Good Friday - St. John 18:1-19:42 - April 3, 2015
St. John 18:1-19:42
1) Jesus truly has done all things well. Throughout the days of His humiliation Christ our Lord made sure than not one Scripture concerning Him fell to the ground unfulfilled. During Advent and Christmastide the Evangelists show us how Christ fulfilled Old Testament prophesy. He is born in Bethlehem as Micah prophesied. He is called out of Egypt as Hosea foretold. He is born of a virgin just as Isaiah had foreseen. Throughout His earthly ministry He continues to pick up Old Testament prophesy, direct prophesy about Messiah and institutions which were established to paint portraits of His work, and applies them to Himself flawlessly. So He gives sight to the blind and makes the deaf to hear. He raises the dead and forgives men their sins. He enters Jerusalem as King Solomon, on a donkey. He intercedes for His disciples as their High Priest. He preaches the Gospel to the poor. His entire life is one of fulfillment of the Scriptures, lest God be a liar and leave any of His Words to remain empty and fall uselessly to the ground.
2) What was true for His life is true for His death as well. Throughout His trial and crucifixion the Evangelists point out how Christ is still working to fulfill the Scriptures. Jesus tells the contingent of soldiers, led by Judas, to let His disciples go free, “that the saying might be fulfilled which He spoke, "Of those whom You gave Me I have lost none.” (John 18:9) While being bludgeoned by His countrymen at the council of the Sanhedrin and while being struck and persecuted by the Roman soldiers, Jesus endures all the mockery, scorn, and the physical abuse quietly, just as Isaiah had foretold in Isaiah 50:6, “I gave My back to those who struck Me, And My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.” And later in Isaiah 53:7, “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.” St. John writes, “After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, ‘I thirst!’” (John 19:28) The Scriptures He seeks to fulfill before He expires is Psalm 69:21, “They also gave me gall for my food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” Throughout the Passion accounts we see over and again how Christ fulfills even the smallest Word of God spoken about Him. Again, this happens so Jesus can show the truthfulness of God’s Word. What God has spoken cannot be revoked. That which proceeds from the mouth of the Lord is reliable and true.
3) Christ wants to demonstrate the truthfulness of the Scriptures, and the truthfulness of His ministry for the sake of what He says next. After Jesus says that He thirsts, “a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.” (John 19:29-30) It is finished. Everything the Scriptures claimed about Jesus in the days of His ministry are completed. Every prophesy that was uttered concerning Him is fulfilled so that there is now nothing left for Him to do but die, as the prophets said He would. So when Christ says, “It is finished,” He is speaking of His fulfillment of the Scriptures. But it is more than that as well. Christ’s purpose was not simply to show God was true to His Word. Christ’s purpose was to atone for the sins of the world. So St. John calls Him, “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) Lambs bore the sins of the one who offered them. Lambs died with those sins on their heads so the person who committed those sins did not have to die. So Christ is loaded up with the sins of the entire world, from Adam and to the last man born and everyone in between. Christ is loaded down with your sins.
4) The prophet Isaiah sees this clearly, though He speaks 800 years before Jesus assumed human flesh. “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-5) Those things that cause us grief and sorrow, our sins against God and neighbor. The things we regret ever doing and involving ourselves in are loaded onto Jesus our Lamb. The words which never should have come out of our mouths are put into Christ’s mouth. The thoughts of greed, the looks of lust and adultery in the heart, the hatred buried in our heart for neighbor, the covetous dissatisfaction which God has graciously given us, all this is placed upon Christ’s shoulders. Our transgressions and iniquities against God are put upon this Lamb Jesus. David says in Psalm 51:4, “Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight,” showing us that all our sins against neighbor and sins against ourselves are really sins against the Lord who made our bodies and gave us our neighbors. We can only sin before God. We sin daily in ways that we know and in ways that we do not know, and never in ways that are rational or that make sense. Thought. Word. Deed. He was wounded for all of them, every single one of them, so that every single one of them is atoned for by the shedding of His blood.
5) God is true. He does not let a single Word of His fall to the ground unfulfilled. That includes His final Word, “It is finished.” That word is pure and true and trustworthy because it comes from the lips of God Himself dying on the tree. So all of these sins of yours that are heaped up on Jesus are atoned for. His blood covers them all. There is no sin that is not put on Jesus, your Passover Lamb. There is no sin that escapes His shoulders. They are all there. The disgusting ones. The socially acceptable ones. The ones you hide from everyone else. The ones you secretly enjoy. The ones that you regret every day of your life. The ones that keep you up at night. The ones you don’t think are a big deal but should. Jesus’ death atones for all your sins. That work of atonement is finished so that there is now no work, no sacrifice, no amount of worrying, that can add to Christ’s atonement. Your atonement is finished. Christ, who is God in human flesh, says so. And Christ goes to great pains in His life to show you He is no liar. His words are true and remain forever.
6) This atonement is given out to you in Christ’s Word and His sacraments. He washes sinners clean, scrubbing them with His atonement in Holy Baptism. He applies His atonement to you when He speaks into your ear, “I forgive you in the name of the Father and of the Son + of the Holy Ghost.” That really forgives your sins because that is the Word of God and not man. Christ gives you His flesh and blood in the Sacrament of the Altar to forgive your sins, to purify your flesh with His holy, spotless, sinless flesh. What Christ finished on Good Friday He hands out to you every Sunday in His Service. What Christ began as an infant and completed upon the cross, a perfect righteousness before God, He gives to you by faith. What Christ finishes upon the cross, your redemption, He gives to you graciously, freely, without any work or merit or worthiness on your part because if you had any work or merit or worthiness on your part you wouldn’t need Jesus. Do not despair over your sins as Judas did, and fall into Hell holding onto worldly remorse that did not end in faith. Do not think your sins too large, too foul, or too far beyond the reach of Christ. Confess your sins to God your heavenly Father. Repent of them and desire to do better by the grace of God. And then believe the Gospel that your sins have been atoned for, that “It is finished,” that those sins are gone because they are put onto Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He has died for all your sins. He rose on Sunday morning without them. They are no more. They are gone. Your atonement is complete because Christ said so, and Christ is no liar. “It is finished.” Amen.