“It is finished.”
These are the last words Jesus spoke prior to His death (Jn. 19:30), and it is these three words that have held my attention for several weeks.
What is finished? What is the “it” Christ references, and how finished is “finished?”
This three-word sentence is actually just one word in Greek, the original language of the New Testament, yet it is the essence of the major theological tenets we hold dear: justification, redemption, sanctification, and glorification. Further, this one cry embodies the inspiration of creation, the incarnation, and the entire scope of eternity.
One word. Translated into three. Carrying the combined weight, genius, and remarkable life of Jesus Christ.
“It” is the problem of sin, the necessity of justice for offences against God, the resolution of God to address the rebellion of mankind, the invasion of earth by Jesus Christ, the demands of the law, the coronation of a new covenant between God and man, the redemption and recovery of God’s lost love, total forgiveness, the transformation option for mankind to be reborn into a new lineage, the prospect of eternal relationship with God, and the removal of all impediments for the commissioning of the Holy Spirit. This is the “it” Jesus references.
“Is” means now. This moment...and this one...and now this one. The “it” that is finished is relevant to each of your moments.
When Jesus spoke His final words, He used the perfect tense of the Greek language. Of course, there is no perfect tense in English. What Christ stated in one word using the perfect tense requires explanation in English.
When Jesus said, “It is finished,” He declared to us a completed action. He referenced an event that was consummated, concluded, and now exists in a finished state. It was the strongest language He could use of saying that what is now finished exists in present time.
Revelation 13:8 refers to Christ as “the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world,” and Romans 6:9 informs us that Christ will never die again. Why? Because it is not necessary. He fully accomplished all that was required on our behalf and God’s behalf with His death at Calvary. There is nothing left to do, nothing else required, and there is no merit in trying to modify, embellish, or improve what Jesus stated as finished. And, the results of His accomplished work stand for all time.
When Jesus said, “It is finished,” He used the indicative mood. The grammatical force of this tells us that He was absolutely certain about the accomplishments achieved with His death. He is stating with certainty that this conclusive act encompasses absolute relevance, finality, and force for today and throughout eternity.
When Jesus spoke His final words, He used the passive voice to make His declaration, indicating that this finished work was not something He did but that was done to “it.” Bringing to bear upon this statement the balance of Scripture (see note: y), with this choice of voice Jesus demonstrates one more time His absolute dependence upon, and loyalty to, His Father’s work through Him.
Christ’s finished work was something He attributed to the activity of God through Him. The “it” was an initiative assumed by God and worked through Christ that bore impact upon all of mankind. God initiated and acted through Christ to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. The mission was accomplished!
An amplified, literal translation of Christ’s final word could read: “The action God has taken through Me upon all of mankind, in order to remedy the desperate situation before us and make His original dream a reality, is finished, has been achieved, and will stand as a completed work for all of time and eternity with absolute pertinence and solution to every situation no matter how pervasive.”
The final question before me, which I have only resolved today as I have written to you, is what was Jesus’ tone of voice when He spoke for the final time? It is my opinion that He used His final breath to yell a convincing determination that shook all of creation to its structural piers, “It is finished.” And with that crying declaration thundering through His throat He intended to pierce our hearts and awaken them to the magnificence that is our faith anchored in Father’s finished work through Christ.
It is finished!
Let there be no further discussion. God has taken the initiative, staged an invasion of the devil’s domain, and rescued what was lost. You are redeemed. The debt you owed is paid. The longing of your heart can now be fulfilled, and the celebration in eternity will never culminate. The “it” (see the sixth paragraph) was resolved, is resolved. Period.
The only dilemma I face is this, and it is the same for each of us: How finished do I believe Christ’s work is for me?
That we will celebrate Easter this Sunday should declare without equivocation our conviction that indeed, everything standing between us and God was resolved in Christ and declared so when He shook the world with His concluding word, “It is finished.”
y Isaiah 53:4-6, 10; 2 Cor. 5:19, 21; et al.