The Bible says in John 19:30, “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”
In Mark 15:37 we read, “With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.” According to Bible scholars, this “loud cry” may have been those very last words that John records, “It is finished.”
He spoke it out loud. He declared it for all to hear. He uttered a loud cry to His Father in heaven for the whole world to know, and for every evil force to have to flee, for Christ’s work on the cross was complete.
Paid in full.
Last words have power. And often, deep meaning and significance.
And if like me, any of you have ever been at the side of a precious friend or family member who was whispering final words in their last moments here on earth, you know the incredible heart connection they hold for you, personally. We often find ourselves clinging to those words as we think about a loved one who has passed away. We treasure what they said and we remember…
There’s no doubt that Jesus knew what His last words needed to be here in this life. He knew the power those final words would have for generations still to come. And He had great purpose in them, which still breathe such life and meaning for our lives today.
What is the Significance of “It is Finished?”
The Spurgeon Study Bible, a CSB translation edited by Alistair Begg, explains,
“‘It is finished.’ There is only one Greek word for this utterance of our Lord, although to translate it into English, we have to use three words—an ocean of meaning in a drop of language.”
Jesus became the final and ultimate sacrifice for our sin. The word in this verse, “finished,” is actually from the Greek word, “tetelestai,” which is the same word that means “paid in full.” Often, it was used in an accounting term, which indicates a debt was paid.
The uniqueness about the way it was written is that the tense of the word indicates both a point in time it was complete and that it would also continue to be complete or finished. And this is the essence of what Christ came to do. He came to “finish” God’s work of salvation in us. He came to “pay it in full,” the entire penalty, or debt, for our sins. He’s at work in our world still today in powerful ways.
The ESV Study Bible comments,
“It is finished proclaims that all the work the Father had sent him to accomplish (cf. 4:34; 9:4) was now completed, particularly his work of bearing the penalty for sins. This means there was no more penalty left to be paid for sins, for all Jesus’ suffering was ‘finished’ (see Heb. 1:3; 9:11-12, 25-28).”
What Do Jesus’ Last Words Mean for Us Today?
They mean that Christ has overcome. He has won the victory, and that through Him, we, too, are more than conquerors.
They mean we’ve been set free.
They mean He paid the price on our behalf.
They mean there’s nothing we could ever do outside our relationship with Christ to earn God’s favor or love.
What Do Jesus’ Last Words Mean for Us?
They mean He offers us a free gift.
They mean the way is cleared.
They mean we don’t have to live under the weight of condemnation, guilt, or shame.
They mean there’s forgiveness through Jesus.
They mean we have purpose, hope, and eternal life through Him.
They mean we are loved more deeply than we could ever imagine.
How Can We Find Peace and Courage from Jesus?
If you find yourself in a hard place today, take courage, my friends. Only in Christ is true peace to be found. He reminded us in His word that in this life, we would have troubles, but we can find courage because He has overcome the world (John 16:33).
In spite of the struggles we may face in this life, we never walk alone, for He is with us. He will never abandon us in our trials or leave us to work it all out on our own.
Jesus never called us to embrace the world and all it offers. But He calls us to take up our own cross, and to follow Him, to be salt and light, and to walk in love.
It’s a whole new day ahead. And He has plans for you, for me, to make a difference in these days, in the life of another soul, for His purposes.
Praying that His huge grace, wisdom, and strength cover us today. And that, in Him, we will find freedom from worry as we let go of the stress that clings too tightly, the pressing needs of tomorrow, and struggles we battle today, so that we can fully embrace His gift of forgiveness and love.
He’s the Overcomer. And we are never alone.
Susan Egbe-Tanyi, MD is a board-certified family medicine physician. She is also the founder of Empowered Women Faith Club, where she writes to empower women to live confidently knowing who they are as daughters of God and encourages weary moms to find strength in God through the journey of motherhood. She is a wife, mother of three treasured kids, a passionate follower of Christ, lover of nature and a servant at heart. She practices medicine in North Carolina, where she lives with her husband and three children.