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February 5, 2017
I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. (John 17:4)
Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. (John 19:30)
Christ was very clear that He had come to do the work of the heavenly plan (John 5:36). He was equally clear that this work had been accomplished. As the above text notes, upon the cross He made that declaration, “It is finished!” What, exactly, did He accomplish? What was finished?
What is Finished? Messianic Prophecies
In a very real sense, prophecy concerning the Christ goes back to the time of man’s first sin: God told the serpent, “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel” (Genesis 3:15). Christ, in a most unique sense, was the seed of woman. “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:18). Paul also writes of the special way Christ was the seed of woman: “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law” (Galatians 4:4). The suffering of Christ, brought about by Satan, and the ultimate victory of Christ over Satan further shows Genesis 3:15 to be a prophecy concerning Christ.
Prophecy said the Messiah would be of the seed of Abraham (Genesis 12:3). Too, this prophecy was fulfilled in Christ: “The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1). The Christ [Messiah] was to be of the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10). The genealogies of Christ in Matthew and Luke show that he was of the tribe of Judah (Matthew 1:2; Luke 3:33). There are more than three hundred prophecies found in Scripture concerning the Messiah. Notice just a few prophecies and their fulfillment: He was to be heir to the throne of David (Isaiah 9:7; Luke 1:32,33); He was to be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; Luke 2:4-7); He was to be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; Luke 1:26-35); He was to be a priest after the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:5,6); He was to be buried with the rich (Isaiah 53:9; Matthew 27:57-60); He was to be resurrected (Psalm 16:10; Mark 16:6,7). Every Messianic prophecy was fulfilled in Christ, and so when He said, “It is finished,” we should note that all prophecies concerning Him were accomplished.
What is Finished? Fulfilling the Law
Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished” (Matthew 5:17,18). Jesus said that no part of the Law under which He lived—the Law given through Moses to Israel—would pass until all was fulfilled. If He did not fulfill it, and take it out of the way, He failed to do what He came to do; and if He failed in this matter, or in anything, how could He be the complete Savior upon whom we depend for the salvation of our souls?
Paul tells us that the old Law was nailed to the cross when Christ died (Colossians 2:14), and that it is done away in Christ (2Corinthians 3:14). When Christ said, “It is finished,” we note that the Law given to Israel, the Law given as tutor to bring us to Christ, was fulfilled.
What is Finished? The Consummation of God’s Eternal Purpose
Earlier, we spoke of a heavenly plan—God had an eternal purpose to save man (Ephesians 3:11). Fulfilling this purpose depended upon Christ’s defeating every temptation of Satan and being the lamb of God, qualified to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Through the ages God unfolded the gospel: 1) in purpose when man sinned (Genesis 3:15,16); 2) in promise (Genesis 12:1-3; Galatians 3:8); 3) in prophecy (Isaiah 53); 4) in preparation in the work of John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1-3); and 5) in perfection—the perfect life of Christ and in the triumphant victory over death. On the day of Pentecost after the death of Christ the gospel was preached for the first time—all was consummated. Peter could speak now of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ from the dead, and when he could tell lost men what to do to be saved under the last will and covenant of Christ (Acts 2). This sermon in a sense was four thousand years in preparation. When Christ said, “It is finished,” we note God's eternal purpose to save man is a finished work.
What is Finished? Setting a Pattern for Our Life
When Jesus was confronted with all of the temptations of Satan, He overcame using the proper application of God’s word (Matthew 4:1-10). His life was righteous—even his enemies could not find any flaw so as to accuse Him (Matthew 26:59,60). The writer of the book of Hebrews says that He “has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Is it any wonder that Peter by inspiration writes, “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH” (1Peter 2:21,22)? When Jesus gave His life on the cross, He had come to the end of an exemplary life—living in perfect submission to the Father’s will, and setting a flawless example of conduct for all mankind. When Jesus said, “It is finished,” we note that complete example for men to follow as a finished work.
What is Finished? Paying Man’s Debt
Sin puts man into spiritual bondage—we are servants of sin. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin” (John 8:34). Sinners cannot buy their own way out and stand condemned, “for the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). God provided One to pay the price and to take the sins of mankind upon himself: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2Corinthians 5:21). By the shedding of His precious blood, and dying in our stead, Christ paid our debt for us that we might be freed from the bondage of sin. When Jesus said, “It is finished,” we note that God's provision for our salvation is a finished work.
The question comes for each of us: “Are you finished—finished with the old man of sin?”
—S. Scott Richardson Sr.