Jack Graham - It is Finished
We are at the cross as Peter tells us where "Christ suffered once for sin, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God". Jesus spoke from the cross. Remember the cross was basically death by suffocation. It was extremely difficult for anyone to speak from a cross but God recorded the words of Jesus because in the words of Christ spoken from the cross we hear the heart of God and we see fulfilled the purpose of Christ coming to earth. And each word that we have covered tells us something more about why the cross. At first, there was the word of appeal to the Father when He cried out, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do". It was prayer, a word of appeal.
Then words of assurance to a dying thief who repented, and Jesus said, "This day you will be with Me in paradise". And then there were words of affection when He spoke to His mother and cared for her and said, "Woman, your son," pointing to John, "And John, here is your mother". And He took care of His mother by giving her to His beloved disciple. Words of affection. And then when supernatural darkness encroached upon the land at high noon the sun hid its face because Jesus cried out, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me"? These are words of abandonment when Christ was cut off from fellowship with the Father, that God Himself, the Father turned His back on His dear and darling Son-abandonment.
And then came words of agony. "I thirst", speaking of the total humanity of Jesus as well as His holiness, for He satisfies the deepest longing, He satisfies the deepest thirst of the human heart. But these were words of agony, of human suffering! Then as we note today came words of accomplishment. And then finally words of acceptance. "Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit". Today, words of accomplishment. In chapter 19 of John's Gospel, beginning at verse 30: "When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, 'It is finished,' and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit".
Now it's important that you realize that these words are not the last gasp breaths of a worn-out or wasted life, but these words, "It is finished", really just one word in the language of the New Testament: Tetelestai! Finished! Accomplished! Again, not that Jesus was saying, "It's over," but rather "It is finished"! It is accomplished, it is done! It is the shout of a victor! The Greeks prided themselves in having a language that could say a lot with just a few words. Tetelestai, just one word tells us a lot about why the cross, and why Jesus died. For one thing, it was a word that was often used by builders. When a builder would complete a construction job, a project was completed then the word Tetelestai was offered. Project done! It is built! It is done!
An artist would often use this word when the sculpture was complete or the painting was finished, "Tetelestai"! It is done. It was also used by priest when the sacrifice was given and the blood was spilled and the priest would come out to say, "Tetelestai"! It is finished. These words were offered... or this word "Tetelestai" was given when a servant would complete a task for a master, finished, done, complete. This word was also used by accountants when a bill was paid, when the mortgage was finished or completed, they would write Telelestai! Paid in full! It was also used by warriors, by soldiers when the battle is done: Tetelestai! It is finished. God has called everyone of us to finish life well, and I'm so glad that He said in Philippians 1:6 "He who began the good work in you will complete it, will finish it unto the day of Jesus Christ".
What God starts, He finishes. That's encouraging for me and for all of us to know that He's going to complete the work in us that He has started. He's never going to give up on any of us. And the way we can know that is because of what Christ has done on the cross! When He said, "Tetelestai, it is finished" what did He mean? He didn't say, "I am finished". There's a big, big difference between saying I am finished and it is finished! Jesus was not finished! It was all just really beginning. But "It", God's plan, God's purpose, God's salvation is now finished. It means that the Scriptures are now fulfilled. You know, the cross was not an accident, it was not an afterthought. The cross of Jesus was not plan B, it was not something thrown together at the last minute. In fact it was planned in eternity past.
The Scripture says that "the Lamb of God was slain before the foundation of the world". That in the infinite counsel and heart and mind of God, 1 Peter 1:20, that "the cross was foreordained before the foundation of the world"! That God's plan all along, knowing that man would sin, knowing that Satan would rebel and lead a revolt on earth, man's sin that would bring death and destruction. God had a plan all along, and the plan was redemption! The plan is salvation. And from Genesis, the first book of the Bible to Revelation, the last book of the Bible, it's all about Jesus and His story of salvation. It's all about the message of the cross.
