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“It is finished!”
“When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” (John 19:30)
The Son of God has taken upon himself human flesh. He has taken our humanity into union with his Divinity. He has lived a life of perfect righteousness as the Representative of his covenant people. He has been all his life long despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. His enemies have been many. His friends have been few, and those few faithless.
At last he is delivered over into the hands of them that hate him. He is crudely arrested in the garden, and arraigned before the courts of law. They robe him in mockery, strip him in shame, and hold him up as a spectacle of ridicule and scorn.
He is declared to be perfectly innocent. Yet, the cowardly judge delivers him into the hands of his persecutors. It is written, “Pilate delivered Jesus to their will!” He is dragged through the streets of Jerusalem. Those who had killed the prophets would now bring upon themselves the blood of the prophets’ Master.
The God-man is brought to the hill called Calvary and brutally nailed to the cross. The sun burns upon him. His wounds infect his body with scorching fever. God, his Father, whose will he came to perform, whose purpose he now fulfils, whose people he came to redeem, whose glory he came to uphold, his God and Father forsakes him! Suffering all the concentrated anguish of hell, he cries out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
While he hangs there upon the tree, in mortal conflict with sin and Satan, his heart is broken, his limbs are dislocated, and his Father forsakes him. The heavens forsake him. The earth forsakes him. His disciples all forsake him and flee from him. He looks everywhere, but there is none to help. His eye looks all around, but there are none to share his toil. He treads the wine press of the fierceness of the wrath of God alone; and of the people there are none with him.
Yet, on and on he goes; steadily determined to drink the last bitter dregs of that cup which could not pass from his lips if his Father’s will is to be done. He says…
“The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.” (Isaiah 50:5-7)
For the glory of God, for the honor of his holy law, for the redemption of his people, and in order to complete the work for which he came into the world, the Lord Jesus Christ perseveres in his agony, until at last he cries, “It is finished!” Then he gives up the ghost.
Do you hear this mighty shout of triumph? It is the word of the conquering King. It rings out today with all the freshness and force with which it rang out from Calvary more than two thousand years ago! — “It is finished!” Hear it from the sacred Word. Hear it from the Savior’s lips. May God the Holy Ghost give you grace to hear these three words of the sinner’s Savior ringing in your very soul. — “It is finished!” Oh, may all who read these lines enter into the experience of this blessed conquest.
“When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.”
I can almost see our Savior as he looks up to God his Father, as he looks around to the wondering angels of light, as he looks down upon Satan and the demons of hell, and as he looks out over the perishing multitudes of men. When he declares, “It is finished,” he is testifying to heaven and earth and hell that redemption’s work is done! I want to show you four things about the finished work of Christ in this study.
The Fact of It
In the first place, as you hear these words fall from the Savior’s lips, “It is finished!” — I want you to realize the fact of it. When the Lord Jesus Christ died upon the cursed tree, the work of redemption was then and there complete. Nothing was left undone. Nothing more needed to be done. Nothing more could be done. Christ had come into the world to redeem a people unto himself; and those people are redeemed.
“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to. finish the transgression, and to. make an end of sins, and to. make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.” (Daniel 9:24)
That which Daniel prophesied, the Son of God declares finished by his sacrificial death as our Substitute at Calvary. What did our Savior mean when he said, “It is finished?”
He meant that all the types, promises, and prophecies of the Old Testament Scriptures were fulfilled and finished forever. The Old Testament Scriptures tailor a garment that will fit only one Person, and that Person is the Lord Jesus Christ (Genesis 3:15; 49:10; Psalm 40:6-8; Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Micah 5:2; Malachi 4:2). There is not a single promise, or type, or prophecy of the Old Testament that does not find its perfect and complete fulfillment in Christ. Not only does the garment fit him perfectly, it fits him alone. Only the Lord Jesus Christ fits the character of that One who was promised in the Old Testament. He is a Prophet like Moses and a Deliverer like Joshua. He is a Priest like Aaron and like Melchisedec. He is a King like David and like Solomon. He is the Lamb that was slain and the Scapegoat that was not slain. He is the Turtledove that was dipped in blood and the Priest who killed the bird. He is the Altar and the Tabernacle. He is the Mercy-Seat and the Showbread. He is the Sacrifice and the Sacrificer. Everything in the Old Testament points to Christ.
