It is Finished - John 19:16-30
It is Finished
28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 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. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Introduction: The cross is the main symbol for Christianity on the world religion stage. Sometimes you see the ichthys or the fish but primarily it is the cross that Christians use to represent their faith. The Buddhists have their lotus flower, the Muslims have their half crescent moon. The Jews have their five-pointed star of David but for the Christians, their symbol is the cross.
Many people wear the cross around their necks as jewelry. I hope that it means more to them than a fashion statement. Back in the day, when Jesus lived, no one wanted to look at the cross as a symbol of victory as we do as Christians today.
The cross during the times of the Roman empire was the most despicable thing you could imagine. It represented the execution of people who were thieves, extortioners, insurrectionist, tax cheats, etc. It was the highest form of humiliation to crucify someone naked in a public setting for all to see.
We sanitize our capital punishment in many ways in our society. We do lethal injections or electric chair for the most part. Most of these are done in private so as not to bring humiliation on the families of those executed and to dignify the person who is being executed.
So, as we think of that hymn maybe more so this time of year, The Old Rugged Cross, think of that first verse that says
On a hill far away, stood an old rugged Cross
The emblem of suffering and shame
And I love that old Cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain
- There is so much significance of this and the other three Gospels description of the cross we could talk about.
- John does not focus in on the physical suffering of Jesus like other Gospels do in his Passion narrative. Instead he continues on with the theme of his book revealing the majesty and glory of Jesus Christ
- John’s approach has been up to this point and to the end;
- Sin leads to spiritual death and eternal separation from God in hell. The only remedy for sin and avoiding hell is the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the cross
- The unjust and unfair kangaroo court proceedings were over
- Pilate as we saw the last two weeks did not have the courage of his convictions to release the innocent Jesus even though Pilate declared Him innocent
- Pilate beat Him and released Barabbas and now has washed his hands literally of Jesus and gave the decree to crucify Jesus
- John’s approach has been up to this point and to the end;
Purpose: Every Christ follower must live out each day the meaning of “It is finished.”
Transition: Let’s look at how John describes the crucifixion of Jesus
The declaration by Pilate of Jesus as King of the Jews
16 So he delivered him over to them to be crucified.
- In this section of John’s Gospel as well as the other three Gospels that parallel this story, numerous prophecies were fulfilled
- As a reminder that Jesus has or will have fulfilled 365 OT prophecies by His life, death, resurrection and second coming
- In verse 16, Jesus is prepared to be crucified. I am not going to go into all the specifics of what that entailed. I do that most years. I want to let the writings of John describe this event from His vantage point and style for the most part.
- In verse 17, we see that “Jesus went out”
- First of all, we see that Jesus followed or was led. He did not resist as so many condemned prisoners would do, in some way we cannot understand humanly, Jesus embraced His cross
- Second, He carried His own cross. He was not a helpless victim. He was led as a sheep to His slaughter – Isaiah 53:7. The condemned person would be forced to carry the cross beam of the cross on their shoulders for the distance of a mile to the execution site. We know from other Gospel accounts that Jesus needed help possibly by His weakened condition due to the extreme beating He took. The public sight of a beaten, bloody and terrified prisoner carrying His instrument of execution was a strong deterrent to crime in the Roman society. It may be a type of Christ where Isaac was asked by Abraham to carry the wood up Mt. Moriah of which he was to be the sacrifice – Genesis 22:6
- Third, went out means that Jesus had to be taken out of the city limits to be executed. According to Number 15:36, all executions were outside the walls of Jerusalem
And all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death with stones, as the Lord commanded Moses.
- All sin offerings were offered outside the camp or the cities of Israel
11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. 12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.
- Continuing on in verse 17, the location of the crucifixion is sited
- Place of the skull or Latin for Calvary. Why that name?
- Some say skulls were left there of dead people but unlikely since Jews showed dignity and respect when it came to burying their own people
- Some church fathers believed Adam’s skull was found there
- Most likely, the hillside resembled a skull
- Since the Roman’s destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and the landscape around Jerusalem has transformed over time, no one knows for sure where Jesus was crucified but there are two locations that tour guides point to over there
- As I said at the beginning, crucifixion is the most humiliating, shameful, tortuous form of execution ever attributed to mankind. It was so horrendous that Roman citizens were exempt from this type of execution unless the emperor himself would decree it
- Crucifixion started in Persia and then was passed on the Phoenicians and the Carthaginians and then Rome picked up the idea. But it was the Romans who perfected this form of execution
- The goal is for someone to die as slow a tortuous death as possible. All aspects of crucifying someone took this into account
- People would last days on a cross and would suffer from exhaustion, dehydration, shock and finally suffocation.
