to solve the problem between humanity and God.  And the three parts of Anselm’s essay are The Problem, the Need for a Solution, and the Solution.  So let’s quickly look at each of these:
    • The problem:
      • Questions: Did God create man good or evil?  Good – Gen 1:31.  What was the one thing that Adam was forbidden from doing in the Garden?  Eating from the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  And what would happen if he ate from that tree?  He would die.  So what this teaches us is that humanity was created for eternal blessedness and to enjoy this blessedness required the perfect and voluntary submission of man’s will to God.
      • But did Adam obey God?  No.  Do you and I or anyone else obey God, perfectly?  No.  Romans 3:26 – “We all fall short of the glory of God.”  So this is our problem as human beings – we are law-breakers; we are sinners.  And because we are sinners, we cannot fix our problem.  Our only hope is that someone would fix this problem for us.  And because there is only us and God, it is God who must fix our problem.
    • So that brings us to the need for a solution
      • If God created humanity for eternal blessedness, then the result of the Fall cannot be the end of the story because nothing could prevent the purpose of an all powerful God.  Therefore there must be a solution.  So God’s plan was always Create, permit the Fall, solve the problem, and then enjoy eternal blessedness with humanity.
    • And that brings us to the solution:
      • Anselm puts it this way: To restore the lost harmony and blessedness, an offering must be made to God that is equal to or greater than all of the disobedience. 
        • And we learn this lesson from the OT. 
          • God killed animals to provide Adam and Eve with clothing to cover their nakedness. 
          • Abel presented an offering to the Lord, which the Lord accepted. 
          • Gen. 22, God told Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac.  When God kept Abraham from doing it, He provided a ram that substituted for Isaac. 
          • And to escape death of the firstborn by the angel of the Lord, the Israelites had to sacrifice a lamb and put its blood on their doorposts. 
          • And the law of God listed all of the sacrifices that the people of Israel had to continually offer to pay for their sins.
          • So the way to deal with sin, to pay the price, is by way of an offering.
      • But we saw from our Psalm 40 and Hebrews 10 readings that animals can never really pay for our sins.  It is human beings, as the offender, who ought to be the offering; but no mere human can do this, because he is a sinner and because the debt is so great.  God can do this because He is God, but He ought not to do this because the debt is man’s.
      • So the solution of Anselm, which is the solution of the Bible, is that since man ought to make the offering and only God can make the offering, the offering must be made by one who is both man and God.  Therefore, God became man so that He could be the offering for sin.  Jesus is the solution to our sin problem.  And He did this by:
        • Suffering in our place to remove sin and guilt from us – He is the Lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world. 
        • But He also satisfied the anger of God at our sin – “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  And you need to understand that these are two distinct things – He took sin and guilt away from us and He endured God’s anger toward us.  The key words are away and toward.  He took our sin away and He endured God’s anger toward us.
        • So was he successful?  Well, Hebrews 10:14 says, “By a single offering He has perfected [us] or all time.”
        • And the result is that He secured peace between us and God – 2 Corinthians 5:19, “in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them.” Romans 5:1, “Therefore … we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  So we are now able to enjoy eternal blessedness!!
      • This, congregation, is the finished work of Jesus – our sins were taken away, God’s anger toward us was satisfied, and peace between us and God was secured.  
      • But to have the hope of eternal life, you must personalize this.  When you read these words – “It is finished,” they should lead you to pray, Thank you, Lord Jesus, for taking my sin and guilt away from me.  And thank you for enduring the Father’s wrath at my sins.  And thank you for securing peace between me and God. 
      • And if you have taken the time to think about the size of the pile that all your sins would make if they were piled together, then you should be overcome with love and thankfulness for what Jesus finished for you. 
  1. So that’s the atoning character of Jesus’ finished work.  But that brings us secondly and briefly to the Absolute Necessity for Jesus’ finished work.  And here our focus is Why the cross?  Why did Jesus have to finish His work in this way
  1. And we gave this matter some attention when we began to look at the crucifixion.  In Galatians 3:13 it says, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us- for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.”
    1. In OT times, covenant breakers were executed by stoning.  But Deuteronomy 21 says that the body of a person who had been stoned was to be hung on a tree for “a hanged man is cursed by God.” 
    1. As sinners, you and I deserve the curse of God.  So in order for Jesus’ offering to be acceptable, He had to become the cursed one in our place.  This is why it was necessary that He hang on a tree, which is what crucifixion is. 
  • But the other part of why Jesus died this way is something we touched on last week.  Verse 28 tells us that Jesus knew that all was now finished and so He said (to fulfill all Scripture), “I thirst.”   And we have seen that language about fulfilling Scripture back in v24, literally, and in every detail of the betrayal and arrest and trial and crucifixion, which all fulfilled Scripture.  And I know that we considered this point last week but it is worth repeating again, and it is that Scripture is trustworthy and reliable. 
    • After Jesus rose from the dead, He appeared to the disciples in the Upper Room.  Luke tells us that Jesus said to His confused and bewildered disciples, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”  Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead.”  And He would have worked through the details of His betrayal and arrest and trial and the cross as a cursed death and the sign above His head and the dividing of His garments and the drink of sour wine and showed them all of the OT prophecies that had been fulfilled.  And then when they saw the connections between the OT and what happened to Jesus, that, for them, was the Ah hah moment!
    • And the reliability and trustworthiness of all this is important because Jesus finished those words to the disciples about how His dying and rising fulfilled Scripture by saying, “and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations.”  We have a message that we need to share with people.
      • We have to tell them that there is a massive problem between humanity and God and that Jesus became man in order to solve this problem; He came to take our sins away, he came to endure God’s anger toward us, and He came to give us peace with God.
      • And the three words in the Bible that tell us that He was successful are “It is finished.” 
      • And you and me as believers need to hear those words over and over again – It is finished!  It is finished.  It is finished.  And non-believers need to hear the great problem of their sin is solved in Jesus – It is finished!  It is finished!  It is finished! 

And I want to end with a story that explains why we need to hear the “it is finished” gospel again and again and again.  It is a true story which I borrow from the preacher, A.W. Pink.  There once was a Christian who was a farmer and he was deeply concerned about his unsaved neighbour.  The neighbour was a carpenter.  The farmer had shared the gospel but the sticking point for the carpenter was the finished work of Jesus.  He just couldn’t accept the idea that there was nothing he could do to contribute to his own salvation.  So one day the farmer asked the carpenter to make a gate for him, and when it was finished he came and collected it and took it home.  He hung it on the fence and then he invited the carpenter to come and see that it was hung correctly.  So the carpenter came over and looked at the gate and all seemed fine until the farmer picked up an axe.  And when the carpenter asked him what he was doing, the farmer said, “I just want to add a few strokes to your work.”  Well, the carpenter said, “There’s nothing the gate needs; it is perfect as it is!”  But the farmer took the axe and just started hacking away at the gate until it was absolutely ruined.  So of course, the Carpenter said, “Look what you’ve done!  It’s ruined!”  “Uh huh,” said the farmer, “and that is exactly what you are trying to do.  You are trying to ruin the work of Christ by your own miserable additions to it.”  And God used this lesson to show the carpenter the mistake in his thinking and He trusted in Christ!

My friend, if you have not yet trusted in Christ for your salvation, I hope that the message of “it is finished” causes you to rest in Him and trust in Him today!  And if you have trusted in Christ, I hope that the message of “it is finished” has reminded you again that there is nothing that you need to do to secure or add to your salvation; Christ has done it all!  Yes, if you love Christ, you will keep His commandments; you must keep His commandments.  But they do not earn or make more secure your salvation because “it is finished!”  Amen.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *