With Jesus, it is finished with God’s goodness. With Jesus, we have received the fullness of God.
“When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished!’ And bowing his head, he gave up his spirit.” (John 19:30).
It is finished with what? What exactly did Jesus achieve in three years of ministry? How many people were saved? How many were healed? Jesus’ entire ministry did not go beyond a 200-mile radius. Jesus never came to Africa or to the Americas or to Australia. At the end of his ministry, many remained sick. Many remained untouched. Most rejected his gospel. The Jews remained Jewish. The Romans crucified him.
John the Baptist proclaimed Jesus as: “the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29). However, at the end of his ministry, the world remained mired in sin. Murderers continued to kill; liars continued to tell lies; armed robbers continued to pillage; “pen robbers” continued to defraud. Clearly, Jesus’ ministry can be labelled a failure simplistically because his right-hand man betrayed him, all his disciples deserted him, and the Jews, the very people he came for, asked for him to be crucified.
So what did Jesus mean by saying: “it is finished?”
Something happened and I became very excited about God. I entered into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise. I was thankful unto him, and blessed his holy name. Then the Holy Spirit seemingly tapped me on the shoulder. “Femi,” he asked, “what have I done that has made you this excited? What have I done that makes you praise me with such fervour and to thank me with such passion?”
It was as if the Lord poured cold water on my fire. The point he was making is that we are often thrilled about mundane things, while we overlook our salvation: the most important thing of all. This brings to mind the excitement of the disciples that demons obeyed their commands. Jesus was quick to correct them: “Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20).
Accordingly, if you want to see a man who is truly blessed, or if you want to see a woman who God loves, don’t look for someone of “timber and calibre.” Don’t look for someone with worldly wealth. Don’t look for someone well-established in society. Look for someone who has received the mercy of God and who has the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Look for that person who has received from God the forgiveness of sins.
David says: “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.” (Psalm 32:1-2).
Believers in Christ need to understand how blessed we are because we don’t seem to know it. We presume a man is blessed by what he has. But Jesus insists: “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things that he possesses.” (Luke 12:15). Neither are we blessed because of what God is going to do for us. We are blessed because of what he has already done. We are blessed because God gave us Jesus. We are blessed because we are sons of God. We are blessed because our names are written in the book of life. That is enough cause for lifelong celebration and gratitude.
Be of good cheer
When a bed-ridden paralytic was brought to Jesus, he said to him: “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.” (Matthew 9:2). “Be of good cheer, not because I am going to heal your paralysis, but because I have forgiven you your sins. If I heal you and you are still covered in your sins there is no ultimate advantage in that.” It is a contradiction in terms for God to be good to someone and the person still ends up estranged from God. The goodness of God is for one purpose: to lead us back to God.
When God decided to be really good to us, he gave us Jesus Christ: “But when the kindness and the love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, that having been justified by his grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:4-7).
This means God cannot be any better to us than he has already been. He cannot do anything more for us than he has already done. Jesus Christ is the full expression of the goodness of God. We should not expect anything more. If Jesus is not enough for us, then God is not enough. With Jesus, it is finished with God’s goodness. Jesus is the unspeakable gift of God. With Jesus, we have received the fullness of God. (John 1:16).
Therefore, although as believers we may be down in the dumps physically and materially, spiritually we are seated together with Christ in the heavenly places, at the right hand of God. We are far above all principality and power and might and dominion and every name that is named; not only in this world, but also in that which is to come. (Ephesians 1:21). Indeed, all things are under our feet.
Therefore, it is finished with problems. It is finished with difficulties. It is finished with sin. It is finished with sickness. It is finished with death.
But if that is the case, why are believers still dying? Why are we still in pain? Why is there still sickness and suffering in our midst? Why is sin and evil and anguish still the order of the day? The answer is so straightforward; it is amazing why we have missed it for so long. Jesus told Pilate: “My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36). God addressed the problems of this world not by reforming its kingdoms, but by translating believers from the power of darkness to the kingdom of God. (Colossians 1:13).
Because the kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom, this solution is accomplished spiritually and not physically. Therefore, the message of the cross is that the problems of this world are no longer major issues for the believer, even though we are still physically in the world. The sufferings, the afflictions, and the tribulations of man are problems only for those who are of the world; whose hope is in the world.
Accordingly, Jesus says: “I have told you this, so that you might have peace in your hearts because of me. While you are in the world, you will have to suffer. But cheer up! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). The more bleak things are in the world: the more snug we should feel in Christ. The darker the night: the brighter the day. Whatever happens, we know joy comes in the morning. The believer is now merely a sojourner in the world. But our citizenship and hope is in heaven.