Let's suppose you died
and stood before the Lord God and He said to you,
"Why should I let you into my heaven?" What would
you say? What do you think you would say?
Consider some typical
responses I get from serious well-meaning
individuals. They go like this: "You know preacher,
I am trying the best I can. That ought to be good
enough." "God respects all our good efforts. Surely
He is not going to reject us if we try hard to live
a good life and do what we can to better mankind."
"Oh, Joe was a good old feller. He didn't hurt
anybody. A feller can only do what he can do, you
know." "I joined the church and was baptized. I try
to live a good Christian life." "My family has done
well. I've been a good parent, a good provider and
my kids have turned out fine. You know, I try to
live an honest life." "I think you guys are entirely
too serious about this Christian life thing. God
doesn't expect us to get that serious over religion.
You gotta have a life to live." "We are all trying
to go to the same place. One religion is as good as
There is a basic flaw
with those answers. Because of the finished work of
Christ, personal salvation is not by works or even
Christ plus my works, virtue or moral character. The
reason is found in the saving work of Christ on the
The message of the cross
is the all sufficiency of Jesus Christ. The greatest
thing that has ever happened in history took place
at the cross of Jesus.
John 19:28-30 reads,
"After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had
already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture,
said, 'I am thirsty.' A jar full of sour wine was
standing there; so they put a sponge full of the
sour wine upon a branch of hyssop, and brought it up
to His mouth. Therefore when Jesus had received the
sour wine, He said, 'It is finished!' And He bowed
His head and gave up His spirit."
The proof that the work
of redemption and our salvation is finished is the
resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is God's seal of
approval. Nothing else can be added to His finished
The death of Jesus is the
true Passover and the only effective means of inward
cleansing from the effects of sin.
Let's reflect for a few
moments on the man who spoke those words from the
cross, "It is finished!"
THE MAN WHO SPOKE
The unique sufferer
What made Jesus uniquely
different from any other man who was ever executed
on a Cross? Colossians 1:15-20 tells He was
the Son of God. The apostle Paul writes:
"He is the image of the
invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For He
created all things, both in the heavens and on
earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or
dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have
been created through Him and for Him. He is before
all things, and in Him all things hold together. He
is also head of the body, the church; and He is the
beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He
Himself will come to have first place in everything.
For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the
fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to
reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace
through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say,
whether things on earth or things in heaven."
Yes, it is the God–man
who is dying. It is the Son of God, the second
person of the holy Trinity who is being sacrificed.
He has come to do the Father's will.
His own volitional
choice to die
Jesus chose to go to the
cross and die for mankind. John 10:11, 15, 17, 18
makes it clear that Jesus chose to die for His
sheep. "I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd
lays down His life for the sheep . . . I lay down my
life for the sheep . . . . For this reason the
Father loves me, because I lay down My life that I
may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me,
but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have
authority to lay it down, and I have authority to
take it up again. This commandment I received from
My Father." You can't get much clearer than that.
This is the way Jesus understood and explained His
Some people have the
false impression that Jesus was a helpless victim of
a sinister plot and His life was ended suddenly and
unexpectedly as a martyr for a religious cause. That
simply isn't the case. By His own testimony He tells
us this was a free choice He made of His own free
The crucifixion of Jesus
was carefully predicted in the Scriptures. God
planned His death.
The words of Psalm 22
were fulfilled at the cross of Jesus.
"All who see me sneer at
They separate with the
lip, they wag the head, saying,
'Commit yourself to the
Lord; let Him deliver him;
Let Him rescue him,
because He delights in him'" (vv. 7-8).
"I am poured out like
And all my bones are out
My heart is like wax;
It is melted within me.
My strength is dried up
like a potsherd,
And my tongue cleaves to
And You lay me in the
dust of death.
For dogs have surrounded
"A band of evildoers has
They pierced my hands and
I can count all my bones.
They look, they stare at
They divide my garments
And for my clothing they
cast lots" (vv. 14–18).
He is the Servant of
Yahweh who is depicted in the suffering songs of
Isaiah (42-53). The ancient Targum takes the view
here that the Servant is the future Messiah, an
individual and not the prophet, and not a
personified collective, i.e., the nation of Israel.