When our Lord said, “It is finished,” he meant that all the typical sacrifices of the ceremonial law were completely fulfilled and, therefore, forever abolished (Hebrews 10:1-14). Judaism today is just as idolatrous as Romanism. God has put aside forever the carnal ordinances of the Old Testament. — “God is Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).
When the Lord Jesus cried, “It is finished,” he meant that all the commandments of the moral law of God were now perfectly fulfilled and that the rule of the law was, therefore, ended and abolished forever. — “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” (Romans 10:4). The age of sonship has come; and the sons of God are no longer subject to the tutelage and discipline of the law. All who are taught of God are made willing servants in the day of his power. Those who give from a willing heart generously do not need a law to compel them to pay a legal tax. Those who rest in Christ do not need to be ordered to keep a sabbath day. Our lives are a perpetual Sabbath. Those who love Christ do not need the ball and chain of the law to make them do what is right for the glory of Christ.
When he cried, “It is finished,” our blessed Lord proclaimed that the way of access has been opened up to God. The veil of the temple was torn in two, from top to the bottom, telling us that a way was opened for sinful man to approach the holy God (Hebrews 10:19-22).
When the Lord Jesus Christ cried, “It is finished,” he declared that he had perfectly accomplished the redemption of his people (Galatians 3:13; Hebrews 9:12). The work his Father gave him to do was done. All that he had agreed upon in the covenant of grace as our Surety, he had now fulfilled (John 17:4). He had now brought in an everlasting righteousness. He had now satisfied Divine justice. The debt was paid. The debtors were discharged. By his one offering for sin upon the cursed tree, the atonement was accomplished, propitiation was made, reconciliation between God and his covenant people was complete; and he perfected forever them that are sanctified. The cup of wrath was drained. The whip of justice was worn out on his back. The curse of the law fell on hm. The thunder of Sinai was silenced. He swallowed up the sword of God’s infinite wrath and justice in His holy soul. He had now annihilated the sins of his people. He had now conquered Satan. He had now defeated death.
“It is finished!” Oh, child of God, I want you to recognize this blessed fact. In the substitutionary death of Christ at Calvary…
· The Old Testament Scriptures are fulfilled.
· The typical sacrifices of the ceremonial law are forever abolished.
· The commandments of the moral law are all perfectly and representatively performed for us and fulfilled for us.
· The way of access to God is open.
· The redemption of our souls is accomplished.
The Result of It
In the second place, as you hear these words, sounded out by our mighty Savior, “It is finished,” I want you to rejoice in the result of it. Did you hear the Son of God say, “It is finished?” Believe it, my friend. It is true. The Lord Jesus Christ, by his representative life and vicarious atonement in our place, has finished the work of redemption for us. And having finished the work which the Father gave him to do, there are certain inevitable consequences which must follow. The death of Christ was an effectual atonement for sin. Let me briefly show you what some of the results of our Lord’s sacrifice are.
Because of our Savior’s finished work, the covenant of God’s grace has been ratified and put into force (Hebrews 9:15-17). The covenant was signed and sealed before all worlds. It was ordered in all things and sure by God’s eternal decree. But when Christ said, “It is finished,” that covenant was put into force by blood. Not one stipulation of the covenant could ever be broken Not one promise could ever fail. All the blessings of the covenant were made sure to all of God’s elect by the blood of Christ. — Though he died to put his will in force, our crucified Redeemer lives in heaven to see to it that his will is executed (Isaiah 53:10-12).
Because of the finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ, God almighty, in his perfect holiness, is both just and the Justifier of guilty sinners (Romans 3:24-26). Since the God-man died, there is hope for sinners! Through the propitiatory atonement of Christ, God can be just and still justify the ungodly. Indeed, the justice of God demands that all for whom Christ died must go free.
Because of the finished work of Christ, the Holy Spirit has come down from heaven to gather out God’s elect (Galatians 3:13-14; John 16:7-14). Since the Holy Spirit has been poured out upon all flesh, the Gospel is sent into all the world. The Gospel of God’s free, sovereign, saving grace in Christ is a worldwide message (Joel 2:32). — “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Because of the finished work of Christ, the salvation of God’s elect is secure (John 6:39). He who entered into heaven with his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption for his people, will see to it that his people all have the eternal redemption he obtained for them.
