The text is from Saint John’s Gospel, read a few moments ago: “It is finished.”
In the Greek language, this is only one word. In the Hebrew or Aramaic that Christ probably spoke, it was also likely one word. The Lord was very succinct.
This creates a problem for us in understanding what He meant. What is finished? Since He does not specify, we must figure out from context and other Scriptures what exactly it is that He has finished.
The nearest context is the vinegar that He tasted. The vinegar was offered to Him because He had said, “I thirst.” This was in order to fulfill one last prophecy of Scripture.
So we reasonably conclude that He said, “It is finished,” to indicate that all the Scriptures regarding His suffering and death had been fulfilled.
Similarly, we might also conclude that Christ was saying that His sufferings themselves were completed. The agony had gone on long enough. The pain had been great enough. No more needed to be inflicted upon Him.
The only reason that we can even speak about His suffering as “enough” was because of its purpose. You can only have enough of something if you know what it needs to do. The purpose was that the punishment for all sins had to fall on Christ. All of the guilt of man had to be covered by the Blood of Christ. All of the wrath of God had to be satisfied by the sacrifice of His Son. Nothing could remain that was unatoned. Not even the smallest sin could be unpaid for. So “It is finished,” means that every last iniquity had been accounted for.
All these things that He finished - the Scriptures fulfilled, the sufferings completed, and the trespasses fully atoned, the wrath of God satisfied by the sacrifice – all of them are tied together closely. Christ must have been referring to all of them. He might well have said, “All is finished. All is complete.”
Christ had accomplished perfect redemption. He could not have done better. No loopholes remained, and no flaws. No one could fall between the cracks, so that they would be able to say, “He didn’t die for me.” No, He died for all. He died perfectly.
It may seem strange to speak of the bloody, awful atrocity of the Cross as perfect. The world cannot see the perfection. We can through faith, although even then our sinful flesh wants to take offense at the Cross. Yet the Spirit leads us to see what our flesh cannot. We are taught to put our trust in the bleeding, dying Man.
So the meaning of Christ’s words give us comfort. “It is finished,” means that nothing is left for us to do to earn salvation. Christ has done it all. We do not need to pay for our sins. We do not need to worry that we have not done enough. We are never enough. Christ is enough.
Christ did not say, “I am finished. Now it’s your turn.” He did not carry the ball most of the way down the field, but we have to get it over the goal line. No, He has done all that needs to be done.
Faith remains, in the sense that each person must believe in order to receive the benefits of the Cross. But that is the whole point. The Cross, the thing in which we put our trust, is complete and perfect. Faith simply recognizes that it is finished for me.
True faith can only exist because the perfect object of faith has been created. Only Christ crucified is truly worthy of faith. Many false faiths exist as sinful man puts his trust in nearly any idol he can imagine. But genuine faith that receive salvation must look to the bloody, suffering Man on Calvary.
In Him alone, the warfare between God and man ends. Only in the peace offering which is the crucified Body of Christ can sinners be reconciled to God. So the long enmity that began with Adam and Eve and stretched for centuries has finally been finished.
Death’s stranglehold upon man is finished. The devil’s insidious captivity over us is finished. Hell’s threat is finished. Our slavery to sin is finished.
All glory be to Him alone, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God forever. Amen.
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