Dr. Ed Young - It is Finished
How many of you have ever been to the Omni in Atlanta, Georgia? The big coliseum there where they do all their sports? When it was built, they named it the Omni, and the word "omni" means "all". So they at that time built a coliseum, a facility which they could do all kinds of entertainments, and sports, and the word "omni" is a great word meaning "all". We talk about God in terms of "all". He is omnipresent. That means He's all present everywhere. He is omnipotent. That means He's all powerful. His power is unlimited. He is omniscient, means that God knows all. He knows everything. There are no secrets from God.
So we look at the word "omni". We think of the characteristics of God, and we see in Jesus Christ it was God wrapped up in human flesh, and that's what we've been studying, as we have looked at Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, trying to get a sweep of the life of God, lived out among human beings in time and flesh, and look at the history of this One Who was totally God, and this One Who was totally Man. And so we have walked through His life until we get to the point that as a human being, this was the end of His life on the Cross. But you see, we know the rest of the story... This was not the end, but it was just the beginning because God raised Him from the dead, and because when you and I die with Him on the Cross, Jesus was a prototype, first fruits in which you and I will be risen from the dead.
You see, on the Cross, that's where our sins were nailed, and that satisfied a Holy God. That was salvation. Some people think that that moment, receiving Christ, forgiveness-that's the Christian life! "Man, I've been forgiven! I've gone to the Cross! I'm a Christian"! No, no, no! You may have the title, but Christianity, we've discovered, is discipleship, and it's one thing to go to the Cross and be forgiven and have your sins, sins forgiven and be right with God; but that is just the beginning of a transformed life. You see, if we've been to the Cross to receive Christ, the result of that is transformation, and unless there is transformation and an ongoing discipleship, going to the Cross didn't mean a thing! If you have the idea that, "I've prayed a prayer. I've received Christ. I've been baptized. I've been confirmed. No matter what, I'm going to Heaven"!
If you have that idea, and that's in your theological makeup, you'll en, you'll not enjoy Hell, because that's your destination. Did you get that? If we have genuinely been to the Cross, and we've been saved We've received Him as Savior and as, remember that word? Lord, L.O.R.D.? It means He's now Commander and Chief of your life and my life, and we're in the process of being totally transformed. Salvation is not genuine unless there is a process that leads to transformation, transformation. We go to the Cross, and we have studied five of the seven last words of Jesus. Have we studied five of them? Be careful! We've studied four... Just a little test. We've studied four. And this morning before most of you got up, when it was still dark, dark, dark, I got up and just read those seven words, and a light came on. And I realized, you could take each one of the seven last phrases of Jesus, New American Standard-it's about fifty-five words, just fifty-five words, and you could have taught His whole life under the topics of those...
Remember the first one He said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do"? We could have taken the life of Jesus and we could have built it all around just that one thing of His forgiveness, could we not? And then we could take the second word which He said to the woman, to the man on His right, the thief and said, "Today you'll be with Me in Paradise"? We could talk about the gate to Paradise, gate to Hell and build all the life of Jesus... So you could write a book or do a series around those seven last words, because remember, in the Bible, the word "seven" is a complete number. And if we really understand those seven words, we've got a beautiful view of God Himself-His nature, His character, how He would have us to live as we see in the light of how He lived. But He did it perfectly, and we'll never do it perfectly.
What's the great commandment? "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind, and all our strength"? How is that working out for you? Heh, heh! Man, I mess up on, you know, every one of 'em! Uh, you shall love your neighbor the way you love yourself... How is that working out for you? Hhm... Man, I love me too much! You love you too much, right? But Jesus lived this out before us, and those seven words give us a beautiful understanding of God Himself. The last phrases he uttered from the Cross. Someone's dying words.
Today, because of death, most of the time, our loved ones die, and they're in the hospital, or they're covered with medication and medicine, and we never hear their last words, and we think that is very merciful. Generally speaking, you do not hear those words. But 20 or 30 years ago when someone would die, they would listen to the last things they would say. I remember reading about a guy who had started restaurants all over this America. He was a wealthy guy. And they said, "Well, when he dies, let's see what this wealthy, influential, successful man will say. Maybe he'll give us the secret of his life"! So they were all leaning over his bed, and they heard him mumble something, and they said, "Oh, say that again! Say that again"! And he said, "Slice the ham thin". That's how he'd gotten rich. The theme of his life.
