It Is Finished

Bible Book: John  19 : 30
Subject: Cross of Christ; Last Words of Jesus; Salvation; Jesus, Completed Work of

It Is Finished

J. Mike Minnix

John 19:30 ...

So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

It is reported that three faithful missionaries of the Gospel came to see Mahatma Gandhi while he was on one of his extended fasts. During their visit, Gandhi requested that they sing their favorite hymn. When they asked him which one, he replied, "The one that expresses all that is deepest in your faith." They thought for a few moments and then sang with hearts full of deep conviction,

"When I survey the wondrous cross

On which the Prince of Glory died,

My richest gain I count but loss,

And pour contempt on all my pride." (Isaac Watts)

Yes, the cross holds a wonderful attraction to every believer, for it was the work done by our Lord at the cross that offered us the grace of God. Without the cross, there is no Christian faith. I want us today to look at three of the last words spoken by our Lord just before he died for our sins. These words are not just important, they are critical to our deeper understanding of our salvation.

As Jesus was coming to His last moments on the Cross of Calvary, he cried out, "It is finished." This phrase tell us that Jesus had completed something. The first recorded words of our Lord were, "Do you not know that I must be about my Father's business?" By the time He came to the cross, He had been about His Father's business and was ready to complete a major part of the Father's will.

A father came home exhausted, hoping to get some rest. But his small son, Bobby, kept asking questions. "What do you do all day at your job, Daddy?"

Finally, exasperated the father said, "Nothing!"

After a long pause, Bobby finally asked, "Then how do you know when you are through, Daddy?"

Jesus knew what He had come to do and He had done it. He spoke saying, "It is finished." That statement did not mean that Jesus had completed all the work that He planned to accomplish, but it did mean that He was finishing something that required a sacrificial completion.

This three word phrase "it is finished" comes from just one Greek word - "tetelestai." The word means "fully completed, perfectly finished". The Gospel writer John tells us that this phrase was spoken during the last moments as Jesus was expiring. We need to be aware, however, that this is not a statement of defeat, this is a note of victory. It speaks of completion and it speaks of a perfect finish.

Imagine a pitcher in a baseball game. It is the ninth inning and he has thus far pitched a perfect game. He is facing the best hitter the other team has and he must get him out in order to close the deal. Finally, the throws the third strike and the perfect game is secured. The pitcher looks up and shouts, "It is finished!" It doesn't mean his career is finished but the perfect game is finished. Likewise, Jesus had finished the perfect work of securing salvation for every one who will trust Him as Savior and Lord. He still had the resurrection before Him and the establishing of the Church. He still sits today in heaven to intercede for all who are saved. He will come one day to take us home. He will one day totally rid the world of evil and satanic powers. But, His death at Calvary was necessary for any of these other events to occur.

"It is Finished." To know it fully, is to grasp the truth of salvation. Jesus was not finished, but IT was finished. The songwriter penned:

"Tis done, the great transactions done,

I am my Lord's and He is mine." (Philip Doddridge)

"It is finished." Nothing can be added to improve it and nothing can be added to it without marring it. Let us look today at what this phrase from the lips of our Lord means to us.

I. The Validation of the Prophetic Scriptures

He had fulfilled every prophecy about Him, then He said, "It is finished." Think for example of the animal that had to die, as recorded in Genesis, in order that Adam and Eve might be forgiven and covered from nakedness. That animal was a picture of Jesus shedding His blood for us that we might be covered in the righteousness of God. All the way through the Old Testament we have the types and the pictures of Jesus as the provider of our covering, forgiveness and salvation. Noah's Ark was a type of Christ. He is our Ark of safety from the wrath of God against sin. God's wrath fell in Noah's day, but it fell ON the Ark and not IN the Ark. The people inside were protected. Jesus took God's wrath for us and we are safe in Him! The wrath of God fell on our Substitute at Calvary and He cried out, "It is finished."

Prophecies were made in the Old Testament regarding the Messiah and the New Testament writers often referred to them. For example, in 1 Peter 1:11 we read, "The prophets beforehand spoke of the suffering of Christ and the glory which should follow." From Genesis to Malachi, all point to the truth that Christ would suffer for us.

