“It is finished.” — JC
John 19:20 (NLT)
Surely you have used this phrase before? I have spoken this after completing a Final Exam, book report, doing the backyard or eating a a large pizza all by myself.
When is the last time you said, “It is finished?”
When Jesus says this, He speaks it from the Roman Executioner’s Cross just seconds before his heart beats its last beat. He has just spent the last 18 hours going through unspeakable torment. It is Finished, is a statement of a champion. And in this case…the meaning behind this phrase impacts every person on earth from the past and every person to yet exist in the future.
When Jesus says from the cross, or as I have been pretending, “Tweets” it from the cross. Every Roman follower of Jesus’ Tweets would have perfectly understood in context what He meant. Keep reading…
You see in the Roman empire the Death penalty could be carried out in several different forms. Crucifixion or beheading were the two most popular death sentences given to non-military law breakers. The Roman Empire wanted to be known as fierce and they also wanted to avoid being known as uncivilized. So they had a death sentence “program” that was swift yet brutal. Swift so as not to be too cruel and unusual, but brutal enough to warn a potential criminal that Rome meant business when it came to following their laws.
The military had a few death penalty ways about them that could strike fear in the heart of anybody and hopefully would prevent a potential law breaker from going through with his plan. Here are some of the ways a Roman Military person could be put to death if they caused Rome to be embarrassed or if they broke the military code of ethics. If while on night watch as a Roman guard, the guard fell asleep, and his superior officer actually caught him sleeping, the commanding officer would awaken the sleeping guard, have his clothes stripped off to his ankles, then light the clothes around his ankles on fire and the guard would be burned alive. (One didn’t want to fall asleep on duty. They didn’t have energy drinks then, either!) Another tactic that Roman Officers would use when trying to find the culprit in a military regiment that had “messed up,” was to line the whole group up along a tall cliff. The entire Roman Army Regiment would then walk to the edge of the cliff and literally, while standing, put their toes on the edge of the cliff, and of course, everybody would be looking down, fearful of what could happen. The Officer in charge of the regiment would walk behind each of the soldiers as they stood on the edge of the cliff and would be yelling at them to identify the person who “screwed up,” broke the law, or embarrassed Rome due to negligence. If there wasn’t anybody in the entire Roman Regiment that would “Nark” out the guilty person, then the Officer in charge would begin to walk behind the group and push one soldier at a time off the cliff and have the group watch this person fall to his death. The hopes of the officer was that somebody would finally point out the offender, or the offender would finally confess and then be pushed to his own death, saving the lives of the others in the regiment.
If there was no cliff to be found in the area then the Roman Officer would have his regiment of soldiers line up anyway. He would take out a cup that he carried with him for this very purpose. The cup would be filled with a mixture of Hemlock. Hemlock is a lethal poison. Whether you drink a little or a lot, it is going to kill you. (Hemlock is the poison in the story of Romeo and Juliet. It is also how Socrates was given the death sentence) This cup that the Roman Officer carried would be filled with the Hemlock mixture and was known as “The Cup of Suffering” in the Roman Empire. In the Roman Empire if an officer in charge had to use the cup of suffering there was only one rule…The cup had to be completely drank for the officer in charge to be satisfied that “the crime” committed was paid for. So imagine the Roman Regiment lined up. If the officer had an idea of who the offending soldier might have been he would place that soldier in the first position, the front of the line. He would give the cup of suffering to that first soldier. Now the soldier has a moral dilemma. The first soldier knows that he is going to die whether he drinks a little of this cup of suffering or if he drinks the whole thing. If the first soldier drinking from the cup of suffering only drinks a little, he then would have to pass the cup to the next in line. That next soldier would have to drink a little and then pass it on to the next. However…if anybody in the line wanted to spare the lives of everybody else, down the line, all he had to do was drink the whole cup of suffering himself. If the soldier chose to drink the whole cup of suffering, he would drink the whole cup, give the cup to the officer in charge and the officer would say, “IT IS FINISHED!”
Do you get what Jesus did, when He “tweeted” from the cross, “IT IS FINISHED!”
Jesus was saying, “I will take all the punishment upon myself and spare everybody else for all time past and future.”
However…please think about this with me…this is important…Just approximately 24 hours earlier, Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane and was begging His Father in Heaven to do what?
“Father, Please take this CUP OF SUFFERING away from me!” Jesus begged His Father three times this exact request.
Understanding the Roman’s Cup of Suffering brings about a lot more depth of meaning to this whole situation doesn’t it?
Do you have a child or children? Can you imagine one of your children coming to you…and by the way…this child coming to you has been the PERFECT child, literally. This child whom you love so intensely begs you to not do something. But this something he is begging you not to do is so intensely painful and humiliating. How could you follow through and give the go ahead and then watch it happen to your child? You give the “go-ahead” to have your perfectly innocent child beaten to an inch of his life, stripped naked in front of everybody, you watch him get beaten over the head with clubs, they force a huge thorn crown down upon his bleeding head, make him carry his own cross through the streets while people spit and jeer him. You continue to watch the people throw your perfect child on top of the cross beam and drive nails into his hands and feet. Dislocating his shoulder or both shoulders. Laughing and jeering the whole time. They then hoist the cross, with him nailed to it, to an upright position where you have to watch your only perfect child literally suffocate to death, fighting for air.
I couldn’t do it. If I had to pick who was going to go through that kind of agony to pay for all mankind’s sins. And my choice is between my own perfect child and you…the one who sinned and brought this whole curse to a reality. I’m sorry…You would die. Not my only perfect child.
