After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
“It is finished,” Jesus said.
Some might hear it as a cry of defeat. Like the cry of a laid-out boxer who can no longer stand as the referee is giving the ten-count. Some hear Jesus saying, “I’m done. I’m defeated. It’s finished.”
It could mean that. The English is ambiguous. Good thing- the Greek is actually totally clear. The Greek words here are literally translated, “It is completed” … “It is accomplished… it is PERFECTED.”
This is in no way a word of defeat or surrender. This is a word of triumph, a word of victory, of achievement. This is the word that I imagine Michael Angelo uttered when he put his final touch of paint on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
It is FINISHED!
Jesus has fought the good fight, and despite what the soldiers, the politicians, and the howling mob before Him think, despite what even His own disciples think, He has succeeded! Jesus has accomplished the work He came to do. It is finished.
So, this begs the question - what is IT? What is this IT that Jesus finished?
1.) Jesus’ death on the cross meant that Jesus’ suffering was finished. The physical agony of the whip on his back, the thorns in his brow, the nails in his hands and feet. The emotional agony of being betrayed and abandoned by those he loved the most. The spiritual agony of separation from his heavenly Father. As Jesus breathed his final breath, the suffering would be finished.
2.) Jesus’ death on the cross means that the power of sin is finished. No longer would men and women be required to make lengthy trips to the temple to offer costly sacrifices to atone for their sin. In Jesus, every debt is now paid, every wrong has now made been right. The sin that had separated us from a Holy God has been erased - we are forgiven and set free in Jesus Christ.
3.) Jesus’ death on the cross means that all suffering will be finished. In the book of Revelation, we read the promise of a new heaven and earth that is to come- a day when we will be reunited with God and one another. On that day, God himself “will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain…”
Jesus’ suffering was finished. The power of sin is finished. And one day all suffering will be finished.
For now, we live in the messy-middle. The in-between time of what has been accomplished and what yet still needs to be done. We live in the “already and the not-yet.”
And in this time, we hope. We long. We cry out to God in the midst of the suffering of our lives, in the midst of the suffering of our world and we pray for that suffering to come to an end.
We pray with all honesty, and with as much hope as we can muster, that the promise of the cross is true. That our suffering… that all suffering … will indeed come to an end.
Take a moment to write out your honest prayer to Jesus. Offer up to Him those places in your life, those places in our world that cause tears to fill your eyes; where death and mourning, crying and pain seem to be taking over. Offer a prayer of lament to God.
And then, with all the hope you can muster, surrender that prayer to God. Do so knowing that Jesus’ promise is true. That there will come a day when every voice will join with His to confidently proclaim…
IT IS FINISHED.
Lord Jesus, you finished so well. You bore the suffering of the world in your body and soul so that we don’t have to. Because of the suffering you finished, we know all our suffering will be finished as well. To you, Jesus, our suffering Savior, be honor and glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and forever.