What Is It?

A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. —John 19:29-30

It is finished”—one could argue these to be among the most profound three words strung together in the Bible. Given the fact it was Jesus who uttered them, they carry an all-surpassing tone, a forever finality permanently proclaimed to all creation, both seen and unseen. Something called “it” has happened with an unchangeable completion changing everything for all time. So, what is the “it” that was so important as to rise up from deep inside the Son of God and find voice amid His final breaths?

It is finished” was more than an endpoint of Jesus’ incarnation; it was the coda marking the successful conclusion of a Messianic mission focused on one great purpose. Early in His ministry as they awaited the Samaritan villagers of Sychar, Jesus told His disciples, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”1 And only hours before His death, Jesus prayed to His Father, “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.”2 This focus on finishing bookended Jesus’ earthly ministry and, no doubt, filled the pages in between. The “it” Jesus finished was His Father’s work, but again, what specifically was this work now completed?

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews continues the narrative now unseen yet no less historical. “When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”3 What was the “it” Jesus finished upon giving up His spirit? Purification. “Tempted in all things just as we are, yet without sin,”4 He atoned for our sins. Writes the author, “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey Him.”5 His mission was to become our perfect sacrifice through a life of obedience and the faith from which obedience comes.6 He did what He set out to do, and now it is finished. We have been become in Christ what we could never become through our own efforts—purified. It is final, for it is finished. May we flourish in our freedom.

Father, thank You for loving us so much that You sent Your Son. Jesus, thank You for finishing Your Father’s work. Spirit, fill us that we will rest in sufficiency of Christ, the perfect sacrifice for our sins. In Him, we are pure. Amen.

1 John 4:34
2 John 17:4
3 Hebrews 1:3
4 Hebrews 4:15 NASB
5 Hebrews 5:8-9 NASB
6 Romans 1:5

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