“It is finished!” – John 19:30
Abba, Father, when Jesus spoke those words on the cross, he intended for them to echo throughout time, that each new generation, by the enabling grace of your Holy Spirit, would hear and believe the good news. My mind and my heart worship you with thanksgiving, in light of your eternal mercy that opened my ears and gave me eyes to see my own need for such a great salvation as expressed in the cry, “It is finished!”
Those three words contain the promise that the law has been fulfilled. Lord Jesus, as you said in the Sermon on the Mount, you did not come to abolish the law and reduce the demand for perfect obedience; you came to accomplish the complete keeping of those demands. You did not only die for me as a substitute. You also lived for me as a substitute.
When I consider that angle on your grace, I begin to understand a bit better what John Newton meant when he wrote the lines: “To see the law by Christ fulfilled, to hear his pardoning voice, turns a slave into a child, and duty into choice.” Because of your life lived for me, Jesus, the curse of the law’s demands has been broken.
The shackles have been loosed and I am free. Free to live and love and repent and believe and forgive as I abide in your finished work on my behalf. For you not only fulfilled the law, you were the one who was shackled— nailed —to the cross in order that the justice my sins required might also be fulfilled.
There is no more fear or possibility of accusation. As your word says, “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.” Who shall bring any charge! Father, because of the propitiation of Jesus’ blood, there is not one sin that can be brought up against me. You will throw out all charges since they have been nailed to the cross. What glorious grace!
And yet so often I live as if the law has not been fulfilled. And in so doing, I deny your grace. I forsake the gospel. When my sin is revealed, rather than running to you for mercy and claiming the atoning blood of Jesus, I wallow in self-pity. Sometimes I try to justify myself or shift blame to someone else. On other occasions I try to do penance and atone myself, making promises that I think somehow will offset the guilt.
Father, I give my flesh and its sin too much power in my life. The gospel is the power of God. The cross and the Spirit is what I need when faced with my abiding propensity toward iniquity. I need to gaze upon my Jesus saying, “It… is… finished!” Sins past. Sins present. Sins future. The law keeping is done. The lawbreaking is forgiven. Forever. It is finished. I have been set free. So don’t go back to the slavery of the law. It is for freedom that Christ has set me free.
So as a gift of grace, when I am tempted to live like a Pharisee and gaze at myself, would you enable me to fix my eyes on Jesus, who for the joy set before him endured the cross for me? Would you realign my heart to that of a child who lives in full faith-dependence upon his Abba? Would you this day enable me to fully embrace the depth of my sin, but at the same time, to fully embrace the depth, height, breadth and width of the finished work of Jesus, whose grace is far greater than my sin?
Abba, Father, by the power of your Spirit, enable me believe that it is finished, so that I can begin to really live in the freedom of the gospel.