Last night - Holy Wednesday - I had the privilege again of being one of the preachers for the Seven Last Words service at Los Angeles Grace Church of the Nazarene. The congregation was made up of primarily African-American churches from the LA area. It was a wonderful night and I am always so thankful to Rev. Lamar Davis for inviting me to be a part of it. I was assigned the sixth word - "It is finished." Below is the text for my sermon. I hope it is a blessing to you on this Maundy Thursday. It helps the sermon tremendously if you can imagine the congregation repeating the line "It is finished!" with me at the end of the message. It's a preacher's heaven when the people catch on and start preaching the sermon with you!
When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30)
Two weeks ago I attempted to run the 26.2 miles of the Los Angeles Marathon. I was doing well for the first 16 and then I started developing huge blisters on the bottom of both feet. I had figured out that each mile took me 935 steps. So I started counting down from 9,350 thinking about nothing but the finish line. When I crossed the line I said to myself, “It is finished.” And I meant it. I haven’t put my running shoes back on in two weeks.
We are gathered here tonight to celebrate that when Jesus proclaimed “It is finished” he was acknowledging the end of his earthly ministry. But we know that for Christ the end was only the beginning. His ministry was finished, but a new creation had just begun.
For, “It is finished” is not a cry of defeat. “It is finished” is not the exasperated Jesus gurgling out, “I am done for.” It is significant that the Christian tradition has not considered “It is finished” to be the final words of Jesus. For, “It is finished” is not a cry of defeat but the proclamation of victory. “It is finished” is the triumphant cry that proclaims that all that Christ had been sent to do – the establishment of God’s transforming kingdom – in the cross is fully accomplished.
This is the check list for the Kingdom:
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us – finished.
We have seen his glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth – finished.
The hungry were fed and the naked were clothed – finished.
The eyes of the blind healed, the ears of the deaf opened, the tongues of the mute loosened, and the wounds of the lepers cleansed – finished.
The message of grace that includes tax collectors, prostitutes, and sinners was proclaimed – finished.
The written law of God was fulfilled in the living law of love – finished.
The lost sheep found, the lost coin recovered, the Prodigal Son returned – finished.
The expectations of the prophets that by the stripes of the suffering Messiah all creation would be healed – finished.
The mission of God carried on through the sanctified people of God – finished.
This is what Jesus meant when he cried out, “It is finished.” In the cross, the
Unfortunately many still do not understand that the old world is finished. It is hard to imagine anything worse than someone continuing to fight a war that is already over.
On March 10, 1974, Lt. Hiroo Onada was the last World War II Japanese soldier to surrender. Onada had been left on the island Lubang in the
All efforts to convice him to surrender or to capture him failed. He ignored messages from loudspeakers announcing
Over the years he lived off the land and raided the fields and gardens of local citizens. He was responsible for killing at least 30 nationals during his 29 year personal war. Almost a half million dollars was spent trying to locate and convince him to surrender.
Finally, on March 10, 1974, almost 30 years after World War II had ended, Onada surrendered his rusty sword and what was left of his ammunition after receiving a personal command from his former superior officer, who read to him the terms of the cease-fire order. Now at 52 years of age, Onada handed over his sword to President Marcos, who pardoned him. After 29 years of what he described as “complete unhappiness” waging an unnecessary conflict in the jungle, Onada’s war was finished.
Two thousand years ago, on a dark Friday afternoon, left on the outskirts of town, hanging between two common criminals, our Lord, commander, and superior officer proclaimed the war over and announced the terms of a new creation. It is finished.
The one who was rejected was reconciling the world to himself, not counting our sin against us: because it is finished.
The holy and innocent one who was convicted by the Pharisees and the teachers of the law as a law-breaker destroyed the power of the law. So now we are no longer under law but under grace: because it is finished.
The one crucified by the principalities and powers of
By going to the place of God-forsakenness, there is now no place nor any person called God-forsaken: because it is finished.
There is now in Christ Jesus no longer Jew nor Greek, no longer slave nor free, no longer male nor female. We are all one in Christ Jesus, because it is finished.
He is our peace, who has broken down every dividing wall. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace: because it is finished.
You are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone: because it is finished.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death: because it is finished.
And the whole creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God. For in hope we know that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God: because it is finished.
Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?: because it is finished.
Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ: because it is finished!