How much does the Heavenly Father love you? How much does the Heavenly Father love you that He chose for you to live and have His perfect son, His only child, pay the price instead?
REALLY…HE CHOSE YOU TO LIVE. HE MADE JESUS DRINK THE CUP OF SUFFERING INSTEAD OF YOU.
This is the way God desires us to be everyday of our lives. Sacrificial, Giving, Loving, Serving, Accepting.
That’s what He did for you. That’s what He did for me. By doing this, God demonstrated to us how much He loves us and accepts us without having us do a single thing to earn His acceptance. In fact the Bible says that while we were sinners, God absolutely accepted us by having His son die for us…again…while we were still sinning, we were accepted by God. By God giving His only Son as a replacement for us on the cross. (To drink the Cup of Suffering) It shows that you can’t do one thing to earn God’s acceptance and love for you. It is a gift. That gift was given when Jesus was placed on the cross instead of you. Oh, I wish all people lived in this kind of behavior. Let me demonstrate by inserting a diagram below.
The image I have inserted below is an image that demonstrates, perfectly, the difference between Love’s way and Control’s way. I wish I could say that I created the diagram. I did not. Credit is due to the Life Training Material we used to teach at Parkway Christian Church. If you would like to check this full material out then look up www.vcli.org. Vcli stands for Victorious Christian Living. They are headquartered in Phoenix AZ. The material is actually called S.A.L.T. (Seven Areas of Life Training) Its good stuff. The following thoughts are from this material.
God is Love. He COULD control, but He chooses to demonstrate his power and position by Love not control. Please be “self-aware” enough to know which way you live your life and lead the people you influence. Do you live/lead by Control or by Love?
As you can see, Love doesn’t make you earn anything. Love gives you total acceptance first. Love gives you an “A” and then allows you to earn an “F” if you want to. Love says, “I have AUTHORITY to make you earn my acceptance, but I am going to ACCEPT you first and show you how much I love you. When you know how much I love and accept you, you will feel AFFIRMED by be. As you feel affirmed by me, then you will desire to be ACCOUNTABLE to me and when you choose to be accountable to me, you acknowledge that I am an AUTHORITY in your life.
That is God’s way. That is the way God wants you to live and lead others. It will take you totally trusting in God as you live and lead this way.
People, who have a problem with God, usually think that God leads using the Control side of the diagram.
They have had either a controlling parent or too many controlling people in their life.
They have been forced to submit to the person in authority first. It goes like this…
Somebody, with power, demands that you follow their AUTHORITY, period. They do this by forcing you to be ACCOUNTABLE to their rules/style/ways. When you prove you are being accountable to their authority, then the person in authority will begin to AFFIRM you. “Keep up the good work, you are really catching my attention,” they say. As you keep up the good work because you want this person’s affirmation and you continue to work for their affirmation and you stand the test of time…you will finally be ACCEPTED by the person in authority.
How Horrible. Right? Thank God, that God and Jesus didn’t do this to all of us!
This is the way of corporate and worldly living. This is the way of control. People who control are living as if they are God. You agree, right, that ” all control” belongs to God?
So…I say…THANK GOD that God leads us using the Love side of the diagram. God accepts first. How wonderful.
The Cup of Suffering that was given to Jesus proves it.
“IT IS FINISHED.”
That means you don’t HAVE to have control. God’s got that part.
God didn’t force you to make Him your Authority.
Why do you make others bow to your Authority? (If you do.)
God’s Got your Back.
(Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Live like God in all your ways and He will take care of the rest.) That’s my version of Proverbs 3:5-6.
Accept first. Love first. Trust first. You really didn’t EARN anything in your life that you have. You might pridefully think you did. But everything is a gift from the Lord. Everything.
Our School Teachers are a perfect demonstration point on this. Depending on the teacher’s personality and whether or not they are power hungry, they can start you, as a student, with either an “A” or an “F”. The grades work out the same either way in the end.
Everyday you can tell the attitude difference between the teacher that accepts you first and teaches as if you have an “A.” Versus the teacher that has the attitude of not accepting you first and you come into class with the teacher seeing you as a student starting with an “F.” Its an obvious difference and everybody knows it except the teacher.
Which teacher is better to sit under as a student?
Which teacher do you actually WANT to learn from ?
Which teacher really is better at teaching?
It Is Finished!
You don’t have to control anything.
Live for others like Jesus lives & died for you.
In your marriage, does your spouse start the day with an “A” or an “F”?
In your workplace, do those “under” you start their job with an “A” or an “F”? (BTW…Jesus washed the feet of those “under” Him.)
In your parenting do your kids start the day with an “A” or an “F”?
In your friendships do your friends start each day with an “A” or an “F”?
In your everyday life as you drive, do totally dumb drivers get to start with an “A” or an “F”? Ohhh…that’s a hard one for me! Can you tell? LOL
Shopping for Groceries does the lady slapping her kids at the check out counter start with an “A” or an “F”?
Waiting in line…wherever…did the guy that cut in line start with an “A” or an “F”?
Give people in your life an “A” first and then you’ll be following the example of Jesus Christ. Fully accept first. Then work from there.
How they treat the “A” you gave them is up to them. There comes a time where that “A” starts dwindling to a “B” or a “C”…its then you and I need to confront the offender…if you wait until they get an “F” to confront…well…that’s just a tough meeting! Its hard work. Never quit working on it. We all have shortfalls. If we follow the teaching of Jesus to treat others like we like to be treated, then hopefully that gives us a few more “A’s” in our pocket to hand out to others. Make sense?
Can I help you with anything?
All right…I can finally say about this long blog…
“It Is Finished!”