It is Finished! - Part 1 (John 19:25-28a)
It Is Finished! - Part 1
Good morning everybody; I can tell who the elect are based on the people that sacrificed an hour of sleep to show up. So you guys are the sheep, the rest of them are the goats… right? Let’s take our Bibles if we could and open to John’s Gospel, chapter 19; we’re going to try, as God allows it to look at 25-30 today. We may not make it through verse 30 but at any rate the title of this message is It Is Finished! Thanks to Will Miller for subbing in last week; Will was one of my students at the College of Biblical Studies, so if you like what he presented you can give me credit; if you didn’t like what he presented you can blame him. Thank you Will, for doing that. I had a chance to present at the Steeling the Mind Conference in Peoria, Illinois, and it was really cold out there, very cold. As a matter of fact, when I got there I said thanks for allowing me to come out and participate in your global warming out here.
But what happened was, can I come speak at the conference, yeah, and I got a phone call a couple of weeks before, well, can you speak twice? Yeah, okay, I can do that. Well, can you stick around Sunday and speak at a Bible church? Yeah, I can do that. Can you speak twice? Yeah, I can do that. And then it turned into well, we have an end times study group, can you stick around Monday and speak twice at that? Yeah, I can do that. I’m really tired, so let’s just close in prayer….
Let’s take our Bibles and go to John 19:25. As I mentioned before the title of this message is It Is Finished! Sort of zeroing in on, if you will, the events surrounding the death of Jesus Christ. We’ve looked at His arrest, and we’ve looked at His legal trials and now we’re focused, really, on the events leading up to His death. We’re focusing, really, on the last couple of Sundays, verses 17-30, all of the events leading to the death of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Here’s the outline that we used; you may not remember it but we have the walk to the cross, verse 17; the wretched ordeal at the cross, verse 18; the wrongdoers at the cross, verse 18; the writing above the cross, verses 19-22; the wardrobe below the cross, verses 23-24, and that is as far as we made it last time. This morning we’re going to take a look at the women at the cross, verse 25, and then following that we’ll see the final words of Jesus from the cross.
Notice, if you will, John 19 and notice verse 25. “Therefore the soldiers did these things. But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary, the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. So based on what we know about how Roman executions took place it was very common for family and friends to sort of stand by the side of the victim at this most difficult time in the victim’s existence as his breath was literally ebbing away.
And what we discover here are four women standing at the foot of the cross. We’re told who they are: the first one is Jesus’ mother; we know that is Mary. And then we have Jesus’ mother’s sister, that would be Salome. Now Salome is somewhat important because she is John’s mother, the author of this book. John was Jesus Christ’s cousin on His mother’s side, and that will explain the instructions that Jesus is going to give to John in verses 26-27. Also present was Mary, the wife of Clopas, and also present was Mary Magdalene.
One of the things that’s very interesting about John is he doesn’t mention his own mother by name; John, when he talks about his brother never mentions his name either, and John, in this book never even mentions his own name. So one of the things that’s very interesting about John is his constant ambition to take the spotlight off himself. And I believe John does this because he doesn’t want any people distracted from what he is talking about; the subject of his book is Jesus Christ.
Let me ask you a question; in your life is the spotlight more on yourself or is it on the Lord? It’s very easy to sort of become overly impressed with ourselves, and try to attract attention to ourselves. But the fact of the matter is that is not our calling; our calling is to put the spotlight on Jesus Christ. We, to a very large extent, are even called to be nameless, and we find that happening here in the writing of John, in this most critical gospel. He doesn’t mention his own name, he simply refers to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved, he doesn’t even want to draw a lot of attention to his family.
We notice also that we have these four women at the foot of the cross and this, very briefly, raises a very important topic about women in the ministry. One of the dangers that we can face as a conservative Bible church which takes a view on the fact that some roles in ministry are limited to men. There is a gender limitation on some roles in ministry; elder, for example. We believe the role of deacon, also the role of pastor-teacher, and because this standard is being so violated today on the conservative side we have a tendency to want to raise our voices and enforce this standard. I don’t have a problem with enforcing the standard but sometimes we raise our voices so aggressively that we end up sending an inaccurate message. The message is women have no place in the ministry of Christ; women have no place in the work of the church. And may I just say to you that that is equally as erroneous as saying there is no gender limitations at all in offices in the church.