"All right, don't forget to slice the ham thin..." But we hear the last words of Jesus. What powerful words they are. We look at them. We find two of them here in our study. We're going to look at three. We find it in the Gospel according to John. Turn with me if you would to John, Chapter Number 19, Verse 28: And after this, Jesus,knowing that all things had already been accomplished to fulfill the Scripture, He said, "I Am thirsty". King James, "I thirst". Verse 29: A jar full of sour wine was standing there, so they put a sponge full of sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth. So there's our word that we're looking at. It is the fifth word from the Cross. "I thirst".
By the way, that's a very natural comment, isn't it? You're dying. You're bleeding to death. Blood is leaving your body. The human response is to say, "I thirst". The First World War, they were fighting in the trenches and many Germans were dying and wounded in no-man's land, and many Americans and Englishmen, and you could hear, I am told, voices out there saying when they weren't rescued in the night, "I thirst. I'm thirsty. Water, water, water..." It is a physiological response. It's a natural comment, "I thirst". But also, Jesus, because of Who He was saying, "I thirst" was an unnatural comment. What was unnatural about it? He was fulfilling prophecy. Psalm 69. Psalm 22 predicted hundreds of years before, fulfilling prophecy. You want to see how it is to die? You read Psalm 69. You read Psalm 22. It was already written down, so He was fulfilling prophecy, so this was an unnatural thing.
"I thirst. I thirst". To be thirsty. That's really something, isn't it? When you see God, do you see God as on a Cross, bleeding to death, saying, "I am thirsty"? Years ago, there was a little book, probably written 40 years ago. It's entitled Your God Is Too Small. It's by J. B. Phillips. Great little book! He talks about how most of us have minimized God. We've made God almost silly. Uh, you know philosopher-ask a philosopher, "Who Is God"? He'll say, "God is the unmoved mover," or some scholar will say, "Who Is God"? 'God is an oblong blur...' Or remember, was it Rocky Graziano? An old movie came out, and he says, "Who Is God"? He said, "Somebody up there likes me..." You know, so you've got a, too small. Your God is too small. He's too pedestrian.
I was talking about to a man, a very fine, wonderful man who is a seeker after God and after Christ in the church. Had a lot of questions. Very intelligent man. Liked him. And he asked me a question I'd never been asked. He said, "Why is it that God has to be the Man? Has to be worshipped. Wants to be obeyed, followed, has these principles. Why doesn't God-why does God have to be the Man"? I looked at him, and I said, "Because He Is the Man". He said, "Ohhh..." and he said, "It's that we want to be the man"? I said, "That's it"! That's it, isn't it? That's our sin. God Is the Man! And see, we want to be the man. We, God is too small. Some of us think of God only in anthropomorphic terms. Don't let that word scare you! It means we think of God only in human, human dimensions as having arms, and hands, and eyes, etc...
So your God can be too small. Also, your God can be too big! God is way up there. Some people have the idea of God, that He's on a big marble throne. Got a long beard-man, diamonds all around Him; angels singing, harps playing, and He could just speak, and it sounds like the roar of thunder! AArrrrrrrh!! By the way, in the service I just was in before this service, I said that. Believe it or not, that's when the storm hit. Something-a big roar was like "Rrrrrooooom!"! Boy, I've never seen such an attentive audience as we had... But some of think of God like that. Long white beard... And we see here a God Who Is thirsty. He entered into all of our pain, all of our emotions that we enter into. "I thirst".
Do you think of God bleeding to death on a Cross, stripped naked? Do you picture God like that? That's our God. We can't make Him too big; we can't make Him too small. That's the God. "I thirst". Also, this also has a supernatural dimension, this phrase, "I thirst," because one of the aspects of Hell... what is Hell primarily? It's punishment-fire, brimstone, etc... But primarily, it's the absence of the Almighty. Hell is-you can do anything you've ever wanted to do throughout all eternity... You say, "Boy, Hell doesn't sound too bad". One catch: Alone. Alone, by yourself. By yourself! And this is this-in Hell, there's a constant thirst. "I thirst..." Remember the parable Jesus told about the rich man was in Hell who lived only for himself, and Lazarus was in Heaven? And the rich man says, "O' God, just let a little bit of water come from Lazarus. Just let him..." in other words, "let him just spit on me because I'm so thirsty. I'm so thirsty".
