It is finished!

Sermon: Sunday, 15th January, 2022 Video
Speaker: Geoff Murray
Scripture: John 19:31


Note: The audio file is taken directly from the recording of the service. The following text is, in effect, the speaker’s notes and consequently may vary to a small degree from the spoken word on the video.

1. It is finished because we are unfinished

Without Jesus we are unfinished. Without Him life is an unfinished story. Without Him the Bible is an unfinished story. Without Him we know there’s something not quite right with this world, we don’t know quite what it is and we don’t know quite how to solve it.

There’s a chap who lived a few hundred years after Jesus called Augustine who penned these words, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”

We are people who know something isn’t quite right, but we don’t really know what. We are unfinished but we’re not really sure how to fix it. We see the evil in the world, the things happening outside of ourselves that we have no control over, but we see it and we want better. We long for better. We see and feel and experience the suffering which is ours. We see it, experience it and long for a world free from pain and suffering.

We see the evil and turmoil in our own hearts too…

Where do we go for answers for this? To answer questions such as, ‘Why is the world like this?’ and ‘Why are we unfinished?’ We might read up on different folks’ ideas and philosophies, we might go to the biggest social media influencer, we might approach a trusted friend.

The Bible contains a clear explanation of why the world is the way it is. It’s actually because we’d naturally rather live without God. We have as a humanity separated ourselves from God and the second we decided to do that humanity fell. Generation after generation not wanting anything to do with God. Generation after generation ‘unfinished’.

The Bible is an unfinished story until Jesus comes along. It’s unfinished because you read your way through the Bible and everyone seems to stray in one way or another. Abraham, the wilderness generation, Solomon…

And nothing has changed as we go forward to today because at the root of these people’s actions we’ve just cited, is the root of our actions which is saying, ‘No!’ to God, throwing off his rule, and wanting independence from him. Our fallenness has consequences for our peace with each other, for our ability to sin and be capable of doing things we never thought we would do. People are capable of doing things to us that are wrong. Our fallenness has consequences in that suffering is introduced to the world. Pain, harm, injury, mental ill-health, disease, terminal illness, death.

This fallenness strikes at the heart of everything because when harmony was ruptured between us and God, harmony was ruptured between one another, and between us and our world. There would be nothing left untouched, nothing left which wasn’t impacted by the fall.

This gets onto why we’re ‘unfinished’ both personally and as a world, why things aren’t quite right. It’s because we live in a fallen world where our natural disposition towards God is to want to live free from him. In our fallenness we find ourselves sinning in ways we never thought possible, its where people hurt us with their words and actions, where disaster strikes or disease is diagnosed.

The reason Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ is because without him, we’re unfinished. It needed him to intervene.

2. It is finished because Christ obeyed

Now, in Jesus’ words on the cross we have words of triumph, of victory, of joy. You might be wondering when I’m getting there, and thankfully you’ll be pleased to know we have arrived! In response to seeing the problem, we might try to find 101 different things to solve it, but the Bible offers only one solution, Jesus.

We have in the words, ‘It is finished’; the recognition that everything necessary has been done.

‘It is finished’ is Jesus saying that all that is needed for salvation has been accomplished. All needed to bring us near to God has been accomplished. He has done it. How has he done it? What has he done that has set about healing all that we damaged in our relationship to God? He obeyed the law of God.

When we think of our imperfect obedience to God and all that means, we are left with only one conclusion and that is we have fallen short of God’s standards, if God is good, we are not. And that’s a problem. If our lack of goodness is the problem which separates us from God, which leaves the world exposed to suffering, pain, and death, things are ‘unfinished’, they are incomplete. Therefore, if it is going to be made right, it can only be made right by someone or something outside of ourselves. And that person is Jesus.

It is finished in Jesus because we finally have the one we’ve all been waiting for, one who does what God commands perfectly, the one who honours his Father in Heaven, the one who came to do the will of his Heavenly Father. It is finished in Jesus because he never strayed.

He is the blessed man in Psalm 1.
He hears and does what the word of the Lord says. (James 1:22-25)
Though he was unfairly treated he didn’t sin in response. (1 Peter 2)
He is the one who was perfect even as our Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)

Jesus said, ‘It is finished’ because though we are in and of ourselves unrighteous, he gives us his righteousness as clothing to wear. He takes off our torn up, dirty, ripped rags which hang off our bodies, this is our sinful deeds, and he dons us in the finest of clothing, pure white without a stain, without a rip or a tear, without even a loose thread, which is his perfect righteousness. It is finished because in Christ, we now no longer wear our record of wrongs, we wear his perfect record of righteousness.

Friends, it is finished. His gift to you is his righteousness. As you battle day after day with your sin, look to Jesus because that’s who the Father sees when he looks at us. He sees the perfect record of Jesus accounted to us as if it was our very own. So as you go about your Christian life, it is finished not because of your religious performance but because of Jesus’ perfect obedience which is given to you.