What you discover in the Scripture if you really look at it with an open mind and you look at it objectively is you find women are all over the place in the Bible. In fact, I would commend to you Dr. Constable’s online notes on 1 Timothy; you can find those at Soniclight.com and he has an appendix there at the back of his 1 Timothy notes; it’s Appendix 2 notes and he documents every time in the Bible God used a woman. And as you go through that list it’s overwhelming that God has always used women and will always use women. He talks about how women served in the tabernacle, Exodus 38:8; Miriam, a prophetess, Exodus 15:20-21; Deborah, a judge, Judges 4 and 5, and on and on he goes through the Old Testament documenting these examples. And then he goes on and he begins to talk about women in the ministry and the teachings of Jesus Christ. One of the things that is somewhat startling to discover is that women actually subsidized or financed Christ’s earthly ministry. And he documents several examples of women in the ministry of Christ and then he talks about examples of women in the ministry of the local church, how the Holy Spirit fell upon both men and women on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2; women were praying with the men in Acts 1, Acts 12, and on and on we could go. And then he talks about women in the ministry of Paul and Peter; Paul the apostle to the Gentiles, Peter the apostle to the Jews, and he goes on like this, giving example after example. You see I’m flipping pages here.
And take a look at that list when you get a chance and it becomes overwhelming that God wants to use women. So in no way, shape or form is a gender limitation on some offices within the church meant to somehow send a message that God does not want to use women. In fact, when you really get into this subject of gender limitations on some offices within the church what you discover is you are only talking about one to two percent of total ministry out there. What are we talking about, 98% of ministry is available to women. And so it becomes somewhat overwhelming.
Dr. Venessa Ellen at the college I teach at, the College of Biblical Studies, she uses a term, she calls it the Eve Syndrome, how Adam and Eve were given free rein to do whatever they wanted in Eden but they were given one limitation. So where did they focus? On that one limitation; they weren’t focused on all of the things they could do, they were focused on the one thing that they were not supposed to do. And I very much appreciate that example of an Eve Syndrome, I asked her if I could use that term in my classes and so forth, so I kind of picked it up as well. But it is interesting that you have all of these realms of ministry for women and yet what does the evangelical church want to fight about and argue about? We want to fight and argue about the one to two percent where there is a gender limitation.
And so we discover here, as is very common in the ministry of Jesus Christ, these four women at the foot of the cross. How different Jesus was in this regard compared to the culture of the day. In fact, here’s a quotation, this is what certain Jews prayed during this time period. It’s a pretty well-known Jewish tradition and this is what it says, it’s a prayer: “Thank God I am not a dog, a Gentile or a woman.” Women in the first century, and beyond the first century and before the first century were always subjugated and treated like second class citizens.
And how different the ministry of Jesus Christ was, and we see it right here with these four women gathered at the foot of the cross. How different the ministry of Jesus Christ was when He went and ministered to the Samaritan woman, that we have studied in John 4. And in fact, when Jesus went and ministered to that Samaritan woman the disciples themselves couldn’t believe what was happening because John 4 is very clear, they were concerned that he was talking to a woman. How different the ministry of Jesus Christ is in Luke 10, around verses 38-42 where you have the two sisters sitting at His feet, and how such a thing was not even tolerated or allowed in first century Judaism.
[Luke 10:38-42, “Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.  She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word.  But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.’  But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things;  but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.’”]
Jesus gets such a bad rap from people. People want to blame the plight of women on Jesus Christ and Christianity and I can’t think of a greater error than that. There isn’t a historical figure that has done more to elevate the status of women than Jesus Christ. In fact, this is a concept that goes all the way back to Eden where we learn that both Adam and Eve together were co-rulers over creation. Why would I say that? Because God said to “them,” plural, that would be Adam and Eve, “subdue and rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air. [Genesis 1:28, “God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’”]
It was a co-rulership. Now, of course, Adam in that relationship was given the position of leader because when the whole thing went south with sin, who did God come looking for? He called out to the man, Genesis 3:9. [Genesis 3:9, “Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’”] When Enron goes belly up you don’t go after the janitor, you go after the CEO. So very clearly man had this position of authority in the first marriage, but Eve was right there alongside him as co-ruler. And even beyond that you find that both Adam and Eve, together, are image-bearers of God. Genesis 1:27 says He made them in His image, male and female. [Genesis 1:27, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”]
And although we are called by God to fulfill different roles within marriage, or different functions within the church, never is it hinted at in the Bible that women are somehow inferior to men. It’s a distinction in role only, not in value. It’s quite similar to the Trinity, God the Son submits to God the Father, but when God the Son submits to God the Father God the Son does not relinquish one iota of His deity. Both the Father and the Son share in full deity, although they are separate personages playing different roles. That’s how it exists within a marriage; that is how it exists by way of an analogy within the church. The women at the cross!