So every promise relative to salvation is fulfilled when Jesus said, "It is finished". Every prophecy, and we've talked in the past in these messages about the detail and directive prophecies regarding the coming of the Messiah, the coming of Jesus in the world that would identify Jesus as the Savior, all of those prophecies are now fulfilled. In fact, Jesus bows His head or rather He shouts to "Tetelestai"! and then bows His head and gives up His Spirit, after He fulfilled the last prophecy which was from Psalm 69 when it was prophesied that He would cry out "I thirst" and receive hyssop and the sour wine, the vinegar from His thirst. And that was all prophesied. It was all planned and it was all perfected at the cross. And why?
And oh, by the way, don't you think that if God minutely and purposefully fulfilled all the prophecies and the promises regarding the first coming of Jesus, did you know that there are prophecies and promises regarding the second coming of Jesus and just as the red river of redemption flows through the Scripture, the scarlet thread of redemption, there's also this golden thread of the return of Jesus Christ and the same God who sent Jesus the first time. Jesus is coming again! Count on it! It's going to happen! Well, and why? Just one reason: God loves you, God loves you. God gave His only Son. Would you do that? Would you offer the life of your child for someone else? I wouldn't. I just wouldn't.
Now I could make a list, if you were to ask me to make a list of people for whom you would die, Jack Graham, I could make a list on that one. People that I love and, no questions asked, I would be willing to lay down my life. And so there's a list there. But if you were to ask me how many people would you put on your list for whom you would allow or even sacrifice one of your children to die? That would be a blank page. Zero. I love you, but I don't love you that much. But do you know who's on God's list? Everybody in the world! No one is excluded. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son"! I told you that this word Tetelestai is a word which means to complete a project. It's used by builders. If you think about it, this is why we have a cross. Why the cross? Why this symbol?
There's a vertical stake in the ground, there's the vertical beam of the cross which extends from heaven to earth and represents the holiness of God that has come down to man. And then there's a cross beam, a horizontal beam which represents the wideness of God's grace and His mercy which is inclusive of all who will come to Him! So when you see a cross, it is as though God has built a bridge, when God's holiness intersects with God's mercy and His love at the cross. And when Jesus is suspended between heaven and earth, this bridge is now built that connects sinful humanity with holy God! The bridge is done! The work is finished! Jesus paid it all! His precious blood paid the price. I told you it was an accounting word. We were in debt, a debt that we could not pay. Way over our heads. We were indebted because of our sin. We were imprisoned by our sin. But Tetelestai means the debt is paid, the debt is paid.
When someone was put into prison in the ancient world, the day of Christ, they would write the offenses on a piece of paper and place it upon the doorpost or the prison where that person was incarcerated. And when the time was served, the sentence was completed, they would take down the sign and the debt and write across it "Tetelestai!- Paid in full" Jesus paid the debt that He did not owe because we owed this debt that we could never have paid. He lived a life that we could not live and died a death that we deserve in order that we might have eternal life. And now, because of the cross, as God has reached out His arms to us, Jesus is saying, "I love you this much". And as I said, the holiness of God and the mercy of God intersect in the person of Jesus. This is why He said, "It is finished".
Salvation is finished, His sufferings are finished. The sufferings of Jesus were beyond our ability to define or even to discuss. It's unfathomable what Jesus went through. No one has ever suffered like Jesus suffered. He was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. Many have died terrible deaths, many have suffered on crosses and died, but only Jesus took on not the physical pain alone, but the spiritual pain of separation from God and bearing the weight of the world when He carried the cross for you and me! So, thank God, His sufferings are finished. The pain is done. The plan of God of salvation is finished. Tetelestai! But there's one final thing. Not only is the Scriptures fulfilled and sin is now forgiven, but Satan is finished.
I like to think of this cry from the cross as the cry of our Champion. It is the crowning accomplishment of His life! It is finished! There's nothing you can add to it. In fact, if you tried to add to it, you would distort it and disfigure it. You take a great masterpiece of a painting and, you know, you try to draw something else on it, you only disfigure it. You only distort it. You just tear it up. So when you come to salvation in Christ, if you try to add anything to it, your pennants, your prayers, your own self-punishment, your own good deeds, your own good works, it only distorts it! It's the pure and perfected love of Jesus Christ! There's only one thing perfect in this world and that is the perfect love of God in Jesus Christ! Tetelestai! And because that is true, Satan is defeated.
