“It is finished”…. these gripping Words from our savior are recorded in only one place in the Bible – the gospel of John chapter 19, vs. 30. Jesus spoke these words some one thousand, nine hundred, and ninety years ago – give or take a few years.
We are nearly 2,000 years removed from the original Good Friday. And a lot has happened since that fateful day.
The Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed once again, and the people of God were scattered about.
The Roman Empire eventually fell – other empires have risen, and most have fallen in turn. Christianity took hold in much of the world, and it has spread to the four corners of the earth.
The sun has risen and set more than 700,000 times.
Approximately 40 billion people have been born between then and now….. around 33 billion have died.
Plagues, wars, famines, suffering and sorrow… but also good times…. family, friendship, romance, love….. centuries worth of peace and joy.… Since that fateful Good Friday nearly 2000 years ago, the human race has moved on in every possible way. Human history rolls on its course, just as it did before the cross.
So what exactly was finished on that sorrowful day some 2,000 years ago? What was finished on the cross?
Well…. It just so happens that the Apocalypse of John was written precisely to answer that question, and Revelation, chapter 5 holds the key. In Revelation 5, John has been ushered into heaven and there – he’s granted a vision of the throne of God. He sees God Himself seated on the throne, and in His right hand a scroll written within and on the back.
And a mighty Angel with a booming voice asks – “who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?”
You see – human history is written on that scroll, and the one worthy to open it and break its seals is the Lord of History. The Angel is asking about the Messiah – the Chosen One who can bring God’s divine plan to its final consummation.
John weeps because no messiah has been found, but then one of the elders tells him, “weep no more; behold the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
But when John looked up, he saw no militant Lion – no warrior King at all. Instead, John saw “a Lamb standing as though it had been slain.”
And the Lamb went and he took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the whole company of heaven “fell down before the Lamb” and they sang….
“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and nation, and you have made them a kingdom of priests to our God, and they shall reign on earth.”
From that point forward, the Lamb begins breaking the seven seals and all the events of the book of revelation unfold – the saints are vindicated, Satan is defeated, and God’s great victory over sin and evil is manifest….. humankind and all of creation is made new.
And John gets to witness all of it – its as though God has pulled back the curtain on human history and allowed John to see what really happened on the cross – what it really meant when Jesus said – its finished.
The 17th century English baptist, John Gill explained the finality of the cross like this. What is finished?
the whole will of God; as that he should be incarnate, be exposed to shame and reproach, and suffer much, and die; the whole work his Father gave him to do, which was to preach the Gospel, work miracles, and obtain eternal salvation for his people, all which were now done, or as good as done; the whole righteousness of the law was fulfilled, an holy nature assumed, perfect obedience yielded to it, and the penalty of death endured; hence a perfect righteousness was finished agreeably to the law, which was magnified and made honourable by it, and redemption from its curse and condemnation secured; sin was made an end of, full atonement and satisfaction for it were given; complete pardon procured, peace made, and redemption from all iniquity obtained; all enemies were conquered; all types, promises, and prophecies were fulfilled, and his own course of life ended.
On the cross of Christ, death itself was swallowed up meaning that…. Those of us who believe…. have nothing to fear.
We know that history rolls on its course. People will be born, and they will die. The sun will rise and set again and again for as long as God wills it to be.
There will be wars and famines and plagues, but always the possibility of making something good and worthy…. even in the midst of what seems like chaos. As Christians, that is always our task…..
because as history rolls on its course – God is collecting the faithful to himself – all those ransomed by Jesus on the cross are being made imperishable….. prepared for eternal glory in the presence of God.
So… on this Good Friday, be thankful, and be faithful because Jesus’ redeeming work covers every moment of every day that ever was and ever will be.
Jesus Christ is crucified, and by his sacrifice, we are free to live for his glory through war and peace – sorrow and joy – and none of it is wasted.
So… thanks be to God for Jesus Christ and for all that He finished on that Good Friday so long ago.