Notice, if you will, verses 26-30 where now we start to look at the words from the cross. These words represent the final sayings of Jesus Christ just prior to His death. He is going to die in verse 30 and there are things that are coming out of His mouth in the form of speech that are recorded for us in verses 26-30. In fact, what we discover here is Jesus is going to speak three times; number 1, He is going to speak to Mary and John, verses 26-27. Number 2, He is going to speak to the soldiers that no doubt were instrumental in His death, the Roman soldiers, verses 28-29. And then finally, the final thing that will come out of His mouth prior to His death, at the end of verse 30, is He will speak to the Father.
Notice what Jesus says to Mary and to John; He speaks to Mary in verse 26; He speaks to John, the writer of this book, in verse 27. Notice what he says there to Mary, John 19:26, “When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!” In other words, John is going to care for you, Mary, my mother, now that I am departing. And then notice what He says to John in verse 27 as he speaks to John; it says, “Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.” He then turns to John, or speaks to John and he basically tells him to care for Mary, that would be Jesus’ mother, and given the relationship family wise that John had it’s very logical that Jesus would assign this task to John.
This is the, in total, third statement Jesus made from the cross, and what you have to understand is John, and we’ve seen this many times in John 20:31, you’ll also find it in John 21:25, John never claims to give an exhaustive history of everything that transpired in the ministry of Jesus Christ. In fact, John says if I told you everything that Jesus did I suppose the world itself could not contain the books written thereof. [John 20:31, “but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” John 21:25, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.”]
So he doesn’t tell us everything that came out of Christ’s mouth verbally as He was dying on the cross, but when you look at the whole picture what you discover, as you study Matthew, Mark, Luke and John together, is that Jesus had seven final sayings. What’s interesting about these sayings is every saying relates to the Scripture. Every saying that he is verbalizing is either a quotation or a paraphrase of the Scripture. You see, what people are thinking about at the end of their lives generally reflects what’s most important to them, their value system. Even our legal system will allow statements made with knowledge of an imminent death; those statements are typically given even greater credibility in our legal system, statements made knowing that you’re about to die. And Jesus here is saying seven things and everything that’s coming out of His mouth is the Word of God. What was most important to Jesus Christ? It was the Scripture. How do I know that? Because that’s what he talked about as he was departing.
And of course, we can ask ourselves just a basic question: how important is the Word of God to us? Is the Word of God something that sits on the coffee table? Is the Word of God something that is kind of a distraction on Sunday morning? Or is this book and the things that are written in it integral to who we are? The first statement, Jesus says, is “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do,” Luke 23:34. He didn’t say I’m going to get you all when I come back the second time; He said, “Father, forgive them; for they know now what they do,” that’s taken, basically, a paraphrase out of Isaiah 53:12. [Isaiah 53:12, “Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and he will divide the booty with the strong; because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors.”]
To the penitent thief, Luke 23:43, He says, “today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” Likely a paraphrase from Isaiah 53:10-11. [Isaiah 53:10-11, “But the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, he will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.  As a result of the anguish of His soul, he will see it and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My servant, will justify the many, and He will bear their iniquities.”]
Then we get to our statement here, this is actually Christ’s third statement, John 19:27, likely taken from one of the commandments, the fifth commandment, Exodus 20:12, [Exodus 20:12, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.”] “Woman, behold, your son!’” Behold your mother! [John 19:27, “Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’”]
And then there’s a fourth statement Jesus gave, it’s picked up in Matthew and Mark, probably taken from Psalm 22:1, He says, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
Then there is a fifth statement Jesus made and we’ll see that in our study in John, it’s in John 19:28, [“After this Jesus, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, “I am thirsty.’”] probably taken from Psalm 69:21 where Jesus says I thirst. [Psalm 69:21, “…And for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.”]
And then, number 6 is this majestic statement, where He says in John 19:30, “It is finished!” [John 19:30, “Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And he bowed His head and gave up His spirit.”] probably taken from Psalm 22:31. [Psalm 22:31, “They will come and will declare His righteousness to a people who will be born, that He has performed it.”]
And then the final words that came out of His mouth as recorded in Luke 23:46, “Father, into Your hand I commend My spirit,” probably taken from Psalm 31:5. [Psalm 31:5, “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning”]
John doesn’t give us all seven, John is going to focus on number 3, number 5 and number 6. But it is very interesting to look at all the Gospels and see the final seven sayings that Jesus gave from the cross. What’s even more fascinating to me about it is the subject matter on Christ’s mind, the Word of God, because at the end of the day the only thing you can really rely on in this life, other than your relationship with the Lord and the Holy Spirit within you, is the Word of God. It really is the only thing that is going to weather the storms because the prophet, Isaiah says in Isaiah 40:8, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our Lord,” or “the word of our God abideth” or “abides forever.”
Jesus, in the Olivet Discourse said something very similar in Matthew 24:35, He says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” We’re living in a society today where everybody is looking for safe investments. The fact of the matter is, there’s only two, they are, number 1, the Word of God, because of the promises in the Word of God that it will last forever, and number 2, the souls of people.
