While suffering the agony of the cross, Jesus focused on his mission when he said, “It is finished” (John 19:30, NKJV). The phrase comes from one word in Greek but the full meaning would require the entire Bible to answer.
John is the only one to record this phrase and there’s a reason for that. John is an apologetic book rather than a biography. Everything in his gospel is designed to prove the premise of John 1:1-5.
“It is finished” is therefore a perfect complement to his purposes. F.F. Bruce said, “Surely it is not an exaggeration to say that ‘finished’ is the key word of the Fourth Gospel.”
We can see how it fits into his story (John 3:16,35; 4:34; 5:36; 6:38; 9:4; 10:25; 17:4) and into the Gospels as a whole (Luke 12:50; 18:31; Matthew 5:17; 16:18-19).
Everything God had planned for humanity depended on what happened on the cross (1 Corinthians 15:12-14). Jesus’ obedience was mandatory. The entire sacrificial system in the Old Testament was constructed for this moment (Hebrews 9:23-28).
Yet, Jesus was still alive, had not died and been resurrected. What’s more his church had not been started. So, how can Jesus say that he was finished?
The Greek word under consideration, “Describes a past completed act with present effect.” The burial and resurrection would follow, the Holy Spirit would arrive (John 16:5-15), the Church would begin (Acts 2) and all would be set in motion (Hebrews 9:15-18).
All that remains is the return of Christ for his children (John 14:1-6). Yet, his death made that happen by fulfilling his role as the sacrifice for sins (Romans 5:6-11).
For us, however, the work is not done. We must follow Christ completely and do all we can to bring others to the Lord (Matthew 28:18-20). Christ won the victory (1 Corinthians 15:26) and through him, we can be victorious (1 Corinthians 15:50-56).
We must be diligent or his death was for nothing. Glorify him daily (Ephesians 3:20-21) so the world can see that he is the only Savior of the world (Matthew 11:28-29).
The cross is the center of God’s plan for salvation. Let it stand tall in our hearts.