A few weeks ago, Chad Cates and I wrote a new song for the boys and I to use in worship. We wanted a chance to declare something powerful. We wanted to shout three of the most important words in recorded history.
John records these three words as the final ones Jesus spoke on the cross before he breathed his final breath. “It is finished.” The gospel goes on to record his resurrection three days later (the event that Christians around the world will commemorate and celebrate this Sunday) and many other things Jesus did and said before his ascension into heaven. So what was actually “finished” in that moment on the cross. Jeremy, Markus, and I have discussed many of the things that were finally finished in that moment. I have heard and read many theologians contemplate all that was accomplished on the cross.
Certainly Jesus was speaking of the end of his earthly life and ministry. He communicates similar thoughts in the beautiful prayer recorded a few chapters before these words in John 17. On the cross, Jesus was accomplishing the task assigned Him by the Father. “The hour has come…” Jesus prays, “I glorified you on earth having accomplished the work you gave me to do” (John 17:4 ESV).
The reason the words “It Is Finished” mark such a tipping point in human history certainly reverberate beyond just that historical moment. Those words are the exclamation point on the end of the sentence spoken by Abraham in Genesis 22:8. They are the mirror reflection of Isaiah 53, the completion of a 700 year old prophecy about a suffering servant who would be “pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5 ESV).
Also finished in that historical moment was the separation that existed between the Creator and the created. Luke 23 records the climactic rending of the temple veil at the death of Jesus. The curtain used to separate people from the presence of Yahweh was split in two. Surely the symbolism was not lost on those present. Perhaps in that moment they remembered these words from Jesus recorded in John 14:6-7, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
Why not add your voice to the discussion. Use the comments to tell us what else Jesus accomplished on the cross. There are obviously some major elements that are not discussed above so chime in.