“It is finished” (John 19:30)
Nearly the last words Jesus would utter from the cross, what did Jesus mean when he said, “It is finished”? These sound like words of resignation; words of defeat. “It is finished…I am finished…I’m done…exhausted…spent…I quit.”
But Jesus wasn’t defeated. He hadn’t failed, hadn’t been outsmarted by Satan. He certainly wasn’t quitting…but he was finished.
The last several hours had been difficult. He had been run through a series of rigged trials…Mocked, ridiculed, spat upon…Beaten severely, humiliated publicly, then crucified mercilessly. Even while dying on the cross, Jesus was jeered by the crowd, disrespected by most of his executioners, and abandoned by his closest “friends.”
The crowd who had cheered him just days earlier, now condemned him. The civil authorities who had been intrigued by him, had now become irritated by him. The religious leaders who had felt threatened by him, thought that perhaps now, they were rid of him. Most of his closest followers now were nowhere to be found.
Any man who experienced such rejection and humiliation would properly acknowledge defeat. But Jesus wasn’t defeated.
Jesus was finished, but he wasn’t done. He had finished teaching, but he wasn’t done enlightening people…He had finished preaching, but he wasn’t done transforming people’s lives…He had finished demonstrating how to live, but he wasn’t done empowering lives…He had finished providing “purification” and “atonement for sins” (Hebrews 1:3, 2:), but he wasn’t done forgiving and freeing people.
Jesus was finished, but he wasn’t done. What looked like the end of the road was only the completion of a mission. What looked like defeat, was actually a victory. What looked like the finality of death, was really the birth of eternal life. When “darkness came over the whole land,” (Luke 23:44) it didn’t mean that the sun would never shine again.
Jesus was finished. He had “fought the good fight” and “finished the race” (2 Timothy 4:7). He had done all that was asked of him, lived a life of perfect obedience, humbling himself, “becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8). He was finished, but not done. He had finished all that the Father had asked of him. “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to Him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23).
Jesus had finished the task assigned to him, but he wasn’t done. He still had two other things to do: (1) demonstrate his ultimate authority and power over the “last enemy” – death (1 Corinthians 15:26), and (2) take his seat “at the right hand of the mighty God” (Luke 22:69).
Jesus had to die, not because he was powerless to defend himself or had poor legal representation. Jesus had to die, not because his followers lacked sufficient strength or courage, nor because popular opinion had turned on him.
Jesus had to die to satisfy the just requirements of a holy God. God is not “our Heavenly GRANDfather” or a spiritual “softy” that can simply overlook our sin and let us slide. He is holy, perfect and just. Sin must be punished, otherwise God’s integrity would be brought into question. What kind of holy God grades on a curve? God’s standard is perfection; humans have violated his holiness. If God did not love us, He would be perfectly justified in only allowing us to perish.
But God does love us, and so Jesus had to die. It was Jesus, himself, who said that he came “to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45). Jesus absorbed God’s wrath for us. In Jesus, God fulfills his righteous requirement AND “demonstrates his own love for us” (Romans 5:8).
If Jesus were just a man, this wouldn’t be fair. Finally, a man comes along who is able to perfectly obey the whole Law of God…and he is crucified for it? It is hardly fair that perfect obedience is rewarded with torture and death! But Jesus is more than just a man.
If Jesus were just a man, this wouldn’t be possible. How could the death of one man save the souls of countless others, even those already dead and not yet born at the time? But Jesus is more than just a man.
The Jesus of the Bible (and believe me, there are a lot of version of “Jesus” out there, some even in a lot of churches that are NOT the Jesus of the Bible) – is both man AND God. He is not just a man who is some how “filled” with God. He is fully man, and therefore shares our pain, our sorrows, our hopes and dreams. Jesus knows what it is to be human. He is also fully God, so he is able to forgive, justify and change lives.
This evening, we’ve been contemplating the cross. Not just a church decoration, or even an ancient means of torture and execution, but more specifically, a particular MAN on the cross. The man, Jesus, who died for our sins – your sins, my sins. The man, Jesus, who is more than just a man, and who still can change your life…if you will acknowledge and accept that his cross, was your cross. He died for you.