John 19:30 (Part 2)
“It Is Finished”
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
John 19:30b (Holman) He said, It is finished!”
As noted in the previous message, this cry summed up what happened at Calvary. In it we heard the confession of victory, the conquest of Hell, and the completion of redemption. Other truths are also heard in the cry, “It is finished!”
The cry from Calvary was the confirmation of Heaven. Jesus went to the cross to make it possible for us to live with God (John 14:1-3). This benefit reached backward into the past as well as forward into the future.
Had Jesus not died, all the Old Testament saints would have been forced to vacate Heaven. They were there only because Christ was sure to die someday for their sin. They had been saved, as it were, on credit.
All who reached Heaven before the cross entered there due to the Father’s confidence in the Son’s resolve to die. When Jesus cried, “It is finished,” the mansions of those already dwelling in Heaven were made forever secure.
The cry from Calvary was the consummation of Jesus’ mission. Jesus had achieved what He had been sent to do. All the predictions and types regarding God’s Messiah were fulfilled in Jesus. He is the Passover Lamb, the sacrifice without spot, the lion of the tribe of Judah, the son of David, the scape-goat that carries away sin, the altar, the mercy seat, the Lampstand, the priest.
The veil of the Temple was rent. Sacrifices could cease, the Law was fulfilled, the predictions of a suffering Messiah had come to pass. The old covenant made room for a new one. Jesus’ blood ratified a better covenant. In God’s plan of redemption, Jesus did it all.
“Mission accomplished!” The phrase has a satisfying sound. We sense nobility in an effort successfully expended in achieving a worthy goal. Charles of Balas prayed his life might be spared until he had completed a Welsh translation of the Bible. He worked hard, without remuneration, and said if he could finish it, “I shall willingly lay down my head and die.” He saw it completed, and thanked God for sparing him. Appropriately, Mr. Charles’ last written words referred to his Welsh translation: “It is now finished.”
On the night of May 26, 735 A.D., the monks of Jarrow, England, were whispering to each other. In their monastery, Bede the Venerable was dying, his body a skeleton, his eyes sunken, his cheeks hollow. The last major project of his life was to translate the Gospel of John into his native tongue. It would be the first portion of God’s Word ever translated into the vernacular of Saxon England.
On this night, the task was not finished, yet Bede’s gasping for breath proved death was near. Beside his bed sat a scribe with pen in hand. Only chapter 21 remained to be translated. The scribe pled with his beloved mentor, “Father, you speak with difficulty, the exertion is too great.”
Bede disagreed, “Take your pen. Write as fast as you can.” Through the evening hours sentence after sentence trembled from the lips of Bede. Suddenly there was a pause. The scribe feared the old monk had died, but then saw he was still alive. The scribe leaned close to his beloved master and whispered, “Only one sentence is now lacking – only one.”
It revived Bede’s spirit. With faltering breath he spoke the last sentence. “It is finished,” rejoiced the scribe, “It is finished,” replied Bede. The monk praised Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and then asked to be carried to the spot where he was accustomed to pray. In this holy place, with his work done, Bede the Venerable died.
Jesus said, “It is finished!” He left nothing undone. no loose ends remained untied. He looked back over His life without a single thought of disappointment. He rendered a complete obedience.
Through His whole life, Jesus was driven by a solemn and holy “I must.” He had to obey His Father’s bidding, and did so without fail. He began as a boy saying, “I must be about My Father’s business” (Luke 2:49); and ended as a man saying, “It is finished.” His urgent sense of “I must do it” became His urgent sense of “I did it.”
Jesus’ cry from the cross was the consolation of sinners. The fact Jesus carefully enunciated the word, and the fact the Holy Spirit recorded it in His Holy Word, prove it is a message God wants people to hear. For us, Jesus conquered sin and Satan at the cross that He might also conquer both in us.
Having drained the cup of our condemnation dry, Jesus held it upside down when He said, “It is finished!” Not one drop trickled down the edge. He drank it that we might never need to drink it (Maclaren). The Hell we deserve was in the cup. Jesus drank it dry at the cross.
Jesus kept all the precepts of the Law, but allowed Himself to bear its penalty, and to suffer its shame in our stead. We broke the Law, but He took our place and endured the punishment we deserved.
Jesus exhausted all the ammunition from the cannon of God’s justice. Christ silenced the Law’s thunder, and sheathed condemnation’s sword. Nothing was left to hurl at the Son of God. Jesus bore it all in our place.
The cross has become our lightning rod in the storm of condemnation. We take refuge beneath this hallowed tree. When the fury of a thundercloud is thrown against us, the blood of Jesus intercepts the bolt and conducts it safely away from us. Safety is found at the foot of the cross, and only at the foot of the cross.
We need to tell the pagan who is mutilating himself to earn God’s smile, “It is finished.” All the pain God requires for salvation has been borne by Jesus. We need to tell Pharisees who are counting on works, “It is finished.”
We need to tell those who still await the Messiah, “It is finished.” We need to tell the ones that are enslaved to sacraments, “It is finished.” We no longer need the sacrifice of a mass on an altar. “It is finished.”
Unbelieving friends, hear this message. “It is finished.” Your unworthiness does not have to stop you. “It is finished” – the gate of Heaven is open before you. “It is finished” – the portal to Hell is broken beneath you. “It is finished” – pardon awaits you. “It is finished” – God’s table of grace is prepared. “It is finished” – come and welcome!