S-1181 Good Friday/3C 4/02/2010 Hymns: #140; #180; #181; #182; #153; #172 vv. 1-4; #143 vv. 1-5l; #146
Texts: Seven last Words from the Cross
Theme: “It Is Finished!” (John 19:29-30; Rev. 21:1-7).
Question: “Do you always finish the project your start?” (8th in sermon series of Life Together).
SOLI DEO GLORIA, Armour, SD
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. The text for our G. F. is from the Gospel of St. John: “A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to His mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished,” and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” (John 19:29-30).
Introduction: In Nomine IESU
People of God, chosen and beloved, imagine what it may have been like at the beginning of time. Everything was so pristine, pure, peaceful and perfect. The Scriptures indicate that Adam and Eve enjoyed a fearless and loving, intimate relationship with God. Some of their time was spent walking with God in the Garden. Imagine if you were there and the feeling of the blades of grass beneath your feet and the “feet” of God walking in the garden. Imagine God’s conversations with you. How wonderful it must have been to talk with God! To commune with God! and to have peace with God! Can you imagine it? But, then tragedy struck and suddenly the picture changes. Adam and Eve fall into sin. Would He still be their God? Would He still love them? Would He walk with them?
God told Satan, but Adam and Eve heard it and we, hear it too… God said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will crush your head and you will strike His heal” (Genesis 3:15). That’s where we are tonight. From being present with God, to hiding behind fig leaves; from sunny skies of paradise to the dark, dismal, black clouds of Calvary; from intimacy with God in the Garden to separation from God to judgment and death.
What was started so many years before comes to it’s conclusion with these Words from the dying lips of our Lord Jesus Christ. Tonight the serpent’s head is crushed, evil is defeated, death is destroyed, but at such great, great, cost! God’s Son is hanging on the cross; God’s Son is calling out, “It is finished.” Let me ask you, what is finished? All things on earth begin and all things end. People are born, people die. The music starts and the music ends. The dance start and the dance end. It’s interesting how so often beginnings are celebrated while endings are mourned. Is Good Friday that kind of mournful ending? “It is finished,” Jesus cries out. What is finished? The dark scene of sin and death surrounds us. Far, far from us, it seems, are the images of paradise.
But listen now to another Word from God’s Holy book, Revelation 21:1-7. At first, this will seem to be a very strange text for such a dark and somber night, but please listen to the Holy Spirit…
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I Am making all things new.” Also He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And He said to me, “It is done! I Am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be His God and he will be My son.”
When God says in Revelation 21:5, “I Am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” it means that He was there when the skies of paradise were sunny and His communion with His children was perfect. When He says, “I Am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” it means that His presence spans the dark times, Good Friday and all our mournful times. Yes, Good Friday times are mournful but not, definitely not, a mournful end as the world views death. For when the Lord God says, “I Am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” He invites us into images of a new paradise. And even on this dark, dismal, Good Friday God gives us a vision of a brighter future. Hear it again: “He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
“It is finished,” Jesus cried out. What is finished? The price of our sin has been paid by His death—in full. You are reconciled to God. No longer do we need to hide behind fig leaves. No longer is there separation from our Holy God. Paradise has been restored. How do we know that? Listen to this from Revelation’s vision of our wonderful future. “And He who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I Am making all things new.’ Also He said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ And He said to me, ‘It is done!’” “It is finished.” Jesus has earned your forgiveness. “It is done.” His death opens a glorious future and the words are written to give us hope. “It is finished.” “It is done!” says the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.”
Can you be sure of that? Can you be certain of your hope and heaven? Yes, we can. But not all people believe that. This past Tuesday some of our saints went to discuss with the Jehovah witnesses about the benefit of Jesus’ death. One of our saints Terry Hochhalter asked one of the elders, “If you were to die tonight, would you go to heaven?” The elder’s response was “Absolutely not!” How sad and how tragic! This man and many like him in this cult have no certainty of salvation, no guarantee of heaven. Terry asked “Why not?” “Because I don’t know for sure! I don’t feel it in me heart”.
These people work so hard to do the right thing, the work at earning God’s favor and His love, but they are doing it the wrong way. We can be certain. Jesus cried out with a LOUD VOICE: “IT IS FINISHED!” PAUSE.
There was a philosopher named Nietzsche who is famous for having written “God is Dead.” The words “God is Dead” sound blasphemous but Nietzsche’s intent behind the words was to say that God may as well be dead if God makes no difference to one’s life. I’ll say that again. Nietzsche meant that God may as well be dead if God makes no difference in your life. Do you live as if “God is Dead” in your life? Christ did die and we know the promise of a new heaven and a new earth. That makes all the difference for Christ-followers, even though we’re still plagued with sin and sorrow, suffering and sadness, yet we have hope—hope in the One who said: “It is finished!” You and I see creation fall into ruin before us. Sorrow comes and tears are shed. But the dark scenes of our lives are not the final scene. You see, God did indeed die on the cross – God the Son, very God of very God, the 2nd person of the Holy Trinity! And because God did die and wrote for us words of a new heaven and new earth…because “it is finished” and “it is done,” you and I have glimpses of glory even in the darkest of our times.
The full effect of Jesus’ death won’t be realized until that last day, but until then, Your God is your source of joy and confident hope. “I Am with you,” He says (Matthew 28:20). With you to hear your prayers, with you to speak soothing words, with you to give you the nourishment of His body and blood, with you to wipe away every tear from your eye and with you to embrace you with His tender and pierced hands.. “It is finished.” “It is done.” “I will be their God.”
Tonight, the scene is dark as we mourn the result of our sin…and what that sin caused our Savior to endure. We mourn the broken relationship with our Creator…and we miss those walks through the garden. We remember the suffering and death of our Savior…we remember what He taught us and what His life means to us. In a world where it’s easier to tear down and start over, our God has made Himself the God of restoration. Tonight the Word restores you to Him. Tonight He is Your God and you are His people. Tonight, He opens those pierced hands and holds you and tells you “this much (open hands wide open) I love you”. Tonight the dark scene begins to brighten. “It is finished.” Redemption is accomplished. Your sins are paid for. Paradise IS restored! And, we have communion with God, Amen.
Now the peace…