28 After this, Jesus, [a]knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” 29 Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. 30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. John 19:28-30
I think we have missed most of what Jesus is saying in this passage of Scripture. He speaks what may be the three most powerful words of His earthly ministry; "It is finished!" I think we read those words from the perspective of two thousand years in the future and limit His atoning work to the offer of forgiveness for our sin, and by way of receiving that offer, entry into a future in heaven with Him. To do so cheapens the depths of the work, the depth of the riches that Paul says that we have in Jesus Christ. The atoning work of Christ on the cross for our sin has delivered us not only from the penalty of sin, but it's power over us as well. As Martin Smith wrote in this lyric, "This is the message of the cross; that we can be free." It's for freedom He set us free! How can we miss that? Why do we miss that? Why do we, who call Him Lord and Savior, live as though His work is not finished at all, and ours goes on? Why do we keep striving to reach a level of life that He has already freely given us. Why do we keep trying to "get" what is already ours through faith in Christ? Why do we keep trying to reach a place that we're already at in Him?
Sheila Walsh recounts how she spent a great part of her life in Him trying to achieve a place of acceptance by Him. To be the best singer, the best 700 club co-host, the best wife, the best woman. The end result of all the striving and the intense pressure she placed upon herself in it, was a complete breakdown, and her checking herself into a mental health facility. It was there, on the floor of her room, broken and spiritually bleeding, that she heard a voice saying to her, "Sheila, the Savior knows where you are." On the floor of that room, she at last came to know Him as He really is, and what He really desired from her. Herself. Not her performance, not her checking off of all the spiritual behavior boxes, and certainly not all of her activity. He came for her, died for her, rose for her, and now lived in her. And He invited her into the resurrection life He offered her through His cross. When He cried out those three words, "It is finished," He called a finish to all our striving to live up to a standard, to reach a spiritual goal, to try and win His favor and approval. He called a finish to trying gain entry into His heart and life. He announced a beginning of entering into the life He created her for. A life of victory, wholeness, joy, peace, and wonder. The outward pressures were still there, but the inner, self-made ones were surrendered to Him. He had finished the need for our struggles on the cross. Our part is to be finished with them as well, and enter into, receive, what He now invites us to. To receive healing, wholeness, forgiveness, all the depths of His riches.
We spend so much time asking Him for that which He's already given us. We ask for joy, peace, strength, hope. The list is endless. He has told us plainly, "Freely I have given, freely now receive." So why don't we? Why do come to Him as beggars rather than sons and daughters? As orphans rather than heirs? Before the cross, all of the human race was held in the grip of sin, captive to the whims of the enemy. On the cross, and in His resurrection, Christ finished all of that. Freely He gives us the offer of a forgiven, victorious, overcoming life. Will we receive that life? It is finished. That has been settled at Calvary. Has it been settled in you?