While suffering on the cross for our sins on Golgotha, our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, spoke seven short, simple but significant sentences. These sayings reveal a great deal about the heart of the Lord Jesus. No one Gospel writer recorded them all. Certainly, the Holy Spirit was sovereign in this. He chose in His wisdom to give the four Gospel Writers the privilege of recording what He deemed best for their Gospel material. Mark and Matthew were given the privilege of recording only one of the seven sayings, while the remaining six sayings were shared equally between Dr. Luke and John, the disciple whom Jesus loved. Each records three sayings in their Gospel accounts.
These so-called seven sayings from the cross by our Savior, have been held dear by the Church primarily because they have opened to us a window into our Lord's heart and mind while suffering for our sins on the Roman cruel cross. The amazing thing about each saying is that they were spoken not in anger, resentment, bitterness, or with a complaining or vindictive spirit. In fact, each is a vivid expression either of His great care, concern, compassion and His sacrificial and selfless love for us, or of His dreadful but divine work of bearing our sin, or His final conquest and victory over sin and Satan.
The season of celebrating the death and resurrection of Christ is certainly an appropriate time to pause and ponder each of these sayings. I believe doing so will enhance and energize our spirits to worship Christ with a new sense of purpose and passion. Of course, meditating on these sayings should not be limited to Easter celebrations. It should be practiced all year long because Christ's sacrifice on the cross for our sins is key to our daily living and eternal future.
My purpose is to present each saying in an article in the order in which they were spoken by our Suffering Savior. I have entitled the sixth saying: "The Savior's Shout of Victory."
Our Lord's sacrifice for the sin of the world as the Lamb of God has come to a climactic point. He has come to the point of completing His work of bearing the sin of the world and becoming sin for us. This work must be fully accomplished before sinners can have any hope of being saved. John, the inspired writer of the fourth gospel, now records our Lord's sixth saying from the cross. "When Jesus therefore had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished"" (John 19:30). This statement was made more for us than for Him. We, wretched and wayward sinners, needed to hear that the work of redemption is fully accomplished by the Redeemer of sinners. We needed to rest in His finished work. We needed its liberating power to steer us away from the path of seeking to earn our ticket to heaven. John is the only Gospel writer who records our Lord's Shout of Victory from the cross: "It is finished" (John 19:30). I would like to emphasis two points in our "Savior's Shout of Victory." First, is the principle of finishing (Genesis ). Second, is the public declaration of our Lord (John 19:30).
Principle of Finishing: "Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. and by the seventh day God completed His work which He had done; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done" (Genesis 2:1-2).
One of the major principles found in the Scriptures since the creation of the heavens and the earth is that God always completes what He's begun. Genesis tells us that God finished His creation after six days and rested on the seventh day. God, the Creator, who is none other, but the Lord Jesus Christ Himself (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16), did not abandon His work of creation. He did not quit in the middle of His creatorial work. He worked faithfully until everything He planned to create was created. Notice in the above passage that the verb "completed" is mentioned twice. The repetition is for emphasis. The Bible is stressing right from the beginning, that God completes what He's commenced. The Hebrew verb translated "complete" is "kalah." It also means "to be finished, accomplished, ready; to be at an end, to be consumed, to end." It essentially means to bring a process to an end. Thus when the Creator began the process of creation, He brought it to its perfect end. All that God desired to create was fully accomplished to His complete satisfaction.
The New Testament also affirms that God always finishes what He's begun. In Philippians 1:6, we read of this blessed scripture which is my life verse. "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." Please notice there is a beginning of a work and an completion of that work. This work is the believer's spiritual progress which involves the believer's conformity into Christlikeness. The Bible is saying, genuine spiritual progress in the Christian's life is rooted in what God has done, is doing, and will do. In fact, His faithfulness ensures that He will be with believers until Jesus returns. Christians can have unshakable confidence that the God who has saved them will never abandon His work in their lives. He will never let them go. He will not quit in the middle of His divine work in their lives. Actually, the Greek word translated "perfect" is "epiteleo." It's used here in the intensive form and also means "to finish, complete, to perform, or accomplish." You can count on it, God finishes what He's started.
