[I wrote the following for our Good Friday service last night. It was one of seven readings on the sayings of Jesus Christ on the cross. The idea of doing these readings was borrowed from another church.]
When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30)
It was Jesus, the Son of God, who formed the universe from nothing. He was the one who placed the stars and galaxies in the sky, who poured out the oceans and shaped the continents. He created everything that mankind has ever seen or put to use. Yet we have perverted His good creation to serve our own interests. The nations used clay to form bricks for the tower of Babel, the Hebrews used gold to form an idol in the shape of a calf, and kings used bronze to form weapons to kill and destroy. Finally, men took iron from the earth, melt it, and molded it into nails which pierced the hands and feet of their Creator; they formed it into the spear which tore into His side.
It was in the Garden of Eden that man’s war against God began. Adam and Eve saw a tree whose fruit, they were told, would make them like God. In their pride, they walked in the very same sin as the devil who tempted them. They chose the tree and its fruit over communion and friendship with God. They believed that they deserved the wisdom and glory that had been reserved for God alone. They wanted to be His equals. Yet Jesus Christ, the perfect man, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped. He humbled Himself in full submission to His Heavenly Father, becoming obedient to the point of death. In their disobedience, Adam and Eve had chosen the tree, but in obedience, Christ chose another tree—the cross on which He was crucified. Like Adam, His communion with God was cut off—but in this case, it was an innocent man who was stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
Jesus Christ became a curse for us. After Adam had sinned, God cursed him and all creation with him, saying:
Cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return. (Genesis 3:17-19)
The creation groaned in pain under the curse as God turned it against us. Harmony and order were crippled by our sin. Adam had to work just to stay alive, knowing that, one day, he still would die and return to the dust. But Jesus Christ came to reconcile all things to Himself. His people are no longer enslaved to works and to the law; it was Christ who did all the work on our behalf. In His death he defeated death so His people would have eternal life. And the thorns—the judgment of God—were twisted into a crown for Him as He bore the curse of a fallen world.
Throughout all history, man had rejected God. His sin was treachery against the Most High. Mankind had hated and killed the messengers of God, and finally, had crucified His Son. But now, it is finished. All that we have done, Christ has undone. All that we have failed to do, Christ has accomplished for us. We are fully reconciled to God, having been redeemed from slavery to our own sin and to Satan, our enemy. Jesus paid it all; there is no penalty left for us! God poured on Him every drop of wrath that was meant for us. And at the Place of the Skull, out of the anguish of His soul, the Messiah saw all that He had done, and He was satisfied.
Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. (Revelation 1:17-18)
Remember His word of finality: “It is finished.”