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Sermon: The Word of Victory (John 19:30)

I wanted to share this sermon from three years ago with you since we can't be together for Passion Week this year.

Pastor Jeremiah

"The Word of Victory"

John 19:30

          Since childhood I have been a big fan of the Rocky movies. In the second film, Rocky Balboa goes toe-to-toe with the great champion, Apollo Creed. It is a fight for the ages. Rocky is beaten and bloodied but emerges victorious at the final bell. Hoisting the champion’s belt above his head, he cries out to his wife, “Yo, Adrian, I did it!” It is a word of victory.

          We come today to the sixth word of Jesus from the cross, the ultimate word of victory. He cries out from the cross, “It is finished.” His is not the weak voice of the defeated but the mighty roar of the Conqueror. What a word! “It is finished.” Let us ask, “What was finished?” Wrapped up in a single Greek word (τετελεσται) are worlds of meaning and truth. For now, consider with me five victories accomplished by Christ on the cross; five reasons why he cries out, “It is finished.”

          We hear in these words from the cross…

       I. The End of Our Sin.

           Isaiah 53:6 states of the coming Messiah, “The LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” On the cross, Jesus was our substitute sacrifice. All the sins of God’s redeemed through the ages was transferred to him. A prefigure and shadow is seen in Israel’s Day of Atonement, as described in Leviticus 16. Two male goats were brought. One was killed, its blood sprinkled on the mercy seat and the holy of holies in order to purify God’s dwelling among sinful men. The second goat was taken. The high priest laid his hands on it and confessed the iniquities of Israel and laid them on the head of the goat. Then the goat bears those sins away into the barren wilderness. This is the law of the scapegoat. In this way, God forgave the sins of the people and dwelt amongst them as their God.

          Jesus, the ultimate Scapegoat, has taken all the sin of God’s people on himself and carried them to the cross. 1 Peter 2:24 says that Jesus bore our sins in his own body on the tree. There God put an end to our sins by putting them on Christ. And if Christ bore your sins on the cross, then you no longer bear them yourself! What grace! What salvation! “Therefore,” says Paul in Romans 8:1, “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” We are freed from the guilt and judgment of our sin. “It is finished” was his cry because he brought an end to all our sin.

          So, Christian live in the freedom of God’s pardon in Christ. You are no longer under sin. You are under grace, under Christ. You are free to pursue Jesus and righteousness by his grace. So walk in the liberty of forgiveness and in the newness of life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

       II. The Satisfaction of the Law’s Demands.

          At Sinai, God entered a covenant with Israel. He would be their God and they would be his people. This covenant required Israel to live by its instructions. Obedience would bring life and blessing in the land. Disobedience would result in death and curse outside the land. Because of Israel’s failure to keep the covenant, she was conquered and banished from the land of life. God graciously restored Israel to the land after the Exile. Yet the problem with the law still remained.

The problem with the law is not the law itself. In Romans 7:12 Paul affirms that the Law is just, holy, and good. The problem with the law is that we are unable to keep it, sinful as we are. The Mosaic law was never meant to be a ladder of self-righteousness to climb to God. Rather, the law expounds the righteousness of God, all the while exposing our sin and need for God’s gracious provision of righteousness.

Jesus Christ said that he did not come to abolish or to nullify the law but to fulfill it (Matt 5:17). Jesus perfectly kept the law of God and thus fulfilled it. “It is finished” is the cry of the one who was perfectly faithful to God. Jesus kept the law of God perfectly. Jesus lived a life of total righteousness. Where Adam, Israel, and all mankind failed, Jesus was faithful. Because he kept the law perfectly, he receives all the blessings the law promised.

And when a sinner trusts in Christ, this righteousness and its blessings are credited to them by faith. This is the imputation of righteousness to us. All his righteousness is considered ours by God. Jesus did it all: It is finished! And it is all reckoned to us by faith in him.

