It Is Finished
Famous Last Words • Sermon • Submitted • Presented • 32:04
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Happy Father’s Day!
Happy Father’s Day!
Good morning and Happy Father’s Day to all of you Grandpa’s, Dad’s, and future Dad’s out there. As a guy, it doesn’t really matter if you are a tender hearted person or the toughest guy on the block, there is nothing that can ground you in reality quicker than the realization that you are a father and that you have a responsibility for the well being and raising of your a child.
Today we are continuing the series, Famous Last Words, where we take a look at some of Jesus’ last words as He was dying on the cross. Just as a quick reminder, we kicked off the series with Jesus’ plea to the Father for the people who were brutally beating and killing Him, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”
Last week we focused on the very heartbreaking question Jesus asked God when He said, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” I am very excited about Jesus’ words that we will look at today. Really, this is my favorite of the series. In fact, with this being Father’s Day, I believe with all my heart that God has a special message for all of us men, if we will open up and listen to what He is speaking to us.
I believe God wants to speak something special to each one of us, but as I was preparing I really felt like this would be a subject where God could really do some amazing, life changing work if men and fathers everywhere would listen to their heavenly Father as He transforms their every day lives with this simple thought.
“Oh my goodness, he’s really building this up! What on earth did Jesus say?” Today we are looking at what I believe to be Jesus’ MOST famous words on the cross, “It is finished.” Three little words that are absolutely packed with meaning and significance. If you have your bible and want to follow along, let’s read from this moment in chapter 19 of the book of John. Starting in verse 28...
28 Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.”
Let’s pause there for a second. There is a small detail here that we should notice to really open this passage up. Jesus knew that what He had come to do was now finished. Think about that mission. Think about all that He had done; teaching, preaching, miracles, healing, sinless and perfect, fulfilling prophecy, beaten, tortured and sacrificed.
Especially when we think about all that He had endured in the last moments of His life. He was brutally beaten to the point of not being recognizable as a person. His body must have been racked with pain from all of the wounds. If you’ve ever stepped on a nail before you know that it is no fun. To me, it is a lot like nails on a chalk board. It hurts, but the thought of it hurts more so I tend to be a little bit of a baby. After you step on a nail it hurts to walk on your foot for a while.
Even so, when it happens you pull it out immediately and limp or walk on your heel for a while. Jesus didn’t get to do that. They put massive nails in His hands and feet and left them there as His body weight hung from them. The emotional pain of feeling alone and abandoned. Not just physically, but forsaken by the Heavenly Father, like we talked about last week.
All of this is happening and going through Jesus’ mind and He knows that He has done what He was sent here to do. He endured it all without saying a word or having a selfish thought. But now that it’s almost over He pauses as He realizes that He has a severe case of… Cotton mouth? “I could really use a drink.”
Maybe He did, but I wanted to point out the irony of the situation so we could think about what may have been going through His mind. The verse continues, “to fulfill Scripture He said, “I am thirsty.” In other words, what was probably going through Jesus’ mind was all of the prophecy made in the OT. He probably knew that Psalm 69:21 was not yet finished. It was prophesied that they would give Him vinegar for His drink.
Jesus was finishing EVERYTHING He was sent here to do. If Jesus was a gamer, He would have been one of those guys who finished every single possible mission in the game. Those people are called completionist’s. Jesus said, “I am thirsty”…
29 A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. 30 When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
What did Jesus say? Somebody help me out… “It is finished.” It feels good to say it, I know you want to so let me hear it. Jesus said… “It is finished.” I know some of you may be like me and you are thinking, “I’m not supposed to talk during church, YOU are! Don’t make me say stuff.” But this one really does feel good to say.
You’ve been working long days at work so the house has just piled up all week with laundry, dishes and dog hair. Then you get some free time so you clean it all up and step back with a huge exhale of relief and say, “It is finished!” Doesn’t that just make you happy. Major project at work. Super stressful. It draws out for days, weeks, or months. Then you finally get to turn in the final report, load up the last of your equipment, sweep up the last of your trash, and then you look on with a smile and say, “It is finally finished!”
