"It is Finished" (John 19:30)
Topic: One Lord: So Great a Salvation Passage: John 19:28–19:30
“It is Finished”
(One Lord: So Great a Salvation)
April 28th, 2019
I. The Greatest Endurance
Every year since 1978, on the big island of Hawaii, the Ironman World Championship brings together the best of the best endurance athletes, those who have qualified in one of over three dozen Ironman triathlons held throughout the year around the world.
The world championship begins with a 2.4 miles open-water swim in Kailua-Kona Bay, followed by a 112-mile bike ride across the Hawaiian lava desert, and ends with a full marathon (that's 26 miles) along the coast returning to Kailua-Kona. Think about it, that's over a 140 miles of swimming, biking, and running. That's the distance from here to Tucson!
In 2012, ESPN declared American Mark Allen as the greatest endurance athlete of all time. After competing and losing the Ironman Championship six times, Allen won in 1989. He then went on to win the competition six times, his last victory coming in 1995 at the age of 37. In addition, from 1988 to 1990, Allen won 21 straight triathlons, defeating in that streak, every one of the top 50 triathletes in the world.
Can you imagine doing something like this? Being the best endurance athlete in the world, six times in seven years? Can you imagine being the best endurance athlete in 21 back to back competitions? 140 miles? For a non-athlete like me, its almost inconceivable.
Hold on to that word endurance and turn over the Gospel of John, chapter 19.
II. The Passage: "Knowing That All was Now Finished" (19:28-30)
This morning we are concluding our April series, our Passion Month series, digging into Christ's four cries to God from the cross. We find our very last 'passion prayer' in John 19:30. Let's look at that verse together, but let's back up and start in verse 28. This is what we read:
After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.”  A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth.  When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Now, after hearing that, a couple questions may come to mind. First, we might ask, “Who is Jesus addressing here?” Is it clear this is actually a prayer to God? Not exactly. But let's come back to that question once we consider a second question. I think even more important than the first, we need to ask, “What did Jesus mean when he said, 'It is finished'?” Some of us may have a ready answer for that question, but let's make sure we are allowing the context to guide us in making sense of this final cry from the cross.
Let me suggest that I see at least three answers to that question, three interconnected answers, and three, interconnected answers that would take us days, maybe weeks to unpack in terms of the divine details. Since I don't have you for days or weeks, let's do what we can by considering the first answer to that question, “What did Jesus mean when he said, 'It is finished'?”. I believe the first thing Christ had in mind was...
1. The Messiah's Suffering
The context, specifically, the verse just before verse 30, confirm this point. Let me explain. With Jesus' cry in mind (“It is finished.”), look at the similar language in verse 28: After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished... What did he do, “knowing that all was now finished”? He spoke... no, not to God, but to those standing nearby. He said, “I thirst”. In response, Jesus was given, by means of a sponge on a stick, “sour wine” to drink.
Now all four Gospels mention this sour wine. But notice what we read in verse 28. John tells us that Jesus announced his thirst in order to “fulfill the Scripture”. Wait a minute. What exactly does that mean? Well, “the Scripture” mentioned there is the OT. So what that phrase does is drive us back to Psalm 69. This is what we read in Psalm 69, verses 19-21...
You know my reproach, and my shame and my dishonor; my foes are all known to you.  Reproaches have broken my heart, so that I am in despair. I looked for pity, but there was none, and for comforters, but I found none.  They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.
You may remember that Jesus has already demonstrated to us that he was meditating on the Psalms as he hung dying on the cross. We've talked about both Psalm 22 and Psalm 31 in previous lessons. But here, in Psalm 69, we find an explicit reference to suffering and “sour wine”. Now, if we had time to look at all of Psalm 69, we would discover that this is what we'd call a very 'messianic' psalm. It is quoted or alluded to several times by the NT writers.
For example, Psalm 69:9... For zeal for your house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me. That first part is quoted by John in John 2:17 in reference to Jesus driving the money changers out of the Temple. Interestingly, the second half of Psalm 69:9 is also quoted by Paul, in Romans 15:3.
Listen to the opening words of Psalm 69:4... More in number than the hairs of my head are those who hate me without cause... John also records a quotation of that verse, but it's Jesus who refers to it in chapter 15, verse 25... But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’
So in light of all these verses, I hope the picture is becoming clearer; that picture, from Psalm 69, of the Son of David's, the Messiah's, the Christ's suffering; suffering that must take place; that must be “fulfilled”. So when Jesus mentioned his thirst, he knew that the sour wine offered to him would be a final, prophetic piece in what the OT revealed about the suffering of the Messiah.
And so when Jesus said, “It is finished,” it's clear from the context that what he has in mind are all the pieces of this 'passion puzzle', predicted by the OT.
But it's that predicted picture that drives us to our second answer about Jesus statement, “It is finished”. We also know from the broader context that Jesus was talking about...
2. The Father's Will/Work
Think about what Jesus said early on his ministry. This is John 4:34...
Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.
A basic reading of John's Gospel will confirm that Jesus often spoke about doing the Father's will and accomplishing the Father's work. But how specific was this “work”? Well, consider for a moment, a verse like John 7:30... So they were seeking to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come. A similar statement is found in the very next chapter in 8:20.
But finally, in John 12:23, we read this... Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” And only a few verses later, in verse 27... “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.”
We hear this same language about God's plan for Jesus in a verse like John 7:39...
Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
Surprisingly, we know this language about Jesus being “glorified” is actually connected to the Messiah's suffering and shame, for this is what we read after Judas left that 'last supper' in order to betray Jesus:
When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.” (John 13:31)
The suffering of the Messiah was not simply a future set of circumstances of which the Jews had advanced knowledge. No, these sufferings were the outworking of God's sovereign plan. God's will was being done through Jesus, both in his signs and his sufferings, in order for a very specific and a very special work to be accomplished.
So when Jesus declared, “It is finished,” he undoubtedly had the Father's will and work in mind. But what exactly was this very specific and very special work? That question brings us to a third answer in regard to the cry “It is finished”. The context also points us to...
3. The Son's Sacrifice
This is what we read in John 3:14–17. To be clear, this passage begins with Jesus speaking, but ends with John commenting on the words of Christ. Verse 14...
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,  that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” >>> [this prompts John to comment]
 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Did you hear that? What was the Father's will? What was the Father's work? He “gave his only Son... in order that the world might be saved through him.” And remember, what prompted John to point this out were the words of Jesus about “the Son of Man [being] lifted up”. We know from John 12:33 that to “be lifted up” is a reference to crucifixion. What does that mean? It means God's 'giving' of the Son is includes God giving his Son over to death.
In a later letter, John spells this out more explicitly: In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation [i.e., the sacrifice of satisfaction] for our sins. (I John 4:10)
So let's stop and think about what all this indicates when taken together. When Jesus cried out, “It is finished,” he was affirming that the Messiah's suffering, as predicted by the OT, had been fulfilled. But in affirming that fact, he was also affirming that the Messiah's suffering and shame were a fulfillment of God's will, of God's work, of God's master plan. How in the world could the Messiah's sufferings be part of God's 'master plan'? Because through the cross, God was saving all who would believe. The suffering and death of Jesus served to satisfy the wrath of God again sin... not Christ's sin, but ours.
The cry “It is finished” speaks to all three of these interconnected ideas. What is “finished”? The Messiah's sufferings. What is fulfilled? The Father's will. What is complete? The Son's sacrifice. The author of the book of Hebrews speaks these same realities of sacrifice and completion and finality:
[Christ] entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption... (Hebrews 9:12)
The Father's will for the Son was not... to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. (9:25, 26)
“Once for all”... “It is finished”... “eternal redemption”.
Given all of that, I do believe this final cry of Christ was, in fact, addressed to God. I believe it was a fitting conclusion to the prayer he offered up two chapters earlier: “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you...” (John 17:1)
III. Eternal Endurance
Brothers and sisters, friends, you may recall the power of these 'passion prayers' comes, in part, from what they reveal about Jesus. The first of these cries, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” revealed the heart of Jesus. The second prayer, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” revealed something critical about the suffering of Jesus. The third prayer, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit,” revealed the hope of Jesus.
But what about this final 'passion prayer'? What does it reveal about Jesus? Well, though the achievements of the world's best triathletes are extremely impressive, their endurance comes nowhere close to the endurance of Jesus Christ. In the most grueling spiritual race of all time, on behalf of the human race, Jesus never gave up, he never gave in, he never veered. He didn't buckle under the pressure. He didn't fall short. He took no shortcuts. He never compromised. No. He went all the way and “finished” his course.
Here's how the author of Hebrews encourages his readers with this amazing truth...
...let us also [like faith-filled believers before us] lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (12:1, 2)
Did you hear that? His endurance for us is meant to inspire and inform our endurance for Him! Think about it: because “it is finished”, our sins (past, present, and future) will never, ever be used against us. Because “it is finished”, we never need to perform in order to earn God's acceptance. Because “it is finished” we don't need to wallow in uncertainty, guilt, or despair. Because “it is finished”, we are eternally emancipated; we are unconditionally loved; we are permanently adopted; we are alive, never again vulnerable to the cold grip of spiritual death. Or to put it another way, his endurance on the cross means we can trust him to...
1. Fully fulfill his priestly work. If we stay in Hebrews, chapter 7, verse 25 tells us Christ is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. If he endured the cross to accomplish our cleansing, he will endure to always apply that cleansing to those who believe. We can also trust him to...
2. Fully fulfill his promise to return. Jesus, in Matthew 24, likened his return to the homecoming of a master, one who had been away on a long trip. Rest assured, brothers and sisters, friends, Jesus will complete that 'trip'. He will endure the hostility, the aggression, the rebelliousness, the corruption of each and every successive generation until he returns. So let's be ready for his return, by remaining faithful to the work he gave us. Amen? Finally, we can also trust him to...
3. Fully fulfill his purchase of eternity. Paul tells us in I Thessalonians 4:17–18, that when Jesus returns, we will... meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.  Therefore [writes Paul] encourage one another with these words. Because of what Jesus accomplished when he cried, “It is finished,” we can be sure that our eternal home in the presence of God, that new heavens and new earth Scripture speaks about, we can be sure that our place there is “finished”; that it's a done deal. Non-negotiable. Unalterable. Irrevocable. We need to “encourage one another with these words”, don't we?
If this morning your hope is not fully in Christ, then let me remind you, in all love, but also in all seriousness, it is not “finished” in terms of your standing before God. If you have not received God's gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus, judgment still awaits you. But that can all change this morning.
Let's pray that God would reassure all of us in light of Jesus' “finished” work; and that his reassurance would radically inspire us to go in confidence because of his Son and his grace.