For a moment on Good Friday it looked like corrupted man would destroy the God who created him. For a moment there was such a tempest of hatred and screaming and wild fury, it looked like no one could resist it. It looked like Jesus was swept along against his will, running some hellish gauntlet through false accusations and spitting and blows and mockery and flogging and finally being forced onto a cross. The evil prince of this world thought he had become the king of this world. Sin thought it had been given free reign. Death thought that it had the victory over life. For a moment on Good Friday it certainly looked like it. And then, in the midst of the loud rage and merciless taunting and tears of anguish and gnashing of teeth, a weak voice uttered the most significant words that have ever been spoken on earth: “It is finished.”
“It is finished!” And what is it that’s finished? First, all of the Old Testament prophecies are finished, meaning, they have reached their completion and fulfillment in the death of Jesus. Several millennia before Good Friday, the Lord had cursed the serpent in the Garden of Eden, saying, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel.” No amount of time, no changes and chances of this world, no raving of the devil, no sin could stop the Lord from fulfilling his promise. Indeed, on Good Friday the less Jesus seemed to be in control of things, the more his Word proved true. This goes to show how deceptive appearances are. Never more than on Good Friday did it seem that the enemies of Christ would prevail. But you heard in the Gospel the quoted Scriptures that were fulfilled, and from them we learn that chaos and evil have never had free reign on earth, and they never will. When God has purposed something, nothing can stand in his way.
Now that’s only comforting when the God who guides all things is favorable toward us. It wouldn’t soothe your soul at all to hear that God is going to enter into judgment against you because of your sins and nothing can stand in his way. But there’s more that was finished on Good Friday. In addition to the Scriptures being fulfilled, God’s wrath against you came to an end. It is written of Christ in Isaiah 53, “He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.” Looking at the punishment that Jesus suffered, you learn not to take sin lightly. That wasn’t a slap on the wrist that Jesus received. He bore the full brunt of God’s wrath, and he died. That’s how seriously you should take your sins. Yet Jesus bore God’s wrath, and Jesus died. The Son of God was treated as a sinner so that we sinners could become sons of God. Because Jesus finished God’s wrath down to the last drop, we can address God not as a stern judge or wrathful king, but as our Father in heaven. Our Father will discipline us. He will show us the error of our ways. But so long as Jesus is our refuge and stronghold, God’s wrath against us is ended.
So the Scriptures were fulfilled, the wrath of God came to an end. And finally, Jesus finished his war against the devil. One of the main themes throughout the season of Lent has been Jesus’ conflict with Satan. Jesus was tempted by Satan, he healed a girl who was tormented by a demon, he cast out unclean spirits, he bore the slander of the serpent’s offspring. The devil puffed himself up in pride on Good Friday and supposed he had the upper hand. The devil rejoiced as Jesus hung dying on the cross. He celebrated that God would be forever dead and you would be his slave with no hope of freedom. Your sins would bring eternal death on you and drag you down to hell.
And just as the devil was about to begin his wicked festivities, he heard that same weak voice speaking the words at which we rejoice, and those words struck terror in his heart. “It is finished.” And the earth shook, and the rocks were split, and the devil’s victory turned into vapor and chaff and blew away on the wind. And there hung Christ: dead, victorious, his power made perfect in weakness.
And now what can the devil do? Claim you? No, for the stronger man has bound the strong man and plundered his goods. Christ has delivered you from the devil’s kingdom. But what can the devil do? Accuse you of sin and condemn you? Christ has borne all your sins in his body on the tree so that you might die to sin and live to righteousness. So what can the devil do? Threaten you with death? The same death that Jesus scorned and trampled underfoot? No, Jesus has even taken the great weapon of death away from the devil, and now the devil is like a soldier with no armor or weapons, like a lion that has no teeth or claws, that can roar and look scary and ultimately do nothing. This world’s prince may still scowl fierce as he will, he can harm us none. He’s judged, the deed is done. As Jesus said, “It is finished.” Amen.