Charlie is a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Life Connection Group Teacher at Graceland Baptist Church.
The last words uttered by Jesus before his death were, “It is finished.” What ending was it that he was announcing? The great British theologian Matthew Henry (1662 – 1714) points us to several things that Jesus had then finished:
1) The torment of his persecutors was finished.
Much pain was inflicted on Jesus at the hands of the Jews and Romans. His scourging and nailing to the tree was ordained before the beginning of time. Jesus finished his necessary endurance of all the pain.
This makes us ask, to what extent can we expect God to deliver us from the torments of this world? King David often asked to be delivered, and saw deliverance time and time again. The Psalms are full of his thanksgiving to the Lord. On the other hand, the apostle Paul asked to be delivered from the thorn in his flesh, but was not. In both instances, God was glorified. When he delivers, he is to receive thanksgiving and praise for his merciful deliverance. When he doesn’t deliver the way we would like, he can receive glory in demonstrating that his power is made perfect in our weakness.
It is biblical for us to ask for deliverance from our troubles. However, we must be willing to trust the wisdom of the Lord, knowing that while he always has the power to deliver us physically, the path to his greater glory is his goal and plan. In every case, let us say with Job, “though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15). May our joy in seeing God glorified ultimately surpass our desire for temporal relief.
2) The eternal plan of God to redeem a people through the Son’s sacrifice was finished.
The sending of the Son by the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit was not God’s plan B. Before the foundation of the world, this plan of redemption had been set. God prophesied and then meticulously fulfilled every single aspect of the birth, life, death and resurrection of the Messiah.
What about our life? Is God back-peddling, making the best of the mess we tend to make of our lives? We see through the life of Jesus that God is not making up history as he goes. Even the deeds of good and wicked men in the life of Jesus fell perfectly into place. Know that God is sovereign and nothing catches him by surprise. There is a reason why “all things work out for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). That reason is the sovereign plan of God who “declares the end from the beginning” (Is. 46:10).
3) The ceremonial law was finished.
Jesus didn’t just die for us. He lived and died for us. That living part was important. He kept every law perfectly. He did this so that it could be said of him that he, “fulfilled all righteousness” (Matt. 3:15).
So how many of God’s laws do we not have to keep in order to go Heaven? All of them? Any of them? The answer may surprise you. In a sense, we have to keep them all. It is not enough to be sinless, we must also be righteous. This is obviously a problem for all of us!
The good news is that Jesus fulfilled the law on our behalf (Matt. 5:17). Jesus lived and died for us, so that “in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21). This doesn’t mean that we can live according to our sinful desires, because loving God and his law is an evidence of our salvation (1 Jn. 1:7). But it does mean that the perfect holiness of God which commands perfect obedience, has been met on our behalf by our perfect Savior.