Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Fifth Lenten Midweek Sermon: "Jesus' 6th Word on the Cross"

+ Fifth Lenten Midweek Service – April 5th, 2017 +
6th Word of Jesus on the Cross
John 19:30
Redeemer Lutheran, HB

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

We pull weeds from our garden, and a week later they’re back again. We finish one project at school or work and another one comes our way. We get the oil changed on the car and the next day the brake pads need replacing. It seems that in our life at home, school, work, and church, our labor is never done. There’s always something more to do.

But here, in Jesus’ sixth word on the cross, we hear something truly remarkable and comforting:

“It is finished”.

The Greek word used here is tetelestai, fulfilled, accomplished, finished. In Jesus crucified all God’s promises are fulfilled. In Jesus Crucified, God’s plan for our salvation is accomplished. In Jesus Crucified, our sin and death and all the restlessness and weariness of sin is finally, once-and-for-all, done.

 “It is finished,” Jesus says.

As Jesus cries out these words, his saving work for you is finished.

As Jesus cries out these words, the entire Old Testament comes crashing down on Jesus, like a rushing river finally reaching the sea.

After the fall into sin, Adam and Eve fashioned fig-leaf clothing to cover their nakedness, guilt, and shame. But they could not hide their sin from the Lord any more than we can in our own fig leaves. So, the Lord clothed them in animal skins to cover their nakedness, guilt, and shame. Now, as Jesus cries out, “It is finished,” the Lord covers our nakedness, guilt, and shame by clothing us in blood and righteousness as he is sacrificed for us.

Abraham ascended Mount Moriah with Isaac, his son, his only son whom he loves, and Isaac asked, “Behold, the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son”, Abraham replies. And the Lord provided a sacrifice to spare Isaac. Now, as Jesus cries out, “It is finished”, the Lord provides a sacrifice, his only Son, to spare you.

On the night of their rescue from slavery in Egypt, Israel killed the Passover lamb, painted their doorposts with its blood, and death passed over their homes. Now, as Jesus cries out, “It is finished”, Christ our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed for us, his blood covers us from all sin, and death passes over us and onto Jesus.

When the high priest entered the holy of holies in the tabernacle, he and all of Israel was cleansed by the atoning for sins, by the blood shed for the people, and by the sacrifices God gave to give them his holiness. Now, as Jesus cries out, “It is finished”, the Great High Priest secures our eternal redemption by means of his own blood. Jesus, our Great High Priest has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

Jesus’ sacrifice is the beating heart of the Scriptures, from Genesis to the Jordan river where John cries out, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world; and from the Jordan to Jerusalem, where Jesus cries out for you, “It is finished”.

The Lord’s promise to Abraham to bless all nations is now complete in the perfect Offspring of Abraham.

The rest God promised Noah after the flood is now accomplished in the One whose death makes all things new.

The rescue God gave the people of Israel through the Judges like Samson, Gideon, and Deborah is now fulfilled as Jesus saves us by being judged in our place.

What Aaron, Moses and Joshua; David, Solomon, and Elijah could not do because of their own weakness and sin, Christ came, and finished fulfilling everything they said and did. “We can confidently proclaim that Christ is Moses, Christ is Joshua, Elijah, David, and Solomon. He is the embodiment of every Old Testament institution. He is the Passover and the Passover Lamb. In his death and resurrection, He is the final exodus out of slavery. He is the temple of God. Jesus is Solomon, Jonah, and the Temple brought to the perfect completion that God intended.

That’s what it means when Jesus says…
It is finished.

O Lord, what could we possibly say, or add to these words? We cannot offer You the thoughts and imaginations of hearts and minds, for there is no one righteous, no not one. We cannot offer You our words and deeds, for we do not seek after Your Word in all that we say and do. Our throats are open graves filled with gossip, spite, and bitterness. We cannot offer You our deeds of righteousness, for we have only filthy rags. We cannot offer You any work of our own in our daily callings in life, in our homes, workplaces, and even in your church, for we are crushed by the weight of the Law. “Do this” is all we hear, but it is never done.

Like Joseph’s brothers, there are those whom we have hurt and those whom we have failed to help. Yet, though you were left for dead on the cross, out of our great evil you have worked our eternal blessing, clothing us with the robe of your righteousness.

Like Cain, we have murdered you, our brother, by our thoughts, words, and deeds – yet in mercy you have placed your mark of your holy cross upon us to protect us and deliver us from evil.

Like Peter, we have denied you before others by what we have done and what we have left undone. Yet, by your cross and passion for us you are our Advocate before the Father, who never denies nor forsakes us.

It’s true, God’s Law says, “do this” and it is never done. And yet that is not Jesus’ final word on the cross: God’s Grace says, “believe in this,” and everything is already done. Jesus hangs on the cross for you, and declares:

It is finished.

All of the devil’s trickery, deceit, and tyranny. It is finished.

All of our lies, lusts, and laziness. It is finished.

All of our hatred, unholiness, and half-hearted worship of God. It is finished.

All of our guilt, shame, and brokenness. It is finished.

All of our doubt, despair, and death. It is finished.

All of our sickness, sorrow, and sin. It is finished.

After creation was completed… on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.

Now, as Jesus cries out, “It is finished”, Jesus rests from his labors, and all the work of salvation that he had done for you. Our sin, our death, and the devil’s lies are done for. And where our sin and death is finished forever, a new, eternal life in Christ begins.

On the cross, Jesus declares: “It is finished.” For you.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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