John 19:17-30 Turn to Jesus: He Alone Finished Your Salvation Good Friday 04/14/17
By Pastor Kenneth Mellon, Trinity Lutheran Church and School, Pleasant Valley Rd., West Bend, WI
God’s grace and peace are shown to us solely on the finished work of Jesus our Lord and Savior. Amen.
We read Jesus words from the cross in John 19:17-30
These are the words of our Savior. Use them, O Lord to convince us that His work for us is complete. Amen.
Dear Christians, saved by Christ’s completed work,
How many times haven’t parents heard a young child say, “I’ll finish it myself”? One of the purposes of parenting is to help children grow in taking care of themselves and becoming independent so that eventually they can help others to do the same. Our country has become great because it offers freedom for people to use their talents and hard work to make something of themselves, and in turn to be a blessing to others. It’s a part of our human nature to want to be as independent as possible. We all want to say: “I can do it myself!” But, that is impossible for us spiritually. We can’t please God by ourselves. When it comes to salvation, as sinners, we can’t begin to keep one of God’s countless demands. That is why we are here this Good Friday. We look to Christ who was able to say, “It is finished! I have completed all of God’s demands!” Let everyone who has a soul that yearns for heaven turn to Jesus because:
He alone finished our salvation!
- We all need to know that it’s impossible to complete God’s plan on our own. Pontius Pilate was an example of a man who tried to finish in his own way. His Passover day had begun with an angry mob outside of his windows. The people were demanding that a man be crucified. Instead, he tried to give them an opportunity to punish a real criminal and release an innocent man. They chose Barabbas to walk free! Pilate provided them with a Roman flogging, hoping to fill their thirst for blood. But 39 lashes weren’t enough stop their hatred. Jesus didn’t defend Himself before Pilate. All He spoke about was a kingdom of another world and about “truth.” Pilate wasn’t ready to debate philosophy with a man whom the Jews charged with treason and who seemed to be the source of riot. What would Caesar think if news about a rebel king being set free got back to Rome? That could kill a governor’s career or perhaps kill a governor!
With a bowl of water, Pilate thought he was finished by washing his hands of innocent blood. He put a sign above the head of Jesus on the cross stating why He was being crucified. “The chief priests … protested to Pilate, ‘Do not write “The King of the Jews,” but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.’ Pilate answered, ‘What I have written, I have written.’”(v.21-22) He was saying, I’m finished with Jesus and with you priests and people. I’m doing things my way! If only it were so easy to walk away from duty and responsibility! Tradition tells us that Pilate was eventually exiled for his mistreatment of the people and then committee suicide. His finish without Christ was not what he planned. The Bible states, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12)
By the appearance of things, it looked like the Roman soldiers were soon finished with Jesus. He had hung on a cross for hours. His end was coming. They would make sure of that. But in a shocking act of love, Jesus looked down from the cross and forgave those soldiers who nailed Him to it. Out of love Jesus reached out to two criminals on the cross. As far as we know, both the soldiers and the one thief went the way of unbelievers to their judgment. Judas had earlier tried to go his own way putting selfish greed before the Savior. His life too ended in tragedy and eternal suffering. Such is the way of all who trust in themselves to finish what only Christ can do! Paul wrote, “All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.’” (Galatians 3:10) And Paul wrote, “You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.” (Galatians 5:4) That is not the end that we want. That is why we value what Christ accomplished for us all!
- He finished His work completely! Jesus was perfectly right, yet for our sakes He was led to His death. He did everything written the book of the Law perfectly, and yet He took our curse when He died on the cross. How did He serve as our Savior? While on the cross, He looked to a criminal who had first mocked Him, but later confessed his sins. Jesus assured him that He had a place for the man in paradise. Then in a son’s act of love, Jesus looked from the cross and provided for His mother. Being Jesus’ mother was a blessing and a cause for heartache. A sword was driven home into her heart as the nails were driven into her son’s flesh. Jesus knew her need and took care of her. “When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” (v. 26-27)
But Jesus provided the world with far more than earthly care! With nails in his hands and his end in sight, Jesus perfectly fulfilled the law of His heavenly Father. We see this in how He fulfillment the Scripture. The soldiers divided his clothes but had one piece left, for which they cast lots. They didn’t know it, but John wrote, “This happened that the Scripture might be fulfilled that said, ‘They divided my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.’” These very garments had been sung about in Psalm 22 one thousand years before the soldiers were born. It proves that Jesus was the promised Savior!
The second fulfillment of Scripture was completed by Jesus: “Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.’” (vs. 28) Jesus’ thirst was a result of his crucifixion. “I thirst” is powerful proof that Jesus’ suffering was real. Even more, it is powerful proof that Jesus fulfilled Scripture down to the smallest matter! We read from Psalm 69: “They . . . gave me vinegar for my thirst.” (Psalm 69:21) Then, our verse states, “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”(v.30) Jesus’ word “it is finished” is the “final word” on the fact of your forgiveness! In the Greek language it is a single word: TETELESTHAI, meaning “It is finished.” Greek shopkeepers at Jesus’ time would write that word on the bottom of bills when the bill had been paid in full.
Our sin was a hopeless debt for us to pay. There was nothing we could give or say or do to pay off a single sin. Yet, our debt to God is paid in full by Jesus’ innocent sacrifice. God asks for no further payment plan when it comes to our salvation. The whole Gospel is summed up in this one word: finished!
What did Jesus finish as spoke that word on the cross and then gave up His spirit? It meant that His life of perfectly keeping God’s law was complete! Also, the cup of suffering for all sins that God had given Him to drink, He had fully consumed. Satan’s accusations against us as sinners have been silenced. Jesus’ death crushed the serpent’s head. All sinners have been redeemed by Christ! The wall that separated sinners from God vanished with Jesus’ closing words. The door to heaven now stands open, not just for the thief on the cross, but for every one of us because Jesus Himself finished our salvation!
When we hear a child or anyone say the words, “I can finish it myself!” let’s thank God that they can be responsible as far things in life. But, when it comes to our salvation there is only One who could and did finish all that God demanded. Jesus alone finished our salvation! Amen.