George H. Morrison - Devotional Sermons
It Is Finished
He said, It is finished...and gave up the ghost--Joh 19:30
The Power of a Single Word
These three words, "It is finished," are in the original a single word. That has been called the greatest single word which ever broke upon the ear of man. Often, when one is preaching, it is not the whole sermon that God uses. It is a single word or thought coming home with power to the hearer. The one word Yes uttered by a woman may alter the whole future of a man and lead his life to power or ineffectiveness. A single word has changed the course of history and affected the destiny of empires. Who can exhaust the heartbreak and the tears that are hidden in the word Farewell ? But the greatest of all single words that ever broke upon the ear of man is this word of Jesus upon Calvary. Finished was His work on earth for God, finished His work for man. Finished were those sufferings which made His face marred more than any man's. We have security and peace and joy, not less than absolution and release, in the finished work of our Redeemer.
The First Utterance of Jesus Was about His Life's Work
As we read this word our thoughts go winging back to the first recorded utterance of Jesus. He was a lad of twelve when He said, "Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" Some people saunter through the world; their great ambition is an easy life. But our Lord, even in His boyhood, had an intense conviction of vocation. The claims of home and the appeal of family were submerged in the intense conviction that He must be about His Father's business. What that conviction meant to Him in boyhood it is impossible for us to estimate. It would grow with every prayer He prayed; it would deepen as He pored over the Old Testament. But even then it mastered and controlled Him, and to the end this was His burning thought: "I must work the works of him that sent me." It is always a quietly glad thing to complete the task even of a day. But when the task is lifelong and has absorbed the years, far greater is the gladness of completion. That is why we never really penetrate the gladness of this cry of Jesus till we remember that His labor was His life. It was not a service of selected hours. It was a service that included everything. His sufferings and His prayers were part of it as surely as His teaching on the hill. There was in it an obedience which was passive as well as an obedience which was active--and now that work for God and man was ended.
The Joy of Performing One's Work Faithfully
Again, we reverently remember the fidelity with which that work was done, and done in the teeth of every temptation, for He was tempted in all points like as we are. When we do the humblest bit of service faithfully there is always a certain joy when it is done. Perhaps there is no joy to equal that, unless it be the happiness of home. It does not matter what the task may be, whether in the kitchen or the college--to do it faithfully sets the joy-bells ringing. The man who is unfaithful in his duty is continually defrauding other people. But he is doing something even worse than that--he is continually defrauding his own soul. For him the joy-bells never ring, nor does he hear the music of high heaven, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." Now think of the fidelity of Christ, tempted in all points like as we are; tempted by weariness and by His friends and by all the appearances of ghastly failure, yet through the bitterest and darkest hours faithful to His vocation till He cries on Calvary, "It is finished."
Jesus and His Work Were One
Again the moment of this cry reveals to us that Jesus and His work were one. His work was not finished even in Gethsemane: it was finished in the article of death. There are multitudes whose work is over before the hour when they are called to die. The teacher must retire at the age limit; the preacher must hand his scepter to another. And there are many whose work is just beginning, like some fair flower opening in the garden, when "comes the blind fury with the abhorred shears, and slits the thin-spun life." With Jesus it was different. He cried, "It is finished," and gave up the ghost. His task was not ended before the final breath, nor did death smite Him and leave it incomplete. Bound together into a radiant unity were the vocation of our blessed Lord and the life and death appointed Him of God. You cannot separate Jesus from His words, and you cannot separate Jesus from His work. I am the Way, the Truth, the Life. Come unto Me and I will give you rest. That is why all fellowship with Christ gives us a richer conception of His work and why the humblest sharing in His work gives us a deeper knowledge of His person.
The Finishing of Christ's Work on Earth Was the Beginning of Another in Heaven
But the finishing of work, in our experience, is not invariably a happy thing. If we have loved our work and given our hearts to it, the hour of ending may be an hour of sadness. There are well-known instances of writers who laid down their pen with an infinite regret. They have told us that as they wrote the closing sentences their eyes were wet with tears. And sometimes when one resigns his post and honorable men convene to do him honor, no praiseful fellowship can quite conceal his bitterness that the career is over. One thing alone can dissipate that bitterness. One thing alone can banish it entirely. It is the assurance that what we call an end is in another aspect a beginning. And for Jesus there was that full assurance, for did He not say to the penitent thief on Calvary, "Today thou shalt be with me in paradise"? He was dead and is alive forevermore. The end was the beginning. He ever liveth to make intercession for us. He will never leave us nor forsake us. In pardoned sin, in present fellowship, in the conquering power of His completed work, He sees of the travail of His soul.
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