Even in speaking of His judgment on the unbelieving nations in the last days, the Bible reveals that once God starts His judgment on the unbelieving nations, He will methodically carry it out to the very end. He will not quit in the middle of it. In Revelation 15:1 John testified to this principle. He reports: "And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels who had seven plagues, which are the last, because in them the wrath of God is finished." John was given the privilege of observing the beginning of this process in Revelation 5 where He saw God sitting on His throne with a book sealed up with seven seals. No one was found worthy to open the book and break its seals. John wept until one of the elders told Him to stop weeping. He was assured that the Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Lamb who slain. has overcome so as to open the scroll and break its seals. The Lamb's breaking of the seal began the Seven Seals Judgment of God. The breaking of the seventh seal ushered in the Seven Trumpets Judgment of God. This was followed by the seven Bowls Judgment of God. Each bowl, we are told, was full of the wrath of God, who lives forever and ever. According to the revelation God gave to John, when the seventh angel poured out His, a loud voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying, "It is done" (Revelation 16:17). This statement was later repeated in Revelation 21:6 after God gave John the vision of the new heaven and a new earth.
The point is clear. God always finishes the work He begins. This principle was vividly and visually demonstrated in the life of the Lord Jesus at the cross. When He spoke His sixth saying from the cross, please do not think that this is a novelty idea. It's not a new thing for Him. No! Not at all! It has been His practice since the creation of the heavens and the earth. He was simply living out what He's being doing all along-finishing what He's begun.
Public Declaration: "It is finished" (John 19:30).
By these words, (only a single word in the Greek), our Lord is now making a public declaration of finishing His work. Now the question is: What is finished? What work is completed? The entire work of redemption had been brought to completion. The work of saving sinners! The work of taking away the sin of the world as the Lamb of God! The divine work of God the Son becoming sin for sinners! The divine work of purchasing sinners from the slave market of sin! The divine work of bearing the full wrath of God against the sins of mankind! The divine work of atoning for the sins of humanity with a perfect sacrifice acceptable to God! The work of paying the penalty for ours sins in full. The just anger of God against the sin of all mankind lay upon Jesus throughout His life, but especially at His crucifixion. Now the penalty was paid. The salvation of mankind was complete. No one can add to this work. It's done. It's finished. It's completed. Because of this completed work, all who believe, are reconciled to God and are members of God's family now and for eternity. This deserves a Hallelujah shout!
The expression "It is finished" [tetelestai] comes from the Greek verb teleo. It means to make an end or accomplishment, to complete anything, not merely to end it, but to bring it to perfection or its destined goal, to carry it through. This word has been found written on papyri receipts for taxes, meaning "paid in full." Please understand that when the Lord Jesus made this public declaration of finishing His work, it was made with a jubilant heart. It was made with a joyful heart. Why? The work of redemption has been brought to its perfect completion. The work of atoning for sinners has been carried through to its destined goal. Nothing, absolutely nothing, was left undone. Jesus had perfectly fulfilled all the righteous requirements of the law. In short, His sacrifice of Himself for sinners was completed in all respects. Flawless! Impeccable! It brought full satisfaction to the heart of God. No doubt, it brought a big smile to the face of God. "Full atonement can it be? Hallelujah what a Savior!" declares the hymn writer Philip P. Bliss.
Again, John Stott eloquently writes on our Lord's shout of victory from the cross:
William MacDonald also shares this insight of the sixth saying of the Lord: "It is finished."
Our Lord's shout of victory is significant because it reveals to sinners that the work of salvation is 100 percent completed. He knew sinners needed to hear that the great work of redemption has been flawlessly done by Him. They need not work for their salvation. They need labor to earn their salvation. They need not enslave themselves to the rituals and regulations of men to secure a ticket to heaven. But sadly, many today, are not resting in the finished work of Christ for their salvation. Being religious hasn't saved anyone. But resting in the finished work of Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29), does. Following religious rules and regulations will not save you. But simple childlike faith in Jesus Christ will certainly save you and make you a new creation in Christ. Toiling hard to earn your ticket into heaven will not get you there, only to hell. But trusting in Jesus and His completed work on the cross for your sins will. Please stop striving in your own efforts to be accepted by God. Simply surrender your heart to Jesus today!
The Savior's Shout of Victory!
By Joseph Ametepe
We Proclaim Jesus.