“It is finished.” (John 19:30)
What was it that was finished? Jesus himself had said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law and the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17). He was often accused of not following the law but infact it were teachings of the elders that he didn’t follow because they were the ‘teachings of men’. ( Matthew 15:2-9) The essence of the law is to love God and man which Jesus obeyed but to men it seemed that he didn’t obey the letter of the law.
1. The law was fulfilled.
What is the law ( Torah)? What does it do? The law differentiates between good and evil, right and wrong. Man received this discernment at the garden of Eden when he ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. But he could not live by this knowledge because the Spirit of God had left him and was spiritually dead even before the law was given in writing. The law only reiterated what they already knew. For instance, there was nothing new about the ten commandments because what was stated was already known to man. Of the ten commandments, the fifth commandment stated what is to be done and the rest stated what should not be done. Now that it was given in written form, the Israelites no longer had any excuse. For that matter all ‘men are without excuse’. ( Romans 1:20) because the requirements of the law was written in their hearts . ‘Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness …‘ ( Romans 2:12-16)
What was the purpose of adding the law ( Torah)? ‘Sin is not taken into account when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses.’ (Romans 5:14) But as transgressions increased, it had to be checked untill the Seed to whom the promise referred to had come. Therefore, the law ‘was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come.’ (Galatians 3:19) The law was also added so that ‘sin might be recognised as sin’ (Romans 7: 7-13) and as a result sin increased. ‘The law was added so that trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.’ (Romans 5:20) Only by grace could a man abide by the law but ‘grace and truth came through Christ’. ( John 1:17) That is why it is said that only Jesus had succeeded to live by the Torah (law) because he alone had the Spirit of grace in him to abide by the Torah (law).
What was the effect of adding the law (Torah)? ‘But sin seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment produced in me every kind of sinful desire.’ (Romans 7:8-13) As with the knowledge of good and evil, the knowledge of the law did not decrease the desire to sin but rather increased it! In short the sinful nature failed the law! ‘For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.‘ (Romans 8:3-4) When they crucified Jesus to the cross: one in whom the Torah ( law) was fulfilled, they figuratively nailed the Torah ( law) to the cross. ‘He forgave us all our sins having cancelled the written code, with its rules and regulations that was against us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.’ (Colossians 2:14) In accepting Jesus as our Saviour; the one in whom the Torah ( law ) was fulfilled, the righteous requirements of the Torah (law ) are fully met in us, thus qualifying us to receive the ‘promise of the Spirit’. (Acts 1:4, Galatians 3:14)
2. Prophecies were fulfilled.
As was his name, so was his mission! He fulfilled the mission assigned to him. It was at the end of his mission that he said, “It is finished”. He wouldn’t give up until everything was accomplished. There were hundreds of prophecies concerning every aspect of his life and the probability of all these prophecies being fulfilled in one man is astounding! The fact that he knew all was complete, so that Scriptures would be fulfilled, proves that he was full of the word. Ofcourse, he is the ‘Word that out on flesh and dwelt among us’. Therefore he is called the ‘Living Word’. The prophets themselves were eager to see the fulfillment of the prophecies! ‘Concerning this salvation the prophets who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.’ (1 Peter 1:10-11) The Apostles too knew the prophecies in Scripture. ( Acts 2:16, 15:15) Just as every word of prophecy concerning Christ was fulfilled, so will every word of prophecy spoken over us be fulfilled. Do we know or even remember what was said about us? Jesus knew, so did the Apostles! Paul knew he would not die in Jerusalem but will go to Rome. Paul reminded Timothy of the prophecies concerning him ( 1 Timothy 4:14, 2 Timothy 1:6) and asked him to ‘fan into flame the gift of God’. Jesus was passionate about finishing the task assigned to him – the task of taking the sin of the world – which he did completely! Therefore, he uttered, “It is finished.” Believe in the finished work of Christ on the cross. Amen.