‘When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.’ John 19:30
Suggested Further Reading: Revelation 14:6–13
When Christ said ‘It is finished,’ the words had effect on heaven. Before, the saints had been saved as it were on credit. They had entered heaven, God having faith in his Son Jesus. Had not Christ finished his work, surely they must have left their shining spheres, and suffered in their own persons for their own sins. I might represent heaven, if my imagination might be allowed a moment, as being ready to totter if Christ had not finished his work; its stones would have been unloosed; massive and stupendous though its bastions are, yet had they fallen as earthly cities reel under the throes of earthquakes. But Christ said, ‘It is finished,’ and oath, and covenant, and blood set fast the dwelling-place of the redeemed, made their mansions safely and eternally their own, and bade their feet stand immovably upon the rock. Moreover, that word ‘It is finished!’ took effect in the gloomy caverns and depths of hell. Then Satan bit his iron bands in rage, howling, ‘I am defeated by the very man whom I thought to overcome; my hopes are blasted; never shall an elect one come into my prison house, never a blood-bought one be found in my abode.’ Lost souls mourned that day, for they said, ‘It is finished! and if Christ himself, the substitute, could not be permitted to go free till he had finished all his punishment, then we shall never be free.’ It was their double death-knell, for they said, ‘Alas for us! Justice, which would not allow the Saviour to escape, will never allow us to be at liberty. It is finished with him, and therefore it shall never be finished for us.’
For meditation: Heaven and hell are the only places where it can be said ‘It’s started, so it will never finish’ (Matthew 25:46; Luke 16:26). We, who are by nature God’s enemies (Romans 5:10), can be delivered from the prison of hell only by the full payment of the penalty for our sins—either we accept now that Christ has fully paid that penalty, or we commit ourselves to the never-ending task of paying the penalty ourselves (Matthew 5:25–26).
Sermon no. 421
1 December (1861)