In his famous last words on the cross, Jesus said, “It is finished.” What was finished, though? We’re still dealing with the consequences of sin and shame and all kinds of pain. So what did he mean?
Let’s start with this: While Jesus was hanging on a cross, in significant pain, he said, “It is finished.” Who says that? As far as his followers could tell, things were not going according to plan. Perhaps they were saying the same thing later when they reviewed the day back at the hiding spot. Maybe Andrew looked at John and said, “Well, looks like it’s finished. Game over. We lost. Jesus is dead, and we didn’t defeat Rome or anything.” But that’s not what Jesus was talking about.
“It is finished” was Jesus’ victory statement. It tells us that he was in on his own death. He knew this moment was coming. He was not hanging on the cross thinking, Shoot. What do I do now? This was not the plan. No. The cross was exactly the plan.
From the beginning of creation, Jesus knew this was going to happen. The Maker of the universe knew he would come to earth and take the best weapon of his enemy— death—and place it squarely on his own shoulders.
Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death. But Jesus had not sinned. He was not due a wage of death. He had not earned death. The only way that death could enter his world was if he allowed it—if he invited it. And so he did. He invited death upon himself. That’s why he wasn’t freaking out on the cross. He was fulfilling God the Father’s plan when he said, “It is finished.”
God’s long-standing plan to fulfill the Law—so we could be perfect, without sin— is what was finished. He had created a system called the law by which people could know how to behave if they wanted to be perfect in his eyes. Of course, nobody was. Until Jesus. And by being perfect, Jesus was able to satisfy the demands of the system and be humanity’s Savior. When he said, “It is finished,” he was declaring the end of the old system and the arrival of a new way, through himself, to be in right relationship with God.
What does “it is finished” mean for you and me? It means we are no longer bound to a system. There is no performance path to God. There is nothing we can do to impress him or get closer to him. All we need is a Savior, and his name is Jesus.
God’s not tired of your failure. He’s not waiting for you to get it together. He did away with that system through Jesus.
As Easter approaches, you may be tempted to think that God has a problem with your imperfection. If so, as you look at the cross, remind yourself that the old system is finished and you have a Savior. That was the plan all along.