People have always had a fascination with the last words of those dying. Perhaps the person had lived such an important life, we expect some life-changing statement that will give us wisdom or something of value to cling to.
· Murderer James W. Rodgers was put in front of a firing squad in Utah and asked if he had a last request. He replied, “Bring me a bullet-proof vest.”
· Marie Antoinette to her executioner whose foot she had just stepped on going to the guillotine; “Pardon me, sir, I did not do it on purpose.”
· W.C. Fields was reading the Bible in his deathbed: When asked why? He said: “I’m looking for loopholes.”
· Voltaire was asked by a priest to renounce Satan. “Now’s not the time to be making new enemies.”
· Augustus Caesar, first Roman emperor, said to his friends gathered around him, "Have I played the part well? Then applaud me as I exit."
· Leonardo da Vinci, had a moment of regret. "I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have."
· Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, said to his wife, "You are wonderful."
· Beethoven, who was totally deaf for much of his life said: "I will hear in heaven"
· Jimmy Stewart said, “I’m going to be with Gloria now.”
· Edgar Allen Poe, “Lord help my soul.”
· Blues singer Bessie Smit said, “I’m going, but I’m going in the name of the Lord.”
Jesus said: It is Finished!
Finished indicates concluding a plan or fulfilling an obligation.
· Like signing a peace treaty at the end of a war.
· Like paying off a debt.
· Like ending a career.
Last week we talked about Jesus hanging on the cross as the apex of a plan that originated before creation. He was the answer to a question left hanging since Adam and Eve brought sin into the world—Can God restore man to unbroken, holy and blameless fellowship?
For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach—(Col 1:19-22) That’s what He intended. That’s what He did—He finished redemption’s plan.
But there was a second aspect to what He had finished. Finished also has the idea of completing something and by that completion making something else obsolete. Like completing a new highway and making the old highway unnecessary. Like completing a new bridge that makes the old one useless because it has been disconnected from the roadway.
What did Jesus complete? The Sacrificial System of the Law. Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. (Matt 5:17) Fulfill-complete, finish.
Why couldn’t He just announce: the old system is over – let the new system begin. The Sacrificial System hadn’t finished what it was designed to do. It held the promise of something to come. It had a purpose yet to be fulfilled.
If why you do something is fulfilled then to continue doing it is useless. Once you find what you’re looking for, you don’t keep looking for it.
Behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them," declares the LORD. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD, "I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (Jer 31:31-33)
The sacrificial system was the framework around a picture God would reveal later. The idea was the frame would draw them to the picture.
The word for sacrifice meant “to draw near.” Sacrifice was a practice through which people might draw near to God and as a result God would draw near to them.
You can understand God’s anger when people just went through the motions of sacrifice without the purpose of sacrifice.
Samuel said, "Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. (1 Sam 15:22) Sacrifice without obedience is just the killing of another innocent lamb.
Obey – same word as hear – shema – expectation is: if you hear you will obey – you will not disconnect who you are from what you do.
Jesus said: If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. (Jn 14:15)
This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. (Matt 15:8)
A successful sacrifice has both method and motive—right sacrifice and right attitude. It connects the hand and heart.
Like David said: to ascend the hill of the Lord you need clean hands/pure heart
Not only did God have requirements for those offering and accomplishing the sacrifice, but since sacrifice was to draw people into the presence of a holy God, God had specific requirements for the lamb itself.
Don’t just grab a sick or dying lamb. Don’t get a messed us lamb. Don’t say, “Well, they’re just gonna kill it anyway so what’s the difference?”
A lamb was to be selected that fit a very specific criteria: it must be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no defect in it. (Lev 22:21)
Why? This is holy business. A sacrifice is a substitute being offered to a holy God instead of or in behalf of the person making the offering. In other words, the things being done to the lamb should be being done to the person offering the lamb. The person is guilty before God. The price of sin is death. But instead of the person dying, the lamb is being punished in place of the one who offered the sacrifice.
Anyone could present a lamb for the burnt offering but that lamb represented more than just the family or person making the offering. It was part of a daily obligation that the priests were required to make twice a day.
If the people didn’t provide a lamb, one from the Migdol Eder, outside of Bethlehem, would be supplied.
It’s called the Tamid sacrifice. Now this is what you shall offer on the altar: two one year old lambs each day, continuously. The one lamb you shall offer in the morning and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight…It shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the doorway of the tent of meeting before the LORD, where I will meet with you, to speak to you there. (Ex 29:38-42)
It happened on schedule twice a day, every day. Even on the Sabbath. In fact, the priests were given special permission to work on the Sabbath to perform this sacrifice because it was so important. It maintained daily forgiveness and connected the people with the covenant with God.
The Tamid sacrifices were done every day at 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Now here’s where things get interesting.
Matthew, Mark and Luke all three tell us: It was the third hour , when they crucified Jesus. And when the sixth hour [noon] had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour . And at the ninth hour , Jesus cried with a loud voice… and breathed his last. (Mark 15:33-37)
Matthew and Mark mention Jesus said, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
Luke wrote that Jesus said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.”
But John, who seemed to be right there at the cross, heard Jesus say, “It is finished!”
Again, what was finished? The suffering, the life, the payment for the redemption of those who believe, the culmination of the plan of God begun before the foundation of the world. What if Jesus was also closing the door to the sacrificial system?
He began and finished redemption’s plan. He began and ended the sacrificial system.
It’s really interesting to note that while Jesus was dying on the cross, at the same time of the Tamid sacrifice, the Jews were in the Temple praying for the very thing He was on the cross accomplishing. The hours of prayer coincided with the Tamid sacrifices. They recited the Eighteen Blessings:
15. Cause the shoot of David to shoot forth quickly, and raise up his horn by your salvation. For we wait on your salvation all the day. Blessed are you, Lord, who causes the horn of salvation to shoot forth. [The Hebrew word for salvation is the word yeshua. Yeshua is the Hebrew name of Jesus.]
Why did the angel insist that Mary and Joseph name the baby Jesus? Because the name was who He was – God’s salvation. They were praying for God’s Messiah by name.
And on the cross He became in practice who He always was: God made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin [a lamb, perfect, spotless, unblemished and undefiled] to be sin on our behalf [the sacrifice that fulfilled the exchange—Him paying the price for our sin], so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Cor 5:21)
Only the righteous may enter into unbroken, holy and blameless fellowship with Him. His sacrifice made that possible.
He did it! It is finished! He closed the book on the Old Covenant and opened up to us the New. He has now restored the way to fellowship with God. The Lamb of God who has taken away the sin of the world. Don’t you always love it when a good plan comes together.
- The plan of redemption was established before the world was formed.
- For that plan to work, there needed to be a sacrificial system in place.
- When Jesus died, His death accomplished multiple goals.
- One goal was to end the sacrificial system by fulfilling what it represented.
- The main goal was to provide the way into unbroken, holy and blameless fellowship with God.