Easter Sermon: It Is Finished

I had the joy this last week of sitting down with a couple people who are hoping to join our church, to confess their faith in Jesus and be received as brothers and sisters in Christ. As preparation for this, we have been working through a short curriculum created by the RCA. And this week, we struggled with one of the questions. We were asked, “ What have you learned about the gospel apart from what you have learned from the church?”

We struggle, because for all of us in that room, the church is where we have learned the gospel, where we learned to know God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), to trust him, love him, and to love our neighbor.

In other words, the gospel is why were are here.

Whether we know it or not, I believe that each of us is here because we long to hear good news and this is the place to hear it. In a world filled with bad news, in lives often too filled with bad news, we need the good news. We need to hear again or for the first time, the good news of Jesus Christ.

I don’t know why you think you are here this morning, but I believe from the bottom of my heart that you, just as much as I, need to hear the good news this morning. For it is Easter, the day of the resurrection, and Christians are people of the good news.

So I’d like to invite you to open your Bibles with me to John 19, verse 30 and hear the good news. John is in the New Testament – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. John 19:30. But before we hear God’s word, please take a moment to pray with me.

Father, may your Word be our rule, Your Holy Spirit our teacher, and the glory of Jesus Christ our single concern. Amen.

These are the very words of God from the book that we love:

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

This is the Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

At the culmination of the gospel story are Jesus’ words, “It is finished.” And then death, and three days later, resurrection. The last words John records Jesus saying sum up the whole mission, Jesus’ whole life, they sum up the very events of his death and resurrection.

It is finished.

It is finished. complete, made perfect, accomplished ended.

It is finished.

What is finished? What does Jesus claim is accomplished in his suffering and death? What has been completed in the death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God? Nothing short of redemption, nothing short of salvation.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. For six days, God shaped them and filled them. He created fish and birds, plants, and animals, a glorious and beautiful variety. And at the capstone, he created humankind – male and female – in his image – to be in relationship with him and partner with him in the work of caring for this created world. God saw it all and it was very good.

But that goodness did not remain untrained for long. Through willful rebellion and disobedience, our first parents sent creation into a tailspin. Where it has once been in line with God’s will and directed toward his glory and our flourishing, they sent their own hearts and creation along with it careening in a different direction – away from God.

Paul says that this creation was subjected to futility – it was placed in bondage – in fact, he says that creation groans for redemption. This Fall in the garden touched the ground, touched man and woman, touched every square inch of creation. And it groans for the bondage to end, it groans for freedom, for redemption, to be set free to glorify God.

All the while, the man and woman hid, they hastily cover themselves with fig leaves, doing their best to cover up their shame and embarrassment. When confronted, they quickly pass the blame. They run and hide from God in shame.

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

It is finished.

All the groaning – in the ground and in our hearts – for freedom from the sin, freedom from the guilt, freedom from the lingering stains we can never seem to wash out – Jesus says, It is finished. All the hiding, all the running, all the blame and bitterness and shame and fear, Jesus says, It is finished.

What is finished? What did Jesus accomplish on the cross and in the empty tomb? Nothing short of redemption, nothing short of salvation.

It is finished. In dying, Jesus put death to death, he conquered sin, and set free those who are in bondage. God’s whole mission of rescuing a lost and broken world he so loves is finished, accomplished in Jesus Christ dying and rising from the grave. The whole project, which began at the very moment of Adam and Eve’s fall, which traces back before the very foundation of the world, this whole work of saving sinners, paying their debt, releasing them to live with the God, to walk with the grain of the universe, this whole work is accomplished in Jesus Christ.

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

What is finished? Nothing short of redemption, nothing short of salvation. It is finished.

These words are vindicated, culminated, God’s redemption is accomplished and unveiled with power at the empty tomb – in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

It is in the twin acts of dying and rising that Christ accomplished salvation for sinners. It is in dying, in giving up his spirit for the sake of the lost, the broken, the guilty and shamed, that all of that old life is finished. It is in dying on the cross, that Christ takes all that was in Adam, in the old person, and puts it to death on the cross. And it is in the resurrection, in rising from the grave, that our resurrection, our eternal life is promised and foreshadowed. It is as Jesus himself said,

I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.”

