Thursday, April 21, 2011
Love That Triumphs: "It Is Finished"
“He endured the cross, ignoring the shame, for the sake of the joy that was laid out in front of him”
“I have glorified You by finishing the work You gave Me to do. Now, Father, glorify Me...”
Some years ago a Christian farmer was deeply concerned over an unsaved carpenter. The farmer sought to explain how that the finished work of Christ was sufficient for his soul to rest upon. But the carpenter persisted in the belief that he must do something himself.
One day the farmer asked the carpenter to make for him a gate, and when the gate was ready he carried it away to his wagon. He arranged for the carpenter to call on him the next morning and see the gate as it hung in the field. At the appointed hour the carpenter arrived and was surprised to find the farmer standing by with a sharp axe in his hand. “What are you going to do?” he asked.
"I am going to add a few cuts and strokes to your work,” was the response.
“But there is no need for it,” replied the carpenter, “the gate is all right as it is. I did all that was necessary to it.”
The farmer took no notice, but lifting his axe he slashed and hacked at the gate until it was completely spoiled.
“Look what you have done!" cried the carpenter. “You ruined my work!”
“Yes,” said the farmer, “and that is exactly what you are trying to do. You are seeking to nullify the finished work of Christ by your own miserable additions to it.”
When Jesus announced “It is finished,” to whom was He speaking? “Jesus knew that His mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture He said, ‘I am thirsty.’ 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. When Jesus had tasted it, He said, ‘It is finished!’ Then He bowed his head and released his spirit.”
“It is finished,” is a victory speech. It’s a job well done, completed. The Greek word used here is “tetelestai,” which means paid in full, a word used in business transactions.
Jesus came from heaven to provide humanity the way of salvation by His life, death, and resurrection. He completed His work. “I have glorified You on earth by finishing the work You gave me to do. Now, Father, glorify Me in Your presence with the glory I shared with you before the world was created” (John 17:4-5). When Jesus said “It is finished,” His announcement was directed toHis Father, humanity, and believers.
Jesus spoke to His Father Who sent Him to accomplish the mission of redemption. “For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19). Jesus appointed us to be His messengers, according to John 20:21, “Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace is with you. As the Father sent me, so I am sending you to share the good news about me.’”
Jesus spoke to humanity regarding our past sins and God’s plan of reconciliation “Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone” (Romans 5:18).
Jesus spoke about our present peace with God. “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us” (Romans 5:1).
Jesus spoke about our future destiny with him. “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am” (John 14:1-3).
This is a promise you can count on. Jesus sealed his promise with his blood!
When Jesus said, “It is finished,” It meant the following and more.
Heaven rejoiced: Jesus’ God-given mission was accomplished.
Hell trembled: Satan’s plan was folded and destroyed.
Earth rejoiced: Her children are safe in God’s hands, the transaction is complete.
When Jesus said, “It is finished,” He meant there is nothing else to be done for our salvation–it is the gift of God for all who believe and accept what Jesus accomplished on the cross. Salvation is by grace and through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9), “God saved you by His grace when you believed.
You can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” We do good works out of gratitude to God. We are saved by God’s grace and faith in Jesus Christ.
We cannot add to his finished work of salvation—it is by grace alone plus nothing. We can’t subtract from what Jesus said, “It is finished.” It is done, that is the gospel, the good news of God. In our lives, there are too many stops and starts on our pilgrimage. We can never say our work is completed. But our Lord declared it with a loud voice: “It is finished.”
By accepting his finished work, we are invited to enter into a Sabbath rest. We are accepted, when we accept God’s acceptance of us. A good example is the prodigal son in Luke chapter 15.
He ran away and wasted the money he had received. He was wasteful, but when he realized the wrong he had done he wanted to go home. His father was waiting for him with open arms and received his son as though he had never sinned, because the son repented before he returned home–that was enough. In the same way God receives us. There is joy in Heaven when a sinner repents. “In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents” (Luke 15:10). To love is to embrace the one who feels lost.
This story by Maxie Dunham illustrates God’s acceptance. A number of years ago, Newsweek magazine carried the story of the memorial service held for Hubert Humphrey, former vice-president of the United States. Hundreds of people came from all over the world to say good-bye to their old friend and colleague. But one person who came was shunned and ignored by virtually everyone there.
Nobody would look at him, much less speak to him. That person was former president Richard Nixon. Not long before, he had gone through the shame and infamy of Watergate. He was back in Washington for the first time since his resignation from the presidency.
Then a very special thing happened, perhaps the only thing that could have made a difference and broken the ice. President Jimmy Carter, who was in the White House at that time, came into the room. Before he was seated, he saw Nixon over against the wall, all by himself. He went over to [him] as though he were greeting a family member, stuck out his hand to the former President, and smiled broadly. To the surprise of everyone there, the two of them embraced each other, and Carter said, “Welcome home, Mr. President! Welcome home!”
Commenting on that, Newsweek magazine asserted, “If there was a turning point in Nixon's long ordeal in the wilderness, it was that moment and that gesture of love and compassion.”
Jesus paid the price for our salvation with his life and prepared our eternal l home heaven. Let him end your wilderness experience by opening your heart for Him to have fellowship with you. Jesus said in Revelations 3:20,” Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” Jesus waits for you to open your heart to let him come in and share your burden and his joy!
How does Jesus’ finished work help us now and in the future?
• His completed work of redemption means peace between us and God. We can be forgiven for our past sins and failure.
• His finished work of redemption means we can live in peace with ourselves even when we are reminded of our failure in the past or the future – God’s grace is like detergent.
• His finished work of salvation guarantees us a home in heaven.” For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.
Jesus promised to be with us always. We’re never alone in our trials, “Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.”
To accept Jesus Christ means to trade our sin for Christ’s righteousness and to live for Him.
Pastor Shim Habte, Willows United Methodist Church
544 North Shasta Street, Willows, CA 95988