Jesus Christ is Yahweh's Servant, "My chosen one in
whom My soul delights" (42:1). He is a covenant to
the people and a light to the nations (v. 6). He
opens the eyes of the blind and sets the prisoners
free (v. 7). How much more graphic can you get than
the poetic description of the Divine Sufferer in
Isaiah 52:13-53:12? Read that grand passage
substituting the personal pronouns with the name of
Peter, preaching his
finest sermon on the day of Pentecost after Jesus
rose from the dead declared in Acts 2:23–24; 3:18
God's grand plan of redemption. "Just as you
yourselves know—this Man, delivered over by the
predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you
nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and
put Him to death. But God raised Him up again,
putting an end to the agony of death, since it was
impossible for Him to be held in its power . . . .
But the things which God announced beforehand by the
mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would
suffer, He has thus fulfilled."
Now at the cross the body
of Jesus was dehydrated from the hot Jewish midday
sun and physical suffering during the six hours He
hung on the cross. He revealed the burning physical
thirst when He said, "I thirst." A sponge was filled
with cheap sour wine and placed on a hyssop branch
and shoved up to his lips. Jesus sucked some of the
wine to sooth his fevered raw burning throat. He
then gathered up his strength and gave a victorious
What did the incarnate
Son of God say that is so important?
THE MEANING OF THESE
Let it be clearly and
emphatically stated that Jesus did not say, "I am
finished." He did not say, "I am done––it is all
over with Me; men will have to bring their own merit
as a supplement to Mine in order to be saved"
(Jones). Jesus said "It," not "I." "It is finished!"
A victorious shout
It is a cry of victory.
Jesus was not dying as some pathetic Jewish martyr.
It is the victorious cry of our Substitute, our
Representative, accomplishing a task on our behalf
that we could never accomplish for ourselves. The
"it" that Jesus completed so perfectly is the
personal penalty due us because of our individual
sin. We deserve to die because we are sinners and
Jesus paid our penalty for us.
Because He is not
finished, the work He came to do was finished. We
are not asked by God to continue His saving work and
finish it for Him. You and I cannot finish it for
Him. Neither can you add to the work that Jesus
accomplished on the cross. Jesus accomplished all He
came to do. He declared at the end of the
day––Finished, Done, Completed! The death of Jesus
perfectly finished His redemptive work. The Lamb of
God made His great sacrifice for the world. All that
we must do is believe it and rely upon it.
It would appear that the
loud cry that Matthew, Mark and Luke referred to
was, "it is finished." Leon Morris writes, "Jesus
died with the cry of the victor on His lips. This is
not the moan of the defeated, nor the sight of
patient resignation. It is the triumphant
recognition that He has now fully accomplished the
work that He came to do." The eyewitness John gives
us the touching detail that He bowed His head and
gave up His spirit. It "is the thought of a peaceful
death, the death of One who trusts in His Father . .
. His relation to death is not the same as that of
other people." In his footnote Morris says, "Most
important is the truth that Jesus' work was
finished. He came to work God's work, and this meant
dying on the cross for the world's salvation. This
mighty work of redemption has now reached its
consummation. It is finished" (John, p. 815).
John uses the perfect
tense signifying full completion of Jesus' work and
the establishment of a basis for faith. It is
finished. It has been completed and remains
finished. Nothing more was needed. Now Jesus could
rest in death. Jesus had reached His goal.
Redemption is a successful accomplishment; a long,
great work is completely done. Jesus speaks these
words to His Father. The job His Father sent
Him to do is finished. Our great Substitute has paid
the great price of ransom, paid it to the uttermost
penny. "It is finished" indeed! The redemptive
shedding of His blood, done once for all, is
finished and stands as finished forever. It will
never need to be upgraded. It will never have to be
repaired. It will never wear out. It will never be
out of date. It will never be insufficient.
Jesus Christ is our great
High Priest, "who does not need daily, like those
high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His
own sins and then for the sins of the people,
because this He did once for all when He offered up
Himself" (Hebrews 7:27). Calvary was the holy Temple
of God and Jesus the great High Priest offering up
the perfect sacrifice for sin. "But when Christ
appeared as a high priest of the good things to
come, He entered through the greater and more
perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to
say, not of this creation; and not through the blood
of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He
entered the holy place once for all, having obtained
eternal redemption . . . Otherwise, He would have
needed to suffer often since the foundation of the
world; but now once at the consummation of the ages
He has been manifested to put away sin by the
sacrifice of Himself" (9:11-12, 26). This was a
sacrifice that never ever had to be repeated.
