When famous people die sometimes the last words they say get
written down and remembered. They become famous last words.
One of my favourites is the last words of the us General John
Sedgwick. 150 years ago, in 1864, he was fighting in the American
Civil War. He was staying out of sight with other soldiers in a
trench. He wanted to take a look at the enemy. The soldiers told
him not to stick his head out. But he replied, and these are his
last words; ‘Nonsense, they could not hit an elephant at this
They couldn’t hit an elephant, but they did hit a general.
Famous last words.
Now, you can’t get more famous than Jesus.
And when Jesus died He spoke famous last words. They are there
in verse 30.
Verse 30 “Jesus said, ‘it is finished’.”
Three words. It is finished. The last words of General Sedgewick
are ironic, interesting, and humorous. Though these 3 words of
Jesus are, if rightly understood and responded to, life-changing
forever and ever.
Now, our Bible story today teaches three lessons.
Every year, on Good Friday, all around the world, Christians
celebrate that Jesus died. On a cross.
And that’s lesson one. Jesus was crucified. He died on a cross.
Let me read from verse 16.
Verse 16-20 “Pilate [the governor] handed [Jesus] over to be
crucified. “[Jesus carries] his own cross [At] the place of the
Skull [or] Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him
19 Pilate had a notice fastened to the cross. [And we’re
told] 20 the place where Jesus was crucified was near
the city “
Jesus died in a very public way. Lots of people watched Him
And Jesus died in a horrible way. Before He was crucified the
soldiers flogged or whipped Him! They would have hit Him with a
leather thong fitted with pieces of bone or metal. They stuck
thorns on his head. They mocked and teased Him. They slapped Him in
They made him to carry His own cross. They stripped Him. And
hammered nails into His hands.
It’s indisputable. No serious historian doubts it. 2000 years
ago in Jerusalem a Jewish man called Jesus died on a cross.
And, second lesson, Jesus died as king.
The soldiers dressed Jesus up as a king, with a crown of thorns
and a purple robe. They were teasing Him. Mocking Him.
But He actually was King.
A King is someone who rules or reigns over people. So, who is
Jesus king over? Who are the people He rules?
In our story today, Jesus rules over three groups.
A. King of the Jews
First, Jesus is king of the Jews.
Pilate wrote something down on a sign that’d go above Jesus’
head on the cross. Like a name tag or a title. But it didn’t say
What did it read? Verse 19.
Verse 19 “Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the
cross. It read: Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews.”
The Jews were the people of Israel. The nation God chose, a long
time before Jesus, to belong to Him.
The King of the Jews was a title to describe the Messiah. A King
sent by God to rescue and rule. To rescue Israel. And rule over
them with love and kindness.
Some of the Jewish leaders, called chief priests, didn’t like
what Pilate wrote and complained. Anyone who rejects a king or
seeks to take the place of a king is guilty of treason. These
Jewish leaders complained that Jesus is guilty of treason ‘cos they
said he wanted to be king instead of Caesar, who was King of the
land. But Pilate said, ‘No. I won’t change it.’
Jesus is King of the Jews.
Ironically, or surprisingly. It was these Jews who were actually
guilty of treason. ‘Cos they rejected Jesus who was their true
B. King of Everyone
Jesus was King of the Jews. Yet He was also, secondly, King of
everyone. King of the whole world.
Take a look at verse 20 again.
Pilate’s sign written in in three languages. Aramiac, which the
Jews spoke. And then Latin and Greek. Three different languages
spoken by different people from different places.
The point is that the King of the Jews is the King of
C. King of a New Family
And then, thirdly, Jesus is King of a new family. King of his
In John’s story we see how the Jews reject Jesus. And how the
world rejects Jesus. But then we also see how Jesus starts a new
group. He chose 12 Jewish guys and then started calling, not only
Jews to follow Him, but also those who weren’t Jews. Jesus started
gathering Jews and non-Jews, people from all different groups and
languages and nations. All gathered into God’s new true family,
People who believed Jesus was King And followed Him as King.
And there’s a glimpse of this as Jesus hangs on the cross.
In verse 25 we learn that;
Verse 25 “near the cross of Jesus stood [Jesus’] mother Mary,
[her sister], [another] Mary wife of Clopas, and [another Mary,]
Four women, three Marys. And one guy. John. Verse 26.
Verse 26 “Jesus saw the disciple whom He loved standing near by
We’re told they are standing near the cross. And Jesus
highlights that they’re all now family. Jesus tells His mum, ‘Now
John’s your son!’ He tells John, ‘My mum, she’s now your mum.’
‘You’re family.’ In fact, you’re God’s family.
So Jesus is king. Of the Jews. Of everyone. And He is personally
the king of a new family who stand with Him.
