What Did Jesus Mean By "It is Finished"?
Those were the words Jesus Christ uttered as he hung, dying, on the cross. “It is finished!” What could he have possibly meant?
At first glance, one might wonder if these were words of despair – quitting words. “It is finished! It’s a hopeless cause. I’ve failed. I quit.”
It would certainly be understandable if that’s what Jesus meant. Just think: he suffered the greatest injustice in human history. He lived a spotless life, but was sentenced to a traitor’s death.
He came to love – but was hated.
He came to help – but was rejected.
He came to heal – but was broken
He came to forgive – but was despised.
He came to bless – but was cursed. .
He came to bring life – but was brought death
Stepping into darkness and bearing another’s burden is difficult enough. It becomes nearly impossible, however, when the person who needs the help rejects it.
You could hardly blame Jesus if he had meant “I’ve had enough and I give up” when he said “It is finished.”
But that's not what he meant.
No, he didn’t give up on humanity. He didn’t give up at all. Despite the wickedness, hatred and scorn – he “loved them to the last.” He ended up on the cross precisely because he was not willing to give up! He loved them enough to pay the ultimate price. There was no quitting. There was no turning back.
The good news from Good Friday is that Jesus has not given up on you. Regardless of where you’ve been or what you’ve done, the Savior loves you and offers grace and forgiveness.
Another way you could interpret the phrase, “It is finished” is to say “I’m fed up! If this is the crummy way you’re going to treat me, then I am through with you.” Again, you could hardly blame Jesus if that’s what he meant.
People often say this when they’ve been hurt and pushed over the edge.
“I have tried and tried to save this marriage – but now it’s over. I’m through with you.”
“Son, I’ve waited up past midnight for you to come home one too many times. Pack you bags. I’m through with you.”
“You have messed up the accounts again. I can’t stand your incompetence. Clear out your office. I’m through with you.”
They treated Jesus in the most horrible way you can imagine. The worst suffering and disgrace you’ve ever faced pales in comparison to what Jesus endured. It would only be normal to fight against it and say “I’m through with you!!”
But that's not what he meant.
No, Jesus wasn’t at war with them. When he spoke about those who were committing such atrocity against him he said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!”
These were not fighting words They were reconciling words: words of peace and release.
When Jesus said “It is Finished”, he was not saying failure or fighting words. Instead he was speaking words of faith. He had done the job he came to do. He had completed his purpose.
Just like a construction worker who completes a bridge and says, “It’s finished.” That’s what Jesus was saying.
I have opened up the bridge – over the mighty gulf of sin and evil – to a right relationship with God. The work is finished.
I have opened up a way – a road to eternal life for whoever has faith and believes. (John 3:16) It is finished.
I have opened up the door – to life beyond death. “He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.” It is finished.
I have opened up a new life for you. You can live in freedom and forgiveness.
It is finished!