The Finishing Touch
John 19:28-30 & Luke 24:1-8
“Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” vs. 30
“He is not here; he is risen!” Luke 24:6a
I have a few pictures of things around my house that I would like to show you. These are actual pictures of things I took with my iphone yesterday.
-This is a frame for a hammock that sits on the side of our house
-This is a concrete slab in our back yard where I had hoped to have a Jacuzzi
-This is the doorway between our laundry pantry and the hallway
-This is the base of the wall in our bedroom
-This is a stack of tile that we got to tile our bathroom off the master bedroom
-This is a night stand that I am refinishing for my daughter
Can you tell me what these six things have in common, besides that they are all in my house? (Wait for answer) Now you know I work hard, right? You do know that don’t you? Ok, I hope so. So the thing they have in common is that they are unfinished projects. They are things I have started and have not yet finished. It doesn’t mean I won’t, it just means that I have a list of things that I still need to get done. It’s pretty well documented that many of us have this same issue. Max Lucado, a Christian author and speaker said:
“Our human tendency is to quit too soon; our human tendency is to stop before we get to the finish line. Our inability to finish what we start is seen in the smallest things…” Max Lucado
The Apostle Paul hints at this as well. In 1 Corinthians Paul encourages us to run so we can finish and win the prize. Twice he tells us that he has “finished the race” which is an encouragement to us to do the same. Today is Easter Sunday and we have the opportunity to celebrate what Jesus Christ has done for us. Let’s look at the story one more time; one part from John’s perspective and one from Luke’s. If you are able, please stand as we read God’s Word.
Read Passage – John 19:28-42
28 Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that 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.
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.
“It is finished” “Tetelestai”
It might be helpful for us to fully grasp one of the last things that Jesus said while he was on the cross. He uttered a phrase that we are familiar with, “It is finished.” It is also a term that the people of his time were familiar with as well. In English this is three word phrase. In Greek it is one word; “Tetelestai.” It is not a cry of desolation but more of an announcement of triumph. It was commonly used in different areas of their lives. For example:
• In Service
A servant would use this word when he completed a task. He would got the master and say “tetelestai” and the master would look at the job and say “well done.”
• In the Temple
The Jewish people would bring their sacrifice to be offered in the temple, the priest would look at it and reply “tetelestai” meaning “it is perfect.”
• In Sales
To a merchant, when someone bought something from you in the market, you would reply “tetelestai” meaning “it is paid in full.”
• In Creativity
An artist would complete his creation and claim “tetelestai” meaning, “it is done,” or “it is perfect” just the way I want it to look.
We Celebrate Easter because Jesus Finished…
There is an connection between what Jesus said on the cross and what happens in the resurrection that really makes today, Easter, what it is. The resurrection could not have happened unless Jesus had died. We celebrate Easter because we recognize that Jesus was able to do for us what we could not do. He finished his purpose in providing the sacrifice that was needed to atone for our sin and to conquer and accomplish things that we could not. We celebrate Easter because Jesus finished. But what exactly did he finish? Let’s look at that.
• Satan’s Attempt to Rule
First, Jesus finished Satan’s attempt to rule. Since the time of man’s first sin in the Garden of Eden, Satan has attempted to rule both the world and man. He disguises himself as the real ruler but in the end is exposed as a fraud. Satan never has claimed to be able to conqueror death or provide salvation. 2 Cor. 11:14 says:
“For Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” 2 Cor. 11:14
One of the places we see Satan masquerade himself as ruler is in Matthew 3 where he tempts Jesus. Remember he takes him to the top of the temple and says that if he bows down and worships him, he will give Jesus all the kingdoms he can see. Satan is always pretending to be in charge, pretending to rule, but never will be able to.
This is scene again in the scene at the cross. Satan must have thought: I have finally won. I’ve done it, I’ve taken Jesus down. Not so fast.
