Summary: "It is finished" is one of the most familiar statements that Jesus made from the Cross. But what does that statement from Jesus on the cross made so long ago mean to us today?
Last week we saw in Jesus his physical and spiritual agony as he said, “I am thirsty.” In that statement we saw that Christ indeed did indeed experience the things that we did physically. He knew what it was like to have a thirst, he had experienced dehydration. He didn’t have some phantom body that didn’t really experience pain like the Gnostics were trying to say. And when Christ took our sins upon himself he faced that separation from His Father and that spiritual thirst so that we could have our thirst filled through the living water of God. Today we come to the sixth statement from the cross. It is one of the most well known statements from the cross.
“It is finished” is translated from one word in Greek. The word is Telestai. It means to be finished, be completed, fulfilled, and perfected. It was a common word that was used. Merchants used to use it to mean that the price had been paid in full. Shepherds and priests used it when they found the perfect sheep, for they were the ones used for sacrifice. And servants used the word when they reported to their masters that their work had been completed. So Telestai was a very common phrase in that culture. So what does the phrase in the way that Jesus used it mean to us today? I believe that there are at least three lessons that we can apply to our lives from this statement.
One thing that we must realize is that this was not a statement of defeat. He didn’t say “I am finished.” He said, “It is finished.” Other words the task is completed! It was a shout of triumph. It was a statement of victory! Jesus Christ took on the role of a servant and He came and completed the task His Master and Father called Him to do. It was not an easy task, it was a lengthy and painful task that took tremendous pain and difficulty. It was a tremendous accomplishment that brings wonderful benefits to you and I. But what if Christ had come and reached the age of 18 and He wanted a little independence and He decided He didn’t want to do what He was sent into the world to do? Or what if decided in that Garden of Gethsemane at the age of 33 that He wasn’t going to go through with it? What if He came so far but decided at that moment of intense agony that it just wasn’t worth going through with it? He didn’t want to do it. He would have never been able to shout the victorious statement, “It is finished.” You see the first lesson that we get from that statement is this: Victory does not come from starting, victory comes through finishing. It wasn’t Christ coming into the world that paid the price for our sins on the cross. It wasn’t the miracles that He did that we have recorded in scriptures. It was He going all the way to the cross, fulfilling every prophecy along the way and taking on every bit of physical and spiritual pain and dying on the cross for our sins that made His task complete. That task is what brought God’s plans and purposes about. Whenever God’s plans and purposes are brought to fruition, that is victory! Christ was driven to finish His Father’s work. When the disciples were trying to get Jesus to eat at one point Jesus responded in John 4:34 “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” Jesus was driven not to begin His Father’s work, but to finish it! You see the question in our own lives should be whether we are driven to finish the task that God has called us to do. Sometimes we lack the determination that Christ had to finish the task. Sometimes we start really strong doing what we feel God has called us to do but then we lose focus and before you know it, we’ve dropped the ball and let it go by the wayside. And there are Christians who do that time after time. They start a project that they feel like God wants them to do, but then they get into it and something happens that discourages them and just like that they give up! You have to realize the victory is not in starting, although that often times takes courage, but the victory is finishing the task. Sometimes it hard for us to do that spiritually because we don’t do it our own personal lives as well. There are some of us that start a project at home and we get sidetracked or discouraged and all of a sudden that project is in limbo. And before you ever come back and finish that one you start another. All of a sudden you have four or five projects going on and not one of them is completed. That’s not a good habit to get into, it’s guaranteed to drive your spouse crazy. But when we do it spiritually I believe that God is not pleased. God wants to use us to accomplish His plans and purposes, but do you think He’s going to keep coming back to someone who starts what He wants him to do but never finishes it. God wants the tasks completed, He’s going to give the assignment to someone who is going to complete the spiritual task so that His plans and purposes can be carried out. God not only gave us the example of finishing the task through His son. But He has also given us the promise that the work that He has begun in our hearts will be brought through to completion. Paul wrote this in Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ.” We may feel so incomplete and a failure as a person of God at times, but God promises us that what He has started he will finish. Since He is doing that for us in our own lives, can’t we at least finish the tasks that He gives us to do. You know how great it feels when you do finish a task that you’ve been working on at home. You know the joy and the relief when you can say, “It is finished!” If you want from now on you can say, Telestai. Then someone might say, “That’s Greek to me!” But when you’ve completed a task that God has called you to do. When you can say, “It is finished” you not only get the joy from completing the task, but you get the joy and the spiritual fulfillment of knowing that God is working through you to bring his plans and purposes about. That’s victory my friends.