The odds of the fulfillment of all the prophecies of the Messiah being fulfilled in one person are astounding. A student at MIT did a paper on the possibility of monkeys running across typewriters and typing out all the books we have in the English language. The result was 1 in 10 to the 68 power. That is 1 with 68 zeros behind it! There are 333 prophesies in the Old Testament about the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and the probability of all of those being fulfilled exactly is 2 raised to the 333rd power. When Jesus fulfilled all those prophesies, He did what was humanly impossible. "It Is Finished." He did it exactly what was prophesied.

Let me remind you that God knows the beginning and the end and everything between the two. All He promises will occur. His death at Calvary completed a significant portion of prophetic scripture. God kept His Word. Jesus finished what the Bible said would happen. Then again, He always does that!

II. The Termination of His Personal Sufferings

To study the Cross of Christ is to enter into an attempt to understand the sufferings of Jesus. Paul suffered. John on the Isle of Patmos suffered. So many Christians have suffered down through the ages. Recently we have seen Christians beheaded in the Middle East. Others have been taken as slaves, raped, robbed, beaten and put to death in various ways, but no one ever suffered like Jesus.

It is not just His physical suffering that we see, although that was horrible. He was wounded, he bore our stripes, and suffering horrible scourging. Isaiah 53 says prophesied that the Lord would see the travail of His soul. That He did at the Cross. Psalm 22 states that the heart of the Lord would melt like wax. His heart was broken at the Cross. In fact, His heart literally burst open!

A. He Suffered Voluntarily

We may suffer, but we don't invite suffering. Yet Jesus laid down His own life for us willingly. They did not take His life from Him - He gave it. What a Savior we have!

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed, "Not my will but thine be done." The songwriter penned:

"To the howling mob He yielded;
He did not for mercy cry.
The cross of shame He took alone.
And when He cried, "It's finished,"
He gave Himself to die;
Salvation's wondrous plan was done.

He could have called ten thousand angels
To destroy the world and set Him free.
He could have called ten thousand angels,
But He died alone, (alone), for you and me." (Ray Overholt)

Yes, He could have called angels to release Him from the cross. He could have refused the Father's will in the Garden, but He didn't do that. He went all the way to the cross and suffered voluntarily for our sins. Thank God, He will never have to do that again. He suffered once for all! His personal suffering is completed - "it is finished".

B. He Suffered Vicariously

He suffered in our place, even when we were His enemies. That is not something we can fully comprehend. You see, we don't have a perfect life to offer for another, so we have no idea what it took for Him to take our place. Yes, there are those who suffer, even to the point of giving up their lives for someone else, but we are going to die anyway at some point. Jesus did not have to die. He lived a perfect life. Add to this the fact that He did not die for His own sins but for our sins.

Think of Barabbas. He was also to be crucified, yet he was set free and Jesus was chosen by the crowd to die in His place. Have you ever wondered if Barabbas watched Jesus die at the cross and perhaps thought about the fact that those nails, those stripes, that spear was meant for him? Frankly, I doubt if Barabbas stayed around for the crucifixion. Once he was released, he likely found somewhere secure to hide. Nevertheless, Jesus was dying in the place of another. That is exactly what He did for us. I want you to know that we are all Barabbas. We were to suffer the judgment of God but Jesus died in our place.

A preacher sat one even working on a sermon about the cross. He went to sleep that night and dreamed he was there when the nails were being driven into the hands of our Lord. He watched as a ruthless Roman soldier drew back the hammer to drive the nails into the hands of Jesus. In his dream, the preacher reached out and grabbed the soldier's hand to stop him. When the soldier turned around, the preacher realized that it was him - he was the soldier driving the nails. He woke up in tears and preached the sermon the same way the following Sunday.

Your sins and mine drove the nails in His hands. He died for us! He had no sins of His own. He died a vicarious death.

C. He Suffered Victoriously

He was not defeated on the cross - He was victorious on the cross.

