Dear radio friends,
We began last week a journey of faith to the cross of Jesus Christ, there to behold the very Son of God suffering for our sins, and there to rejoice in the amazing grace of God for us sinners, whereby our sin was once paid for and the power of the cross motivates us to a new and godly life. You will remember that last week we talked about the fact that Jesus, after the three hours of darkness, received the sponge of vinegar and sucked that vinegar out of the sponge, thereby showing us that He had left behind none of our sins, none of the curse that was yet due to God’s people, but that He endured all the judgment and all the wrath that was owed to the elect of God.
We want to continue at that part in the narrative and take it up again in Mark 15. After Jesus has received that vinegar, we read in verse 37, “And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost.” The gospel according to John, in chapter 19, tells us what He uttered with that loud voice. We read in verse 30, “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” So today we want to talk to you about Jesus’ cry of triumph from the cross. That cry was, with a loud voice: “It is finished.”
He had also just cried, but a few minutes before, with a loud voice, the heart-rending question of abandonment: “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” Now, with another loud voice, after He has sucked every ounce of the vinegar out of the sponge, He has cried the cry of a victor and a cry of a conqueror: “Tel telestai” in the Greek: “It is finished!”
The word and the tense mean that something has been in the process and now has been brought to a state of completion and there it stands — that an action has been brought to completion and there is finality to it. It is done.
The sun has returned to Calvary. The darkness of the three hours is past. The Son of God is crying out in triumph: “It is done, it is finished!” Note very carefully that He did not say, “I’m done, I’m finished, I’m a goner.” No, He said “It is finished.” And note that it was an intelligent, joyful, triumphant cry.
What was finished? Well, we may go to the words of the Lord Himself in John 17 where, before the cross, He prayed to the Father and said, “I have finished the work that thou gavest me to do.” What was finished? The work that God gave Him to do. What was that work? That work was to take away our sin by bearing its penalty. Earlier in that night it had been portrayed as the cup, the cup that Jesus saw His Father presenting to His lips and, in the Garden of Gethsemane, He had prayed, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not as I will but as thou wilt.” In that cup was all the bitter dregs and all the awful vinegar and all the suffering that was owed to our sins. The Father presented that to His Son, the substitute. And the Son has finished it. He has drunk it all. It is done. He means to say, “All the work of the bearing of the sins of God’s elect, and the enduring of the penalty that was owed to them, is done. It is finished.”
Or we may put it in the words of Hebrews 10:14, “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” The one offering of His body upon the cross has perfected, has brought to a final perfected state, all those who are sanctified in Him. The work of salvation, the work of redemption, the work of payment for sin is complete. This is the cry of triumph that forms the basis of all of our salvation and all of our hope. It is done.
There was, then, a definite outcome to the cross of Jesus. The issue was not left in doubt. There is no doubt left as to what He was doing upon the cross and what He has accomplished.
God had already foretold all of that in Isaiah 53. There we read that the Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all, that He made His soul an offering for sin. Now, no doubt is left as to the conclusion of that, to the outcome of that. The Lord laid upon Him the iniquity of us all. Then what happened? Did He endure it? Did He take it away? No doubt is left. Listen. “It is finished.”
Let us apply that. First of all, what a horrible thing to think that anything less than the death of Jesus could accomplish our salvation, or that anything more is necessary to accomplish our salvation. How horrible it would be to say that something less than the very Son of God, dying upon a cross, could take away our sin. Nothing less than that, do you understand? Sin cannot be erased. Sin cannot be banished from the presence of God in any other way than this way: God’s Son doing the work, the eternal Son of God in human flesh bearing the unbearable and giving to God the full love of His heart in our place.
What can free you from the debt of your sin? What can release you from the flames of hell that you deserve? What can take away the bondage and the power of sin? Only Jesus Christ, God’s Son, enduring it all upon the cross.
If you are to be saved, if your are to be delivered from hell, if you are to be brought to glory, Jesus and Jesus only is able to do that and has done that for all those given to Him of the Father. But what a horrible thing it would be to say that something more was necessary, that something must be added to this. How horrible it would be to say that there must yet be more, there is need to be another offering, there needs to be another act, that Jesus did everything that He could, that He has it all ready if only… but there is something else yet needed to be done before forgiveness and remission of sin can be a reality in a person’s life.
Hear the gospel. Not your tears, not your sighs, and not your prayers. Hear the gospel. Not the saints, not mass, not works, not the virgin Mary. Do not look to any of those things. Your repentance, your prayers — do not look to them as a part of your righteousness before God. If you base your salvation upon them, you despise the work of Jesus Christ. Oh, understand me clearly. Everyone for whom Jesus died will be a praying man or a praying woman, will be a godly man or a godly woman, will be a repentant man or a repentant woman. That is the fruit of the cross. But that work of repentance, that work of prayer, that work of godliness, does not so much as erase one sin. No human work, no work of priest, no work of saint, no work of a child of God removes the guilt and the penalty of sin. Nothing needs to be added, nothing may be added, nothing can be added. Listen to His words: “It is finished.” The forgiveness of sins is based upon the work of Jesus on the cross alone.