To me there isn’t many experiences in life that are better than finishing all of the missions. Paying that last medical bill. Fixing that leak. Finishing that project at home. At work all of our tickets and record keeping is digital now so we don’t need the paper tickets any more. Chris always teases me because my favorite thing to do when we finish a job is to get in the truck and wad up the ticket and throw it over my shoulder into the back seat. “It is FINISHED!” It feels great!
Except I think it feels even better to shorten it so I actually say, “BOOM!” The English translation of what Jesus said is three words, “It is finished,” but Jesus actually said one word. To me that makes it feel more like victory! One word. That’s why I go with “Boom”. Jesus said (te-tel-les’-ty)...
tetelestai: to end, complete, execute, discharge (a debt).
tetelestai: to end, complete, execute, discharge (a debt).
It can be translated in several ways. It can be translated “to end”, “complete”, “execute” or “discharge a debt”. Jesus proclaimed victory over His mission when He declared to God, “It is finished!” In Jesus’ time, this word was often used in one of three different ways.
A servant would return to his or her master and say “tetelestai” to say, “I have finished the project that you sent me to do.”
A merchant would stamp a piece of paper saying that a debt had been paid in full. “Tetelestai, it’s complete. You owe nothing more.”
Someone would bring a sacrificial animal to a priest, who would inspect the animal to verify that it was a worthy sacrifice. If it didn’t have a spot or blemish, the priest would say, “Tetelestai. This animal is perfect; worthy to be sacrificed.”
Jesus is on the cross and says, “Tetelestai” declaring that it is finished. What was finished? As the servant, Jesus was telling His master that He had finished all that the Father had sent Him to do. Like the merchant, Jesus was stating that the debt had been paid in full. Nothing was left. All of your sins have been paid for in full by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. As the priest, Jesus had made the perfect sacrifice. Nothing more needs to be added. There was no spot or blemish. Now when you place your faith in the perfect work of Jesus Christ, it has been finished. Tetelestai.
44 Prophesies Jesus Fulfilled
You can dig around in your bible and find hundreds of prophesies that Jesus fulfilled. People conservatively estimate there to be over 300 prophecies that He fulfilled. Some say well over 400. I believe that if you take in to account all of the stories that aren’t direct prophecies, that number isn’t even close to the ways that Scripture prepares the world for Jesus. If you want to do some digging and let God build your faith, take a picture of this list of 44 prophesies that Jesus fulfilled and take some time to read what God told would take place in the OT and then God fulfilling them in the NT.
Think about how powerful that is for a moment. Everything the Father sent Jesus to do, HE FINISHED! But you have not. As long as you have breath in your body, you have unfinished business. As long as you are alive, God still has a plan for you. No matter how well you know Jeremiah 29:11 and how tired you are of hearing it, God still has plans for you. Plans for good! Plans to give you a future and hope. You have unfinished business.
That is our key thought for today, so if you are taking notes, write this down...
I HAVE UNFINISHED BUSINESS.
I HAVE UNFINISHED BUSINESS.
In fact, close your bible then open it to page 1 and write it down right there. “I have unfinished business.”
As I mentioned earlier, with today being Father’s Day, I am confident that God has a special message for men today. Think about the world we live in and the message that men receive on a regular basis. Brian Reagan has a joke about how commercials portray husbands. The wife says...
“My husband is so stupid” and the husband is in the back tangled up in the blinds. “That’s why I do his thinking for him by buying him these muffins.” Swinging in the blinds, the husband says, “AND THEIR GOOD TOO! IS IT GOOD FOR ME?”
Men who are macho are vilified while men want to become women are praised. Women are portrayed as being way stronger than men. We are told to believe ALL women no matter what. We shouldn’t take an all or nothing stance on anything, especially when it comes to people groups. Even beyond social issues, we are told to put a band-aid on every problem without finding the root issue. Why replace a part when duct tape is the miracle tool? You don’t need to fix a leak in your boat if you have Flex Seal! Just spray it on! Quick fixes marketed as permanent solutions.
Here are some statistics about fathers that can be found on Fatherhood.org.
Father Absence Crisis in America
I don’t want to read all of the stats that you can find on their website, but here are some of the ones that stood out to me...
