What did Jesus mean when He said, “It is finished!” in John 19:30?

by Mike Ratliff

5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well- being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5 NASB)

One of the teachings from the leadership of the Word-Faith movement is that Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross was insufficient to accomplish the salvation of His people. They teach that Jesus then had to go to Hell to suffer as a lost person by being tormented by Satan. If that were true then what did Jesus mean when He said, “It is finished”? (John 19:30)

28 Μετὰ τοῦτο εἰδὼς ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὅτι ἤδη πάντα τετέλεσται, ἵνα τελειωθῇ ἡ γραφή, λέγει· διψῶ. 29 σκεῦος ἔκειτο ὄξους μεστόν· σπόγγον οὖν μεστὸν τοῦ ὄξους ὑσσώπῳ περιθέντες προσήνεγκαν αὐτοῦ τῷ στόματι. 30 ὅτε οὖν ἔλαβεν τὸ ὄξος [ὁ] Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν· τετέλεσται, καὶ κλίνας τὴν κεφαλὴν παρέδωκεν τὸ πνεῦμα. (John 19:28-30 NA28)

28 After this, Jesus, knowing that everything had been completed, said (that Scripture may be fulfilled), “I thirst.” 29 A vessel was there full of vinegar; so then a sponge full of vinegar on a hyssop branch was brought to His mouth. 30 Therefore, when Jesus had received the vinegar he said, “It has been accomplished,” and having bowed His head, He gave up His spirit. (John 19:28-30 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, *said, “ I am thirsty.” 29 A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth. 30 Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “ It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. (John 19:28-30 NASB)

The Greek verb that the NASB translated “it is finished” and I as “It has been accomplished” is τετέλεσται. It carries the idea of fulfilling one’s task and in religious contexts has the idea of fulfilling one’s religious obligations. Christ’s sacrifice as the Lamb of God completed the entire work of redemption. τετέλεσται  has been found in the papyri being placed on receipts for taxes meaning “paid in full.” What does this tell us? God is Sovereign. Jesus’ death and resurrection were all according to plan. Also, Jesus’ death on the cross was a great victory because through it He purchased or redeemed His people.

13 Behold, My servant will prosper,
He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted.
14 Just as many were astonished at you, My people,
So His appearance was marred more than any man
And His form more than the sons of men.
15 Thus He will sprinkle many nations,
Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him;
For what had not been told them they will see,
And what they had not heard they will understand. (Isaiah 52:13-15 NASB)

This prophecy from Isaiah tells us that our Lord was beaten and tortured so badly that his appearance was horribly marred. However through that Christ earned the victory that caused Him to be high and lifted up, and exalted. Also, this victory is felt world-wide. It affects not only His believers; it will also cause Kings to submit to His authority.

Who has believed what they heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. (Isaiah 53:1-4 ESV)

Jesus of Nazareth was a normal looking man. His attraction was not based on his looks. In fact, most despised and rejected him. He did not come fully arrayed in the robes of a ruler. Instead he arose from a lowly condition. He did not come as the conquering King the Jews wanted. Instead, he came as the suffering servant. Why? His true identity could only be discerned with the eye of faith. People despised and rejected him causing Him much grief. Most people still reject Him today. Oh, they may be following a Jesus of their own choosing, but it is another Jesus. The only ones who see the real Jesus and follow Him are His sheep whom He calls and they respond in faith to that call.

1 Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
3 He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted. (Isaiah 53:1-4 NASB)

This parallels perfectly with the Gospel accounts in the New Testament. Jesus’ suffering and death was that which brought us peace and healed us of our spiritual death. In other words, through the washing of regeneration Christians are brought into saving faith that brings them into right relationship with God through the Son and they are given eternal life. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, all we like sheep have gone astray. God the Father laid our sins on Him then He suffered and died on our behalf. Through it all, He never complained or defended Himself. He was slaughtered to redeem His people.

8 By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?
9 His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
10 But the Lord was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.
11 As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:8-12 NASB)

Who crushed our Lord? God did that. He poured out His wrath against our sin onto His beloved Son. Jesus died and was buried in a borrowed tomb. He was sinless, yet was treated, on our behalf, as a sinner. What does it mean that “His soul makes an offering for sin, he shall see His offspring?” Christ’s sacrifice for our sin was completely sufficient. No other sacrifice is needed. Out of His anguish on the cross, Christ saw the result was satisfied. His death accomplished everything God intended. The Righteous one, Christ, made many to be accounted righteous by bearing their iniquities. Whose sins did Christ bear? He bore all the sins of those who are to be accounted righteous. Who killed Christ? No one killed Him; He laid down His life and poured out His own Spirit to death in bearing the sin of many. God saves sinners not those who think they are sinless.

Did Jesus’ death on the cross not accomplish what God intended? The Word-Faith teachers say that is true. How anyone can come up with that myth that Jesus went to Hell to suffer more for our sins is beyond me. Of course, the whole concept of the Word-Faith movement is to elevate Man and demote God. After what Jesus did for His people in His suffering and death then to have people treat Him this way with their heretical teachings, is beyond belief. Of course, the Jesus they teach and preach is one of their own making. Only the eyes of faith can see the real Jesus, fall in love with Him, then die to self as His bond servants for eternity.

Soli Deo Gloria!

5 thoughts on “What did Jesus mean when He said, “It is finished!” in John 19:30?

  1. Since, as recorded in Hebrews 1:1-4, Jesus was God’s Final and Supreme Messenger, the Word had been delivered. That Message, “the Kingdom of God is at Hand” and the Gospel, has remained Alive and Vibrant for over 2,000 years and is STILL Saving and Changing Lives. It was the End of the Beginning!

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  2. “Who crushed our Lord? God did that. He poured out His wrath against our sin onto His beloved Son.” This is often overlooked by people. God’s wrath is His appointed judgment on sin. Not only that Jesus was killed in a horribly painful way – many men were so-killed. He drank the cup of wrath due us.

    With this in mind, consider those who say Christ died for the sins of the whole world – every human. If this were true, either hell is not a place of wrath poured out on sins (because people there had their sins paid for and wouldn’t pay again) or the blood of Christ is not truly sufficient to save anyone (as not everyone gets saved). Both of these consequences of that perspective contradict clear teachings in Scripture. Therefore, we can strenuously teach and believe that when Jesus says He He gave His life for His sheep (John 10:11) and He gave Himself for the church (Eph 5:25) He meant exactly that!

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  3. Pingback: What did Jesus mean when He said, “It is finished!” in John 19:30? | The Narrowing Path

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