John 19:30 (Part 1)
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
From the Bible: John 19:30, I John 3:8, Col. 2:15, Gen. 3:15, Matt. 27:52
John 19:30a (Holman) When Jesus had received the sour wine, . . .
Our bodies come from dust. On the cross, Jesus’ body seemed to be rapidly returning to dry dust. Jesus drank vinegar at Calvary in order that you and I could in Heaven drink from “the river of living water, sparkling like crystal” (RV 22:1).
John 19:30b . . . He said, “It is finished!”
Once Jesus’ dry mouth had been moistened, He was able to clearly speak a vital cry. This is probably the loud cry referred to by Matthew (27:50), Mark (15:37), and Luke (23:46). John, near the cross, heard not only the loud volume of the cry, but was also able to make out the word Jesus spoke, “Tetelestai!”
A dramatist once said, “The words of dying men enforce attention.” Never was this truer than in the case of our Lord. Jesus’ final word shouted loudly from a cross has reverberated through the whole universe, and shall for all time.
The cry, summing up what was happening at Calvary, was an acknowledgement of victory. At the moment it was uttered, John probably saw only defeat in the cry. The disciple could only feel despair, and sense the destruction of good. Evil never looked more victorious than it did at Golgotha.
The resurrection reversed John’s assessment. He came to realize this had been a shout of victory, not defeat. Jesus knew when He had suffered precisely enough to pay our sin debt, to drink our cup of damnation dry. Once the watershed moment arrived, the battle ended. Jesus had won.
While He was winning, Jesus posted a victory bulletin from the field of battle. Jesus died not with moans and groans of defeat, but with a cry of victory.
His body was dying a lowly death, but His voice maintained its majesty. The head was crowned with thorns, but the voice was crowned with sovereignty. Even on the cross, Jesus was King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
In Jesus’ cry from the cross, we heard the conquest of Hell. “The Son of God was revealed for this purpose: to destroy the Devil’s works” (1 John 3:8).
At Golgotha, Jesus “disarmed the rulers and authorities and disgraced them publicly” (Colossians 2:15). Jesus came to our planet to fight Satan in a war, and the conflict’s ultimate battle occurred at Calvary.
To us, Jesus is Prince of Peace. To Satan, Jesus was a man of war who came to fight the evil one in his own territory. Jesus let the cruelties and guilt of sin be sheathed in His own body. This inner spiritual struggle was Jesus’ worst suffering at Calvary. The pains of Hell, evil, and death penetrated His very essence.
A phrase in the liturgy of the Greek Church speaks of “Thine unknown agonies.” These inward sufferings were the real Hell of Calvary.
A ship at sea is usually safe as long as the hull is secure, but even the noblest sailor despairs when he hears the yell, “A leak!” When water begins pouring in, even the stoutest sailor’s heart begins to fail.
Similarly, the worst part of Jesus’ crucifixion was the evil wave that rolled into His spirit. We will never fully grasp how painful this was.
Despite the strain, our Champion did not falter. Heaven’s Lamb withstood Hell’s Serpent. Fiends of perdition hurled themselves against Him. They could hurt, but not destroy, Him. They could at worst only bruise His heel. He, on the other hand, crushed their heads (GN 3:15). He dealt them a fatal blow.
Satan and his co-conspirators did their worst to Jesus at Calvary. The cross appeared to be their ultimate victory, but proved to be their ultimate defeat. On Calvary was conducted the funeral of Satan’s hope to vanquish God. The Savior broke all His enemies’ weapons to pieces, and overturned their ranks.
Evil poured Hell’s darts into Jesus’ heart, and venom into His veins, all for naught. Christmas Evans preached, “Death struck its fiery dart deep into the heart of Jesus, but when Death tried to pull the dart out again, its sting was left behind.”
While sin was nailing Jesus to the cross, Christ was nailing sin to the same tree. Sin and sin’s destroyer were both nailed there. Sin was forever crippled, but sin’s destroyer arose victoriously.
This is not to say the battle was easy. It was intense. When Jesus died, the earth quaked and rocks split in two (Matthew 27:51). Onlookers beat their chests (Luke 23:48), and fled in terror, probably fearing the world was ending.
The ground shook, as if a terrible battle were raging somewhere below. The bowels of the earth churned under the feet of fleeing demons. Every member of Satan’s army had attacked the central cross at Calvary, but at the victory cry of Jesus, they turned their tails and ran for their lives. Satan, bleeding and howling, led his troops back to the pit of death.
They knew God would soon enter their fortress, their den of death. Their realm was about to be invaded by Jesus. They needed to entrench themselves, for once their prey arrived, He would have to be held. Under no circumstance could He ever be allowed to escape from the realm of the dead.
Their preparation and efforts to corral Jesus proved useless. When Jesus rose, He so devastated their stronghold that when He burst forth from it, others also rose. The force of His resurrection created a huge hole in death’s wall, and drew through the opening others from the world of the dead (Matthew 27:52-53).
In Jesus’ cry from the cross we heard the completion of redemption. Jesus had purchased our salvation. Everything needed to buy our Heaven is found in Christ. Sinners have no need to seek forgiveness elsewhere. Nothing needs to be added to Jesus’ sacrifice. No flaw exists in what Jesus purchased for us.
Don’t let our continuing warfare make us doubtful of its outcome. After a battle had raged for 12 hours, an officer happily rode up to the King of Prussia, and quietly said, “The battle is finished.” A key position had just been taken. It would only be a matter of time before victory was won.
Many historians think the battle of Gettysburg was won when the Union Army held Little Round Top on the second day of battle. Much fighting ensued on the third day, but the outcome had already been determined.
Even so at Calvary Jesus won the key position. By taking Calvary’s hill, He secured everything. His work is completed. On it the Holy Spirit can base His ongoing work of conviction and conversion. Because of what Jesus did, the Spirit can minister salvation to us by grace through faith.
Jesus bore the condemnation of Hell, and can also bear the condemnation of every sinner on Earth if they would throw themselves on Him. To be saved, we must acknowledge our need for Jesus, and lean totally on Him for salvation.
Do not try to win God’s favor by adding to the finished work of Jesus. He did all that God requires. The only thing left to be done is for us to appropriate what Jesus accomplished.
A.W. Pink told of a Christian farmer who was concerned over an unsaved carpenter friend. The farmer spoke to the unbeliever about Jesus’ finished work, but his words were in vain. The carpenter felt he had to earn his salvation.
The farmer settled on a daring plan to win his friend. He bought a gate from the carpenter, and asked him to come watch the gate be hung on the fence. When the carpenter arrived, the farmer was standing next to his beautiful handiwork, axe in his hand. The carpenter asked, “What are you going to do?”
“I am going to add a few cuts and strokes to your work.” The carpenter, aghast, protested, “There is no need for that. I did to it all that was necessary.”
Paying no heed, the farmer hacked at the gate till it was completely useless. The carpenter, beside himself with horror, gasped, “You have ruined my work!”
The farmer replied, “Yes, and that is exactly what you are trying to do. You are seeking to nullify the finished work of Christ by your own miserable additions to it!” This crude object lesson was the beginning of the carpenter’s decision to trust only in the finished work of Christ.
Dear unbeliever, God is totally satisfied with what Jesus did. Why aren’t you? Jesus did all that is necessary for our acceptance, now we must accept Him.