30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
— John 19:30 (ESV)
By all measurements, the cross and the crucifixion of Jesus appeared to demonstrate his absolute failure as Messiah.
Jesus was publicly humiliated. He was stripped, he was flogged, he was mocked, he was pierced, he was hung, and he was suffocated upon that tree. Surely, a true king wouldn’t suffer such flogging and torture. Surely, God would not allow his Son to bear the shame of a slave’s death. From all appearances, Jesus is finished.
So, Jesus shouts from the cross a single word: “Tetelestai!”, the word translated as “it is finished”.
This word conveys much more than the mere end of something. It conveys the completion and accomplishment of a task. In some ways, it could have been translated as “it is accomplished.”
So, this word of Jesus from the cross reveals to us that, rather than thinking of himself as a failure, Jesus understood himself to be exactly where he needed to be to complete his task. As Jesus earlier told his disciples, “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” (John 10:18)
But what was the task?
Such a question gets to the heart of The Gospel. What task required the humiliation and suffering of Jesus? What did Jesus accomplish that required him to appear such a failure? Why did Jesus lay down his life?
He came to lay down his life because we greatly needed it.
We were starved and dead in sin, and he came to be living bread of life in order to feed his people (John 6:51).
We were wandering from the fold and in great peril of perishing, and as he said: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)
We were rebellious and treasonous, and he came so that one man would die for the nation (John 11:50).
We were barren, and he came to be the seed planted in the earth so that from him would sprout life (John 12:24).
We were his enemies, and he came to lay his down his life to make us his friends (John 15:13).
We were condemned in our sin, and he came that the world might be saved through him (John 3:17).
When Jesus says, “It is finished,” this means our despair is finished, our hopelessness is finished, our slavery to sin is finished, our fears are finished, and our loneliness is finished. It means living our life without purpose is finished. It means the time of darkness has passed, and it means that by faith in Christ and his sacrifice, our sins have been paid, not in part, but in full!
Amen! Christ is no failure. On the cross, he left nothing unaccomplished. “It is finished!”
“It is finished,” chirp the birds.
“It is finished,” the rocks and hills cry out.
“It is finished,” proclaim the mountains.
“It is finished,” the trees whisper.
“It is finished,” the wind roars.
Everywhere we look, we see proof of your goodness,
glory, and victory.
It was not you that was finished.
Let the record show: Death was the defeated foe
on Calvary’s tree.
Either the cross is meaningless,
or it is the meaning of the universe.
We gather together today as a people who declare:
The cross is everything.
Your sacrifice was not only perfect but complete.
The answer to our wandering.
Our hunger. Our emptiness. Our longing.
An enduring, planted seed of future glory
that cannot be uprooted.
How could we ever view the Christ Child
as anything but a victor?
Christ, our Prophet—come to proclaim the extent of our sin and salvation.
Christ, our Priest—who atones and intercedes at the altar as both the gift and giver.
Christ, our King—here to rescue his people, drawing them to the Father and making them new.
If we do not accept our crucifixion with Christ, how will we accept our resurrection with him?
That which used to haunt us has been tossed aside.
Solace washes over us in place of sorrow.
No longer do we walk without purpose but as your Church, building your kingdom here.
Oh Mediator of the new covenant, let us rejoice at every sign of all things being made new.
When the arrival of spring brings annual reminders of new life, may we look to the empty cross.
Tentative steps forward in a reconciled relationship.
Ministries slowly spreading their roots.
Hair, regrowing after chemo treatments.
It is finished, even in the seemingly mundane.
Let us be watchful in our thanksgiving so that we might see your almighty hand in the renewal of all things,
great and tiny.
May our lives and souls forever declare
that it, indeed, is finished.
Like a piece of magnetized steel will forever point north,
so too may our hearts pull toward Christ.
This side of glory, we are secured but not cured. May we lay every hindrance aside and look forward with hope as we march toward our final homecoming.
Good Friday & Resurrection Sunday
You are invited you to celebrate Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday at Coram Deo Church. Good Friday is a unique time of reflecting on the sacrificial death of Jesus, while Resurrection Sunday is a celebration of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Our Good Friday services will be at 5:30 and 7:00 p.m. on April 15 while our Resurrection Sunday services will be at 8, 9:30, and 11:00 a.m. on April 17.