On the cross, Jesus said, “It is finished.” Yes, indeed it was finished. But what exactly was finished?
When Jesus said, “It is finished,” He was referring to the task, assignment, and mission that He had been sent here (the earth) to accomplish. And, having accomplished it, He was able to declare as He did, “It is finished”.
What was He sent here to do?
1. He was sent “to SEEK and to SAVE the lost” (Luke 19:10)
Every Christian (should) knows this. But while Jesus offered the world the free gift of salvation – for God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life – He focused on seeking and saving His people, the Jewish nation, first. He spoke of this explicitly to His disciples, saying, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt 15:24). It was so important to Jesus that the gospel should be brought to His people first that He instructed His disciples to “go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt 10:5-6). Paul the apostle echoed this in Romans 1:16, saying that “the gospel … is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek”.
2. He came to REDEEM and FORGIVE sins (Eph 1:7 and Col 1:14)
Jesus was the fulfillment of two spiritual metaphors in the Old Testament. The Passover Lamb and the sacrificial lamb used on the Day of Atonement. As the Passover Lamb, Jesus came to redeem His people and all who would believe in Him, and make them His own. As the lamb that was sacrificed on the Day of Atonement, Jesus washed away our sins with His own blood.
There are two theological terms used to describe what Jesus did with our sins by His death. the two terms are Expiation and Propitiation.
Expiation means the removal of our sin and guilt. Christ’s death removes — expiates — our sin and guilt. The guilt of our sin was taken away from us and placed on Christ, who discharged it by his death. Thus, in John 1:29, John the Baptist calls Jesus “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Jesus takes away, that is, expiates, our sins. Likewise, Isaiah 53:6 says, “The Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on him,” and Hebrews 9:26 says “He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”
Whereas expiation refers to the removal of our sins, propitiation refers to the removal of God’s wrath.
By dying in our place for our sins, Christ removed the wrath of God that we justly deserved. In fact, it goes even further: a propitiation is not simply a sacrifice that removes wrath, but a sacrifice that removes wrath and turns it into favor. (Note: a propitiation does not turn wrath into love — God already loved us fully, which is the reason he sent Christ to die; it turns his wrath into favor so that his love may realize its purpose of doing good to us every day, in all things, forever, without sacrificing his justice and holiness.)
3. He came to DISARM Satan.
Jesus came, as John puts it, “to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). He came to disarm him (Col 3:15). And in doing so, He triumphed over Satan and his demons, and “put them to open shame”.
What were Satan’s weapons? They were sin, death, and the fear of death.
Paul states that you are slave of the one whom you obey. If you obey God, then you are a slave of God. But if you obey sin, then you have become a slave of sin (Rom 6:16). Christ took this weapon away from him for all who would believe, defeating him and all the powers of darkness in his death by, “having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13-14).
Having disarmed Satan of the power of sin, Jesus next disarmed him of the power of death. He defeated the power of death when He rose up from the grave. “Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him” (Romans 6:9). “He destroyed death by death” (Byzantine liturgy).
Now that the power of death has been broken and Jesus have become the “firstfruit of those who have fallen asleep”, many more will likewise “be made alive” at His coming (1 Cor 15:20-23).
Paul says that “the last enemy to be destroyed is death” (I Corinthians 15:26). What this means is that we who are in Christ have no enemies left. This is liken to the Israelite entering the Promised Land. When they had entered into and taken possession of the land, they had rest from their enemies (Deut 12:10). There was nothing left to fear; not even the fear of death.
While death still had power to hold men in the grave, Mankind lived their whole lives under the fear of death (Heb 2:15). But all this changed when Christ died on the cross and defeated the power of death. He reminds us, as He reminded Martha, that He is the Resurrection and the Life; Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live (John 11:25). In the New Testament, believers of Jesus Christ are said to have “fallen asleep” and not died(1 Cor 15:6, 18, 20; 1 Cor 11:30; 1 Thes 4:13-15; John 11:11, 12; Matt 27:52). The same cannot be said about unbelievers. They simply die.
What Jesus accomplished by His death is tremendous. He has attained for us freedom in all sense of the word. Satan has been rendered powerless, but not destroyed. Satan will be destroyed finally and completely when Christ returns again. In the meantime, he still lives… and he is still at work. “What is he doing?” you ask. And what is his weapon? He is busy blinding eyes and hardening hearts (John 12:40) He is blinding “the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Cor 4:4).