“Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:30).
Jesus had begun this pivotal week in His life by triumphantly riding through the gates of Jerusalem, acclaimed by the crowds and feared by the establishment. By the end of the same week, He had been betrayed to His opponents, had been tried and convicted of blasphemy by a religious court, had been tried and convicted of treason by a political court, and, finally, had been nailed onto a cross-shaped wooden scaffold to die a slow and painful death.
After just a few hours, He spoke these words and died. “It is finished.”
Something was finished. Jesus was dead. He had come to earth in human form to become the perfect anti-type of the Old Testament sacrifice. By His death the sins of people inside and outside of Judaism could be forgiven by God once and for all.
This was not, or should not have been, a surprise. Jesus had been very open in saying such things as “. . . the Son of Man [Jesus] did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28), and “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).
“It is finished.”
In addition to predicting His death, Jesus predicted what was to follow. In his gospel, Matthew recorded “From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life” (Matthew 16:21).
“It is finished.”
At that moment in time, Jesus’ physical human life was over. His suffering was cut short. That part of God’s eternal plan was, indeed, finished. But that was only the prelude to the day we call Easter.
“On the first day of the week [Sunday], very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. . . . suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. . . . the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, . . . ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’” Then they remembered his words” (Luke 24:1-8).
Peter, one of the original disciples, later wrote about the importance of this resurrection, tying it directly to our salvation from sin and our hope of an eternal existence.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5).