“Jesus said, ‘It is finished!’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” ~John 19:30
Jesus came to fulfill the promises of God. He came to complete the salvation work of God. Jesus had said earlier, “My food — what keeps me going, what gives me energy and life, what sustains me — is to do the will of my Father who sent me and to finish his work.” On that last night, our Savior prays, “I have brought you glory by completing the work you gave me to do.” So when Jesus declares, “Is if finished!” he means all of it. The forgiveness of sin: Done! Relationships restored between humans and God: Accomplished! The dark forces of evil destroyed forever: Finished!
“It is finished!” means God has succeeded now in accomplishing everything he wanted to do for us through Jesus. And what was needed to satisfy God ought to be enough to satisfy us.
That’s the good news of the Gospel.
Christians know that all people are alienated from God. It’s our fault. We have disobeyed God’s commands. Even worse, we’ve ignored or even rejected his love. But, incredibly, it’s not the guilty party who acts to restore the broken relationship. It’s the injured party who makes the first move. God doesn’t demand that we’ve got to do something first to make up for our sins and then he’ll reluctantly agree to forgive us and love us again. We don’t make peace with God; God makes peace with us! That’s what the death of Jesus is all about.
Jesus died not to change God’s mind about us, but to express God’s heart for us.
In the cross of Christ, God says to us, “Yes, it’s true, you have hurt me and offended me. But I still love you. Oh, my child, how I love you! So I am making your guilt mine. I will bear the consequences of your sins in myself. I will suffer with you and for you to make things right between us forever.”
When I survey the wondrous cross, I have to ask “Why?” Why would Jesus do this for me? Why would he die for you? It should leave us with a deep sense of gratitude when we realize it’s simply because he loves me so. But should also create in us a sense of being inseparably bound up with him, obligated to live for him. We are so tied up with Jesus that when God looks at you, he sees his righteous Son. We are one with God because of his death, burial, and resurrection on our behalf. He restored the relationship. He fixed everything.
As a result, we are now free to live for him, to become who we were always created to be before sin wrecked it. Because of Christ, everything’s new. To be in Christ means a new creation. A new order. The prophets always talked about God bringing rulers down from their thrones and lifting up the poor. But they never imagined God himself would come down off his heavenly throne to suffer with the sinful so we could all be lifted up.
You don’t need a complicated theology to know that salvation for us and salvation for the whole world is found in Christ Jesus. But the cross of Christ is about transformation and renewal. Jesus doesn’t just offer forgiveness and salvation. He offers life. Real life. Abundant life. Eternal life. Life in perfect union with God as true sons of daughters of God.
“To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” ~John 1:12-13