Victims of crucifixion usually died exhausted and unconscious. The New Testament tells us that before he died, Jesus summoned the strength for a loud cry (Mark 15:37). This was unusual for a man dying on a cross after many hours of torture.
His final shout was a cry of victory over the powers of darkness: “It is finished!” He was saying that he had accomplished what he had been sent to earth to do. In this sixth statement from the cross (John 19:30), Jesus again alluded to the twenty-second psalm, a prophecy of his sacrificial death: “He has done it!” (Psalm 22:31).
What did he accomplish in his dying? He accomplished “everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man” (Luke 18:31; 1 Peter 1:11). He accomplished the requirements of God’s law. He was born and lived under the law, he fulfilled the law in his perfect life, and he bore the curse of the law in his death (Galatians 2:21, 3:13, 4:4). With perfect obedience he accomplished the purpose of the Father (John 17:4).
The Hebrew prophets, writing hundreds of years earlier, tell us that his death on the cross would be to “atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness” and that “the Anointed One (Messiah) will be put to death and will have nothing” (Daniel 9:24, 26). “They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He (God in Christ) has done it!” (Psalm 22:31). That is what he meant when he said, “It is finished!”
He was speaking to the Father in heaven: ” I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do” (John 17:4). He was speaking to those who would make up that growing worldwide congregation of believers throughout history: “I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you” (Psalm 22:22). He was speaking to himself: “After he (God’s Lamb) has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied” (Isaiah 53 :11).
The word “finished,” in the Greek language implies completed action with a continuous result. It has finality. The work of salvation is accomplished; the price of redemption is paid in full. This word was used in first century marketplaces where goods were bought and sold. A seller would write a receipt for a completed transaction with this word which means “paid in full.”
Rudolf Stier wrote, There is nothing lying beyond the reach of this word. … Here is the center of the history of the world.” Nothing can be added to what Jesus accomplished to secure salvation for all who believe in him. “He has done it! It is finished!”
In his book, The Cross of Christ, John R.W. Stott wrote: “The loud shout of victory, is in the gospel text the single word tetelestai. Being in the perfect tense, it means ‘it has been and will forever remain finished.’ We note the achievement Jesus claimed just before he died. It is not men who have finished their brutal deed; it is he who accomplished what he came into the world to do. He has borne the sins of the world. Deliberately, freely and in perfect love he has endured the judgment in our place. He has procured salvation for us, established a new covenant between God and humankind, and made available the chief covenant blessing, the forgiveness of sins.”
Pastor Randy Faulkner