- In verse 18, John states they crucified Jesus
18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them.
- Jesus took the pain of the sins of all mankind and God’s wrath on account of all the world’s sin upon Himself. If that wasn’t suffering enough, Jesus would endure His own Father turning His face away from Him as He bore the sins of the world.
- The forces of evil and the love of God were at this battleground of who would win out at the cross.
- He was crucified between to prisoners. Some speculate they could have been accomplices of Barabbas trying to stir up a rebellion against Rome. We do know one was a mocker and the other became a believer after witnessing the execution of an innocent man who was the King of the Jews.
- By the way, for those who are proponents of baptism being a part of what is necessary for salvation, this brings up a real problem with this criminal on the cross and Christ granting Him paradise when he dies
John 19:19 -22
19 Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. 21 So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”
- It was customary at that time that as a man was led away to be crucified, someone would walk in front with a placard declaring the crime of the individual and then posting it on the cross after they were nailed to it
- Pilate takes one more parting shot at the Jews by writing what He did on Jesus placard. He wanted revenge for them black mailing him into executing and innocent man
- The concern for the Jews is that knowing Jesus would be crucified in public they wanted it to read He was an imposter. The Romans crucified people in public places, roads and main highways so it was a visual site of what happens if you challenge Rome’s authority.
- Notice the sign was written in three languages
- Aramaic / Hebrew – the language of religion
- Latin – the language of the law
- Greek – the language of philosophers
- All three groups of people were involved in the crucifixion of Jesus
- God used Pilate to proclaim to everyone at that time in their language exactly who Jesus was = the King of the Jews!!
- Why did the Jewish leaders object so much to what Pilate wrote?
- They were certainly not loyal to Caesar as they pretended to be in John 19:15
- The chief priests strongly rejected Jesus as their King
- The fact He was from Nazareth and that was on the sign was a worse insult if He was to be called the King of the Jews
- Nazareth was from the region of Galilee which was very insignificant and looked down on by the more sophisticated Judeans.
- In their mind it would be ludicrous to think a Galilean who was a victimized and executed criminal could be their King.
- It was a direct slap in the face by Pilate to the leaders of the Jewish nation. Pilate was sharing His utter disgust of the Jews because he was stating Jesus was the only King the Jews deserved
- Pilate would not change it. Again, this is God using His sovereign purposes to accomplish His plan and the proclamation to the known world that Jesus truly was the King of the Jews and the Son of God.
- Jesus said three times in John’s Gospel He would die by being lifted up
- Symbolic of Numbers 21 and the serpent being lifted up on a pole to bring healing to all the Jews bitten by a snake.
- This again points to the fact that this was not a humiliated Christ but an exalted Christ who is fulfilling prophecy
Application: Do you see the Son of God lifted up on the cross for you?
Transition: John gives us some details and perspective from the soldier’s point of view.
The Soldiers disregard of Jesus
23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, 24 so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” So the soldiers did these things
- To the soldiers, this was just another day at work. They were desensitized to the destruction of human beings. Much like the Nazi leaders in WWII
- The execution squad consisted of four soldiers with one centurion – Matthew 27:54
- The custom of the day was that the prisoner on the cross would be further humiliated by dying naked.
- The soldiers would divide the prisoner’s clothes which often consisted of an outer garment, a head covering, belt, sandal and an outer robe.
- The soldiers gambled for these articles of clothing
- This fulfilled a prophecy in Psalm 22:18
- It is significant to note that throughout the events of the crucifixion, our Sovereign Lord is in control of all of it!! That should give you and I great courage that no matter what we face, God is still on the throne and is looking out for our very best even if we can’t see it at the time.
Application: Do you see the Son of God fulfilling prophecy?
Transition: Jesus does one more selfless act before He dies. He shows His care and compassion for the needs of His mother after He is gone.
The devoted care of Jesus for His mother
John 19:25 – 27
25 But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.
- John shows the sharp contrast of what is going on at the cross with the adversative conjunction “But”
- The callous indifference of the soldiers as they gambled for Jesus clothes
- The sneering of the Jewish leaders
- The mocking contempt of the crowd “If you truly are the Son of God you would save yourself and come down off of that cross.”
- But cloistered close to the foot of the cross was a small group of Jesus followers. They stood close enough to hear Jesus speaking
- There were probably four women in the crowd
- Mary – Jesus mom. I wonder if the words of Simeon at Jesus dedication eight days after His birth were going through her mind.
