When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (NIV)
Words on a printed page don’t always convey the right meaning. When Jesus said it was finished as he hung on the cross, it was no exhausted sigh of resignation, no admission of final defeat.
He was saying that he had done the job he came to do. He had borne all that evil could throw at him, he had conquered it. In this way, Good Friday was a victory rather than a defeat. Easter Day simply confirmed the victory to the world.
Not only does this shape our thinking about those Easter events, it also impacts us here and now. Jesus has suffered on our behalf. Jesus has accomplished his mission. Jesus has won over all that would dehumanise and destroy us. All that we do for him subsequently is a response to that. We climb up no ladder of merit to earn his favour: rather he has come down to our level to bridge the once unbridgeable gap between our imperfect selves and a perfect God.
No need to perform endless rituals to appease an angry God. No need to let our all too obvious sins weigh us down with a burden of guilt impossible to bear. No need to define ourselves as miserable wretches. All that is finished because Jesus completed his one man rescue mission as he hung on the cross. He did what he came to do and so set us free to be who we were made to be.