That's what you have in Hell. "I thirst. I thirst..." And this is the supernatural aspect of the words, "I thirst". It is that Jesus went to Hell, and He experienced that eternal thirst that people have who are without Him. All the time-are you thirsty? People run around, "I'm thirsty. I want meaning. I want significance. I want freedom. I want understanding. Why did this happen? What's going on? I thirst. I thirst. I thirst..." We know that Jesus identified with us as humans, and also His thirst was a supernatural thing. "I thirst! I thirst..." I thought about the woman at the well, wanting to draw water for Jesus, and Jesus said, "Look-if you'd ask, I can give you water and you'll never be thirsty again". This is what Christ does when He comes in us and runs us. He takes over our life. He quenches that thirst. "I thirst..."
What a powerful word. Look at the next word that we see in our Scripture. Also in the Gospel according to John, Verse 29: A jar full of wine was brought, and this was to quench His thirst. Verse 30: Therefore, when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished"! and He bowed His head and gave up the Spirit. It is finished! Interesting... Jesus early on the Cross, they offered Him sour wine; He rejected it. Now He takes the sour wine, and that was an act, not a vicious act. I've heard somebody, "Oh, how mean it was, that centurion to take that and put it on a sponge, and put it in the mouth of Jesus! What a horrible thing"! It was a great thing of compassion. He was thirsty. And the centurion, the one who was crucifying Him, probably in charge of the group of Roman soldiers; he was the one who had compassion and got a branch of hyssop and dipped a sponge in some sour wine and gave it to Jesus to try to at least temporarily, before He died, to quench His thirst.
I wonder if you and I, if we'd been in that crowd, He said, "I thirst..." I wonder if we'd gone out of our way and tried to do something to minister to Him. I wonder? The last judgment, Jesus said, "You were thirsty and you went out and quenched someone's thirst," and Jesus said, "It's like you've done it to me". I was on an airplane a few years ago. Across the aisle was a baby crying. I mean, this mother was having a time! I mean, it was a 2 year old being everything only a 2 year old could be! I mean, it was bedlam. And I just said, "You know, somebody ought to help her out..." and a man got up. Didn't know the woman. Went over there-started to playing with the baby, and they became friends. It quieted the baby down. Walked the baby a little bit. Before long, he was asleep.
I said, "Boy, that's a wonderful thing that man did". And I said, "You know, you could have done that..." But it's somebody else! You know, You need to do that. Man! You see? But the centurion, "I thirst"! It was the centurion who got up and said, "Let me do what I can to quench that thirst". 'I thirst...' And now we see Jesus said, "It is finished". 'Tetelestai' is the Greek word. One word in Greek-three words-it is finished. What's finished? Somebody said, "Well, it's His life. He suffered enough. He's finished. He's dead..." No, no, no, no! Tetelestai is a note of triumph. You do not find this phrase in the other Gospels, but the other Gospels says He shouted in a loud voice! "It is finished! Tetelestai"!
What is that all about? It's about what he started off when He was 12 years old. Remember? He was left behind in the temple? His parents went on and forgot Him, and His mother and dad went back and said, "You know, why are You still here at church? Why are you still in the temple"? and He looked and said, "Don't you know I must be about My Father's business"? What's finished here? The Father's business? What was the Father's business in Jesus' life? It was the Beatitudes. That's the Father's business. It was the miracles He performed. That was the Father's business. It was the teachings that He gave. That was the Father's business. It was the listening ear, teaching us how to prayer, pray. It was all He did. It was Gethsemane. It was the Cross. That was the Father's business.
Now He says, "Tetelestai! It is finished"! Few people finish what we start. I've got an old cassette series, a hundred of them, and each cassette tells a story of what the person who put it together thought of the hundred greatest people who ever lived. Little story of their life. A hundred cassettes, each one. And I've listened to them, I've noticed something: Every one that I've listened to thus far didn't get through with their life. They didn't get through with their bucket list. They didn't get through what they wanted to do in their life, and they're not able to say, "It's finished. I'm done". There's always more to do. You read all the great people, that is true, from Michelangelo, the great sculptor and artist. He left half of his sculptures incomplete.