34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
- Salome – Mary’s sister / Jesus aunt who was the mother of James and John sons of Zebedee
- Mary the wife of Clopas – she kept vigil at the grace of Jesus and went to the tomb on the resurrection morning. She was the woman who tried unsuccessfully to persuade the apostles that Jesus had risen from the dead. She was the mother of James of Alphaeus or known also as James the Less
- Mary Magdalene – she was from the village of Magdala and Jesus cast 7 demons out her. She was not a prostitute as some confuse her with the story of the woman caught in adultery.
- In verse 26 we see that John was the only man at the foot of the cross who is identified as the disciple whom Jesus loved
- Evidently Joseph is dead.
- Jesus half-brothers and half-sisters are not believers at this point.
- So, Jesus entrusts His mother to John. John according to verse 27 would take her into his household and care for her. That is why what John wrote was so appropriate of Jesus
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
Application: Do you see Jesus selfless act in the midst of tremendous suffering?
Transition: The climax of redemption is the next thing that will occur.
The death of Jesus fulfills God’s redemption plan
28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 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.
- “After this” – after Jesus took care of His mother, He fulfilled one last prophecy. Based on Psalm 69:21, Jesus asked for a drink
- The Roman soldiers would gladly give the crucified person a drink because it was hoped it would prolong his suffering. The jar of sour wine was there at the cross for that purpose.
- Jesus was offered a drink of gall before they pounded the nails into his hands and feet but He refused it then, and why now?
- The gall was a beverage given to deaden the pain but Jesus refused it in order to experience and feel the full brunt and force of pain for mankind’s sin and God’s wrath upon Him.
30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
- Jesus shouted with a shout of victory at the top of his voice
- Jesus was not physically at the point of death yet. He died must sooner than the average person on the cross. Some people survived days on the cross
- Jesus was giving up His life by His own choice
- It is finished - Tetelestai
- It is in the Perfect tense in the Greek language
- It is very hard to translate into English
- It means that something happens at a specific time in the past and that event, the effects of it, continue onward into the future
- Papyri receipts for taxes have been recovered with the word tetelestai written across them, meaning “paid in full.” This word on Jesus’ lips was significant. When He said, “It is finished” (not “I am finished”), He meant His redemptive work was completed. He had been made sin for people (2 Cor. 5:21) and had suffered the penalty of God’s justice which sin deserved. Even in the moment of His death, Jesus remained the One who gave up His life (cf. John 10:11, 14, 17–18). He bowed His head (giving His seventh saying, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit” [Luke 23:46]) and then dismissed His spirit. This differs from the normal process in death by crucifixion in which the life-spirit would ebb away and then the head would slump forward. -Blum, E. A. (1985). John. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 340). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
- When Jesus died;
- Redemption was accomplished. Full payment for your sins and mine was provided for
- Our sins were taken away. In the OT, sins were covered by the blood but at Jesus death, our sins were taken away
- God’s holy wrath against sin was appeased
- Every prophecy concerning His life and death to that point were fulfilled
- Jesus fulfilled the righteous requirements of the law
- Jesus was the final sacrifice
- No more sacrifices needed. The sacrificial system was rendered obsolete
- The veil of the temple separating the Holy of Holies was torn top to bottom giving every believer direct access to God
- Jesus purpose and mission were accomplished with His death.
- Jesus gave up His spirit. He had been forsaken by His Father. He experienced all the pain of sin and the wrath of God. It was done!!
- Some unbelievers have invented the idea that Jesus did not really die, that He only “swooned” on the cross and was then revived in the “cool tomb.” But there are too many witnesses that Jesus Christ actually died: the centurion (Mark 15:44–45); all the Gospel writers; the angels (Matt. 28:5, 7); the Jews (Acts 5:28); Christ Himself (Luke 24:46; Rev. 1:18); and even the worshiping hosts in heaven (Rev. 5:9, 12). Of course, Paul, Peter, and John mention the death of Christ in their letters. -Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 384). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
Application: Are you living out in real time the benefits of Jesus death on the cross?
Key Thought: Are you claiming victory after victory as God continues to redeem more areas of your heart?
Questions to Ponder this week
1. Are you allowing God to win the battles in your heart?
2. Is the battle still raging in your heart as to who will be in control of all areas of your life?
3. Is the blood of Jesus enough for you to secure with confidence your salvation?
As you come to the cross today, what is it you are claiming to be victorious over in your life today?
- Post it note on the communion table
- Top write what you thank God that you are victorious over in your life. What has He delivered you from?
- Bottom write one area you are trusting God to help you overcome in your life. An area that you want God to help you achieve victory over so you can say it is finished. – Dave Ramsey – We are debt free
Time of Reflection