When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. (John 19:30)
What did Jesus mean when He said ‘it is finished?’ There are a number of teachings floating around that twist this scripture to mean that all men are saved, all have a new creation nature, all wrath is finished, there is no hell, and on and on. And the blind follow the blind.
When Jesus uttered those words He had not yet descended into the depths of the earth and taken the keys of hell and death. He had not yet led captivity captive. He had not yet risen from the dead. He had not yet commissioned His disciples and promised them power. He had yet to enter the heavenly tabernacle with His own blood, and then sit down at the right hand of God. When Jesus proclaimed ‘it is finished’ there was still a lot to do.
What was finished was His mission to fulfill all the Law of Moses. Once that Law was fulfilled, Jesus was empowered to continue with the work of redemption and reconciliation. What remains to be done? While the work of Jesus is finished, the work of the church is far from over.
We have been commanded to take the gospel into the whole world and make disciples. We, as ambassadors of Christ, are to beseech men to be reconciled to God. We are called to heal the sick and deliver the oppressed. We are commissioned to destroy the works of the devil and reign in life.
The grip of death is finished. All men will be raised from the dead. But will they be raised to eternal life with the Father, or to eternal damnation and darkness? The church must finish its work. Jesus’ finished work makes ours possible.