A Good Friday sermon - John 19:17-30
Thank God it’s Friday, because we are weekend people, aren’t we? Most of us, as human beings, have spent our Mondays, our weekdays, working. Working hard. Looking forward to that closing bell on Friday. Imagining what fun will be made of those days and nights between Friday and Monday. Time at home with a book, a movie, a best friend. Or something a little crazier. That involves some intrigue, most likely some liquor, maybe a disaster or three. Don’t worry, you probably won’t remember it in the morning anyways. All of this immortalized in a lyric given to us by triumph:
Makin' my way to the job each day
Slave like a dog for my hard earned pay
When the bell rings, then I'm ready to run
Gonna get high, gonna have some fun
I live, I live, I live for the weekend
Not exactly the words of theologians or a preacher, but on a Friday evening what can one say? The week has come to an end and the weekend is upon us, and it’s Friday, and it is a good thing, because we do work hard. And it is even Good Friday – a title that brings some confusion, because it’s a special Friday, a special weekend. But one that commemorates a death, and you wonder is there something good in remembering a death? The death of Jesus for the sake of the world? Someone died. How can it be good, unless…unless something happened in that which is good. We can search out the events of the night and then we hear tonight those words which ends our labor. The words which close out the times we have worked so hard to make something of ourselves – IT IS FINISHED! Three little words. The announcement that everything we do to work for ourselves, to make our labors count, to make ourselves better, to pad our heavenly bank account and try and please our heavenly Boss, our families, our pastors, our friends, the world; but the Lamb of God, this Jesus, with his last breath cries out to you – IT IS FINISHED.
What is finished? Well, it. All of it. The sins you know and the sins you don’t. The amount of work we do to repay our debts and the amount of work we do to hide them from others – all is finished, soaked up by the Jesus who hangs on the cross for you.
What is finished in this crucified Christ is the us-and-them mentality we all carry. The assumptions we make of others to try and prove us better than the other guy. Seeing all the specks and dust in the eyes of the neighbor and Jesus speaks to you tonight regardless – IT IS FINISHED.
It is all finished. We tend to forget this because, as Christians we are said to be an Easter people. A resurrection people. A people of the empty tomb who celebrate the risen Christ, and our hope is built on this resurrected Jesus, but there would not be a resurrection without a death. A putting to death of the old and a raising up of the new. A putting to death of sin and death, and a raising up of life. Making a new creation with the loss of the former person being finished this Friday in Him who opened his arms in love and forgiveness for you. There leaving no place for doubt in a resurrection that you think is for the other person, because these words speak to you of a death that is saying now to you - it is finished.
Finished are the sins that divide us. The sins that bring judgement, pain, selfishness, ambitious greed, destructive behaviors. The desires to even clothe this Jesus in something that makes us happy, or comfortable. In something that makes him palatable or lovely, instead of deadly. I dying Jesus that kills you in order to raise you.
You say, but what if I don’t want it, don’t believe it, or don’t think I need it? Christ still speaks to you – IT IS FINISHED. Speaks to you each Sunday, each time the Word is opened, each time the hymns and psalms are sung, each time I bid you come to happy hour for some Bread and wine at the table of the Lord (the body and blood broken and shed for you for the forgiveness of sin), each time in those moments words are used by the Spirit who works in you that little death, a little Good Friday to bring about the resurrection of your soul in faith in the God who saw you worth dying for and finished the job.
Whether you think you do or not, you need this, and so he did it. You need these words. So much in life comes at us to attack us physically and mentally, this Jesus speaks to you, your heart and soul to bring comfort and hope. To dispel the rumor that if you do what you can, God will appreciate you. Instead the Lord hears Christ close out the week and inaugurate the eternal weekend to bring you before the Father as a gift of love to say – I did it daddy, here you go. Their all done and ready to go.
No where else can you hear these words. You don’t hear them on the playing field, from the lake water, from your paycheck, your grandchildren, or even your spouse sometimes. Instead you hear them now from Christ – IT IS FINISHED. I challenge you to come up with another moment or person who speaks to you so regularly as Christ does from his word to tell you of what God thinks of you, of your sin, of your faith, granting you redemption and mercy through words that forgive you.
Tonight we will be able to physically embody these words, in a way. In a few moments the cross will process in, we will give our thanks for the work of Jesus, and then we will symbolically attach our sins to that cross to remind us that all is finished. Whatever that “it”, that “all” may be for you now, Jesus says that he is for you, and that is enough. The more you know of what this Friday means for you, what these three little words mean for you, the more your weekend and the coming resurrection might grow in meaning for you. The putting to death of your old self having been drowned in Christ, drowned daily by the Spirit through the Word, raised to new life in Christ. So I say it again Thank God it’s Friday. The day that IT is finished. Thanks be to God. Amen