When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he
bowed his head and gave up his spirit. JOHN 19:30

“Finished” the sound trailed from Jesus’ lips as he gasped for breath on the cross. There was purpose behind that word. Earlier in his ministry-according to John’s gospel account-when Jesus said that he had “food to eat that you know nothing about,” he explained to his confused disciples, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” A short while later, Jesus affirmed that “the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me.” In both the original text and in our English translation, the same verb is used in each of these statements: “finish.” The work of Jesus was to finish his Father’s will.

That’s exactly what Jesus did. Helping, healing, pardoning, proclaiming. From start to finish, every day of Jesus’ life was lived in pure and perfect love- in submission to the Father’s will. Every minute of every day had a purpose-to redeem humanity from the curse of sin. It was not an easy life. The Son of Man had no place to lay his head, and opposition swirled around him constantly. But Jesus kept at it.

The very word “finish” is language that pictures the end of a difficult race.

When a distance runner competes, the finish line signals the end of strenuous exertion. The long, hard task is over. But for the winner, the finish line also signals a beginning the elation of a victory celebration. The finish brings both an end and a beginning. That is the perspective that we are invited to take with us from the scene of Christ’s crucifixion. “It is finished!”—the completion of Christ’s life of obedience and the culmination of Christ’s overwhelming victory over sin and Satan.

There is freedom in that announcement. Christ’s victory will stand to eternity. Nothing in all the world can ever nullify the perfect race run by our Savior. In the midst of this tragic scene, we’re filled with an overwhelming sense of relief. It’s over! God is satisfied. Jesus surrendered his life so that we might never die. When he said, “It is finished,” he entered into his victory celebration. While human eyes saw weakness on the cross, Christ was proving his strength to endure to the very end. Yes, Jesus’ breathless body was buried, but, made alive, Jesus demonstrated his triumph over Satan in hell. We can look at the cross with eyes focused beyond the tomb to the victory of Easter morning. Amen.


What language shall I borrow to thank you, dearest Friend,

For this, your dying sorrow, your pity without end?

Oh, make me yours forever, and keep me strong and true;

Lord, let me never, never outlive my love for you. Amen.

(CW 428:3)