The Blessed Words “It is Finished!”
Written April 16, 2015
When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. – John 19:30 (ESV)
These are quite possibly the most remembered and recognized words of Christ’s time upon the cross. However, though these are the most well known words that Christ uttered from the cross I think many times we fail to grasp how amazing they are for us in our everyday lives.
First, these are words that bid farewell to the debt of sin. In saying it is finished Jesus was proclaiming that all of what was required to pay for our sins had been fulfilled. That there would never be another sacrifice needed for our sins as that work had been completed. These are words of freedom then, because regardless of the sins that may entangle our lives we know that Jesus has taken the punishment for them and our debt has been paid in full. Forgiveness is available right now because of this! What an amazing sacrifice and blessed gift that is! These words then are a message of hope for anyone who is asking the question does God love me or can God possibly forgive? The definitive answer to that has already been given, Yes! It is finished. The debt has already been paid upon the cross and the God of all the universe has paid with His very own Son! That is the love that He has for us. So when we read the words it is finished we can rejoice.
Next we can notice that these words affirm that the wrath of God was satisfied. One of my favorite contemporary hymns is “In Christ Alone, My Hope is Found.” Many newer hymnals carry this tune and it has such a wonderful message. My favorite line comes from the second verse where it says “Where on that cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied.” What an amazing couplet of verse! When Jesus was upon the cross He took all the punishment, the very wrath of God was poured out upon Him as a sacrifice and substitute for you and me. These words then are quite solemn and can bring great joy. In them we not only see the seriousness of sin but also the freedom we have in Christ. We see God’s attitude toward our sins but also His love for He provided One to take that punishment on our behalf. What great news for every believer wondering if God loves them! What amazing news for anyone living in terror of God and His wrath, for Christ proclaimed freedom and peace upon the cross by saying those words it is finished.
Finally, these words give the comfort to the believer because they establish an everlasting foundation for the Christian life. When these words were recorded by the Apostle John he recorded them in what is known as the perfect tense in Greek. We understand tense as a set of forms taken by a verb to indicate the time and sometimes also the continuance or completeness of an action. In English we have past, present, and future as our main tenses for verbs but the Greek used in Jesus’ day regularly used many more. There was something called the imperfect tense which indicated an ongoing action such as someone knocking on a door. The idea was that the person was persistent and continually knocking. Here the perfect tense was used when Jesus said it is finished. This meant that the action was complete and the results were good forever. This tense was used when someone paid a debt in full and there was nothing left to be paid. It was also used when a painter had finished a portrait and after the last brush stroke had been made and his work was done he would say in the perfect tense it is finished. When Jesus was upon the cross and said it is finished He was saying everything needed to pay for the sins of the world was completely and utterly done and the results of what He had done were good for forever.
That is a sure foundation we can all rest upon. We do not need to worry if we are loved we only need to look to the cross and the words it is finished. We do not ever need to worry if we are forgiven we only need remember the words it is finished. We have a sure foundation to always run to in this life when we have doubts and fears. It is secured by three simple yet profound words. It is finished.
Praise be to our Lord and Savior for the great work He has done!