Good Friday – 2023 LSB #’s 451, 447 v. 16-21
Text – Revelation 21:1
Then I saw a new heaven & a new earth, for the 1st heaven & the 1st earth had passed away, & the sea was no more.
It is Finished
“I will be their God.” Those words do not have a surprising ring to most Christians, but they should. The Lord God Himself is saying these words for the same reason He says anything: because you & I need to hear His word, “I will be their God.”
Have you always acknowledged Yahweh as your Lord God? Think hard now about your life. He isn’t our God all the time. Too often as good things happen we attribute it to “luck,” our own hard work, cunning & wisdom. When evil things happen, do you want to shake your fist at the heavens in anger, demanding an answer for why a ‘loving God’ allows these things?
You complain to the One who is there with you in the midst of evil! You & I have not always related to Him as God, but Good Friday shows how He will be our God.
If we were created with feet for any reason other than getting from place to place, it is to walk with God. That time Adam & Eve spent walking with God in the garden is something so familiar you can imagine it even though you weren’t there. You can imagine feeling the blades of grass beneath your feet. You can imagine the “feet” of God walking with you.
You can almost hear Yahweh’s conversation with Adam & Eve. How wonderful it must have been to talk with God! Do you imagine it? Suddenly the entire picture changed – Adam & Eve fall into sin. Would He still be their God? The Lord told Satan, but Adam & Eve heard it & we hear it too. At Genesis 3:15, God said:
“I will put enmity between you & the woman, & between your offspring & her offspring; He shall crush your head, & you shall bruise His heel.” That’s where we are tonight. From the sunny skies of paradise to the dark, black clouds of Calvary; from intimacy with God in the garden to separation from God by judgment & death. Tonight, the serpent’s head is crushed. Evil is defeated, but at what cost? God’s Son is hanging; He is calling out, “It is finished.” Have you considered what is finished? “It is finished.” What is finished?
All things on earth begin & all things end. People are born, people die. The music starts, the music stops. It’s interesting that we so often celebrate beginnings while endings are mourned. Is Good Friday that kind of mournful ending? “It is finished,” Jesus cries out. Tonight we ask, “What is finished?”
The answer – the dark scene of sin. Images of paradise can once more enter our mind. Listen again to the Epistle reading, Revelation 21:
Then I saw a new heaven & a new earth, for the 1st heaven & the 1st earth had passed away, & the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, & they will be His people, & God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, & death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy & true.” And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha & the Omega, the beginning & the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, & I will be his God & he will be my son.
When God says in verse 6, “I am the Alpha & the Omega, the Beginning & the End,” it means that He was there when the skies of paradise were sunny & communion with His children was perfect. When He says, “I am the Alpha & the Omega, the Beginning & the End” it means that His presence spans the dark times too, Good Friday & all of our mournful times.
Good Friday times are mournful but not, definitely not, a mournful end as the world views death. When the Lord God says, “I am the Alpha & the Omega, the Beginning & the End,” He invites us into images of a new paradise. On dark Good Friday God gives a vision of a brighter future. Hear it again: “He will dwell with them, & they will be His people, & God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, & death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Jesus cried out, “It is finished!”
What is finished? Paying the price for our sins is finished on the cross. You are reconciled to God. Paradise will be restored. How do we know? Listen to this from Revelation’s vision of our wonderful future: “And He who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’” (Revelation 21:5a ESV)
He also said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy & true. And He said to me, ‘It is done!’” (Revelation 21:5b-6a ESV) Jesus has earned your forgiveness. “It is done.” His death opens a glorious future, & the words are written to give us hope. “It is finished.” “It is done!” says the “Alpha & the Omega, the beginning & the end.” (Revelation 21:6b ESV)
The philosopher Nietzsche is infamous for writing “God is Dead.” Those words were intended to be provocative yet, Nietzsche’s intent behind them was to say that God may as well be dead if He makes no difference in your life. Do you live as if “God is dead?”
Jesus did die & we know the promise of a new heaven & a new earth. That makes all the difference for Christ-followers, though we are still plagued with evil & sorrow. You & I see creation fall into ruin before us. Sorrow comes & tears are shed, but the dark scenes of our life are not the final scene, because God did indeed die, not as Nietzsche thought, but on the cross.
God did die. And because He died, & wrote for us words of a new heaven & a new earth… because “it is finished” & “it is done,” you & I have glimpses of glory even in the darkest of our times. The full effect of Jesus’ death won’t be realized until that last day, but until then, our heavenly Father is our source of joyous & confident hope.
“I am with you,” He says in Matthew 28:20. He is with you to hear your prayers, with
you to speak comforting words, with you to grant the nourishment of His body & blood, with you to wipe away every tear from your eye. “It is finished.” “It is done.” “I will be their God.”
Tonight, the scene is dark as we mourn the result of our sin, & what that sin caused our Messiah to endure. We mourn the fragmenting of our relationship with the Creator & we miss those walks through the garden. We remember the suffering & death of our Savior. We remember what He taught & what His life means to every moment we spend here on earth.
In a world where it’s easier to tear down & start over, Yahweh has made Himself the God of restoration. Tonight, the Word of God restores you to Him. Tonight, He is our God & we are His people, even though we often fail to honor Him as God. Tonight, the dark scene begins to brighten because “It is finished.” Our tears glisten with hope.
“I will be their God. I am making all things new. Write this down, for these words are trustworthy & true. And He said to me, ‘It is done!’” (Revelation 21:5b-6a ESV) Amen.
Save us in our soul’s distress; be our help to cheer & bless while we grow in holiness: hear us, holy Jesus. May Your life & death supply grace to live & grace to die, grace to reach the home on high: hear us, holy Jesus. Amen. LSB 447:16 & 21.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet