This week, Pastor Matt unpacks the eternal truth, our BIG IDEA: It is finished.
1. The Scripture is fulfilled
2. Our sins are forgiven and forgotten

Citylight Manayunk | August 14, 2022 from Citylight Church on Vimeo.


Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, by D.A. Carson
The Tony Evans Study Bible by Tony Evans
Expository Thoughts on John by J.C. Ryle

Sermon Transcript

“It is finished.” It’s one of the most famous and important phrases in the Bible. “It is finished.” It is the last phrase the Lord Jesus spoke before bowing his head in death and it is the big idea of our passage: It is finished. But “it is finished” is also one of the oddest phrases in the Bible. The Greek phrase translated “it is finished” could be translated “it is completed” or, even better, “mission accomplished.” That’s very odd. Last week I mentioned that our son Soren and I played some chess while we were away. Can you imagine how odd it would be if Soren checkmated my king and I cried out, “mission accomplished!” And yet that’s exactly what King Jesus cries out in his moment of death when it seemed that the world and the Devil checkmated him. What does Jesus’ death accomplish? What does it finish? Jesus’ sinless life and atoning death finish your shame, your regret, your condemnation for sin, your slavery to sin, your future judgment, and your enmity and alienation from the God and people. On the cross Jesus took the whole cup of God’s wrath for you and he drank it down to the dregs, flipped it over, slammed it down on the table and cried out “it is finished.” You’re not your past, you’re not your temptations and sins, you’re not God’s enemy, and you’re not going to Hell anymore. Through the death of Christ it is finished!

Now, I think that if we’re all honest with ourselves and one another, we would admit that the narrative running through our minds, the narrative that is shot through our lives is actually, “it is not finished.” “It is not finished.”

Idea: real examples of “it isn’t finished” so that people can genuinely feel what I’m talking about and see it in themselves:
The young woman who feels shame for her past – the penalty of sin isn’t finished
The young man who believes he’ll never be free of porn – the power of sin isn’t finished
The employee who dreads their review (fear of man) – it isn’t finished, I’m not loved by God
The pastor who inspects his every motive and replays his life for the sake of a sin hunt – My sin isn’t finished and forgotten
Married couple locked in blame shifting, unforgiveness, fault finding – my sin isn’t finished, you’re gonna pay
Half-hearted Christian who feels hopelessly drawn to the world – it isn’t finished

The “it is not finished” narrative sounds different depending on your personality and experience. Some of you live under low grade guilt over your past and present sins. Instead of receiving and resting in the “it is finished” work of Jesus for your particular sins, you’re always trying to perform for God because the narrative you really believe is “Jesus didn’t finish it, so I need to.” The narrative is “my condemnation isn’t finished, my enmity with God isn’t finished, my adoption as God’s child isn’t finished, and my freedom from the penalty of sin isn’t finished.” As a result you’re always trying to justify yourself, always trying to perform for God, but if you’re honest, your heart isn’t at rest in the finished work of Jesus and the love of your Father. If you’re honest, you’re a bit uneasy around God. “It isn’t finished” is the narrative of your life. For others of you, you live under not so much low grade guilt, but low grade cynicism. You believe the penalty of sin is finished, but you don’t believe the power of sin is finished. And so you’re deeply cynical about your hope for becoming increasingly holy. Your sins and temptations have become your identity and growth and change in yourself and others has become to you naive. You may even be in the process of convincing yourself that something that God calls sin is actually perfectly acceptable and realistically inevitable. And you think and feel this way because the narrative of your life is “it isn’t finished. The penalty of sin may be finished, but the power of it isn’t. I am who I am and nothing is going to change. It isn’t finished.” What does the “it isn’t finished” narrative sound or look like in your life?