Involved dads improve their children’s overall emotional and social well-being. (2013)
Involved dads reduce moms’ parenting stress. (2017)
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 19.5 million children, more than 1 in 4, live without a father in the home. (2018)
Individuals from father absent homes are 279% more likely to carry guns and deal drugs than peers living with their fathers. (2012)
92% of parents in prison are fathers. (2010)
There are 2 million single-father households vs 10 million single-mother households in the U.S. (2013)
Daughters are less likely to engage in risky sexual behavior when they have consistent contact, and a sense of closeness, with their dads. (2014)
Whether you are a grandfather, a father, or not even married with kids yet, these stats tell me one thing. Guys. WE HAVE UNFINISHED BUSINESS.
When I was a kid I would often help my dad feed cattle and other things on the farm. One day during harvest we went to the Co-Op to get the liquid feed trailer and fill the lick tanks. While we were hooking on to the trailer I watched a semi coming down the drive to dump his wheat. I also knew that there was a train coming down the tracks and even though I hoped that the driver heard or saw the train coming, I had this feeling that I was supposed to flag the trucker to stop.
So I kinda half tried to get his attention to make sure he saw the train but in the back of my mind I knew that I wasn’t finished. There was more I was supposed to do. I had unfinished business, if you will. The closer the truck got to the tracks the more I thought, “Is he going to stop? I don’t know if he will stop. He’s not stopping yet. He isn’t going to stop!”
Just as the truck slowly pulled up on to the tracks he slammed on the brakes and shifted into reverse. As he began to roll backwards it became clear that it was too late and the slow moving train crunched into the front of the truck and turned it sideways.
Many of us have slow moving trains and slow moving trucks that are on a collision course in our lives. Unfinished business that seems like a small issue right now, but if not dealt with quickly and with integrity, that issue will grow and become a major problem.
Listen to the message Jesus had for the Church in Sardis in Revelation chapter 3...
Revelation 3:1 (NIV)
1 “...I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.
People look at you and think, “Oh, you have a nice car and nice house.” You have a reputation of being financially strong, but the truth of the matter is that you are swimming in debt. Who remembers Stanley Johnson from the lending tree commercial?
“I’ve got a great family. I’ve got a four bedroom house in a great community. Like my car? It’s new. I even belong to the local golf club. How do I do it? I’m in debt up to my eyeballs.”
You have a reputation of having a great marriage, but the reality is that there is no intimacy between you. You have the reputation of having a strong relationship with God, but it’s just the hat you put on in public. The reputation of being alive, but inside you are dead. Verse 2...
2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God.
Wake up! Stop the truck. Repair the broken part. Fix the leak. Heal the relationship. Open my bible. Pray. Strengthen what little bit you have left. You want to get in better health, but you can only do half a push-up? Then go do half a push-up! Strengthen what remains. You have UNFINISHED BUSINESS. God is not done with you yet and He wants to help you finish the task. What is that task?
IDENTIFY YOUR UNFINISHED BUSINESS
IDENTIFY YOUR UNFINISHED BUSINESS
If you are taking notes, identify your unfinished business. Write down what it is that God has put on your heart to do. If you can’t think of anything, then write down the task that God has given all of us to do. I love the way it’s written in Acts...
24 But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.
What has God put on your heart? Are you just talking about it or are you doing it? Write it down. Make it real. Are you supposed to help a stranger? Help a friend? Start a support group? Talk to someone? Share your story? Listen to someone else’s story? The first thing we want to do is identify our unfinished business. Our goal is to get to the point where we say, “IT IS FINISHED!” So how do we finish strong?
The bible teaches us two important principles to finishing strong. If you are taking notes, the first thing we are going to do is commit to a finishing decision...
1: COMMIT TO A FINISHING DECISION.
1: COMMIT TO A FINISHING DECISION.
I am deciding to commit. One of the biggest obstacle’s to any goal is when you don’t have a plan that you are committed to. If you want to lose weight and get healthy you can have the best intentions in the world, but when you get home after a long day and you are tired you are far more likely to let your tired mind make all of the comfortable decisions it wants. If you commit to a finishing decision, those moments have to be filtered through your preset guidelines. “I won’t eat this ice cream because I need to look for something green that has 400 calories or less.”