He suffered in order to redeem us. He suffered at the hand of God, he suffered from the hand of Satan, and He suffered from the hand of man. The men beat Him, they plucked out His beard, they spat on Him, and they left 195 stripes (5 straps that hit him 39 times) on Him.

He suffered physically, He suffered emotionally, He suffered Spiritually! He suffered pain no one has ever suffered before or will ever suffer in history.

No wonder we sing:

"The old rugged cross, has a wondrous attraction to me." (George Bennard)

He suffered at the hand of Satan. That is what was prophesied in Genesis.

He suffered at the hand of God. It pleased God, Isaiah said, to bruise His Son and make Him an offering for sin.

Yes, "God so loved the world that he gave His only Son!" Romans 8:22 reads, "He would spared not His own Son but gave Him up for us all"...

Be assured of this, His suffering was victorious. Down through the ages since that time so many of us have found salvation, peace, forgiveness, grace and the righteousness of God through His sacrifice. Even one here today in this service can find eternal life through Jesus. You can believe upon Him. You can be saved. All you need to do is accept His sacrifice for you, believe upon Him and confess Him as your Lord. We will give you a chance to do that in a few minutes. But first, let's look at something else very important.

III. The Domination of the Power of Satan

Satan is finished and that is part of what Jesus meant when He said, "It is finished." Read the end of the book - the Bible. A great angel comes down with a chain and throws that old devil into a pit! He was finished at Calvary, whether he knows it or not. We know because the Lord has told us the end from the beginning.

Look at 1 John 4:4, "You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (NKJV)" You see, Jesus marched into the devils headquarters and took death captive. He spoiled the principalities and powers and triumphed over them! No wonder Paul taunts death in 1 Corinthians 15, "O death, where is your sting - where is your victory?" Paul was saying, "Bring it on, death, you are finished!" You see, Jesus died and rose from the grave. His death was just a prelude to His victorious resurrection and the promise of our resurrection through Him.

IV. The Culmination of a Perfect Salvation

You can't help God out with salvation. No work you have done, are doing, or can ever do will help out with your salvation. He did it all! He did it once for all! He doesn't need your help. "It is finished."

You remember that after Adam and Eve had sinned, they made aprons from leaves and they thought they looked just fine. Then when they heard God coming through the Garden of Eden, they suddenly realized that their little aprons were not enough. Before God came for them, they felt that they were ready to walk down the runway of a fashion show; however, when God showed up in all His purity, they admitted their nakedness before Him. God did not make an apron for them; He made them clothes! He covered them with righteousness through the blood.  "It is finished." Nothing can be added, and anyone adding their own works is not dressed in the righteous of God. Jesus shed His blood to cover you and to grant you the perfection of the Savior. I know this sounds foolish to the world. Sure it does. The cross is foolish to the lost man or woman, but to God the cross is the place where the Son of God finished a perfect work for those who repent and trust Him by faith. Don't be alarmed when the secular world makes fun of the blood and the cross. Listen to 1 Corinthians 1:18, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (NKJV)"

Don't misunderstand me. Those of us who are saved do work for the Lord, but we don't work for our salvation. We work because we are saved but not in order to be saved. We work out of joy and gladness. We work for Jesus because of what He finished for us at the cross!

A minister walking through a churchyard near Bath, England many years ago, came upon an inscription on a tombstone that reads as follows:

"I would not work my soul to save,

For this my Lord hath done,

But I would work like any slave,

For love of His dear Son."

We ought to work for Jesus, and that work ought to be done for love of Him but never, never, never to pay for our sins. You can't pay for your sins. They have already been paid for by the only One who had the means to pay for them. "It is finished."


Somewhere I read the following poem and kept a copy of the first 4 lines. I don't know the author, but the meaning is very clear.

"Nothing depending on our wit,

Nothing to do, no not a bit,

All that was needed to do or to pay,

Jesus has done in His own blessed way.

Dear friends, Jesus paid it all! Now, this is the time for you to come to Him. He died for you and rose to justify you. Someone today needs to receive Him just now. For you see, salvation is not do, do, do; it is done, done, done! But you can't receive a gift that you do not take. Will you reach out in faith and take the gift of forgiveness and life from a loving Savior today?