No matter what the answer, the Lord Jesus looks at each of us with the matchless love of God in his eyes and says, “believe me, it is finished, completed, and accomplished. Believe me.” Now to really get inside and begin to experience the reality that “it is finished,” we have to consider a question. How is it finished? How is the atoning work of Christ on the cross for our sins finished? 1. The Scripture is fulfilled 2. Our sins are forgiven and forgotten


You may have noticed that one of the most repeated phrases in our passage is “This was to fulfill the Scripture…” Again and again John goes out of his way to show us that down to the smallest details and leading up to the culminating cry, “it is finished,” Jesus’ crucifixion fulfills the Old Testament Scriptures and what God promises would happen to his Christ. Now, why does it matter to us that it is finished according to the Scripture? Well, if we’re really going to get somewhere in our Christian lives, if we’re really going to arrest the “it isn’t finished” narrative running through our minds, if we’re really going to live in the freedom, joy, holiness and intimacy with God that Jesus’ “it is finished” cry accomplishes, then we have to actually believe it happened. “It is finished” can’t be for us just an inspiring Instagram or tiktok reel. When you see that Jesus’ “it is finished” death fulfilled Scripture promises made hundreds of years before his birth, promises he couldn’t control or manipulate, it strengthens our faith and helps us believe that it really is finished. So, let’s look at the details about how it is finished according to the Scriptures.

In John 19:16-42, John points out four specific Old Testament Scriptures that were fulfilled by the manner in which the Lord Jesus died. Let’s look at each of them. After Pontius Pilate delivered Jesus over to be crucified by his soldiers, Jesus was forced to carry his cross outside the city of Jerusalem to a place called Golgotha to be crucified. Along with the agony of crucifixion, it was also humiliating. People were crucified completely naked. Let’s pick up the scene in John 19:23-24 – When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, 24 so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” Jesus did not manipulate what the soldiers did with his clothes. And yet, the Scripture promised it would happen this way. The specific Scripture that John quotes, the Scripture fulfilled in the dividing of Jesus’ garments, is Psalm 22:16. And that is very significant. Psalm 22 was written 1,000 years before Christ and is the most often quoted Psalm in the NT. Psalm 22 details the experience of a “righteous sufferer,” and part of the righteous sufferer’s experience is that his garments will be stolen off his back and divided by casting lots, which is exactly what the Roman soldiers do with Jesus’ garment in our passage! It really is finished. The righteous suffered died for you to fulfill the Scriptures. No more “it isn’t finished” narrative.

After the Roman soldiers divide his garment and cast lots for his clothing, the Lord Jesus is led to the place of crucifixion. Amazingly, in the midst of his utter agony, the Lord stops and ensures the ongoing protection and provision of his mother. Our Lord is so kind to us. He supplies our every need. So, they crucify Jesus. John 19:28-29 – After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. The Lord Jesus’ expression of thirst fulfills the experience of the righteous sufferer in Psalm 22:15 – “my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death” and Psalm 69:21 – “…and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.” Down to the way his suffering thirst was quenched, the Lord Jesus fulfilled the Scripture. It really is finished to fulfill the Scriptures.

And then the Lord Jesus died. The Lord Jesus died on Friday, the day of preparation for the Jewish Sabbath on Saturday. The Jewish leaders did not want dead bodies hanging on crosses on the Sabbath. Therefore, the Jewish leaders asked Pilate that the legs of those who were crucified be broken so that they could not push themselves up for breath on the cross and die quicker. When the soldiers came to the Lord Jesus, he was already dead, so they pierced his side with a spear. John explains the significance of these things. John 19:36-37 – For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” 37 And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.” That none of Jesus’ bones were broken fulfills the Scripture quoted from Psalm 34:20 and that he was pierced through fulfills the Scripture quote from Zechariah 12:10. Even what happened to the Lord Jesus after his death fulfills Scripture. Friends, Jesus really is the long-promised Christ, the Son of the living God, and it really is finished to fulfill the Scriptures.