          Additionally, Jesus satisfied the law by suffering its curses for disobedience. “It is finished” is his cry because he has taken upon himself all the curse of breaking the law. Paul says in Galatians 3:13 that Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us.” This is the imputation of our sin and curse to Christ. Thus, our salvation is a matter of double imputation. All my reckoned to be Christ’s on the cross. All his righteousness credited to me by faith.

Obedient till His dying breath, 
He bled upon the Mount; 
The record of His life and death 
Is charged to our account. 
His death a perfect ransom paid 
By free and sov'reign grace; 
The law He perfectly obeyed, 
Performing in our place. 

III. The Accomplishment of the Atonement.

           Paul wrote to Timothy, “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost” (1 Tim 1:15). Jesus said of himself, “The Son of man came to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Here we find Christ reach the goal of his incarnation: to offer himself as a sin-atoning, wrath-absorbing, justice-satisfying, righteousness-vindicating, God-honoring, grace-purchasing, heaven-procuring, sinner-saving sacrifice.

          In bleeding, suffering, and now dying he has offered himself once and for all time as the perfect atonement for the sin of his wayward sheep. He has done everything necessary for the forgiveness of their sins. He has accomplished their redemption, paying the penalty of their sin in full to God their Judge. He has seen to their salvation. At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, John the Baptist saw him and declared, “Behold the Lamb of God who bears away the sins of the world.” Now we hear the Lamb’s voice declare it accomplished. “It is finished.”

      IV. The Defeat of our Enemies.

          Who are our great enemies? Sin, death, and Satan. We have already spoken at some length of how Christ made an end of all our sin on the cross. What of death? Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:56-57, “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Having fulfilled the Law and made atonement for sin, Jesus has robbed death of its power, its ultimacy. Imagine sin as a deadly snake, a viper. When it bites, its fangs release the venom of death into your blood. But Jesus has overcome the serpent of sin, pulling out its fangs and venom. Because of his cross and resurrection, death does not have the final word for those who are in Christ. Through his great cross-work, Jesus has put death to death. It is finished!

          What of the Devil, that serpent of old, accuser of the brethren? Turn with me to Matthew 12:22-29. Jesus is the one who has bound the strong man and plundered his property. As Paul says in Colossians 2:15, Christ has disarmed the rulers and authorities through the cross and made them to march as subdued captives in his triumphal procession. With his cross in view, Jesus said in John 12:31, “Now the ruler of this world will be cast out.” At the cross, Jesus vanquished all his foes and our foes, including Satan.

          The devil is a defeated enemy. He has no claim upon us or dominion over us. We are under his dark tyranny no longer. We once walked according to the prince of the power of the air but now we walk in the ways of the crucified, resurrected one.

      V. The Giving Way of the Old Creation to the New.

          Genesis tells us that in six days God created the heavens and the earth. He finished all his work of creation in six days and on the seventh day he rested. Jesus died on a Friday afternoon, as the sixth day of the week began to close. Sunset would begin the Sabbath, the seventh day, the day of rest. Just as God finished the work of creation, Jesus has finished the work of redemption. God rested on the seventh day from his work of creation. Jesus’ body will rest in the garden tomb on the Sabbath day, before rising on the morning of the first day, beginning a new creation.

          It is finished. The old creation is passing away. The new creation has dawned in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the beginning, the first fruits of the new creation that is immortal, imperishable, incorruptible, eternal. And all who are joined to him by faith are new creation. One day, he will return and make all things new. He will raise our bodies up to eternal life and glory. He will make all creation new.

          “It is finished.” What a word of victory!  As the old hymn says, “Crown Him the Lord of life, who triumphed over the grave/and rose victorious in the strife for those He came to save.”

          Unbelievers: You are still under the power of sin, death, the curse of the law. You are still a captive of the devil. There’s Good News! The King has come and defeated all his enemies and proclaims peace to you. You cannot save yourself or add to his finished work. It is totally accomplished. The call to you is to turn from your sin and believe in Him. Trust in him and his finished work and you will be saved.

          Believers, let us…

  1. Rejoice in the finished work of Christ.
  2. Rest in the finished work of Christ.
  3. Proclaim the finished work of Christ.
  4. Hope in the finished work of Christ.