Jesus Said, “It Is Finished”

By Pr Ay Nee Ng

Taken from Our Daily Bread “Three-Word Obituary” by David McCasland on March 25, 2016

Before Stig Kernell died, he told the local funeral home that he didn’t want a traditional obituary. Instead, the Swedish man instructed them to publish only three words noting his passing: “I am dead.” When Mr. Kernell died at age 92, that’s exactly what appeared. The audacity and simplicity of his unusual death notice captured the attention of newspapers around the world. In a strange twist, the international curiosity about the man with the three-word obituary caused more attention to his death than he intended. […] The three-word obituary of Jesus, “It is finished” has been transformed into an eternal anthem of praise to our Saviour. He is risen! He is risen indeed!

When Jesus was crucified, the Lord’s obituary could have read, “It is finished” as was His last cry but also “He is risen!” The audacity of Jesus’ death threw the world in turmoil and shed light on darkness. There still is an international curiosity about the man that hung on the cross that cried out, “It is finished”. His death has brought salvation to the lost, and His empty tomb has brought more attention to His death and hope to many who need a Saviour and Lord.

These three-word cry has great significance!

What does it mean to us when we say, “It is finished”? It means we have finally completed something we started a while ago and have been working on it for day, weeks, or months. Well, what do you think Jesus meant when He said, “It is finished”? In the case of Jesus, His goal was not only about the end of something but also about the beginning of something new—eternal life in Christ Jesus.

When people are about to pass on, they tend to want to give last minute instructions or tell something important. Jesus Christ had these few last sayings before the betrayal by Judas Iscariot at the Garden of Gethsemane before uttering one of the most important or poignant statements, “It is finished” from the cross. “It is finished” is only found in the Gospel of John; the Greek word for “finished” is tetelestai, an accounting term that means “paid in full”. When Jesus uttered those words, He was declaring that the debt owed to His Father was wiped away completely and forever. Not that Jesus wiped away any debt that He owed to the Father; rather, Jesus eliminated the debt owed by mankind—the debt of sin.

God our Father knew that the minute we came into this world we carry sin in us and with us. Because of this sin, it separated our relationship with Him. In the Old Testament, to wipe away and cancel the debt of our sins, the sacrifice of an unblemished sheep was offered once a year by the high priest who would carry the weight of sin into the Holy of Holies—the Most Holy Place. Now, Jesus is the Lamb of God who has taken the place of that sacrificial lamb; He is one who, being sinless, had to die on the cross as payment for the debt for our sins.

Thus, He fulfilled over 300 specific Old Testament prophecies, symbols, and foreshadowings of the coming Messiah, the Anointed One, from Genesis to Malachi. When Jesus Christ paid the debt in full, He completed the prophecies in Genesis 3:15, being the “seed” who crushed the serpent’s head, and in Isaiah 53, being the suffering servant to the prediction of the messenger of the Lord (John the Baptist) who would prepare the way for the Messiah. All prophecies of Jesus’ life, ministry, and death were fulfilled and finished at the cross. Just one statement, “It is finished”, accomplished what no human being could accomplish by human strength. Jesus could only do what the Father has commanded and commission Him to do!

John 17:1-26

Jesus Prays to Be Glorified
1-5  After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

Jesus Prays for His Disciples
6-12 “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.
13-19 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

Jesus Prays for All Believers
20-23 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
25-26 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

John 18:2

Jesus Arrested
2 When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it

John 19:1-18, 28-37

Jesus Sentenced to Be Crucified
1 Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged.
2-3 The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face
4 Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.”
5-6 When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!” But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.”
7 The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”
8-9 When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer.
10 “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”
11 Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”
12-13 From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.” When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha).
14 It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon. “Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.
15-16 But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!” “Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked. “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered. Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

The Crucifixion of Jesus
So the soldiers took charge of Jesus.
17 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).
18 There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.

The Death of Jesus
28-29 Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips.
30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
31-32 Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other.
33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.
34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.
35 The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.
36 These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,”
37 and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”

Jesus prayed His last public prayer just prior to His arrest by the Romans, asking the Father to glorify Him, just as Jesus had glorified the Father on earth, having “finished the work He had been given me to do” (John 17:4). The work Jesus was sent to do was to “seek and save that which is lost” (Luke 19:10), to provide atonement for the sins of all who would ever believe in Him (Rom. 3:23-25), and to reconcile sinful men to a holy God.

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18-19). None other but God in the flesh could accomplish such a task.

The most important finished task is the redemption of mankind, but many other things were finished at the cross, too. The sufferings that Jesus endured while on the earth, and especially in His last hours, were at last over. God’s will for Jesus was accomplished in His perfect obedience to the Father (John 5:30; 6:38). Most importantly, the power of sin and Satan was abolished. No longer would mankind have to suffer the “flaming arrows of the evil one” (Eph. 6:16).

The goal of the finished work—redemption of mankind—is only the beginning of new chapters in our lives. Jesus finished His work, but He left us the power of His Holy Spirit to accomplish His finished product in us—to transform our lives. The three-word obituary of Jesus, “It is finished” has been transformed into an eternal anthem of praise to our Saviour. He is risen! He is risen indeed!

By raising the shield of faith in the One who completed the work of redemption and salvation, we can live, by faith, as new creations in Christ. Jesus’ finished work on the cross is the beginning of new life for all who were once “dead in trespasses and sins” but who are now made “alive with Christ” (Eph. 2:1, 5). What Jesus completed at His death gave us eternal life through His resurrection. Jesus overcame sin and death, paying in full the debt for our sin through His blood shed at the cross. But the most important thing now is not just what the end of sin and death but the new beginning that each believer who acknowledges Jesus Christ as our Saviour and Lord can have. We will have new chapters in this life to tell till we meet Him face to face. Let us celebrate life in Jesus Christ’ finished work! Jesus ended mankind’s debt of sin and began the ministry of reconciliation of mankind to God.

If you want to be reconciled with God, pray the following prayer.

Lord, thank you for Christ’s finished work at the cross and for His resurrection that gives me life. Lord, I want to be reconciled to you today. Thank because, in you, all my sins are forgiven and washed away. Now, I have the Holy Spirit living in me who will guide and lead me into all truth. Thank you for being my Heavenly Father, Saviour, and Lord. Thank you for Easter, a reminder of Your promises in my life and a reminder of Your resurrection. You are risen; you have overcome sin and death and given me eternal life. Thank you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.