John 19:16-30: “It is Finished!”

Read: John 19:16-30

Jesus’ had been scourged and put on public to display to be humiliated by the Jews and priests in the temple. The chief priests had set Jesus up so that they could incite a riot among the people, falsely accuse Jesus of something, and force Pilate to kill him so the priests could get their way and have Jesus removed. In their eyes, they had succeeded at doing this. God had allowed these things to transpire to bring about the redemption of mankind. Jesus was taken from the Praetorium baring his cross. They took him out to a place called “Golgotha” meaning “Place of Skulls”. They crucified Jesus was 2 other people with Jesus in the middle. Pilate placed a sign in three languages that read “Jesus the Nazarene: King of the Jews” in reference to the accusations made again him. This was customary to do to note the crime that the one being executed had committed. The high priests in protests say that the sign should have read “He said ‘I am King of the Jews’”. This statement was neither true in any respect, and Pilate probably in an effort to show that he did have some sort of backbone rather than being a people pleaser, placed the sign over the purported king of the Jews to show Rome’s dominance over Judea.

Jesus had already been scourged and had undoubtedly lost a great deal of blood. John does not provided details as to what crucifixion entailed, but history notes that the Roman would nail the convicted to a stake. Thomas wanted to see the holes in Jesus’ hands when he saw him after the resurrection (John 20:25) and Peter notes that godless men nailed Jesus to the cross (Acts 2:23) in his sermon. Paul uses it as a metaphor concerning sin (Colossians 2:13-14) – that is the payment of debt owed by sin was nailed to the cross and Jesus died.

After Jesus had been crucified, they took his garments and divided them among the soldiers, then cast lots for the seamless garment. John says that this was a fulfillment of Psalm 22:18, or even more so, Psalm 22 in its entirety. Matthew 27:46 notes Jesus quoting from this Psalm. The Psalm speaks of one who feels abandoned by God with the enemy closing in around him. It creates a poetic valley starting in verse one and descending to more into agony. The descending ends with verse 18 with people casting lots for his cloths. In verse 19, the ascension starts out of the valley saying God is not far off and works towards the entire earth worshiping before the Lord. The Psalm is foreshadowing what is to come next after agony: the resurrection. And through all this the world would be drawn to Christ (John 12:32).

Some of Jesus’ final thoughts were for his mother and John. With Jesus out of the picture and having returned to the Father, there was perhaps a need for someone to care for his mother, Mary. Jesus appoints this task to John, the writer of the gospel. John cared for Mary perhaps for the rest of her life. After this appointment, Jesus drinks “sour wine” (or vinegar as it might be) before finally saying, “It is finished”. Jesus went to the cross knowing this was to be the case, and he had accomplished all that the scriptures had required him to accomplished. John uses the Greek work “τετελεσται”. The word notes any number of things that are applicable to what Jesus was doing: paying debts, finishing the work he had set out to do, fulfilling the requirements of the law among any number of things that the work on the cross was mean to do.

We know the details about what happened to Jesus while he was on the cross through the eyes of those who watched it. What we do not know was the agony and wrath being poured out on Jesus while he was hanging there. If one had to guess, the agony had to be on an epic scale. The penalty for even a single sin is death, but Jesus died a death that was worth every sin ever committed by anyone who has ever lived. Some have estimated that over 100 billion people have been born. If one assumed the average life span of a human was 50 years old for all times and that a person sinned about once an hour there would be a total of 43,800,000,000,000,000 sins (about 44 quadrillion sins) committed. Jesus would have to die a death worthy of 44 quadrillion deaths. 44 quadrillion to most people is a probably a meaningless number. The national debt of the United States of America is about 13 trillion dollars. 44 quadrillion is  3,300 times larger than that. But these are only numbers – estimates to show the magnitude of the suffering Jesus went through to reconcile the human race. The magnitude in reality is beyond comprehension.

The power of God though is demonstrated in the resurrection too when Jesus put death under him and he defeated it once and for all! If God is capable of defeating death once and for all, then even more so – God is worth of the praise of all people. Even though Jesus was surrounded on every side by the enemy, he overcame them by the power of God. And nothing can overcome this power. Not Rome, not the priests, no power or nation, not even Satan himself (Romans 8:38-39). Christians can both be humbled by the price Jesus paid and celebratory because he truly is worth of praise!

Lord, you finished it once and for all! Let the nations be glad because of it!

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