If you are not looking to the future through the lens of a finishing decision you will not be able to complete any task. There is a powerful proverb that says this...
18 Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.
When speaking to a crowd of people who were following Jesus, He told them that if they wanted to be His disciple they would have to commit to a finishing decision. What good would it do to start something they weren’t ready to finish? This is what He said to them in a parable in Luke chapter 14...
28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
Sit down, seek God, seek wise counsel, seek God in His word, and, when you hear from Him, commit to it. The reason that committing to a finishing decision helps you avoid the ice cream at the end of the day is because it does two things for us. If you are taking notes write this down...
A FINISHING DECISION:
MOTIVATES YOU TO ENDURE SHORT TERM PAIN FOR LONG TERM GAIN. (Hebrews 12:2, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
DIMINISHES NEGATIVE INFLUENCE. (Matthew 16:23, Hebrews 12:1)
Hebrews 12:2 tells us that the joy that awaited Jesus gave Him the strength to endure the cross. The finishing decision empowered Him to endure the short term pain. In Corinthians, Paul says to run as if you are trying to win. Run with purpose in every single step. Keeping your eyes on the eternal prize will motivate you to endure the pain of the race.
A finishing decision also diminishes negative influence. It doesn’t make it go away, but it steals it’s power. Even when the negative influence is coming from some of your closest friends and family. When Jesus was telling the disciples what would happen to Him, Peter did not like it at all so he said, “this will never happen!” Then Jesus responded, “Get away from me, Satan!”
Clearly, having a finishing decision is important, so the first thing we do is commit to a finishing decision. For your notes, the second thing we need to do to finish strong is…
2: EXECUTE FINISHING ACTIONS.
2: EXECUTE FINISHING ACTIONS.
Commit, then execute. Finishing actions start small with the big picture in mind. You don’t have to set a goal to read through the whole bible and try to do it in a week. Start small. Start with baby steps. If a guy doesn’t think he will win, it is common for him to give up before he even begins. You don’t have to win right off the bat. Stay in the fight, train, get better, execute finishing actions until you reach the finish line.
In October of 1968 the Summer Olympic Games were in Mexico City. John Stephen Akhwari was running in the marathon race representing his home country, Tanzania. Unfortunately, during the race he fell and when he hit the concrete he badly cut his leg and dislocated his knee. It was so bad that he needed to go to the hospital.
The marathon was the last event of the day and the heat had been brutal on the marathon runners. 17 of the 74 runners failed to finish the race that day. Over an hour after the race had been won by another runner, the sun had set and the stadium was emptying. Even though the day was over and the race was lost, Ahkwari refused to give up. With a police escort in tow, he returned to the track limping, leg wrapped in blood soaked bandages, and in obvious pain. Even though he was now clearly in last place, Ahkwari hobbled toward the finish line.
After he crossed the finish line, some reporters who were still there asked him why he continued to run in his condition. He said, “My country didn’t send me 5,000 miles to start this race. They sent me 5,000 miles to finish it.”
Despite not winning the race, it was his picture that graced the paper the next day. It was his story that the world talked about. It was his race that inspired people everywhere.
When writing to the Corinthians about their finishing decision of giving, Paul said, “Remember last year when you were so eager to give? Remember that finishing decision that you committed to?...”
11 Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means.
What is your unfinished business? Remember when you felt God calling you to get out of debt? Remember when you felt called to share God’s amazing love with your neighbor? Remember when God stirred up your heart to make your marriage strong, full of His strength, and overflowing with intimacy? What is your unfinished business? Remember when you said “NO MORE” to the sin in your life?
I don’t know what your unfinished business is, but God is not done with you yet. He still believes that you will finish strong. Paul said this to the Philippians...
6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
God is not done with you yet. As long as you have breath in your lungs, you have unfinished business. Dad’s, I am so thankful that you are there for your kids. I am so thankful to be a part of a group that looks to our Heavenly Father for guidance. But all of us… grandfathers, fathers, sons, grandmothers, mothers, daughters, men, women, and children… Each and every one of us should not grow too comfortable and forget the good work God started within us.
Let’s finish strong. Eagerly complete our unfinished business. So in the end we can look to our Heavenly Father, just as Jesus did, and say, “Tetelestai! It is finished!”