Tasker reminds us these
words are "the triumph of His finished work,
resounds over Calvary's hill . . . the work that He
had come into the world to do has been accomplished;
the one, perfect, all–availing sacrifice has been
The sixth statement from
the Cross is actually one word in the original:
tetelestai. It means, "It was finished and as a
result it is forever done." You could translate, "It
stands finished." "Done!" "It is finished!" is
the perfect of a completed action, denotes an action
brought to its termination like this line or
sentence that ends in a period. Russell Jones says,
"It is a word of accomplishment as well as relief,
of satisfaction as well as of fact, of victory as
well as of work." G. Campbell Morgan said, "It means
that it was rounded out to perfection. Whatever He
went to the cross to do was accomplished."
The dying by which we are
redeemed says Morgan was "something deeper,
something profounder, something rooted in Deity,
into which human intellect peers reverently, always
to be blinded by excess of light had been
He had finished; it was
over, it was done. The pains of hell gat hold upon
Him. All the waves and the billows had swept across
Him. He had breasted the storm, and accomplished
God's purpose. When He knew all things were finished
He said, "I thirst"; and then He announced His
victory, "It is finished." Whatever the "it" stands
for, that which brought Him there, the purpose of
His going was fulfilled, completed, rounded out"
(Morgan, Gospel of John, p. 297).
It was a farmer's word
used to describe an animal so beautiful that it
seemed to have no faults and defects. The
farmer would look upon the animal and declare
It was a carpenter's word
describing his unashamed satisfaction as he rubs his
hands across the fine finish of a piece of perfectly
finished furniture and says Tetelestai!
It was an artist's word
describing the final stroke of the master painter,
such as Picasso or Rembrandt, as he picks up his
brush and makes the finishing touch to his canvas,
never to pickup his brush again. Tetelestai!
It was a priestly word,
which described a worshiper who brought in a perfect
sacrifice, without spot or blemish in perfect
health. It was the pride of his flock. The
priest looked upon the perfect sacrificial lamb and
A perfect sacrifice
F. B. Boreham, in A
Handful of Stars writes: "And when in the
fullness of time, the Lamb of God offered Himself on
the altar of the ages, He rejoiced with a joy so
triumphant that it bore down all His anguish before
it. The sacrifice was stainless, perfect,
finished! He cried with a loud voice,
'Tetelestai' and gave up the ghost." Never would
God require another sacrifice like this one. It was
perfect and complete.
Alfred Eldersheim gathers
up the meaning of Christ's death with these words:
"Christ on the Cross
suffered for man; He offered Himself a sacrifice; He
died for our sins, that, as death was the wages of
sin, so He died as the Representative of man––for
man and in room of man; He obtained for man 'eternal
redemption,' having given His life 'a ransom,' for
many. For, men were 'redeemed' with the
'precious Blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without
blemish and without spot;' and Christ gave Himself
for us, that He might 'redeem' us from all iniquity;
He 'gave Himself a ransom' for all; Christ died for
all; Him, Who knew no sin, God 'made sin for us;'
'Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law,
having become a curse for us'––and this, with
express reference to the Crucifixion. This
sacrificial, vicarious, expiatory, and redemptive
character of His Death, if it does not explain to
us, yet helps us understand, Christ's sense of
God-forsakenness in the supreme moment of the Cross.
'It is finished!'"
What made this
What was it that was so
perfectly completed? "Jesus, knowing that all things
had already been accomplished, in order that the
scripture might be fulfilled . . . said, 'It is
finished!' And He bowed His head, and gave up His
spirit" (vv. 28, 30). These words confirm that Jesus
knew "that all things had now been accomplished
(Tetelestai). All Scripture that was due to be
accomplished in His passion had now been
accomplished; the entire purpose for which the
Father had sent the Son into the world was now
assured of fulfillment . . . salvation and eternal
life were henceforth freely available . . . In the
consummating moment of death, He declares this work
to be finished" (F. F. Bruce, Gospel of John,
"The death of Jesus finishes His redemptive work,
the work of reconciliation and atonement. This
specific work is now brought to a close. The Lamb of
God has made His great sacrifice for the world. It
is this that is now done. Our great Substitute has
paid the great price of ransom, paid it to the
uttermost farthing. 'It is finished' indeed! . . .
the redemptive shedding of His blood, done once for
all, is finished and stands as finished forever.
Heb. 7:27; 9:12, 26; Rom. 6:10" (Gospel of John,
"'It' was the torment of
the payment of the penalty of the accumulated sin of
all men. 'It' was the suffering of the full
punishment of all the guilt of all time. 'It'
was the experience of the combined hells of all who
have offended God," writes Russell Jones.
