IT IS FINISHED
Dr. W. A. Criswell
11-19-72 7:30 p.m.
This is the pastor bringing the message, every night preaching from the life of Christ. We are in the nineteenth chapter of the Gospel of John. And the text tonight is the saying from the cross, “It is finished” [John 19:30]. Turn with me now to the Fourth Gospel, to the Gospel of John, chapter 19, and we shall read from verses 23 through 30. And if on the radio you are sharing this service with us, turn also in your Bible to John chapter 19. We begin at verse 23 and close with verse 30; all of us now, reading the Holy Scriptures out loud together. John 19:23-30, together:
Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also His coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout.
They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the Scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted My garments among them, and for My vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did.
Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.
When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple standing by, whom He loved, He saith unto His mother, Woman, behold thy son!
Then saith He to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.
After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.
Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to His mouth.
When Jesus therefore had tasted the vinegar, He said, It is finished: and he bowed His head, and gave up the ghost [John 19:23-30].
“He said, ‘It is finished’: and He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit” [John 19:30].
In the seven sayings from the cross––and we have heard songs, and anthems, and oratorios that contain those seven words:
- The first one, “Father, forgive them: they know not what they do” [Luke 23:34].
- The second one, “Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise” [Luke 23:43].
- The third one, “Woman, behold thy son!; and son behold thy mother!” [John 19:26-27].
- The fourth one, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” [Matthew 27:46].
- The fifth one, “I thirst” [John 19:28]; the sixth one, “It is finished” [John 19:30].
- And the seventh one, “Father, into Thy hands I commend, I commit, I dismiss My spirit” [Luke 23:46].
This is the sixth one, “It is finished” [John 19:30]. What is finished? The great purpose for which our Savior came into the world, that He might make atonement for our sins [Matthew 18:11; Luke 19:10; Hebrews 10:4-14].
This was a volunteer in glory, when the Lord God foreseeing the fall of the human race searched the ramparts of heaven for someone who was worthy to open the seals that contained the names of the redeemed of the Lord. And search was made in heaven, and search was made in the great planetary systems, and search was made in the netherworld, in the abyss below, and there was none worthy. Then in tears and in sadness, no one able to deliver the fallen race, then there appeared the Son of God, the Prince of Glory.
And He volunteered to give His life a ransom, an atonement, an expiation, a payment, for the debt of sin the human race owed before God [Hebrews 10:5-10]. This is the purpose of His coming into the world. And all of the types of the Old Testament, all of them, all of the furniture in the sanctuary, all of the sacrifices pointed toward that one great, consummating moment when the Son of God should die for the sins of the world [John 3:16; 1 John 4:14].
How did Christ die? “It is finished” [John 19:30]. The task is done”; but when He said that He was still alive. This is the sixth saying. It is not until the seventh saying that the Lord dismissed His spirit; that He bowed His head and physically died [Luke 23:46]. There is something in the death of our Christ for our sins that we hardly realize.
In the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, there is a plural word that means something. In the ninth verse of the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, the evangelist prophet says, “And He shall make His grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His deaths,” plural, “in His deaths” [Isaiah 53:9] Christ paid for our sins more, far more, than just the physical pouring out of His life into the earth.
For in that same fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, the evangelist prophet writes, “The Lord God shall see the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied” [Isaiah 53:11]. Atonement is the satisfaction of God in the payment of the debt that we owe [Romans 5:10-11]. And the prophet says, “God shall see the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied.” Our sins were paid for, atoned for, expiated, removed, washed away, taken away, dismissed from God’s memory and sight forever [Hebrews 8:12], not only by the death of our Lord in the pouring out of His blood [Isaiah 53:9], but our atonement was also in the sufferings of our Christ in His soul, in His heart! [Isaiah 53:11].
I don’t know what that means, nor can any finite mind enter into the travail, into the sufferings of the soul of the Son of God. In Gethsemane, when He prayed, so great was His agony of spirit that His sweat was as it were, great drops of blood falling down to the ground [Luke 22:44]. And on the cross, He did not die from the wounds in His hands and His feet, nor did He die from the thrust of that iron Roman spear into His heart [John 19:34]. But the Lord was already dead [John 19:33] when the soldiers came and tore open His body and the peritoneum and the cardiac sac that surrounds that heart, and when it was ruptured, blood, red corpuscles, and liquid serum, water, flowed out [John 19:34]. That is, Christ died with a ruptured heart, and the blood stream flowing into that cardiac sac that holds the heart, it separated the serum from the red corpuscles. And when the sac was ruptured, broken, punctured, blood and water flowed out. The Lord died of a broken heart [John 19:34].
