Friday, March 25, 2005
Sermon - Good Friday - John 19:28-30
Good Friday Sermon
“So Much to Say”John 19:28-30
March 25, 2005
So much could be said about this holiest Friday, and that Friday long ago we remember now. We will focus our attention on John’s account of it, chapter 19, verses 28-30. We will focus on what John had to say about what Jesus had to say. The last words of our Lord.
“Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I Thirst’…
Jesus had said much already. Much had happened. Predictions came true, prophecies were fulfilled. The betrayer, the soldiers, the trials, the questioning, the desertion, the denial.
The striking. The spitting. The crown of thorns, the rod, the flogging, the crowds calling for blood, the freeing of Barabbas, the sentence on Jesus, the washing of hands, the stripping of his clothes, carrying the cross, stumbling, finally the nails – hammered in, one by one, his hands, his feet. Then raised up to hang – to be seen by all, to be mocked by many – to suffer. To die.
“Father forgive them” he cried. “Woman, here is your son”. “Today, you will be with me in paradise”. “MY GOD WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?”
The sun grew dark. The earth shook. The temple curtain split. Tombs broke open. Dead people walked about.
Through it all, Jesus remained in control. He knew what had to happen, he knew what he needed to do. Now in order to fulfill the scripture, he spoke again, “I thirst”.
The Psalmist had written long ago, “They put gall in my food, and gave me vinegar for my thirst” and “my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth”
For his part, Jesus’ body had lost fluids. Blood, from the beatings and flogging, sweat from the stresses to his body beginning in Gethsemane, and continuing up the road to Calvary and even here hanging on the tree.
“A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips.”
This was the second drink offered to Jesus. The first was a wine drugged with something to deaden the pain. This he had refused. He would endure the full measure of suffering for us.
The second drink, which He now accepts moments before His death, is described as a wine vinegar. Two points are important to note. The drink was given on the "stalk of a hyssop plant". Remember that these events occurred at the Feast of the Passover. During this feast, hyssop was used to apply the blood of the Passover lamb to the wooden doorposts of the Jews.
It is interesting that the end of this hyssop stalk pointed to the blood of the Perfect Lamb which was applied to the wooden cross for the salvation of all mankind..
In addition, the wine vinegar is a product of fermentation, which is made from grape juice and yeast. The word literally means "that which is soured" and is related to the Hebrew term for "that which is leavened" . Yeast or leaven, is a Biblical symbol of sin. When Jesus took this drink, (i.e. a drink which was "leavened") it is thus symbolic of His taking the sins of the world into His body.
But there is another reason he must drink now. He had something else to say, and just as a preacher might drink water during a transition or before making an important point. Jesus was now prepared to make a declaration. He wet his lips so as to be ready to speak, one last time:
“When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘IT IS FINISHED’. With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit”
What are the most important words you have said in your life? “I Do”? “I Love You”? “I do so intend, with the help of God”? or something else?
Many people think of someone’s last words as holding special significance. What might your last words be? Maybe words of love to family members. Maybe a thoughtful piece of advice to those left behind. Or maybe our last words will be something mundane and common, like, “what’s for breakfast?”
Here we have Jesus’ last words. And of all the important, all the meaningful, all the loving words he ever spoke. Perhaps – Perhaps these words were the most important of all. “IT IS FINISHED”. Of all the last words spoken by any dying person, these must be pre-emminent. In fact, one could argue, that in the entire history of the created universe, these words hold the most weight, the most lasting significance – they could be the greatest words ever spoken. His dying words, which give us life. A declaration, not to anyone but to everyone – to all creation, to God the Father himself – that IT IS FINISHED!
As if to say, “My work here is done. My perfect life of obedience to the law – finished. My suffering and death at the hands of wicked and cruel men – finished. My bearing the sins of the entire world, and enduring the wrath and anger of God on behalf of all mankind – FINISHED.”
“Death, you are defeated. Hell, you hold no more fear. Satan, you serpent, now is the day of your undoing. For here in my moment of my deepest suffering and pain, here in the shame of death, here at the last moment of the last hour with my last breath I declare – that YOU are finished. The prophecy is fulfilled. My heel is bruised. Your head is crushed.”
When he says, “It is finished” Jesus sums up the entire significance of his work for us – from cradle to grave – and declares it complete.
And then, Jesus died. But he didn’t “just die”. He didn’t finally lose, his life wasn’t stripped from him – he “gave up his spirit”. In accord with his earlier explanation, “No one takes my life from me but I give it up freely.” And so he committed his spirit into God’s hands. And died. His declaration made, our debt paid. And all was quiet.
They would take him down. They would dress him for burial. And they would place his body in the tomb. Darkness and silence would shroud him there… but the light was coming. The dawn would arrive. The Son would soon rise.
On this Good Friday, we meditate on the Lord Jesus Christ, once crucified for our sins, and the sins of the world. He had so much to say. As we remember his last words before death, we thank God for what Christ has done – and said, for us. It Is Finished. And we await the Easter dawn.
In Jesus’ Name. Amen.