So lesson one. Jesus died on a cross. Lesson two. Jesus died as
king. And lesson three. Jesus died because of, why?
Well, did Jesus die because Jewish leaders trump up charges
against Him? Did He die because the crowd cry out, ‘Crucify Him’?
Did He die because Pilate is weak, gives in and condemns Him? Did
He die because soldiers nail Him to a cross?
Well, yes yes yes yes, and no.
Human hands may have driven in the nails. But behind all this
God was in control. Lesson three. Jesus died because it was God’s
plan, from the very beginning, before the world was even made.
God made promises to Abraham and Israel that He would send a
Messiah or King to rescue His people. God made lots of promises
over a long time. He gave His word.
And here, when Jesus is dying, those words come true. They are
fulfilled. Each promise is kept.
A. Promises Kept
In verse 23;
Verse 23-24a “the soldiers took [Jesus’] clothes,
dividing them into four, with the undergarment remaining.
24 they said ‘Let’s decide by lot [by throwing dice] who
Why did this happen? ‘Cos this is what God promised would
happen. Verse 24.
Verse 24b “This happened that scripture might be
Later on, verse 28.
Verse 28 “Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.'”
Why does He say that? ‘Cos God promised that’d happen. Verse
Verse 28 “so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said ‘I am
And later when the soldiers take Jesus’ body down from the
cross. They don’t break his legs.
Why not? ‘Cos God promised. Verse 36.
Verse 36 “These things happened so that the scripture would be
fulfilled: ‘Not one of his bones will be broken,’ “
Jesus’ death was not an accident. It was not a bad turn of
God was in control.
Jesus’ death was all arranged in detail before the world was
made. This is the moment history had been heading towards. Jesus
isn’t hanging on the cross despite being King. He hangs on the
cross because He is king. It is God’s plan. Promised and
B. Job Done
Which means it is Mission accomplished. job done.
In verse 30;
Verse 30a “When He had received the drink, Jesus
said, ‘it is finished.'”
finished. Not in the sense, ‘I’m tired. I can’t go on.’
But in the sense that ‘it – God’s plan – is finished.
It was used by athletes when they won a race. This is a victory
cry. Job done.
Jesus came with a plan. He came on a mission. No one took His
life away. He laid it down.
Verse 30b “he [verse 30] bowed his head and [he] gave
up His spirit.”
The job done was the job to rescue people from sin. To forgive
and gather a new family. A job done by dying for sin. As a
punishment and penalty for our sin.
So Jesus could say, ‘It is finished.’ Famous last words. But
they’re actually not His last words. ‘Cos Jesus rose again. He
conquered death. He’s alive. And He continues to speak. To us. By
His Spirit through His Word, the Bible.
Well, let’s wrap up. Three lessons.
In chapter 19 John tells the story that Jesus died on a cross.
That Jesus died as king. And that Jesus died because it was God’s
plan to rescue us from sin.
And John tells us all this for what reason? What difference
should this make to you and me?
Verse 35. Here is John’s reason for writing.
Verse 35 “The man [that’s John] who saw it [Jesus’ death] has
given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells
the truth, and he testifies so that [What? So that] you also may
This story is here that you and I also may believe. Believe that
Jesus is the Messiah, the King. Believe that Jesus died for our
John 20:31 “and that by believing [we] may have life in his
Life. True life, eternal life. In Jesus.
Now, I think there’s three possible ways you and I might respond
First, you could say thanks, but no thanks. I’ve enjoyed today,
but Jesus isn’t for me. God does say that our choice comes with
consequences. That it’s a life and death choice. But each of us are
free to decide for ourselves.
Second, you could say I’D like to know more. You’re not
convinced, though you’d like to investigate further. We’d encourage
you to keep coming along on Sunday and ask questions. Come chat. We
also have a course over six Wednesday nights coming up soon called
‘Christianity Explored’. It’s designed to help people investigate
Jesus. And to do so over a good meal, without being put on the
spot, and with the freedom to ask any questions.
Third, you may perhaps be convinced. You’re saying; ‘ I get it!
Jesus is king. He died for my sins. He offers life in heaven
forever.’ You’re saying; ‘ Jesus is king. And I want Jesus
to be my king.’
If that’s where you’re at. You’re making a life-changing
decision. And I’d suggest you do a couple of things. Talk to god.
Say what’s in your heart. Say sorry for your sin. Say thanks for
dying for my sin. And say to Him ‘I believe! I want to trust You as
King from this day forward.’ I’m going to pray soon, and as you
follow along you could echo the words in your own heart. Talk to
God. And then talk to us. We’d love to know. And celebrate with
you. And we’d love to welcome you into God’s family.