The book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 3, verse 11 says, “God has put eternity into the hearts of men.” Everything else in life will be destroyed. [Ecclesiastes 3:11, “He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart….”] Everything else in life will be destroyed by fire, and isn’t it sad that we devote so much of our lives and our times to, as that board game once read, “Trivial Pursuit,” pursuing things that have no real lasting or eternal value, when in reality the Scripture is telling us here are your two safe investments, the Word of God and people. The more you invest into this book, in terms of trying to understand it and apply it, you’re making an investment that’s different than any other investment you can make. It has eternal ramifications. And the more you invest into the life of another human being by teaching them spiritual truth, the more you are making an eternal investment.
Everything else, to a very large extent, is not necessarily unimportant, it simply does not have the lasting impact that the prior two investments that I’ve mentioned will have. Jesus, at the end of His life obviously believed very strongly in the Word of God because people will gravitate towards the things that are most valuable and important to them, particularly on their death bed. Jesus is making seven statements, focusing on the Word of God.
And so in one of these statements, statement number 3, John 19:27, He makes a provision for His very own mother. Dr. Constable, in his online notes says this: “Even as he hung dying an excruciatingly painful death, Jesus compassionately made provision for His mother.” Is it not interesting how Jesus, even at the most difficult time in His life, even at the most painful time in His life, is focused on other people? What you be doing? What would I be doing if we were in that same circumstance? We would be, no doubt, perhaps feeling sorry for ourselves, demanding justice, focused on our own pain and discomfort, and yet where is Jesus Christ focused? He’s not even focused on Himself, interestingly enough. He’s focused on a provision for His own mother.
Where are you focused in your life? Is the holy trinity, has it become “me, myself and I?” It’s so easy, particularly as fallen human beings to fall into that trap, where we think the world revolves around us, the sun rises and the sun sets with us; this is all part of the anthropocentric humanism in our culture. Humanism is this idea that man is the center of all things. We generally think that everything revolves around us and yet we really don’t understand what life is, do we, until we start to live for others. Even when our own needs aren’t met we can live for others, as Jesus exemplified.
And you know what? The great mystery of the whole thing is that’s where we have the most joy. I heard somebody spell out the word joy this way, with the following pneumonic device: J in Joy stands for Jesus; O in joy stands for others; Y in joy stands for yourself. And when we live a life focused on Jesus Christ, focused on other people, focused on ourselves last, isn’t it interesting that we’re the happiest and the most fulfilled in that time frame or that mindset. And how easy it is to get the cart before the horse and import the Y to the front of the equation; but the moment the Y is imported to the front of the equation is the moment you’ve misspelled joy and you no longer have it.
The Bible teaches, if it teaches anything, it teaches this: it says it is better to give than to receive. And here is Jesus modeling that for us, selflessly, not focused on his own pain, focused rather on His very own mother.
And I believe that the commandment that Jesus is anchoring this statement in is Exodus 20:12 which was the fifth commandment God gave to Moses in the Decalogue, and you know the verse well, it says, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.” Jesus, at the end of His life, was honoring His very own mother.
And we say well, that’s just simple stuff, I mean, everybody understand that. Let me tell you something, the Jews of this day were dishonoring their parents. How do I know that? Because they were not looking out for their own parents in their old age. They were involved in something called Corban, which is where they would make a vow to God and as they made this financial vow to God everybody looked at them as deeply spiritual, and yet that was the provision God had given them to help and aid and support and minister to their very own parents as they got older and became feeble and infirmed.
Jesus spoke to this in Mark 7:7-13, it says this: “And He said to them, ‘Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.  But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’  Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.  He was also saying to them, ‘You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. [10’ For Moses said, ‘Honor your Father and your Mother,’; and He who speaks evil of father or mother, is to be put to death’;  but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),’  you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother;  thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.’”
It really is no wonder that the Pharisees wanted Christ dead, making statements like that. He is castigating their traditions. Is Jesus against traditions? Of course not, He’s not against traditions unless they contradict Scriptural principles. You very conveniently set aside the fifth commandment so you can appear righteous and give money to the Lord, or give money to God. He calls them hypocrites, He anchors the problem in the traditions that they had developed and handed down. And he even says “you do many things such as that.”
How dangerous tradition can be when the source of authority becomes a tradition and not the Word of God. How easy it is to appear religious and want to do religious things and in the process we are dishonoring God because we are neglecting the commandment of God. I hope you don’t have this idea that in Christ’s ministry it’s Jesus versus Moses. Many people have this misunderstanding that Moses said one thing and Jesus said something else. That is a complete misunderstanding of the ministry of Jesus Christ. It is not Jesus versus Moses; it is Jesus versus tradition, which contradicted Moses. And that’s why Jesus, in His ministry, is trying to get through layer after layer after layer of centuries of tradition and get back to the Word of God.