Revelation 12:11 says that "They overcame him (the devil) by the blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto death". In other words, Satan was defeated because death and hell and judgment was destroyed at the cross! The Bible says, the Gospels tell us that Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil! This is why we say "there is power, power, wonder working power in the blood of the Lamb"! Oh how Satan hates the cross because it reminds him of his biggest mistake. His only power was in the lie that he could control the minds and the hearts and the destinies of men. That lie is now forever undone by the truth of Jesus Christ!
Jesus said, "Now is the prince of this world cast out". The writer of Hebrews said, "Inasmuch then as the children are partaken of flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same that through death (listen to this) that through death he might destroy him who had the power of death, that is the devil". Satan made his last move. It was the cross, but he overplayed his hand because Satan turned the cross into the weapon that would destroy the power of the enemy, the works of the enemy forever and ever. There's an old story that says that Napoleon, once he was defeated at Waterloo, knowing now that his chance of world domination and his desire to control and rule the world was finished, he gathered his generals in a room and pointed to a map of the world and there was a red spot there that marked Waterloo, and he pointed to that red spot and he said, "If it were not for that red spot, I would have ruled the world".
Satan must have gathered his imps and demons and minions of hell, his generals and pointed to a blood drenched hill at Calvary, Skull Hill in Jerusalem outside of the city and said, shrieking, "If it were not for that red spot I would have ruled the world"! But Satan is destroyed. His power to control the destinies of men is done, finished. You say, "Wait a minute, pastor. Satan's still around, right"? Yes, he is. He's not in the pit yet. One day he will be forever. You know, Satan is not in hell right now. He's "roaming about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour".
So he's not down in hell making people shovel coal. That's not what the devil does. The devil is alive and active on planet earth. And one day he will be totally defeated and put in the pit of hell forever and ever. The devil now has power to do certain things. He has power to tempt, power to seduce, power to tell lies that people believe. So the devil still has power. But listen to this, the devil has no authority over the like of a believer. Satan has no authority over you as a follower of Jesus.
You say, "What's the difference? What's the difference in power and authority"? There's a big difference. Let me illustrate it with a police officer standing out here on the corner. When you leave the parking lots today, there will be police officers to help guide our traffic out. Along with, by the way, some wonderful volunteers from our church that are like rain or shine, sleet or whatever, sunshine, they're out there helping us, and I hope you'll be nice to them when you leave always, or come in. But we do have some police officers and these police, they have authority, and the policeman may just weigh let's say 150-160 pounds and he can't physically stop the traffic.
If you decide you're going to go 50-60, he can't physically stop you, but he's been given authority by virtue of his badge and position and the laws of the state of Texas, that officer has been given authority to say "Stop"! Not power, but authority! Now when it comes to Satan, listen to this, this is going to bless you. When it comes to Satan, because Jesus finished the work, because Jesus cried "Tetelestai" Satan no longer has any authority over your life, over your family! Satan is defeated! Therefore we war from a position not of personal power but spiritual authority! The Spiritual authority that we've been given and that authority is in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ! And when you say, "Stop in the name of Jesus". When you say, "Hold on there!" when Satan comes to you and says something like, "Well, you remember your past"!
Hey, the next time Satan reminds you of your past, you just remind him of his future! Because in the future he's going in the pit forever! And you know you have victory in Jesus Christ! You're not the devils little play thing. You're not the devils tool, you're not the devil's toy! You have the power and the authority of Jesus Christ living in you to live not as a victim, but as a victor, because Christ has defeated the enemy in your life. And, oh, yes, no fear! Therefore, there's no fear. No fear of death, no fear of life. There is no fear! Because of what Christ has accomplished for us. It is finished. His perfect love now makes it possible for every person to live in victory.