March 12, 2008

The Word of Triumph - Mar 12, 2008

Grace and Peace be to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

There are some tasks in life that never seem to get finished. They get DONE from time to time, but never really FINISHED. When I was a kid, it was cleaning my room. Now that I’m older, it’s cleaning my room… and taking out the garbage… and changing the oil… and countless other tasks that I get done from time to time, but I never really get finished with.

Other tasks are different. They not only get finished for good, some even have long lasting effects when they’re finished.

Take for instance, the digging of the Panama Canal. Previous to the building of the Panama Canal, ships traveling from New York to San Francisco had to travel 14,000 miles down around the tip of South America. It was a long and dangerous journey. But when the Panama Canal was trenched, the journey got 8,000 miles shorter and suddenly became much safer.

Or think about the great wall of China. It was a huge task, but once it was finished, it provided China with a lasting defense against invasion from the north.

The great wall of China and the Panama Canal are two tasks that didn’t just get “done”, they got FINISHED. And their completion brought long lasting benefits.

In our meditation for tonight we’re going to read the sixth thing that Jesus said from the cross. What He said was, “It is finished.” The task Jesus had finished had been amazingly difficult. The task Jesus had finished had eternally lasting effects. For these two reasons, we don’t just call this word, “The Word of Completion”, we call this statement of Jesus, “The Word of Triumph.”

John 19:30 (NKJV)

So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

These are the words of God.

In English, Jesus’ statement of triumph is expressed with three words, “It – is – finished”. But in the original Greek it was just one word, “Tetelestai”. And that one word was in what is called the “perfect” tense.

Now I’m sure that Greek lessons make a lot of you fall asleep, but stay awake for this one. It’s remarkable.

You know how I said that some tasks have lasting effects when they’re completed? Well, the Greek “perfect” tense was designed to express this idea. In the Greek language action words are placed in the “perfect” tense in order to express “completed action with ongoing results”.

To help us remember this, our Greek professor would draw this symbol over Greek words that were in the “perfect” tense:




The vertical line stood for the action that was completed. The little arrow that extended out from line stood for the ongoing results of that completed action.

Jesus said, “It is finished!” in the perfect tense. He wasn’t just saying, “I’m glad my pains are coming to an end.” He wasn’t saying, “I’m about to die.” By using this word in the perfect tense, Jesus was saying, “Something just got finished here, and there are lasting results because it.”

So what was it that Jesus finished as He gave up His Spirit and died on the cross of Calvary? I’d answer that in two ways. Every prophesy was fulfilled and every punishment for sin was suffered, that’s what was finished.

First of all, every prophesy about the Savior from the Old Testament that Jesus could have fulfilled by this point, He had fulfilled. There were still some yet to come. God’s prophets had foretold that the Savior would rise from the dead, obviously, that would be fulfilled later. But everything that He could do to this point had been finished.

In a way, it was as if Jesus was speaking to His Heavenly Father when He said, “It is finished.” “Each and every prophecy Father, they are finished. They are fulfilled.”

Jesus had once told His disciples,

“…My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.” (John 4:34 NKJV).

On another occasion Jesus told them,

“…I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed!” (Luke 12:50 NIV).

The work of the Father was the work of saving sinners from Hell. That work was accomplished by a Baptism of suffering – the Baptism of pain and anguish that God’s Son felt while being crucified.

From nine in the morning to three in the after noon. For six hours Jesus hung spiked, hand and foot, to a rough Roman cross. And during this time He was tortured for each and every sin that you and I have done, or ever will do.

He felt the just punishment for every murder, every rape, every theft, every lie, every adultery and every covetous thought. Every time a person misused the name of God, Jesus was declared guilty of it. Every time a person ignored and abused the Word of God, Jesus was declared guilty of it. Every time something other than God was worshiped, Jesus became guilty of it.

In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul wrote,

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NKJV).

Note, Paul doesn’t say that God made Him who knew no sin to be “a sinner” for us. No, Paul says, God made Him who knew no sin to be “sin” for us. Since all the sins that had ever been committed were wiped onto Jesus, you might as well just call Him “Sin”.

Because all mankind’s sins were placed on Jesus, all God’s wrath fell on Him. And only after the full cup of God’s fiery anger was poured out on Jesus, only after that did Jesus say, “It is finished.”

A man named Besser once described it like this,

“The Savior turned His gaze from the first sinner to the last, and behold, He saw no one for whose guilt He had not atoned, no one for whom He had not won forgiveness and peace” (“The Gospels”, Ylvisaker 749).

“It is finished”, was spoken in the “perfect” tense.




The completed action was the work of saving sinners. The ongoing results are forgiveness, peace and eternal life for all who trust in Jesus.

When sinners hear the story of Jesus, we are offered a gift from Jesus’ own hand. And when He gives us the gift of forgiveness He says, “It is finished. It doesn’t need batteries. No assembly is required. Here let me show you. See? It really is finished.”

So far, I’ve suggested that Jesus’ word of triumph was spoken to the Father, and to all sinners. But I can’t leave out one last person. For certainly, Jesus’ word of triumph was also spoke to the Devil. Though to the Devil it sounded more like, “You are finished.”

Rewind back to the garden of Eden for a moment. Remember the first prophesy of the Savior. God Himself predicted that Satan would hurt the Savior, but the Savior would inflict a more critical blow to Satan. Speaking to Satan, God said:

“…I will put enmity Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel”(Genesis 3:15 NKJV).

Satan hurt Jesus sorely throughout His life and especially on the night Judas betrayed Him, and the next day as He hung on the cross. But when Jesus took away the punishment for our sin, He dealt the death blow to Satan. Satan still seeks to drag sinners down into Hell with Him, but His time is short, and anyone who stands by the cross of Christ can’t be touched by the Old dying Serpent.

Listen to an image from Revelation 12:

9The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

10Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God,
and the authority of his Christ.
For the accuser of our brothers,
who accuses them before our God day and night,
has been hurled down.
11They overcame him
by the blood of the Lamb…”(Revelation 12:9-11 NIV).

The great wall of China and the Panama Canal are two tasks that didn’t just get “done”, they got FINISHED. And their completion brought the long lasting benefits of protection, and safe passage.

Jesus’ great work of Salvation got finished too. Once and for all. And ever since Jesus cried out, “It is finished”, His finished work has brought lasting benefits to those who look to Him in faith. Lasting benefits like the full forgiveness of sins, safety from Satan and safe passage to Heaven. I guess that’s why we don’t just call this “the word of completion”, we call it, “the Word of Triumph.”

So, let it be your word of triumph too. When Satan accuses and sins sadden. Remind Satan, “It is finished.” Remind your sorrowing heart, “It is finished.” For those words are words of triumph. Words of victory. And whoever believes them will not be condemned.

As Jesus promised,

I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24 NIV).


The Peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

-Pastor Caleb Schaller

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