And how at a Bible Church like this that would be our same goal.
What value is a tradition if it does not have its roots or its anchoring in the eternal Word of God? And yet we find ourselves, many times, doing things because that’s how we’ve been taught, or that’s the way it’s been handed down to us. Or, as people like to say, we’ve always done it that way. What a disastrous statement; what a foolish reason to do anything—we’ve always done it that way? The issue is not how have we always done it, the issue is what is the Scripture saying? What is the Scripture saying to the church? That is the issue.
And you will find that there are a great many people that are more in love with a tradition, they’re more comfortable with a method. They’re more comfortable with a routine, and the moment you begin to direct them back to the Scripture is the moment you get the emotional explosion. And how we need to be humble about our traditions; hold to our traditions loosely, but cling to the eternal Word of God.
How the religious leaders were so wrapped up in this tradition that’s described in Mark 7 that they were ignoring the basic commandment of God, commandment number five. And so what is the commandment of God? The commandment of God is simply this, that we are to honor our parents! And the application of it is we are to honor our parents as they age and as they get older. That is basic Christianity.
In fact, the Apostle Paul, in 1 Timothy 5:3-4 talks about widows needing financial support within the church. And notice what the Apostle Paul says, 1 Timothy 5:3-4, “Honor widows who are widows indeed;  but if any widow has children or grandchildren, they must first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family and to make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God.”
Don’t, Paul says, talk to me about your religiosity, don’t talk to me about your spiritual piety, I want to see it, Paul says. I want to see children supporting their parents when they are in need of support. I don’t want the roles of the church, Paul says, filled with helpless widows because the family won’t carry a basic obligation and responsibility.
I remember one time I was involved in a service project, the church that I was involved with in California, I was involved with a college group, it was a service project, the service project basically involved going to homes of widows and doing things that an elderly person can’t do, like mow the grass and those types of things, take out the trash, those things that are difficult for an aging person to do. And at one point we were involved in this service project and then I happened to learn that this woman’s son just lived right down the street; an able bodied individual who would not lift his finger to help his own mother and suddenly the church has to bear that burden. Paul says these things ought not to be so. Put your religion, put your piety, put your spirituality into practice and do what the fifth commandment tells you to do, to honor your mother and father.
How could you be honoring your mother and father when they brought you into the world when you were in a helpless state and now you, as an adult find them in a helpless state and you won’t lift a finger to help? In fact, you take the money that God has given you to help them and you piously give it to the Lord, all in the name of spirituality, all in the name of religion.
You’ll find Jesus Christ, here at the end of His life not doing any such thing, in fact, rather than focusing upon Himself He is making provision for His very own mother, Mary, which, verse 27 and 26 brings up another issue, the proper understanding of Mary. We’re living in an age of time, thanks largely to Roman Catholic tradition, where people are involved in Mariolatry, that is, the worship of Mary.
What is our position, as Protestant Christians, what is our position at Sugar Land Bible Church on this woman, named Mary? Mary is a woman that is to be revered, we believe. Mary is a woman to be respected, but the problem is, becoming involved in theological systems that elevate Mary beyond what the Scripture dictates, Mariolatry, the worship of Mary, the perpetual supremacy of Mary as some believe. Obviously that is not a true biblical understanding of Mary, because Jesus, at the end of His life just put Mary in the custody of John. I believe what Jesus is doing is giving authority of John over Mary.
We do not teach the perpetual supremacy of Mary. Simply by reading the Bible we see it can’t be true. Beyond that we do not teach the sinlessness of Mary. There are those who believe that somehow Mary was never touched by the sin nature. No, Jesus, in her womb, born of a virgin, was never touched by the sin nature. Mary was touched, like all of us are, by the sin nature because Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Wouldn’t “all” there include Mary? In fact, don’t take my word for it, listen to Mary herself. In Luke 1:46-47, “And Mary said: ‘My soul exalts the Lord,  and my spirit has rejoiced in God, my Savior.” Mary saw her need for a Savior and that Savior is Jesus Christ. Someone that is involved in sinless perfection doesn’t need a Savior, do they?
There are those who teach the perpetual virginity of Mary. Yes, of course, Mary was a virgin at the time the Holy Spirit miraculously conceived in her womb Jesus Christ. And there is a tradition in Roman Catholicism that Mary remained a virgin her entire life. Again, are we going to abide by a tradition or are we going to read the Bible? Matthew 13:55 says this: “Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?” not to be confused with Judas Iscariot. But you’ll notice that Jesus had brothers; we would call them half-brothers, born from the same mother but not the same father because Jesus had no biological father because He was born of a virgin.