Raphael, David Livingston, the missionary, he didn't get through. You just don't get through in this life, do you? There are so many Biblical truths in this Book I would like to teach, and preach, and learn, and apply to myself, and share with others... Let me tell you something: I'll not get through! But to think that Jesus, the Father's business-He said, "Tetelestai". And that was a very common word. Look at a list if you would. There's a list here of five ways this word was used. In the marketplace, when someone would come and they would pay a bill that they owed, they'd write "Tetelestai". When my dad had a country store that was about a little bigger than this stage-maybe with the orchestra. It was about this size... That's how big it was. On a highway, Highway 84, there are two little tanks out in front, gas tanks.
You see 'em all over the South. And my dad had a counter there, and he had this little, this bills that he would put there, little booklets for all the customers. Most of his customers were cotton farmers, and some were tenants; some were owners; some were share croppers... and so he'd run up their bill because they had no money when they were planting cotton, but they had families. So they'd buy their groceries and their stuff from my dad. He'd get their account, and when the cotton came in and they sold the cotton, they had money, and they would come and pay off their account. My dad would pull out that little book. He'd write on it, "Paid in full"! Tetelestai! Paid in full! That happens in the marketplace.
Also artists, when they finish a painting, they could say, "Man, Tetelestai! It is finished! It's done for"! A priest would come. And a priest would take a sacrifice from the altar and look at an animal and say, "Uh, listen-you brought me that sick sheep that's about half dead. God's not going to accept that". Examine the animal to see if it didn't have any blemish. It had no blemish, he would stamp on it, "Tetelestai"! And it's okay. A servant would come and finish a task. They would say, "Tetelestai! It is finished. You have done it. It has been paid in full". And then a prisoner would serve their time, and they'd be released, and they'd put the stamp on it, "Paid in full. Tetelestai".
See, a common word. Jesus says, "It is finished! Tetelestai"! from the Cross. He has finished that which He had begun! He didn't leave anything undone. "It is finished. Tetelestai". What a tremendous word of victory and triumph! He didn't go through life saying, "I'm a victim". Is that you? "Oh, I'm a victim because I happened into this child, and this, and that, and", oh no. He went through not as a victim, but as a victor. Tetelestai! It is finished. It is finished. Now, the final word from the Cross, I think is perhaps one of the greatest words of all, next to the fourth word. The seventh word-look at it in Luke Chapter Number 24, Verse 45: ...because the sun was obscured and the veil of the temple was torn in two, and Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, "Father, into Your hands I commit, or I surrender My Spirit". "Into Your hands, I surrender My Spirit". It's a prayer.
The seven last words begins with a prayer, doesn't it? "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do". The last word of the seven last words we're studying, it ends with a prayer. "Father, into Thy hands, I surrender, I commit My Spirit". Would you find that anywhere else in the Bible? Every Jew would know where that prayer of Jesus came from. It's Psalm 31. Every Jewish child would be taught to pray that prayer at night. "Father, into my, into Thy hands, I surrender my spirit". Every night they would pray that. What were we taught? "Now I lay me down to sleep... bless the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, bless the Lord my soul to take". That was the prayer.
How many have sort of learned that prayer as kids? Lift your-if you kind of learned that prayer? Yeah... And, we were saying the same thing the Jewish kids were saying, see? "Father, I surrender my spirit to You. Lord, if I should die before my wake, bless O' Lord my soul... I surrender..." We're praying the same thing. So Jesus was praying the prayer He learned at His mother's knee every night of His life. As He was dying, He prayed that prayer, with one difference. In Psalm 31, it says a thing of committing. "I surrender to You. I surrender my spirit to You". But Jesus said, "Lord, into Your hands, I surrender My Spirit".
See, Lord. Jesus brought the understanding that God is not some lofty Heavenly Father with all these big hard legalistic requirements, but He is a Abba. He is a Dad. Jesus said, "Abba" confidently. "I commit myself. I surrender Myself into Your hands". That's the Christian life, folks. You got any problem, any situation. Boy, this is ahhh. Boy, just, "Into Thy hands I, I surrender this... I surrender..." The Christian life, let me say it for the ten thousandth, five hundred and twenty seventh time, is not trying. Anybody say, "I'm trying to be a Christian..." I know they don't understand zip about the Christian life! You're missing it! You don't try! You surrender!