Every sinner bought by blood
Shall at last be brought to God.
Truth and justice make it plain —
Jesus did not die in vain!
None for whom the Savior bled
Can be severed from their Head.
Called by grace! Kept forever!
Jesus is a mighty Savior!
Not one soul for whom Christ shed His blood at Calvary shall ever perish. All of His elect shall be saved. All of his redeemed ones are secure. Justice demands it! — “He shall see of the travail of His soul and shall be satisfied.” Our sins are gone. The law has no claim upon us. Christ cannot fail (Isaiah 45:23-25). That means every blood bought soul shall be with Christ in Glory!
Because of the finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glory of God is revealed in the Gospel (2 Corinthians 4:6; 2 Timothy 1:9-10). In the cross of Christ we see all the marvelous attributes of the eternal Godhead brilliantly displayed. — His Holiness and His Goodness — His Justice and His Mercy — His Truth and His Grace — His Immutability and His Wisdom — His Greatness and His Love
Because of his finished work as our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ is exalted to the throne of universal monarchy to rule over all flesh (Philippians 2:9-11; Psalm 2:8).
The Experience of It
The work of redemption which secured the salvation of all God’s elect was completed at Calvary by Christ alone. Its results were immediately effected. When he died in my place, and I died in him, my soul was as safe and secure under his blood as it is today. But I did not know it, until he came by the power of his Spirit and brought me into the experience of it.
So, in the third place, when you hear the Savior say, “It is finished,” I want you to know the experience of it. In preaching the Gospel, we proclaim to men the good news of full redemption, the glad tidings of full atonement, and the comforting message of full pardon. We know nothing of a possibility redemption, a partial redemption, or a provided redemption. We proclaim an accomplished redemption. We declare to sinners everywhere that for all who look to Christ, “the warfare is over” (Isaiah 40:1-2).
How can a poor, lost, spiritually dead sinner enter into the experience of Christ’s finished work? I can tell you this: — If ever you come to experience the finished work of Christ in everlasting salvation, it will be the result of his work and his work alone. The Lord must send his Word to heal your soul, or you will never be saved (Psalm 107:20; Ephesians 1:13). The Lord must send his Spirit into your heart, or you cannot live. Christ himself must be revealed to you and in you, or you cannot believe (Galatians 1:15-16; Philippians 3:3). When God reveals Christ in your heart, he gives you faith to trust him, he proclaims peace in your soul, he breaks the iron chains of your sin, and he causes your troubled soul to find rest in him (Psalm 107:1-31). Only he can do it!
The Cause of It
In the fourth place, as you hear the Lord Jesus Christ cry, “It is finished,” I want you to see and appreciate the cause of it. Why should the Lord Jesus Christ endure the painful, shameful, ignominious death of the cross for me? What caused the Son of God to stand as my Surety and agree to finish the work of my soul’s redemption? What motivated our Lord in this blessed work? The Book of God tells us. It was his Father’s will (Psalm 40:7-8). There was no other possible means of saving us (Galatians 2:21). He loved us, and he was determined to have us (Malachi 3:17). And the Lord our God was determined to glorify himself by saving us (Psalms 106:8; Ephesians 2:7).
“It is finished!” — God will never accept the works of your hands; but he has accepted the work of his Son’s hand. Will you rest your soul upon the finished work of Christ alone?
“Nothing, either great or small;
Nothing, sinner, no;
Jesus did it, did it all,
Long, long ago!
When He, from His lofty throne,
Stooped to do and die,
Everything was fully done;
Hearken to His cry —
‘It is finished!’ Yes indeed,
Finished every jot.
Sinner, this is all you need.
Tell me, Is it not?
Weary, working, plodding one,
Why toil you so?
Cease your doing, all was done,
Long, long ago!
Till to Jesus’ work you cling
By a simple faith,
Doing is a deadly thing.
Doing ends in death!
Cast your deadly ‘doing’ down,
Down at Jesus’ feet.
Stand in Him, in Him alone,
“Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake.” (Psalms 115:1)