John 19 vs 28 - 30
I am sitting looking out at my garden fence. Really? Yes. It needs painted. It needed painted last year when the first ‘lockdown’ started. I felt that those ‘lockdown’ days were going to be the perfect opportunity to get this job done. Appropriate fence paint was bought about the end of May. A test coat was applied to part of the fence – actually, one board – and then it was autumn! Too busy...too wet... too cold...too dark...and it’s Easter 2021. The job was not done. Time to start all over again.
Not so the job which had to do on the first Good Friday. Jesus, pinned to a cross, already beaten and humiliated, crowds shouting abuse, deserted by His followers, the sky black and heaven silent, said these words, “It is finished.” It is a single word which means ‘it is covered, satisfied, paid for.’ It indicates accomplishment. Jesus is saying, “I did it!” But what exactly did He accomplish? What did He finish? Let’s note three things at least.
Jesus “fulfilled the scripture” (John 19:28). He once told His disciples, “I have not come to abolish them [the Law and the Prophets], but to fulfil them” (Matt.5:17). The Old Testament scriptures required perfect obedience to the Law and the Law required perfect payment for sin, a perfect blood sacrifice and here was “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) who did both. With not even the smallest detail left undone, He looked upon the Law and said: “It is finished... I’ve done it!”
Back in Genesis God makes this promise to the serpent and for us: “he will crush your head and you will strike his heel” (3:15). When Jesus arrived, He made it plain that He “came to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8) and as the darkness appeared to be saying that the serpent had won, Jesus drove out the “prince of this world” (John 12:31). As the nails were hammered into His feet, He drove those blood-soaked feet through the serpent’s head. As the darkness ended, Jesus looked down, saw the broken skull beneath His heel and was able to say, “It is finished...I’ve done it!”
But there was a something else symbolised by those three hours of darkness. In Gethsemane Jesus prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me...” (Matt. 26:39) - Silence! He was a real man with a dark shadow over Him which was almost unspeakable. The “cup” of God’s wrath, the full force of God’s judgement on sin, a horror which far exceeded the nails, thorns and beatings. He is, in that moment, no longer the Blessed but the Cursed (Gal. 3:13). He drained that cup for us. There was no debt left to pay. “It is finished.” There is nothing more He can give and there is nothing we can do or add to this finished work.
On this Good Friday what do you see at the cross? Do you see Scripture completely fulfilled, the devil fatally crushed, the cup of God’s wrath drained dry? Or do you think there is something more you need to do? “It is finished.” Just reach out the hand of faith and receive this finished work and be shielded by it. Begin this Easter and the rest of your life, on finished ground.