But Jesus Was Saying … (6)

But Jesus Was Saying … (6)

For the sixth time in this series, visit once again Jesus on the cross and the words He spoke, and reflect once again on the mind of our Lord. Also, once again, let us examine our own hearts and minds to discern our own attitudes and actions. Jesus—“God is salvation”—the One prophesied whose name was proclaimed Immanuel, “with us is God” (Isaiah 7:14), gave Himself for you and me. Not only did He give Himself willingly to die in my place, but He also did it with a most amazing attitude, with a most excellent example, and most worthy words. He “emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7-8). This is the attitude we must have (Philippians 2:5). We must turn our eyes from all else and fix “our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:2-3). This is the example we must follow. “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” (1Peter 2:21). We are often reminded of His attitude and example at the cross, but how often do we reflect on the powerful messages of His words in His hours of suffering? Jesus’ mind is reflected in His words. In situations not so harsh, our words might tend to be different, “But Jesus was saying …”

“It is finished!” (John 19:30).

The Task

Noted in previous studies is that fact that Jesus knew and understood there was a great task to be accomplished—working through a plan from God for man [see But Jesus Was Saying … (1) and But Jesus Was Saying … (5)]. Then, the foremost meaning of the words of the Savior, “It is finished!,” show His recognition, as He draws His last breaths, of the completion of that wonderful work that has now reached its completion. This task which Jesus finished, could never have been completed through the previous covenant given from God through Moses to the Israelites. Under that Law, the blood of animals was shed over and over again. The blood of animals was never satisfactory for the removal of sin. It took the blood of the Messiah, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). This sacrifice could only be made by the new great High Priest who Himself WAS the sacrifice. We want, now, to dwell upon a passage from Hebrews that sums up this task that has been finished—its preparation, its sacrifice, its new covenant, its effectiveness, its finality:

For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins? But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, “SACRIFICE AND OFFERING YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, BUT A BODY YOU HAVE PREPARED FOR ME; IN WHOLE BURNT OFFERINGS AND sacrifices FOR SIN YOU HAVE TAKEN NO PLEASURE. THEN I SAID, ‘BEHOLD, I HAVE COME (IN THE SCROLL OF THE BOOK IT IS WRITTEN OF ME) TO DO YOUR WILL, O GOD.” After saying above, “SACRIFICES AND OFFERINGS AND WHOLE BURNT OFFERINGS AND sacrifices FOR SIN YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, NOR HAVE YOU TAKEN PLEASURE in them” (which are offered according to the Law), then He said, “BEHOLD, I HAVE COME TO DO YOUR WILL.” He takes away the first in order to establish the second. By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying, “THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THEM AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS UPON THEIR HEART, AND ON THEIR MIND I WILL WRITE THEM,” He then says, “AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE.” Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin. (Hebrews 10:1-18)

The Telling Forth

Not only does “It is finished!” refer to the completed task, but to the fact that now the words of the prophets are finished, fulfilled, in His actions. God had the plan in mind and He had given glimpses of this work to His prophets to share. Notice, just in our quotation from Hebrews, how many times the prophets are referenced [quotations of prophets are indicated by all uppercase letters]. It is just as God said through His prophet Isaiah: “But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering … He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:10-12).

The Triumph

The plan accomplished and its prophecies, take our minds back to the pronouncement of God against the serpent at the garden (Genesis 3:15). The Messiah certainly was injured, but He dealt a head-blow to the Adversary. In this sense, too, “It is finished!” The Adversary thought he was stopping the plan, but he furthered it! The Christ’s death, combined with the accompanying resurrection and ascension, serve to prove the absolute power and authority of God. “Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil” (1John 3:7-8). The devil can no longer wield the power of death as a weapon: “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14).

The Termination

Also finished is the suffering and death of the Savior. He does not need to suffer and die over and over again—He is victorious. However, He will return again, but not in reference to sin (Hebrews 9:28). It will be to gather those who are His to meet Him in the air to ever be with Him (1Thessalonians 4:13-18). Those who are His are those who have died to sin, been buried with Him in baptism to be raised to walk in a new life (Romans 6:4), remaining faithful in that life (Revelation 2:10). Truly, when we follow in His steps, our own sufferings will be terminated: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away” (Revelation 21:14).

—S. Scott Richardson Sr.