When I take a trip somewhere without my wife, Raye Jeanne, as I recently did, I will remind her of some household essentials — repairs to the house that I have made or need to make, the status of our bills and check book, and similar items.
As I leave my home in the morning, I make sure to say “Good bye” to her, and the last words I want her to hear as I leave are, “I love you.” Similarly, when we speak on the telephone during the day, I always end our conversations with an affirmation of my love for her.
These are all potential last words, and I want those words to communicate essential and important messages. Likewise, as Christ hung on the cross, He made seven short statements that communicated essential aspects of His life and ministry.
The first three words concern His personal relationships:
- a prayer for His executioners (“Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing”) — a word of forgiveness
- a promise to the thief (His fellow-sufferer on that day, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise” ) — a word of grace
- a provision for His mother and beloved disciple (He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!”) — a word of compassion
The next three words concern His work of salvation:
- the cry concerning His moral suffering (“My God…”) — a word of anguish
- the groan concerning His physical suffering (“I am thirsty”) — a word of His deity and humanity
- the triumphant declaration (“it is finished”) — a word of victory
The final word concerns His fellowship with the Father (“into Your hands I commend My spirit”) — a word of trust.
These words reveal our Savior. For several years, on Good Friday we have been considering each of these statements in turn; this Friday we will consider the sixth of those statements, made just moments before Christ’s death, “it is finished.” The power of that statement is that what appears to be the demise and defeat of the Savior is in fact the coronation of His victory. In what way is Christ victorious and what did Christ finish on the cross? That will be the focus of our meditation at our Good Friday communion service, April 19 at 7:00 p.m.
To begin preparing you for that meditation, consider the comments of A. W. Pink on that statement:
The Son of Man came here “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Christ Jesus came into the world “to save sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15). God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, “to redeem them that were under the law” (Galatians 4:4). He was manifested “to take away our sins” (1 John 3:5). And all this involved the cross. The “lost” which he came to seek could only be found there – in the place of death and under the condemnation of God. Sinners could be “saved” only by one taking their place and bearing their iniquities. They who were under the law could be “redeemed” only by another fulfilling its requirements and suffering its curse. Our sins could be “taken away” only by their being blotted out by the precious blood of Christ. The demands of justice must be met: the requirements of God’s holiness must be satisfied: the awful debt we incurred must be paid. And on the cross this was done; done by none less than the Son of God; done perfectly; done once for all.…
What was finished? The work of atonement. What is the value of that to us? This: to the sinner, it is a message of glad tidings. All that a holy God requires has been done. Nothing is left for the sinner to add. No works from us are demanded as the price of our salvation. All that is necessary for the sinner is to rest now by faith upon what Christ did. “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). To the believer, the knowledge that the atoning work of Christ is finished brings a sweet relief over against all the defects and imperfections of his services. There is much of sin and vanity in the very best of our efforts, but the grand relief is that we are “complete” in Christ (Col. 2:10)! Christ and his finished work is the ground of all our hopes. [A.W. Pink, The Seven Sayings of the Saviour on the Cross.]