But after the virgin birth of Christ Mary and Joseph had a normal sexual relationship within marriage; the product of that normal sexual relationship was the various half-brothers of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, two of them wrote New Testament books, James and Jude. So we do not endorse the perpetual virginity of Mary.
We also do not believe that it is acceptable nor appropriate to pray to God through Mary. Many people view the Virgin Mary as the great mother; they view her as co-mediator. In some cases, God forbid, they view her as co-redemptress. And yet where is anywhere in the Scripture the biblical authority that we pray to Mary, or any other saint for that matter. Did not Jesus, in John 14:6 tell us as clearly as it can be said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
1 Timothy 2:5 says, “There is one God and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” There are no other mediators between God and man. How do I know that? Because to be a mediator between God and man you have to be God and man, don’t you? Isn’t this the great conundrum of Job, in Job 19? Didn’t Job say if I could just get into heaven and present my case I would do it, but alas, I have no umpire, I have no mediator, I have no one to lay his hand upon me and God. And Job, of course, is the oldest book of the Bible; where is my mediator?
The rest of the Bible answers that question. Jesus is the mediator, because to mediate between two sides you have to be on both sides, in a certain sense. How do you mediate between God and man unless you are the unique God-Man? The incarnation, a fancy word for it is the hypostatic union, there only is one mediator qualified because there is only one God-Man, 100% God, 100% man.
Mary, as beautiful and as wonderful of a figure she is in the Scripture has no such qualification. She certainly is God-man; nobody is God-man, only Jesus Christ is God-man, consequently only He is qualified to be the mediator between God and man.
Every once in a while over at the school where I teach I get a Roman Catholic student. How does a Roman Catholic student get admitted to our school? Well, they didn’t tell us they were Roman Catholic, so they told us what we wanted to hear on the application form, they kind of slip under the radar, and there you are in a classroom with somebody that prays to Mary and these kinds of things. And I remember one e-mail this particular individual graduated from our school, he immediately got a job as a teacher somewhere, and he wanted to thank God, and he wanted to thank our faculty, so he started naming the faculty, I thank this person, I thank this person, I thank this person, and he starts talking about how he thanks the Lord Jesus Christ who has been interceding for him and I wish the e-mail ended there. Then he starts thanking Thomas Aquinas, a theologian of the past, for his intercession, and you read something like this and you say how could a person sit under solid doctrine for so long to get a degree at a biblically based institution and still hold to this tired worn-out tradition that there are other mediators?
The fact of the matter is, there is only one mediator between God and man, the Man, Christ Jesus. I love Mary and I respect Mary and I would love to do an in depth study on Mary’s life sometime, but the fact of the matter is, I have no authority as a reader of the Word of God, or a teacher of the Word of God, to promote concepts that are not written in the Word of God.
And so we see Jesus here, at the end of His life placing Mary under the authority of John. Likely on Christ’s mind is Exodus 20:12 provision for His own parents. [Exodus 20:12, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged I the land which the LORD your God gives you.”]
And then Jesus now, instead of speaking to Mary and John now He begins to speak to the soldiers gathered with Him there at the cross. Notice, if you will, John 19:28, it says, “After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished to fulfill the Scripture, said, “I am thirsty.’” Now what does this mean here in verse 28 where Jesus, as John is writing, “knowing that all these things had already been accomplished?” It hadn’t been accomplished yet.
The death of Jesus Christ is not going to take place until a few verses later; certainly the resurrection of Jesus Christ would take place subsequent to the death of Christ. So how could John say, how could Jesus insinuate that all things have been accomplished? What you will discover is this happens quite frequently in John’s Gospel. All the way back in the Upper Room, John 17:4 Jesus says, “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.” How could He say that, “having accomplished the work,” He hadn’t even been taken to the cross yet?
And what you have to understand in the bible is, this is what we call proleptic speech, if you want a fancy name for it, there are some things in God that are so certain, there are some things in God which are so ironclad that although in fact those things haven’t been accomplished yet God can look at those things as if they’ve already happened. Because the last time I checked God is outside of time. That’s why the Scripture says in Psalm 90:4, and it’s repeated over in 2 Peter 3:8, it talks about how with the Lord a day is a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. [2 Peter 3:8, “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.”]
God does not have to wait for tomorrow to find out what tomorrow will bring forth. God is already there, because unlike us, who have to wait for tomorrow to know what tomorrow will bring forth, God is not bound by time. We are bound by time. And that’s why the Scripture can speak things as if they will certainly happen, although those things have not yet actually transpired; proleptic speech.
