Sermon for Good Friday based on John 19:30
Dear brothers and sisters who have gathered to remember the death of our Lord: grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father, and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
“It is finished.” Jesus said these three words from the cross before He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. It is finished.
But what was finished? Hours of torture, scorn, and mocking were finished. Jesus’ earthly ministry of healing the sick and raising the dead was finished. Jesus’ teaching and preaching to the crowds was finished. Jesus’ life was finished. But there is something even more here; something that directly and personally affects you.
You see, you had a debt to pay; an accumulated debt of sin from every thought, word, and deed that breaks God’s Law. We are not talking about something insignificant. Even if you kept the whole Law and failed only in one point, you are guilty and accountable for all of it [James 2:10]. There’s no such thing as “pretty good” when it comes to the Law. You either keep all of the Law perfectly, or you are completely accountable for breaking all of it. Sin severs you from God [Is. 59:2] and there is nothing you can do to bridge that gap. There’s nothing you can do to pay the debt of your sins.
But God knew your situation. He knew the situation of the whole world. Instead of allowing us all to end up in hell as we deserve, God had a plan of salvation. He sent His own Son to take our place. Here we see the cost of our sins. Here we see how significant our sins are, in the punishment that Jesus took. God in the flesh came to earth and took the burden and guilt of our sins on Himself. He was betrayed, denied, and abandoned by those closest to Him. He was bound, flogged, crowned with thorns, mocked, and beaten although He was found guilty of nothing. He was then nailed to a cross and hung there for hours until He died. He was even abandoned by God the Father, left all alone to pay the great price of our sins.
Why such a horrific death? Was there no other way? In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed to the Father that He would not have to drink this cup of wrath if it were possible [Mt. 26:39 – 42]. This would have been possible if we were to be condemned instead. But in order to pay for our sins, Jesus’ horrific death was necessary. It was necessary to save us from hell. God’s love for you compelled Him to pay such a high price for you.
When Jesus said, “It is finished,” He spoke this to His Father. Jesus makes His report, that He has fulfilled the will of the Father who sent Him. The plan of salvation is finished.
But Jesus spoke audibly with the intent that all people would hear. Recorded in Scripture, you can still hear the voice of Jesus say, “It is finished,” and so Jesus speaks also to you.
Jesus tells you it is finished. Through His obedience to the Law of God throughout His life, Jesus fulfilled the Law for you. The Law that you are unable to keep was fulfilled by Jesus on your behalf. Thus, it is finished. The Law is finished. The Law no longer reigns over you. You have died to the Law through the body of Christ [Rom. 7:4]. The Law can no longer accuse you. All of the accusations of the Law were directed at Jesus, so now there is no condemnation for those in Jesus Christ [Rom. 8:1]. Therefore, for those who believe in Christ, the Law is finished.
Through Jesus’ death, He defeated death. So death is finished. Death for us is now nothing more than a slumber. As Jesus rose from the dead, so we will also rise from the dead. Death no longer has dominion over us. Therefore, for those who believe in Christ, death is finished.
And the reign of Satan is over. Jesus’ death may have seemed like Satan triumphed, but in fact, Jesus overthrew the devil’s reign of tyranny with His death [Jn. 12:31]. The Great Accuser can accuse you no more [Rev. 12:10]. Therefore, for those who believe in Christ, Satan is finished.
But the devil is busily trying to rob you of your freedom that cost Christ so much. He wants to use your freedom to your detriment by tempting you to sin and fall into the slavery of sin. Satan wants you to lose grace by tempting you to remain in your sins and not turn away from them. He wants you to be secure in your sins and let your sins reign over you, so that you will not believe that in Jesus the reign of sin is over, that the reign of sin is finished.
Or, the evil one wants to deceive you to believe in Jesus but also look to your works. He wants you to say that yes Jesus died for me, but I also must do my part in order to be saved. For those that believes this, Christ is of no advantage for them [Gal. 5:2], because the Law is finished for those who are in Christ. If you do not believe that the Law is finished for you, if you do not accept Christ’s words, “It is finished,” you nullify His death and victory for you. You say that Christ’s death is not enough and the victory over the Law is not finished. Thus you fall under the judgment of the Law again, since you cannot fulfil it yourself.
On the other side of these first two tricks, the father of lies wants to accuse you of your past sins as if their guilt was not taken away from you by Jesus’ death. He wants you to look at your past sins and feel guilt, anxiety, fear, and false terrors. He wants you to think of Christ as your judge.
Instead of falling for these traps and wiles of the devil, of allowing sin to rule our lives, of looking to our good works, or looking at our sins, we should instead look only to Jesus. He fulfilled the Law for us. He performed the good work that saves us. He took the debt of our sins and paid it with His blood. He took the punishment for our sins and said, “It is finished.” Your good works do not save you, and in Christ, your sins do not condemn you. The reign of sin is over – it is finished. The reign of the Law is over – it is finished. And there is no condemnation for those in Jesus Christ – condemnation is finished. Christ was condemned for you, and now He is not your judge, but your Intercessor and Mediator. He did not come “into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him [Jn. 3:17].”
With all that Jesus accomplished, we can indeed say that it is a good day that we remember. Good Friday is the day that we remember the suffering and death of Jesus. It was a day that darkness appeared to have won. But when we understand what Jesus accomplished through His death, we see the power of God at work to save us; to redeem us; to pay the price of our debts. It is finished. Amen.
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.