Ex. The Chronicles of Narnia. Aslan has been captures and tied up. Susan and Lucy sneak up to the place that Aslan is being held and can only watch in horror as he is put to death. All their dreams, all their hopes, everything seems crushed at that point. At that point as well, Satan believes he has won. This would appear to be Susan and Lucy’s darkest hour as they look over the lifeless body of Aslan. But we know the story doesn’t end there. Strange things begin to happen. Mice come running up the altar and begin to chew the ropes. In an instant, Aslan is no l onger dead but resurrected. He is alive. He is Risen.
The good news is that Satan’s attempt to rule is tetelastai, finished at the cross. Christ is risen. Satan is uncovered for who he really is, a masquerader. We also know that eventually Satan will be subdued forever. The Book of Revelation tells us so. It says in Rev. 20:10:
“And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur…” Rev. 20:10
Satan is thrown in the Lake of Burning fire and then it is sealed. His farce is over. Jesus It is finished is completed in Satan’s being subdued and thwarts his attempt to rule. His attempt is done.
• Our Salvation
A second we celebrate today is our salvation. Until the death and resurrection of Christ, salvation was not finished, complete. As was stated earlier, we could never atone for our sin. There is no amount of money, no good deeds, nothing that could help us right our relationship with God. We try, but it is not possible. Yet, the world still believes that somehow it is.
We live in a time when people are convinced that we have control; we have the ability to control our lives and our destiny. The other religions of the world teach that it is all about you, all about what you can do to set your course, you can do the things necessary to somehow live forever.
Ex. Muhammad Ali in an interview with Reader’s Digest (December, 2001) revealed his religious philosophy.
“What does your faith mean to you?” He answered, “[It] means [a] ticket to heaven. One day we’re all going to die, and God’s going to judge us, [our] good and bad deeds. [If the] bad outweighs the good, you go to hell; if the good outweighs the bad, you go to heaven.” He went on to elaborate: “”[I’m] thinking about the judgment day and how you treat people wherever you go. Help somebody through charity, because when you do, it’s been recorded.” This former boxing champ clearly believes in a “works” salvation. He says that God will weigh the good things and the bad things we’ve done and whichever outweighs the other will determine whether we go to heaven or hell. We should do good to other people since this will determine our destiny.
This is Mohammad Ali’s view but many other believe it too. In our culture today we are being bombarded with this kind of philosophy. In many ways, Christianity is counter culture. It’s not about what we do but what Jesus has done for us. John 1:7 says:
“If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” John 1:7
Notice that salvation is based on the work of Jesus Christ. The shedding of his blood is tetelastai, it is finished. But it goes on, 1 Peter 1:3 Says:
“In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3
Jesus resurrection is the victory over death. We celebrate Easter because he died and shed his blood but on the third day he rose again.
• Conquering Death
And finally, third, until the death and resurrection of Christ, death appeared to have been a conqueror force. Death is scary. Death is a difficult thing for us to understand and to accept. Some people believe when you die that that is all there is. Wow would that be a tragedy. You might as well live for the moment. But here is why we celebrate today. Christ conquered death. He died a death we should have died. Another phrase that Jesus utters on the cross is “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? “ Matt. 27:46 Jesus feels at this point the ultimate separation from God. That separation is what we would have felt and experienced. But we live in a new living hope because of his tetelestai. He finished what we could not and because of that, though we die in the earthly body, we do not experience that separation from God. Romans 5:8-9 say:
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath.”
We are not separated from God in our death nor do we experience the wrath of God. No, as Paul said that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Let me follow that up with 1` Cor. 15:55-57:
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gave us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Cor. 15:55-57
So we see that Christ finished on the cross the sting of death and the victory that death seemed to hold over us. Christ conquered death and the sting that should have been ours.
So, just in case you’ve missed it, or you might be thinking, okay , so what. We believe that there is great significance in Jesus saying “It is finished” and then in his resurrection, we have new life and salvation. In a sense, Jesus switched places with us. The Marty and Mary went to the tomb looking for Jesus but they seem some angels and they say to them in verse 5b-6a:
“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he is risen!” Luke 24:5b-6a
It is finished and He is Risen complete the work and purpose of why Jesus, God with us, came to earth. It should change our life because his work completes our life as well when we confess with our mouth and believe in our heart that Jesus is Lord. Time of prayer and lead into communion.