Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Nov 28 2020 - John 19:17-42 – It is finished

On the wall of my study, above my desk, is a simple poster bearing the words “It is finished.” It was one of seven such posters that were put together for a series of walk-through meditations on the seven sayings of Jesus from the cross. I brought this one home when it was finished with and stuck it on my wall where it constantly catches my attention.

In John’s Gospel these are the last recorded words of Jesus. They are remarkable words. Jesus does not cry “I am finished” but “It is finished.” He does not die with a cry of defeat on his lips but a cry of victory. Jesus knew that he had completed all that the Father had sent him to do (compare the use of exactly the same form of the verb two verses earlier – striking in the Greek though often invisible in English translation: "knowing that all was now completed").

There are two reasons I have this wonderful saying of Jesus on my study wall. The first is to remind me of the finished work of Jesus Christ. He has done all that was necessary for my salvation. Through his death my sins are forgiven. Through his resurrection I have eternal life. No more condemnation... Nothing can separate us from the love of God... There is a wonderful assurance in these words, “It is finished.” It’s a done deal.

But there is also a second reason. The New Testament speaks of the Christian as one who has died with Christ. My previous life, a life lived from self and to self, must also be brought continually under the judgment of these words: “It is finished.” There is a call and a challenge in these words. The old life is gone; henceforth I am to live with the risen Christ the life of the new creation. When temptation comes knocking, I arm myself with this response, “It is finished”. The person you are seeking does not live here anymore; he's deceased, finished. I’ve done with that old life.

Yet in another sense, the work in me remains very much unfinished.

Jesus' burial underlines the reality of his death. He was not taken from the cross in an unconscious state from which he later recovered. Jesus was truly dead. The Roman soldiers had made certain of that. They had broken the bones of those crucified with Jesus to hasten their deaths, but had not needed to do so with him; he was already dead. Just to make sure, one of the soldiers had stuck a spear into his side, "bringing a sudden flow of blood and water" (19:34). The spear prod was intended to see whether Jesus was really dead; if the body did not jerk or respond to the spear thrust then it was lifeless. The mixture of blood and water suggest also that the blood had already begun to congeal and separate. Jesus was dead.

Matthew tells us that he was sealed in the tomb and that guards were placed outside to ensure that the disciples did not come by night to steal his body. No human power opened the tomb and removed the body; he was raised by the power of God. No human power can give us resurrection life. But the power that raised Jesus from the dead is already at work in us giving us life, and will give us life in all its fullness on that last day.

Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (Philippians 3:20-21.)

Heavenly Father, I praise you for the finished work of Christ which is the ground of my hope and the source of my assurance. Show me more and more of the perfection of Christ's saving work that I may be filled with thankfulness, wonder, joy and peace. Thank you that you have promised by your Spirit to finish that work which you have begun in me. Help me to turn from everything that belongs to my unredeemed nature and to grow in likeness to my perfect Saviour even as I shall be made perfectly like him at his appearing.

Peter Misselbrook