If you’ve been to the Rose Parade you might know what I’m talking about; you know there’s people that spend the night to get a good seat or place of observance at the Rose Parade. What do you see at the Rose Parade? Well, you’re there on, let’s say Colorado Boulevard and you see these floats going by, one by one. And you’re getting a perspective of the parade in piecemeal fashion. Then you watch the whole thing on TV and they give you a different point of view; you get the helicopter shot, you get the aerial shot, and in some cases if the aerial shot is very good you can see the first float in the parade and you can see the last float in the parade because you’re looking at it from a different perspective or point of view.
What is our point of view? Our point of view is Colorado Boulevard, watching the floats go by, one by one. What is God’s point of view? The aerial shot, the helicopter shot. God, who is outside of time, God who is not bound by time, God who does not have to wait for tomorrow to see what a day will bring forth, He looks at life through a totally different perspective and consequently God, from that perspective has the ability to declare the end from the beginning, because in God there is no end or beginning, is there?
And this is why so much of the Scripture is troubling to us because it’s placing events in the past tense as if they’ve already happened, and we say well how can it be in the past tense, it hasn’t happened yet. Oh, the problem is, you’re looking at it from your point of view. God, in His Word, oftentimes is looking at it from His point of view and revealing it from His point of view.
I’m reminded of the book of Jude, verse 14, I was teaching Jude over at the school and one of my students, the first class I had over there, she said to me, I don’t understand the verb tenses in Jude 14, and I said let me look at it. Jude 14 says this, “It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, ‘Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones.” An obvious statement about the return of Christ all the way in the beginning Jude records Enoch making a statement that the Lord came. And fortunately this student asked me this question in private, not in public, because I didn’t know the answer. So I said I’ll be back in a week, maybe I’ll have something for you. And I started to look into it and what you discover is this happens quite frequently in the Bible. Why does it happen quite frequently in the Bible? Because God is looking at it from His timeless point of view.
Did you know that you are already glorified if you’re in Christ? You say, well, I don’t feel glorified, and you all certainly don’t look glorified either. But biblically speaking you are glorified if you’re “in Christ.”
Look at the verb tenses here. It says, [Romans 8:29] “For those whom He foreknew,” it’s articulating the various phases of our salvation, “for those He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;  and these whom He predestinated, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified, and those whom He justified, He also glorified.”
So in salvation history I was foreknown and I was predestined, these are all past tense verbs, and then I was called, and then the point in time came where I trusted Christ as my Savior and I was justified before God. And all of that happened in the past, and even though I’m not dead yet, Paul tells me I’ve already been glorified. The glorification has already happened from God’s point of view. God looks at things so differently than we do; we come to God and say Oh, Lord, it’s just me, we get into our warm theology, Oh Lord, it’s just me, I know I blew it big time last week, but if You could just see fit to answer this one little prayer request I would appreciate it. And God is saying of course I want to answer your prayer request, because I’m seeing you not as you see yourself, I am seeing you with the same righteousness of My Son.
This is why the Scripture says go boldly into the throne room of God that you might receive help in time of need. [Hebrews 4:16, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” KJV] Why would I be fearful? Why would I be worrisome? Why would I be intrepid? Why would I have no confidence? If I understand who I am in Christ I understand that I’m already glorified, because God, who is not bound by time, does not have to wait for tomorrow, for the events of tomorrow to occur.
This is why, when Joshua is sent out in the book of Joshua to gain victory over the city of Jericho, study that out in the book of Joshua. God tells Joshua before you even fight the battle you have already won; the battle is over. But Lord, I haven’t done the battle plan yet. Oh, it doesn’t matter, from My point of view the battle is already won, it’s proleptic speech. He is declaring something that hasn’t happened yet with such confidence the verb tense places it in the past tense.
How in the world, if what I’m saying is true, can we be so foolish as to fall for the idea that we can lose our salvation? How could I lose my salvation and somehow commit some kind of sin and they never tell you which sin it is you have to commit to lose your salvation, they just leave you in a perpetual state of fear your whole life, but how could I do anything to derail my future glorification when God is looking at my future glorification as if it’s already occurred?
There’s no need, beloved, to be afraid of losing your salvation. There is no need to have a warm theology where we’re just begging and pleading with God for a little crumb of bread. That is not who we are; that is not our identity. We are already glorified. And it’s a beautiful thing to understand, and it’s a beautiful thing to begin to grow into, and begin to comprehend. And so much of our lives is spent in poverty, when in reality we need not live in poverty, we’re rich.
