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« What Kind of Theological Renewal Does the Evangelical Church Need Most? | Home | The Seven Last Words of Christ for Holy Week: The Seventh Word »

The Seven Last Words of Christ for Holy Week: The Sixth Word

By Mark D. Roberts | Friday, April 2, 2010

READ John 19:19-30

“It is finished.”

John 19:30

I never saw a more difficult film to watch than Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. For most of that movie, I wanted to avert my eyes. It was horrible to watch even a cinematic version of a crucifixion. And it was beyond comprehension to think that this actually happened to somebody, and not just anybody, but my Lord and Savior. I had studied the crucifixion before and knew in my head what Jesus experienced. But seeing a visual presentation of his suffering was almost more than I could bear. When The Passion of the Christ was over, I felt palpable relief. Thank goodness it was finished.

When Jesus said, “It is finished,” surely he was expressing relief that his suffering was over. “It is finished” meant, in part, “This is finally over!” But the Greek verb translated as “It is finished” (tetelestai) means more than just this. Eugene Peterson captures the full sense of the verb in The Message: “It’s done . . . complete.” Jesus had accomplished his mission. He had announced and inaugurated the kingdom of God. He had revealed the love and grace of God. And he had embodied that love and grace by dying for the sin of the world, thus opening up the way for all to live under the reign of God.

Because Jesus finished his work of salvation, you and I don’t need to add to it. In fact, we can’t. He accomplished what we never could, taking our sin upon himself and giving us his life in return. Jesus finished that for which he had been sent, and we are the beneficiaries of his unique effort. Because of what he finished, you and I are never “finished.” We have hope for this life and for the next. We know that nothing can separate us from God’s love. One day what God has begun in us will also be finished, by his grace. Until that day, we live in the confidence of Jesus’ cry of victory: “It is finished!”

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Do you live as if Jesus finished the work of salvation? Do you have confidence that God will finish that which he has begun in you?
PRAYER: How can I ever find words to express my gratitude to you, Lord Jesus? You did it. You finished that for which you had been sent, faithful in life, faithful in death. You accomplished that which no other person could do, taking the sin of the world upon your sinless shoulders . . . taking my sin so that I might receive your forgiveness and new life.

All praise be to you, gracious Lord, for finishing the work of salvation. All praise be to you, dear Jesus, for saving me! Amen.


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This devotional comes from The High Calling of Our Daily Work (, a wonderful website about work and God. You can read my Daily Reflections there, or sign up to have them sent to your email inbox each day. This website contains lots of encouragement for people who are trying to live out their faith in the workplace.

Topics: Holy Week & Easter |

3 Responses to “The Seven Last Words of Christ for Holy Week: The Sixth Word”

  1. Ray Says:
    April 2nd, 2010 at 3:56 am


    Thanks for helping set the tone for Good Friday.

    I have a question about Jesus’ work. I believe that Paul’s declaration that “the wages of sin is death” is a spiritual absolute. No getting around it, period. I also believe that God became flesh (John 1) and paid this price himself in my place. The death we are speaking of here cannot be physical - everybody can die, and indeed does. Rather, the wages of sin is spiritual death and complete separation from God.

    If I understand that part correctly…then isn’t the real miracle of Easter and the resurrection not that Jesus was raised from physical death, but that God himself in the person of Jesus paid our penalty with his own spiritual death and was then raised not just from physical, but ultimately from spiritual death? And isn’t the resurrection from spiritual death the miracle that gives me hope for eternity with God?

    And for this work to be a “victory” over death, doesn’t the possibility have to exist that death also had the opportunity to “win”? Otherwise, it’s not a victory, but a foregone conclusion.

    Not trying to cloud Good Friday with a lot of Sunday school debate. I’ve just been thinking about this lately, and this seemed like a good opportunity to bring it up.

    Happy Easter!

  2. J.Falconer Says:
    April 3rd, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    Thanks, Rev Mark Roberts & Ray for valuable input & insights this spring Manyfolks feel crucified at work, bills, or relatives demands or health needs–needless to add political iniatives & regulations in any land & taxes. Thanks for adding Paul’s writing, thoughts & feelings in this spiritual battle for sometimes faith’s difficult challenges in this life & ancient biblical time. Peace for all at Easter j & Thanks again for your writing & opinions everyone & anyone PS Ignore any typos Or incorrect grammatical errors

  3. Dave Swanson Says:
    April 4th, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    Dear Mark, Tried to e-mail you, but hit a snag. Just wanted you to know that we used your “Reflections” from 2008 on the Seven Last Words for our Good Friday service. Had an opening song, then a person read the first word and the reflection, then a song that tied in to the theme of the reflection; then the 2nd word/reflection read by another person and a song, and so on. Worked out very nicely, and gave people a fresh perspective on Good Friday and the Seven last Words. Thanks.

    Dave Swanson, Worship Commission, New London Evangelical Covenant Church, New London, MN


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