Poignant, sad, or funny, last words can leave a real impact as a person departs from this life. Winston Churchill’s last words were, “I’m bored with it all.” Bob Marley left us with "Money can't buy life." Whilst Humphrey Bogart apparently said "I should never have switched from scotch to martinis!" Although a personal favourite of mine has always been “what bus”?
In John’s Gospel Jesus utters his final sentence and simply says three words; “it is finished!” Three words that have incredible implications for us:
Firstly, the passion of Jesus is finished. This is the end of the earthly life of Jesus, but it is not a cry of defeat, but victory! From his entry to Jerusalem, arguments with the Pharisees, arrest, trial and crucixion, Jesus has been completely in control. John 10:18 tells us He lays down His life of His own accord; no one has taken it from Him. Consistently throughout John’s Gospel the cross is described as the exaltation of Jesus. This is a cry of triumph!
Secondly, the work of the Father is finished. When praying in the Garden Jesus says in John 17:4 “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.” The Father gave Jesus a job to do; reconcile the world to God. By his death on the cross Jesus has finished the Father’s work, covering our sin and revealing fully the extent of God’s love. As someone so eloquently put it recently, “God loves you because of what He’s like, not because of what you’re like”. This is the Gospel we need to hear every day.
Thirdly, the plan of salvation is finished. Moments before his final words the scriptures tell us “Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” The word finished is used again here to tell us all the scriptures had been fulfilled. The plan of salvation that was conceived in eternity and promised through the scriptures, has reached its climax, and it is finished.
What does ‘finished’ mean to you? The cross? Being able to know God? Being loved and forgiven? I want to suggest that it is even bigger than this. “It is finished” is the sentence that changes history, which changes everything in existence. God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit conceived a plan of creation that involved the Universe and everything we know, every star, planet and creature, which had this moment as its central event.
Jesus says “It is finished”, and tells us everything that needed to be done has been done. We are saved, we are set free, and we are loved beyond our understanding. He has taken our punishment, paid our debt and given us his righteousness. Tim Chester writes “in those days “it is finished” was written on a bill when it had been paid – it was the First Century equivalent of “paid in full”. Jesus has written over your life “PAID IN FULL”
This Easter let’s stop trying to prove ou
rselves and simply receive what Jesus has done for us. As the Chinese pastor Watchman Nee says “Christianity begins not with a big “do” but a big “done”. As we celebrate the risen Lord on Sunday, let’s remember He is victorious and He has done it!
Stop striving, it is finished!