If you are with us and are not a Christian, i.e. you are not trusting in Jesus for your acceptance with God, you’re trusting more in your own religious performance the good news for you and for me is there is one who has obeyed, who never got it wrong. Though by ourselves we stand before God with a record of wrong as long as our arm, we have the offer of Christ’s perfect righteousness in his life. It is finished in Jesus so put your faith in him, let him be your righteousness and be reconciled to God.

3. It is finished because Jesus died

And ultimately in the Lord Jesus Christ and in his words ‘It Is Finished’ is the means of God reconciling himself to his people. Colossians 1:19-20 “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell and through him to reconcile to himself all things whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”

Though Christ, in his life, gives his perfect righteousness, it doesn’t erase the wrong we’ve done like a tipping of the scales, we need payment for the wrong we’ve done, we need someone to cover the wrong we’ve done. Where is he saying these words from? The cross. Because though Jesus obeyed perfectly in order to offer us his perfect righteousness, our record of wrongs still had to be taken away. Yet in Jesus it is finished because he has provided the once for all sacrifice for sins in his body. (Hebrews 10:10)

It is finished because there is no need for another sacrifice. That’s why the Old Testament sacrificial system is no longer in place because it is no longer necessary, it is why we don’t have a high priest to continually offer sacrifices year after year because its been surpassed by a once for all sacrifice in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the high priest offering himself as a once for all sacrifice.

Therefore, we can have ultimate confidence as God’s people that in Jesus our sins are truly paid for. There is not one stray thought you’ve had, not one cutting word you’ve said, not one sinful action, not one misguided motivation that Jesus didn’t pay for on the cross. There’s not one sin which Jesus forgot to pay for or intentionally didn’t pay for, or overlooked, when Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ he meant it.

As we sing in ‘The Power of the Cross’
‘Every bitter thought, every evil deed
Crowning his blood-stained brow.

God doesn’t have a record kept away in his office of your report card with a list of what you’ve done and how you’ve strayed. That report card doesn’t exist because at the cross, Jesus took it and ripped it up. Your past record, your previous wrongs no longer are kept as a record. Your past record was given to Christ. As he gives us his righteousness in his life, he takes our record of wrongs in his death. The guilty become the innocent and the innocent becomes the guilty.

‘For our sake he made him who knew no sin to become sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in him.’ (2 Corinthians 5:21)

On the cross as Jesus hung there he was taking the blame for every one of your sins, every one of your misdeeds, every one of your failings. Christ took it. And he paid it in full. Jesus said, ‘It is finished and this is the statement that he has personally paid for all of your sins and removed the record of wrongs that was once yours and took it upon himself and endured the wrath of God in your place.

Friends, it is finished. Christ has paid for every one of your sins. That is the good news. In his death he has removed your record of wrongs, in his life, he has provided you with his perfect record of righteousness. It is finished.

We start out with high hopes in the Christian life and then over time we become more aware of our sin and then time again aware of our sin and it can be such a weight, it can be such a burden where we can’t believe we’ve done it again. The very thing we hate to do, we end up doing time and again, we get tired of confessing the same 5 sins, we get discouraged and we struggle to move on.

As Paul does in Romans 7 we have that inner battle time and again, and rarely do we get to Paul’s praise point at the end. We say, ‘I don’t understand myself I don’t do what I want to, I do what I don’t want to do, who will rescue me from this body of death?’ But we stay there in the despair of our own, seemingly, losing battle with sin with no answer to that question.

Today, if that is you, let me lift your head to see Jesus, to hear him cry out ‘It is finished.’ For every one of those ‘I did it again…’ scenarios Jesus says, ‘It is finished.’ For every one of those prayers of confession Jesus says, ‘It is finished’ for every one of those hamster wheel Christians who seem to be going round and round and round, Jesus says to you, ‘It is finished.’

John Owen: “Show me the sinner who can spread out his sins to infinite dimensions and I will show him this infinite and eternal reservoir of grace and mercy.”

The Psalmist David writes, ‘As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.’ (Psalm 103:12)

And the result of that is this: ‘Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…’ (Romans 8:1)

So as we come to the Lord’s Table in just a moment, as God’s people we can come with confidence because of these words ‘It is finished.’ We can come with confidence as we eat the bread and drink the wine because ‘It is finished.’ No longer do we stand condemned because Christ was condemned, friends, ‘It is finished.’

For those who are not Christians, who do not love the Lord Jesus, who do not follow him, who do not trust in him for their salvation, the world remains unfinished for you and you remain unfinished. You know, as I said earlier, that something is not quite right. That things are broken. In yourself, in others. Things are unfinished. There is one who has lived a perfect life, there is one who died to pay the punishment for your sins and mine. If you trust in Jesus alone for salvation, he can say to you, ‘It is finished.’ Your sins can be paid for, you can be given a perfect record of righteousness with which to stand before God. Today is an opportunity for you to look to the one who offers this with a grateful heart and simply receive by faith. The offer is there and for those who take it Christ says, ‘It is finished.’