In the name of Jesus, our crucified Lord, dear friends in Christ,
Are you a detail person? Do you know a detail person? There are people, and I admit at times I’m one of them, who like things to be just so, if something is out of place it is bothersome, it irks them, it’s annoying, maybe it’s the smudge on the window, a dust bunny, a typo in a paper, or an eye sore of some sort. Or maybe you have some just little thing that someone does that bugs you and irks you.
Well, as much as you and I might complain about details or little things that bother us, I guess God is the ultimate detail-ist. God wants things to be just so. So, while we might complain about details not being quite right, what about God? In a sense God is the ultimate perfectionist, in that He demands things be done to 100% perfection, every detail accounted for- and He has every right to demand it. God has no patience for slip-ups, He’s not like the manager at work who will patiently say, “Ok, that wasn’t very good, why don’t you try again.” “Or, well, that’s not the best, but we’ll let it slide this time- try to do better next time.” No, God demands perfection down to the last detail.
God demands His creatures to cross every ‘t’ and dot every ‘I’ in their lives. God has no time for your and my angry thoughts, selfish attitudes, self-serving actions, our lack of care for those close to us, our filthy language, our enjoyment at the pain of others, hurtful words, our lying, jealousy, envy, greed. Think about the details of your life. God can see them all. And He hates slip-ups, half-hearted attempts, and any kind of imperfection. What a horrifying thought for you and me to stand before a God who demands total perfection and can see every single minute detail of our lives and how much we’ve failed. How much we deserve His punishment for sin!
But unlike you and me who have failed in so many details of our lives, God’s always had every detail figured out. In fact, God doesn’t get frustrated, He doesn’t look at you and me and throw His hands up in the air and say, “Great! What am I going to do now?” You see, from eternity God already had every detail planned out how He would rescue you and me from our imperfection.
It was God’s will not to reform us and make us better people, not make us people He can accept who live at least fairly decent lives. Nor was it God’s will to condemn us all that we feel every last detail of His punishment in hell. Rather, it was God’s will from all eternity to send His own Son who would take upon Himself the full punishment for our sins, and that’s exactly what Jesus did and He did it to the very smallest detail. Our text shows that.
First, there’s the sign above Jesus’ head: Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. God had promised that He would send a King from the lineage of David and every Israelite king was supposed to be a picture of this coming king. As kings led the people and fought their battles, so would the ultimate King. And so, here’s Jesus fighting our worst enemies in life: sin, death, and the devil as He dies on the cross. The ultimate King reigns not from a plush throne, but from a bloodied cross to save His people.
Then, there’s the soldiers. Apparently the soldiers would get to divide up the stuff of the person being executed. But part of Jesus’ clothes was nice enough not to be torn up. So they cast lots to see who would get it. Did they roll dice? Did they draw straws? Did they do some other “lot casting” thing we’re not aware of? We’re not sure. We just know they did it. And yet even this detail God had recorded in the Old Testament that they were going to do it!
Then Jesus sees His mother and one of His close disciples and while He’s dying on the cross continues to have perfect love for His earthly family and provides for Mary’s needs before He dies – keeping every detail of the 4th commandment and perfectly caring for others.
Then, Jesus says that he was thirsty. Now we might think, “So what? After all, why would it be such a big deal that a person who is being executed would be thirsty?” That seems quite obvious. But, once again, God had said all along in the OT that the Savior would be thirsty. How do we know Jesus was thirsty? He told us and they gave him wine vinegar to drink.
And what do we learn from each of these “minor details”? From each of these “minor” events we’re reminded of this important truth: God has completed your salvation in full, completely! Your God HAS crossed every “t”, dotted every “i.” He didn’t miss even one little detail in what needed to be done to save you. Jesus was called King, just like God wanted, the soldiers cast lots for his clothing, just like God had said, Jesus was the perfect child perfectly caring for His mother, just like God wanted, Jesus was thirsty, just like God said he would be. Every detail of His saving work was carried out fully and completely. Jesus “drank the cup of suffering” to its very last bitter drop. And because of that, you’re saved! When Jesus said, “It is finished,” He meant it! Ever last bit of what needed to be done to save you, it was completed, in full, 100%!
That’s why even in the midst of our sorrow over our sins, our sadness over what we have failed to be, we are still glad and call today “Good Friday” because, indeed, it is good, for our Savior did it all to save you and me. Amen.