Now, I’ve only mentioned the Scriptures that Jesus’ death fulfilled that John explicitly quotes. There are several additional allusions to the Old Testament in our passage that Jesus’ death fulfills. You may want to write these down so that you can check them out. That Jesus carried his cross outside the city of Jerusalem fulfills the Jewish requirement that executions take place outside the camp or the city in Leviticus 24:14. That Jesus was pierced through by Gentiles and hung between two criminals fulfills the promise in Psalm 22:16 (written before crucifixion was invented) and Isaiah 53:12. That none of Jesus’ bones were broken fulfills the Scripture quoted from Psalm 34:20 and that he was pierced through fulfills the Scripture quote from Zechariah 12:10. And that he was laid in a rich man’s grave-tomb fulfills the Scripture promise in Isaiah 53:9. It really is finished to fulfill the Scriptures.

Illustration – Our passage this morning reminds me of the game Guess Who. Have you played Guess Who? My sister and I loved to play this game when we were kids (show picture of Guess Who). The objective of the game is to be the first to determine which card one’s opponent has selected. Players alternate asking various yes or no questions to eliminate candidates, such as: “Does your person wear a hat?” “Does your person wear glasses?” “Is your person a man?” “Is your person Fred?!” Yes! That’s what John 19 is like. Were his garments divided? Yes. Did they cast lots for his clothing? Yes. Did he go outside the city to suffer? Yes. Was he numbered with transgressors? Yes. Did he drink sour wine just before his death? Yes. Were his bones left unbroken and his side pierced through? Yes. Was he laid in a rich man’s tomb? Yes. Is it the Messiah?! Yes! Is it really finished to fulfill the Scriptures?!?! Yes, yes, yes! Friends, you really can arrest your version of the “it isn’t finished” narrative and live in the freedom, joy, holiness and intimacy with God that Jesus’ “it is finished” cry accomplishes because it is finished according to the Scriptures.

Now, we’ve seen that when Jesus cried out his final words, “It is finished,” that everything leading up to that final moment and even that moment itself fulfilled the Scripture. But we have to go further to what “it is finished” actually means. What is finished? It is finished. How? To fulfill the Scripture and…


John 19:30 – When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. In one sense, most broadly, “it is finished” means that Jesus’ mission to accomplish all that the Father gave him to do has been accomplished. But there is a more specific meaning to these words because of their association with Jesus’ death. You see, we all sin. We all fail to do and be what God requires in his word. And throughout the Bible we learn that God is good and sin requires death. That is why there were so many animal sacrifices in the Old Testament, especially on what was called “the day of Atonement.” When Jesus died on the cross, he was not dying for his sins. He had none. He was dying as the final sacrifice, the true and ultimate atonement so that our sins can be fully forgiven and forgotten forever. To help us understand the day of Atonement, I’ve brought the children’s Bible that we’ve been reading with our children lately. The entry that covers that Day of Atonement is called “A Tale of Two Goats.”

Read it – 3 minutes. Friends, it is finished to fulfill the Scripture and to forgive and forget our sins. Jesus is the fulfillment of every animal sacrifice. He’s the truly unblemished and sinless Lamb of God who alone takes away the sins of all who receive and rest in Him. He’s the truly righteous scapegoat that was not released outside the city, but died outside the city so that our sins will be forgiven and forgotten by Almighty God himself. It really is finished.


So, what does your “it isn’t finished” narrative sound like? How does your “it isn’t finished” narrative lead you to feel and act toward God and others? Does your narrative sound like “it isn’t finished, I’ll never be holy, I’ll always be a slave to my sin, why try” or does it sound like, “it isn’t finished, my sins still condemn me, I need to justify myself?” Depending on which one, I have a passage I want to leave with you and send you into your CG’s with…

Romans 6:10-11 – For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dad to sin and alive to God in Jesus Christ.

Romans 8:33-35 – Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?

No one because it is finished to fulfill the Scripture and to forgive & forget our sins!