“It is Finished.”

Christianity is more than just a philosophy or a way to live your life. The Gospel is more than simply a theory about the universe and humanity, or an idea to guide you in your actions. It is more than a set of values to live by. The Gospel is news – it is a report about a factual event, and all the implications that flow from the reality of that event. And at the center of that event is a man.

“These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” – John 20:31

Six hours had passed with Jesus hanging on the cross. Prior to that he’d gone through somewhere between nine and twelve hours of trial, abuse, beating, whippings, floggings. And he went through the greatest of all sufferings – complete abandonment of the loving presence of his Father, the God of heaven.

“Knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:28-30).

It is finished. A small phrase. A single word in the Greek text of the book of John. Tetelestai. Complete. Paid in full. Done forever. Accomplished.

It is finished.

Jesus had carried the weight of sin on his shoulders. The sinless Son of God had become the ultimate sinner on our behalf, and walked under the relentless gaze of his Father’s justice. He faced the unmitigated terror of earthly government and some of the worst forms of punishment it had ever devised. Finally, he had felt the burning, holy wrath of God poured out on him in all its terrible purity.

It is finished.

God’s anger was satisfied. Justice was met. The price had been paid. The power of sin was broken. Satan and all his demons disarmed forever. Mercy triumphed over judgment. Salvation had been won.

It is finished.

Those words of Jesus signaled that God’s great plan of salvation was complete, and that he had made the atonement needed to restore the relationship between God and man. That he had made atonement for me. That there is nothing I need to do to be right with God, because it is already done.

The fact of Jesus’ resurrection seals the truth of these words. Every man dies. But to say, “I’m going to die, and then I’m going to come back.” That was new. No one had done that before. No one has done it since. And by doing it, Jesus proved the truth of everything he said. Everything he said about me – that I am a sinner in desperate need of salvation, that God’s standard is perfection and that I don’t meet it, that I can only live by him – is true. Everything he said about himself – that he is the Son of God, that he is the prophesied Messiah, that he is the Savior from sin – is true. Everything he said about his death – that it brings release for the prisoners and healing for the sins of all – is true.

When he said, “It is finished,” it is true.

Because Jesus rose from the dead.

It is finished.

 

 

“This is my body. This is my blood.”

Christianity is more than just a philosophy or a way to live your life. The Gospel is more than simply a theory about the universe and humanity, or an idea to guide you in your actions. It is more than a set of values to live by. The Gospel is news – it is a report about a factual event, and all the implications that flow from the reality of that event. And at the center of that event is a man.

“These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” – John 20:31

 

On the night of his betrayal, Jesus celebrated the Passover with his disciples, in an upper room of a home in Jerusalem. Where the house was, why that room, and how that scene looked is something we will never know, and don’t need to. But on that night, Jesus gave his disciples – and us – a priceless treasure.

“As they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, ‘Take; this is my body.’ And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. 24 And he said to them, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.’” (Mark 14:22-24).

As the Gospel spread and more people came to faith in Jesus, those early Christians carried on their remembrance of this event, as Jesus had commanded his disciples. Paul wrote at length to the Christians in Corinth about the meaning of this meal, repeating the story and Jesus’ words, so that Christians for all ages would know that when they receive the Lord’s Supper, they are receiving Christ’s true body and blood for the forgiveness of their sins.

But this is unbelievable. It is, in the purest meaning of the word, incredible. When we eat the bread we are somehow also eating Jesus’ body? When we drink the wine we are also somehow drinking Jesus’ blood? Seems quite impossible. There’s no evidence. You can’t test the elements and find proof. There’s no logic. How can Jesus’ body and blood be given so many times to so many people in so many places?

Yet, there are his words. “This is my body. This is my blood.” Do I believe his words?

The foundational event at the center of Christianity is Jesus’ death and resurrection. If Jesus truly died, and if he truly rose to life again, then the implications are infinite. To explore just this one for now, if Jesus truly died and truly rose to life again, then it means that he is, as he said, the Son of God. If he truly died and rose again, then it means that there is nothing of which he is not capable. If Jesus truly died and rose again, then it means that whatever he says, no matter how incredible, is absolutely true.

If Jesus died and rose again, then it means that when I eat the bread and drink the cup, I receive his body and blood for the forgiveness of my sins.

I believe Jesus died and rose again. Why? I could tell you about the empty tomb and the failure of Jesus’ enemies to produce a body or any evidence that he was still dead. I could tell you about the many witnesses who saw him alive again, and the fact they were willing to die for their testimony. I could tell you about the generations of archeologists who have tried to find proof that Jesus’ resurrection was a hoax and have come up empty again and again and again.

But that’s not why I believe. I believe because a thing resounds when it rings true, and this truth echoes in all the empty places inside of me. A beggar doesn’t need proof that the bread that fills his empty stomach is truly food. To put it plainly, my soul needs Jesus, and when I hear these words, I know it, and I believe it.

And with it, I believe Jesus’ words. “This is my body. This is my blood.”