It is Finished...

knowing that all was now completed, and so that the 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. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
John 19:25-30 (ANIV)
Completed… fulfilled… finished… Three words all drawn from the Greek word “telos” “the end…” Eugene Peterson reflects that repeated use better when he uses the word complete in all three places… And in many ways that word gives a better sense of the words that John’s gospel uses, in that “finished” can tend to give the despairing idea that everything is “done” defeated… As I am sure that his disciples and his mother felt that day… But the word complete carries the idea of "completion"… wholeness… perfection… nothing missing… The final piece of the jigsaw completing the picture. The word “finished” can carry that sense too… the idea of a craftsman “finishing” a piece of work… And in many ways that was exactly what Jesus was doing… a carpenter, finishing his work of salvation by wood and nails…
In one sense this was Jesus' life and ministry "finished" or "complete." Jesus wasn’t finished in the sense of “done” or “defeated” when he bowed his spirit, gave up his spirit and died… He gave up his spirit… no-one took it from him… Neither his Father nor his enemies forced him into doing anything… What happened was no accident… He deliberately, obediently, yet of his own free will, followed the way of the cross according to his Father’s will… His blood was not spilled, as a friend corrected me rightly when I was much younger… it was poured out for me, for you, and for many for the forgiveness of sins. So Christ’s cry of “It is finished” is not a cry of defeat… But of victory, contrasting with the despair of Matthew/Mark's recorded "My God, my God why have you forsaken me?" and fitting John's picture of the cross as the highpoint of Christ's mission... the glorification or lifting up of the Son of Man.

The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.

John 12:23-24 (ANIV)

"when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself."

John 12:32 (ANIV)

In all of this Christ believed that he was fulfilling Biblical prophecy, and completing the work his Father God had given him to do.

“My food… is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”

John 4:34 (ANIV)

And by the time on the last supper, he was able to pray to God saying:

I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.

John 17:4 (ANIV)

And key to that work was revealing the heart of God:

"I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world.”

John 17:6 (ANIV)

On the cross the heart of God is exposed for all to see… In all its holiness and love:

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:14-16 (ANIV)

Its not a case of Jesus the Son lovingly standing between us and his wrathful, holy Father God, but rather both of them working together to deal with our sin, and reveal their everlasting love for us and the whole of creation. Methodism affirms that all need to be saved… and that through all that Jesus has done for us on the cross, all CAN be saved… What Christ did on the cross is sufficient for all who will accept what Christ has done… What Christ did is complete… nothing else is necessary.

All of the gospels make clear that the context of Christ’s suffering and death was the Passover Feast… but it is John’s Gospel that makes the clearest parallel between the Passover and what happened on the cross. In the Passover ritual, which finds its roots in the deliverance from Egypt, calls for each worshipper to bring a lamb “without blemish” or broken bones, to present it to the priest to be slain, and for its blood to be dashed against the base of the altar, recalling the slaughter of the Passover lambs in Egypt and the marking of the lintels of each Jewish household with blood to protect them when the angel of death descended on the land… prior to their liberation.
In Jewish practice, in the time of Jesus, some people, including the Essenes near the Dead Sea, celebrated the Passover meal midweek at the beginning of the whole festival… as it seems Jesus and his disciples had done in their last supper… but the vast majority celebrated it on the Passover Sabbath… Bringing their sacrificial lambs to the temple on the morning before the meal… the day of Preparation as John calls it. So while the temple was filled with the sound of bleating and flowing with blood, outside the city wall Christ, “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) was shedding his blood, not for the temporary, earthly liberation of one nation… but for the liberation of the world from the penalty for sin. Hence in Hebrews it is written:

"there is no longer any sacrifice for sin."

Hebrews 10:18 (ANIV)

However, lets not get it wrong… This is not the end of Jesus' story… It’s like one of those films that finishes by saying “The End” before adding a question mark… And we have too wait... through the Biblical and liturgical silence of Holy Saturday to find out what comes next

And not only is it not the end of Jesus’ story it’s not the end of our story… All has been completed, accomplished, finished regarding our salvation… if only we will accept it… But we’re not the done deal, the finished article… God still has work to do with us… in us and through us…


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