“It Is Finished”
John 19: 30
"The war is over.” Those words, printed on the front pages of newspapers and spoken over the radio, proclaimed the victorious end of World War II. With those words a deep sigh came across our country and much of the world. “The war is over.” The worrying, the waiting, the dying was finally done. It was finished. You can imagine–many of you can remember–the depth of emotion after so much suffering.
On this day, Good Friday, we hear our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross speak a similar but infinitely more powerful declaration, “It is finished.” He, too, was saying, “The war is over.” But this is a war that goes back not just a few years but to the beginning of time. It was begun in heaven by a powerful and glorious angel named Lucifer, who rebelled against God out of envy and jealousy and wanted to make Himself equal with God. For his rebellion Lucifer and the other angels who joined him were cast out of heaven. And so the war spilled over to earth where these fallen angels, the devil and his demons, were cast down. In his diabolical craftiness, Satan engineered the rebellion of man against God as well. And with Adam and Eve’s fall into sin, the war for man’s soul was on. Man had fallen into the hands of the enemy, but God was not about to let that stand. He undertook a rescue operation.
Already in the Garden the Lord prophesied how this victory would be won. To the devil He spoke this curse: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed. He shall crush your head, and you shall crush His heel.” With those words, the Lord foretold how He would Himself become man. He would become the Seed, the descendant of the woman. In the war the devil would strike the heal of the Son of God on the cross, but in the very act of striking the Son, the devil’s own head would be smashed. Jesus would grind the serpents head into the ground with His wounded heel. Down through history, man has struggled much in that war with the devil and the world and his own sinful flesh. There has been so much suffering, so much crying, so much dying. And for those who will not listen to Christ or believe in Him, the war will continue and end in defeat and hell.
But on Good Friday, our Lord Jesus Christ calls us to listen to His words, to believe them, and to rejoice! From the cross Christ declares, “It is finished.” The war is over. It has been won. The war that no man could ever win–for we are no match for the devil and the grave–that war has been won by the God man, Jesus Christ for us. He took the worst that the enemy could throw at us and suffered it all to death in His body. Satan has no ammunition left to shoot at you. Jesus took it all and destroyed it all for you and in your place. The enemy is conquered and defeated.
When Jesus cries out, “It is finished!” it doesn’t mean that He’s lost. It means that the victory is complete. It doesn’t mean that He’s finished, it means that His work is finished. Everything that is necessary to rescue you who were held hostage in the devil’s kingdom Jesus has done. Everything that is necessary to forgive your sins fully and completely Jesus has done. Everything that is necessary to release you from the power of the grave and give you eternal life Jesus has done. It is complete. It is fulfilled. It is perfected in His holy death.
When Jesus says, “It is finished!” it’s as if our Savior turns His gaze from the first sinner to the last sinner across all time, and there is not one single person whose guilt He hasn’t atoned for. There is not one person whose peace He hasn’t won. There is nothing more that you need to do to be saved, no good work you need to accomplish to finish the job. Jesus here declares that He has already finished the job. All you are given to do is believe.
Christ has reopened the Garden of Eden. That’s why this day is called Good Friday. Just as God declared everything He had created in the beginning to be good, so now He makes all things good again, putting to death the old order of death and brining the new creation to life.
It is finished! This mighty cry of triumph reverberates into the depths of hell, filling the devil with terror. It reverberates into the heights of heaven, filling all saints and angels with praise. And it reverberates into our hearts and the hearts of all believers yet on earth, filling us with comfort and confident hope. When we are troubled by our sins that separate us from God and from each other, and we wonder if we can ever be truly forgiven, Jesus says, “Yes, it is finished.” When we are tempted and tested and persecuted by the world, and we wonder if we will ever be victorious in these battles, Jesus says, “Yes, it is finished.” When we begin to doubt whether eternal life is really ours or whether or not we will really rise from the dead, Jesus says, “Yes, it is finished.” The war was terrible. So much crying, suffering, and sadness. But listen to Jesus’ proclamation today and believe it: “The war is over. It is finished. Mission accomplished, for you and for your salvation.”