His Spirit was crushed. His soul was in agony, and that is why that He cried, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? My God, Father, My God”—the Holy Spirit, the third of the Trinity—“why hast Thou forsaken Me?” [Matthew 27:46]. In the agony of that moment and hour, He became sin! [2 Corinthians 5:21]. And in His travail, and in His suffering, and in His agony, His heart broke. Christ paid the penalty for our sins in His spirit, in His soul. “Thou shalt see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied” [Isaiah 53:11]. Then after the great atonement was made, and He cried, “It is finished,” then He bowed His head and dismissed His spirit into the hands of God. “It is finished!” [John 19:30]
What is finished? Not only our atonement, our salvation [Romans 4:25], but the way into heaven, the door into glory was opened wide through the death of the Son of God [John 10:10]. All we do now is just walk in. That is all.
A pastor explained to a teenager who had leukemia and who was dying and who was a lost boy, the pastor explained to him how to be saved. And the boy broke in and said to the pastor, “Sir, is it that easy? Is it that easy?” And the pastor replied, “Son, it is easy for you, but it was not for Him.” He opened the door into heaven by His travail, by His agony, and by His sufferings [Isaiah 53:9, 11; Matthew 27:26-50], so that all we do is just walk in.
I can so well remember the dramatic moment in the last great World War when the prisoners of Corregidor and Bataan were liberated. They were free. And when that dramatic and awesome moment came, it was very simple. A man cried, saying, “The Yanks are here!” And he cut the barbed wire, and those soldier men who were imprisoned to death, to die, they walked out to freedom. They simply walked out.
But if any of you remember that Second World War, can you ever forget the cost and the price before that barbed wire was torn apart and before those men could walk out? There was the story and the awesome cost at Guadalcanal. There were those battles in the Marshall Islands and in the Carolina Islands. And finally, in Okinawa and Iwo Jima, and the harsh, hard pouring of blood into the Pacific Ocean as those men fought from island to island and base to base until finally they came to the Philippines. It was a simple thing for those soldiers from Corregidor and Baton just to walk out; but the price of their liberty was found in the blood of thousands and thousands and thousands of American men.
It is just like that with our salvation. It is easy for us. We just accept the gift. We just trust the Lord for it. We just take it and receive it. But He paid an infinite price for it! “Thou shalt see the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied.” The deaths of the Son of God, dying in His spirit and dying in His physical frame [Isaiah 53:9, 11], and this brings to us a forever gift. It is never repeated, nor does it need to be done again.
As the author of Hebrews, in Hebrews 9:27-28, so gloriously writes, “As it is appointed unto men once to die, and after that once the judgment: so Christ was offered once, to bear the sins of many; and to them who look for Him shall He appear the second time apart from sin unto salvation.” We are to die one time. We are to be judged one time. And Christ made an atonement for our sins one time, and it never needs to be repented [Romans 5:10-11].
It is a forever gift. It is never withdrawn. It is a forever salvation [John 10:27-30]. When we accept the Lord it is done forever and forever. As the author of the Hebrews writes in chapter 7, verse 25, “Wherefore He is able to save to the uttermost those who come unto God by Him, seeing, He ever liveth to make intercession for them” [Hebrews 7:25].
Not only dying for us, but seeing to us that someday, some glorious day, we shall appear before His presence in glory, apart from sin. As Paul wrote in the second letter to Timothy, in the first chapter and the [twelfth] verse, “For I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day” [2 Timothy 1:12]. Now, tomorrow, in old age, in the hour of death, standing at the judgment bar of God, and whatever eons of eternity that lie beyond, it is a forever gift; “It is finished!” [John 10:27-30, 19:30].
It never has to be repeated. It never has to be done again. There is no other chapter to be added, no other word to be said. It is all done. “It is finished!” And it is for us to accept it in His grace, in His love, in His mercy, just to take it, and I am included. I am in the family of God. I am enrolled. I am in heaven. I am in His love and grace, just by walking in, just by accepting [Ephesians 2:8]. “It is finished!” [John 19:30].
In a moment we shall stand and sing our song of appeal. And while we sing it, you, a somebody you to accept the Lord as your Savior, tonight, would you make that decision and come forward? Out of the balcony, on the lower floor, down a stairway, walking down an aisle, “Here I come, pastor, I make that decision tonight, and here I am. Here I come.” A family you, to put your life in the circle, and circumference, and fellowship, and communion of this dear church, you come. A couple, or just you, make the decision now in your heart, and when we stand up in this moment to sing, stand up walking down that aisle, walking down that stairway. “Pastor, here’s my hand. I give it to you as a sign, a token, that I have given my heart to Christ. I accept Him as my Lord. I do it now.” As the Spirit shall press the appeal to your soul, make the decision. Whatever God would say, answer now with your life. And the Holy Spirit and the angels of heaven attend you while you come, precede you in the way, while we stand and while we sing.
I. The atonement for our sins
A. The purpose for
which our Savior came into this world
B. A Volunteer in glory
paid for our sins far more than just the physical pouring out of His life
The sufferings of Christ in His soul, heart (Isaiah 53:11, Luke 22:44)
He died of a broken heart (Mark 15:34)
II. The way to heaven
A. Door to glory opened
wide through the death of Christ
1. Freeing of
prisoners at Corregidor, Bataan
III. Saved forever
A. It is a forever
gift, never repeated (Hebrews 9:27-28, 7:25)