What a word of comfort and power. Dear children of God, it is finished. Let hell rage, let the devil accuse. And even our own conscience, when it is made alive by the Holy Spirit, convicts us of our sin. Yet, hear the gospel. The work of gracious salvation is accomplished. It is done. As the Holy Spirit works in our hearts and as we come to God in prayer, all the fruit of the cross, we see our sins. Those sins, in the words of the psalmist, mount up against us prevailing day by day. We see the vileness of those sins, the repeated nature of those sins, the deliberateness of those sins, the awfulness of those sins. We ask, Can there be forgiveness? Can this be washed away — this awful stain, this awful sin — can it be forgiven? Those awful stains of my sin?
Listen to His words: It is finished. The work for the suffering of sin is concluded.
We are called to holiness. We are called to a new and holy life by the power of the cross of Jesus Christ. Will you be wedded to your sins? Will you go back to that which brought upon Him all His agonies? If you do, then you know nothing of this power of Christ’s forgiveness. Do you think that the cross is a free license to sin? Then you blaspheme, you blaspheme Him who is upon the cross. For not only did He take away the debt of that sin, but the power of sin is broken for every one for whom He died. How shall we who are dead to sin live any longer therein?
But now hear the word of comfort and power. It is finished.
So we read, after He cried out with a loud voice, “It is finished,” He gave up the ghost.
Those words are much more than just saying He died. It means that Jesus relinquished His life by a voluntary act, that His life was not taken from Him but He gave it. He had made this very plain in John 10:17, 18, “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.” “This commandment,” namely, “Son, lay down Thy life.” And He laid down His life. There is the difference. Death takes us. You do not will to die, but your life is taken from you. Not Jesus. Death did not track Him down, overcome Him, and at last overwhelm Him so that He simply submitted and succumbed to death. But Jesus laid down His life. He was in complete control voluntarily.
It comes out when we read in Luke 23:46, “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.” There Jesus was quoting from the Psalms (31:5), “Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O LORD God of truth.” He did not say those words with a whisper. He did not say that with a death rattle in His throat. But He spoke as a commander. He spoke with a clear voice. By His own act He sent His spirit, His human soul, to the hands of God. And He died. His spirit went to God. He said to the thief, “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” His spirit He sent into the very presence of God. His body died. His body hung limp upon the cross to be taken down and placed into the tomb and then raised again on the third day. But He went into the immediate presence of God. Death had no power over Him as a victim. But He wills it to accomplish God’s purpose.
How wonderful! Having taken away the cause of our death, namely, our sin, He now enters into death willingly to vanquish it and to make it a passage into Father’s hands. He dies without dread and without terror. He is triumphant.
If death is conquered, then Jesus is triumphant. It is very beautiful when we read of Stephen, the first martyr, of his death in Acts 7. He says, “Lord, receive my spirit.” Stephen died in the confidence that God’s justice had been satisfied in the work of Jesus, who said, “I commit My spirit into God’s hands.” Although Stephen was being battered with stones, by faith he saw Jesus at the right hand of God, and in the triumphant Christ he too died knowing that there was no terror for him, that his spirit would be taken by the hands of Jesus to the Father. We need to feed our soul upon those words: “It is finished. Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.” Now we are in the hands of God. That is what Jesus did on the cross. He took us out of the hands of the monster, the tyrant — sin/death/hell/and devil and brought us into God’s hands. And those hands now hold me and control all that comes to me. Death, too, will come, unless the Lord returns first. But death is now the door of glory in Him. The triumphant Lord who died and gave His soul to God will bring us to glory through death.
Now, do you know why Jesus died upon the cross? Do you know it this way, that He died for my sin and He delivered me from the hell that I deserved? He did everything that was necessary for me. Do you say it as the apostle said it in Galatians 2:20, “Who loved me and gave himself for me”? Do you know it this way: that you grieve over your sin and your evil and you praise God and His grace, who has saved you through His son? And do you know it this way: that now you desire to live unto Him and to walk with Him and to be pleasing to Him?
Let us rejoice today. Let us rejoice in Jesus Christ and in His triumph over our sins, over our death, over our grave, over our hell. All of these He has vanquished. All of theseHe has triumphed over. ALL!
The great issue now in your life is this: How will you die? For die you must. Unless Jesus returns first, die you will. When that moment comes, and it must come, and you must leave this world for eternity, how will you die? Do you believe this gospel? For, apart from this gospel, there is no hope, there is no life, there is only death — eternal death — and the certain falling into the hands of God. Do you believe this gospel of the crucified Savior, who died upon a cross in the place of the elect, in the place of all of God’s children, to remove their sin and to change death to the door of glory? Do you know why Jesus died on the cross? Do you say, “He died to pay the penalty for my sin in order that I might stand now and forever before the presence of God, and I may appear before His throne not with terror but with joy”? Then death means to be absent from the body, as the apostle says in II Corinthians 5, but to be present with the Lord. Then, no matter today if God apportions to you good or trial, happiness or sadness, whether God gives to you health or sickness, joy or difficulty — no matter. You bless God today, for you belong to the Savior, the true Savior, the living Savior, the Savior who has and does save, the triumphant Savior. And you say in your soul, “Hallelujah, what a Savior!”
Let us pray.
Father in heaven, we thank Thee for Thy Word. We thank Thee for Him, and for the grace of God that Thou hast given Thine own Son to bear our death and our guilt and to triumph over them. We thank Thee for the assurance that all is finished in His suffering and death, that there does not remain for us any of Thy wrath or judgment. Now give us to live in this glorious gospel, give us to live in the victory even over death. May we triumph in our hearts through Him. In Jesus’ name, Amen.