The "it" of Isaiah 53:6
was declared finished. "The Lord has laid on
Him the iniquity of us all." It is the "it" of
Isaiah 53:12, "He poured out his soul unto death."
The "it" of 2 Corinthians
5:21 was finished. "God has made Christ to be sin
for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the
righteousness of God in Him."
The "it" of 1 Timothy
2:5–6 is finished. "For there is one God, and one
mediator also between God and men, the man Christ
Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all . . ."
The "it" of Revelation
5:9 is finished. "And they sang a new song, saying,
`Worthy art Thou to take the book, and to break its
seals; for Thou wast slain, and didst purchase for
God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue
and people and nation.'"
The "it" Jesus completely
satisfied was the personal penalty due you and me
because of our individual sin. James Proctor
expresses it beautifully:
"Nothing either great or
Nothing, sinner, no;
Jesus did it, did it all,
Long, long ago.
"It is finished!" yes,
Finished every jot;
Sinner, this is all you
Tell me, is it not?
Cast your deadly doing
Down at Jesus' feet;
Stand in Him, in Him
Gloriously complete." –– James Proctor
THE MESSAGE FOR US
There is a powerful,
relevant, vital and significant message in these
words for you and me.
Jesus satisfied the
demands of God's justice.
We seem to have forgotten
in our day that God is a holy and righteous God. He
is an impartial God who does not make decisions
based upon personal biases. "For all who have sinned
without the Law will also perish without the Law,
and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged
by the Law . . . on the day when, according to my
gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through
Christ Jesus" (Romans 2:11, 12, 16). No one will be
left out. "There will be tribulation and distress
for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew
first and also of the Greek . . . " (v. 9). The
Scriptures have locked us up in prison and has
thrown the key away. "The Scripture has shut up all
men under sin" (Galatians 3:22). No one is exempt
because we have all sinned and failed in God's
Because He is a holy God,
Jones says God the Father was interested in those
words of Christ. His sacrifice "satisfied the
demands of God's justice. . . Jesus had paid the
price of human redemption with His own precious
blood, God can now receive the repenting, returning
sinner both as a loving Father and as a just God."
He adds, "The heavenly Father is now free to accept
lost men into His eternal Kingdom without violating
His holy justice" (p. 80).
Hell was also interested
in these words of Jesus at the cross. When Jesus
said, "It is finished" the doom of hell was
complete. By Christ's vicarious cry Satan was
defeated. Hebrews 2:14 tells us, "Through
death He might destroy him that had the power of
death, that is, the devil." Now, Jesus carries the
keys of death and hell (Rev. 1:18).
Earth was interested in
those words. How can God remain a holy and righteous
God and allow sinners in His presence? The apostle
Paul gives us the answer in Romans 3:19-26; 5:6, 8;
Galatians 2:16; 3:13, 22. All of these Scriptures
stress the fact that MAN IS JUSTIFIED BY FAITH IN
THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF CHRIST ALONE. There is
no other way to stand right in the sight of a holy
and righteous God. Galatians 2:16 is very clear when
it says, "a man is not justified by the works of the
Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have
believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be
justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of
the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will
You ask, "What must I do
to be saved?" Because Jesus has paid our debt in
full all we can do is trust Him. "Believe in the
Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your
household" (Acts 16:31). That does not mean all of
your household will be automatically saved. They
will respond to the gospel and put their faith in
Christ because they will see the change in your life
and they too will want to be saved by God's free
grace. Salvation is now possible because it does not
depend on your efforts or your goodness. The apostle
Paul could exclaim, "God forbid that I should glory,
save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom
the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the
world" (Galatians 6:14). Only because Christ
completed the work is it possible for any man to be
saved. Now I need to repent and put my faith in
Christ's work for me. Nothing else will give you
eternal life. All you can do is receive it.
In your heart of hearts
finish this sentence. Jesus Christ plus
What do you place in that
blank? My virtue, goodness, hospitality, sacrificial
giving to good causes, being a martyr, a missionary,
baptism, church membership, sacraments, etc.?
God's answer is
NOTHING! It is finished!
All we need to do is call
upon His name and believe on what He did for us on
the cross. His sacrifice is all sufficient to
forgive us our sins and cloth us in Christ's
righteousness. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and
you shall be saved."
Complete Series on 7 Last Saying of Christ
Title: John 19:30
Series: Seven Last Saying