28After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. 31Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. 32So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. 33But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. 35He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. 36For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” 37And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.” 38After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. 39Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. 40So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. 41Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.
This text is so simple and straightforward. John tells it almost like a news report. The most important event in the history of the world takes place and there are no words to adequately describe the scope of what has happened. Our Creator God intervenes into our broken world with the one action that will bring us life and most of the population simply moves through their day like it was a regular Friday. It was anything but.
In truth, God didn’t need our reaction or intervention into His work. Jesus’ death on the cross fulfilled a promise that had been made 5,000 years earlier to Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:15). We are not players in our own salvation. It is the work of Jesus alone that brings about our rescue. We don’t choose it, we don’t ask for it, and we don’t help with it. Just as Adam and Eve were not present for the creation of the world, so we are not necessary for Jesus to finish His work of salvation. He doesn’t need any helpers. And yet the price for our sins is paid in full and Jesus is able to say “It is finished.” These are big words and actually have legal and fiduciary implications. There was a debt owed by one party and now that debt has been paid completely. Sin no longer owns us and there is no interest to be paid on the loan. For centuries we have been trying to add our actions and good works to help God out with our salvation. This is a waste of time. You don’t owe any interest on the debt. It’s all been paid. There aren’t enough good works you can do that will help God save you. They aren’t necessary because Jesus’ death was enough.
I think we need to read these words often and with great intention. They are of vital importance to each one of us for in the death of Christ we find everything that we need – everything. We’ve read them so often that they can begin to lose their luster for us. That is tragic. When Jesus said “It is finished” our lives had just begun.