On the cross, redemption was accomplished, salvation was completed. It was finished, made perfect, made complete. There is nothing to be done, nothing to be added to what Christ has finished by dying and rising again.

And yet, it is the Holy Spirit’s work to apply Christ’s finished work in our lives. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to convict us, to give us faith, and assurance that Christ died to save sinners, and I am one of them.

In other words, It is the Holy Spirit that echoes Jesus’ words over every square inch of our existence.

It is finished.

If we repent of our sin and trust in Jesus Christ, Jesus says It is finished.

That shame you feel about that past you cannot change, Jesus says It is finished. It is forgiven, gone, wiped clean.

That identity you built through the affirmation of your friends, only to find out that they fail you too, It is finished. You belong with me, you are one of mine and I never abandon my own.

All the hiding – all the pretending – all the putting on a good face, when you know deep inside that something isn’t right, you are barely hanging on, or not even hanging on at all, Jesus says, It is finished. Take off the fig leaves, stop trying to cover yourself up, let me clothe you.

All the ways that at first we believe we don’t do enough, know enough, work hard enough, and then begin to believe that we are not enough – all the ways we run from that fear, bury it deep, double down on work or drift into addiction, Jesus says, It is finished. I am enough, so you are enough. Rest in Jesus.

In all the ways we fight, we jump to our own defense, even at the expense of others, all the ways we choose ourselves over others, our comfort over compassion, safety over service, all the ways we work to make sure we are never hurt again, never betrayed again, never lost again, Jesus says, It is finished.

What is finished? Nothing short of redemption, nothing short of salvation. And for all who believe in Jesus, who belong to him, the Holy Spirit echoes Jesus words over every square inch of our existence – It is finished.

Salvation is through Christ alone – his blood shed on the cross, his resurrection from the grave. It is by grace alone – there is nothing we can do to make it happen ourselves, Christ has finished it all. It is through faith alone – all we need to do is trust in Jesus.

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

The gospel is why we are here. Whatever brought us into this sanctuary this morning, I believe that each of us needs to hear good news. Jesus says, It is finished. Salvation has been won, it is done, all we are asked to do is trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

The invitation for each of us this morning is to let go and rest in the finished work of Jesus. To let go of sin, of all the ways of living in this world that lead us farther from God, to let go of all our mechanisms of keeping God at arms length, to let go of them all and simply trust the words of Jesus, It is finished.

It is finished. The salvation we long for, the freedom we might believe is too good to hope for, has been accomplished. Jesus died and rose again for us and for our salvation. For you. Do you believe this?

The invitation this morning for each of us is to rest in the finished work of Jesus. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Maybe you have never believed in Jesus, never trusted him for your life and salvation. I pray that the Holy Spirit has been working in you this morning and that you will say, “I believe in Jesus. I believe he died and rose for me, and I want to follow him all the days of my life.” I pray that God would work in you today.

Maybe you’ve trusted in Jesus, but like me, you’ve had times where you’ve run, where you’ve hid, where you’ve placed your trust in other things over God. Know that God has not let you go. The invitation is the same for you – trust in Jesus. Rest in his finished work for you.

Whether for the first time or for the hundredth time, the invitation to each of us this morning is to trust in Jesus, to hear the Spirit echo Jesus words over our lives, It is finished.

The gospel is why we are here. We long for good news in a world, in lives, too often filled with bad news. And this morning, I want to tell you that there is good news for you.

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Jesus has finished all that was necessary for salvation. In bowing his head and giving up his spirit, Jesus saved sinners. By the power and gift of the Spirit, each of us is called to trust in the finished work of Christ.

As we sing this next song, I invite you to let it be your prayer. Whether for the first time or the hundredth time, I invite you to sing this song and place your trust in Jesus. Trust his saving work. Join us in singing when you are ready, the words will be on the screen.

“Your Great Name”

Prayer.

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