It’s like these stories that you read about every once in a while in a newspaper, or sometimes they’re on the news, you have somebody living in a cardboard box, they are living on the street, they are living in total humble conditions, and the reality of the situation is they don’t have to live that way. Why is that? Because Uncle So and So, or Grandpa So and So just left them a million dollars, the money is in the bank. Yet because they don’t know the money is there, and in some cases they don’t know how to access the money, they live in a poverty stricken condition when they don’t have to.
Doesn’t that describe what most of our lives are like, if we’re honest with ourselves in Christ? We live as if we’re spiritual paupers, because we have not taken time to investigate the Scriptures and learn what we have. Ephesians 1:3 says, you have been “blessed,” past tense, you have been “blessed with every” not some, “every spiritual blessing.” And we say Lord, I’m coming to you and I want you to bless me, and the Lord is saying what else do you want, I’ve given you all the blessings you can possibly have; you have every blessing.
And how different the motivation is for service and giving. Do you realize that a large section of the body of Christ is taught the doctrine that you have to give money to get; you have to give to be blessed. What sort of nonsense is this? We don’t give to be blessed; we give because we are blessed. I don’t serve God because somehow I’m trying to gain His favor; I serve Him and I worship Him and I love Him and I adore Him, not because I’m trying to get something from Him, I can’t believe what He’s done for me. I certainly can’t believe a guy like myself, with all my screwy hang-ups, is already glorified.
How could you not want to serve God? How could you not want to worship God? How could you not want to pray to God? How could you not want to give to God when God has done so much for us? What is the story of the Bible? The story of the Bible is not what man does for God. If you are here today and you think this is all about what you’ve got to do for God you missed the whole point. The story of the Bible is what God has done for man. He’s done it all.
I wanted to make it to verse 30 because I had a great gospel tie-in, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. God is outside of time but we’re not so… but even so, this concept of proleptic speech, speaking the future as if it already happened, what a great tie-in to the gospel. “Gospel” means good news. All of these riches can be accessed in a moment of time, whether you understand everything in your ledger, your asset sheet, that will come with growth. But the first thing you need to do is you need to get into this relationship with God. You need to get into this relationship with your Creator and your Redeemer. The story of the Bible is not what we have to do to make ourselves right with God. The story of the Bible is He’s done it all.
And thus the only way to receive it is by a free gift. As I’ll be sharing next week there’s only one way to receive a free gift… only one way to receive it, biblically. You can’t receive it any other way other than by faith. “Without faith,” Hebrews 11:6 says, “it is impossible,” it doesn’t say it’s difficult, “it is impossible to please God.” “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him for righteousness.” [Galatians 3:6] What accessed Abraham into that relationship with God? Faith. What pleases God? Faith!
What is faith? It’s trust, it’s reliance, it’s dependence upon, it’s confidence in, it has so nothing to do with walking an aisle! I’m not against people walking aisles but you need to understand that walking an aisle doesn’t do anything. It’s the faith expressed in the heart that’s the condition. It has nothing to do with raising a hand; may I be even so bold as to say this; it doesn’t even have anything to do with praying the sinner’s prayer. You can pray the sinner’s prayer if you want, I prayed the sinner’s prayer but in hindsight I realized that the sinner’s prayer was just a way that my faith was being expressed. The major issue is faith or confidence or trust.
It has nothing to do with joining a church. It has nothing to do with New Year’s resolutions. It has nothing to do with some sort of moral self-revolution that we feel we have to put ourselves through. The gospel is not fixing yourself up and come to Jesus. That’s not the gospel. The gospel is come to Jesus by way of faith and then as you grow He has already given you the power to have the moral revolution. That’s the gospel.
And so the Spirit of God has come into the world to convict men and women of this truth. Christianity is the only belief system on planet earth throughout the corridors of all the religions in the world that teaches what I’m saying right now. You will not find this truth in any other religious system. You, God forbid, seldom even find it in the professing evangelical church because we become so works oriented, because that’s our core nature, that we end up perverting the doctrine of grace. We end up giving, in many cases, to people a works oriented gospel because we just don’t understand the things God as we should. And so becoming a Christian is something you can do right now as I am speaking, you don’t have to tell anybody about it, but you can. You don’t have to pray about it, but you can, if you want. You don’t even have to cry, I mean, come on pastor, you’re going to at least make them cry a few crocodile tears, aren’t you? A little bit of emoting, cry, cry a river, the fact of the matter is crying doesn’t save anybody.
It’s faith that saves. Now if you faith is expressed in those ways then that’s terrific, but crying means absolutely nothing.
And so our exhortation to you is as the Spirit of God places some of you, no doubt, under conviction, is to respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, to believe and trust in this gospel, to trust in the message of Jesus Christ for the safekeeping of your soul. And if that’s something you have done or are doing then on the authority of the Word of God you’ve just altered your eternal destiny. Shall we pray.