This was the title given to last week’s Lent Course bible study based on words “It is finished…………Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. When he had said this, he breathed his last” (John 19:30; Luke 23:46)
Here are the study notes:
The Final Moments
Jesus, the Passover Lamb, the Spotless Sinless One, in a loud cry uttered three more words; It is finished’; then a final prayer; Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ With that He bowed His head and gave up His spirit . These were the last two statements Jesus voiced as He gave up His soul in death. The earth trembled, a violent earthquake shook the ground as a crack fissured the earth from west to east and rocks cracked and split. Over in the temple another phenomenon was taking place; the huge inner veil of the temple that separated the people from the holiest place was torn from top to bottom. In the streets dead men came out of their graves to life, and were seen by many.
A completed task: it…’ The horror of the crucifixion is finalised. It…’ The veil of the temple is torn from top to bottom and the barrier to the presence of a holy God is removed. It…’ The centuries of ritual and ceremony are now ended. It…’ The work of redemption is now completed. It…’ The atonement for our sin is made once and for all. It…’ Reconciliation with an alienated God is now made possible. From this time on all mankind would have the possibility to enter the presence of the Almighty and enjoy direct access to God through the finished work of Christ. The biblical word used for this statement that Christ uttered was one used in those times to signify that a debt had been fully paid. When the word tetelestai was written across an outstanding debt, it meant the liability of the debtor had been paid in full. It…’ The debt of our sin has been paid, once and for all. Hallelujah!
Mission accomplished: …is finished’.. This is not a word of relief or resignation to the inevitable, but a word of triumph, victory and finality. A significant fixed moment in time and eternity. He did not cry, I am finished’, but It is finished.’ His life’s work and mission were now ended. All things that had been set before Him were now accomplished. Nothing more remained but to die triumphantly. His ministry had been just three short years, but He had accomplished everything He was destined to do. Now that the final hour of the final day had come, nothing had been left undone. The words He had prayed in John 17:4 (NKJV) – I have finished the word which you have given Me to do’ – now became full reality. This was a moment of completion or, as modern jargon would put it, of final closure’ to the sin question. The writer to the Hebrews declares He is both ..l the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb. 12:2, AV). He not only wrote the opening chapter but was going to have the last word on the matter. This was His proclamation of accomplishment, of mission accomplished.
Secure in love: Father …’ He is now ready to return to the bosom of the Father. The finality and mystery of death are upon Him, but despite the trauma of the cross, He is calm, trusting and at peace. The struggle is over, His soul has again returned to the serenity and poise of complete trust in the love of His Father. The darkness of being forsaken is banished by the light of His Father’s presence. Truly the words of His Father at His baptism, This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased’ (Matt. 3:17) are never more real than at this moment. As He emerges from His ordeal of Calvary to traverse from time to eternity, His gaze again is into the Father’s face as with anticipation He prepares to enter again directly into His Father’s presence. His sense of Sonship is still intact: He looks up and as with His opening words on the cross, now with His closing ones He says (Abba) Father’.
A trusting heart; …into your hands I commit my spirit.’ This statement of confidence and assurance was an echo of the psalmist’s words, Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O Lord, the God of truth’ (Psa. 31:5). This is a wonderful description of the believer’s death. It is the final breathing out of the spirit as it wings its way into the heavenly Father’s presence. It is understandable that some draw back from the thought of death, and are even fearful of its presence. To leave everything and everyone that we hold dear and to move out into the unknown can be a daunting and even frightening thought. When we are able with assurance and confidence to place ourselves in the safety of the Father’s hands then death holds no hidden terrors for us. We have the calm assurance that those hands will hold and carry us to eternal safety.
The final committal: With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit’ . His breath was not squeezed out of Him. He chose to give His life; it was not taken from Him. He chose the moment to give up His spirit and place it into the Father’s care. Others had tried to take His life against His will, but He had now willingly given up His life as the supreme act of sacrifice for your sin and mine. His words were now fulfilled:
I am the good shepherd … and I lay down my life for the sheep…I lay down my life – only to take it up again. No-one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.’ (John 10:11, 15, 17, 18)
Final Thoughts. The apostle Paul was able to say , ..the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith’ (2Tim. 4:6-7). As he came to the close of his life Paul could confidently say that he had given his best in battle, that he had not tired of the course set before him, but finished it with distinction, and that he had been faithful to the call of God on his life. Now he could face death in the certain knowledge that he had served his Lord and Master and that he would hear the words of the Saviour greeting him: Well done, thou good and faithful servant … enter thou into the joy of thy Lord’ (Matt. 25:21, AV). What better reward could there be? Do you share Paul’s confident affirmation to the Philippians, But one thing I do. Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus’ (Phil. 3:13-14)?