For some reason, the service on Good Friday has always been a favorite of mine during the year. I think that it’s because the service leaves you feeling so disoriented. The pastor typically says near the end of the service the words of Christ on the cross, “It is finished,” then a loud noise is made to symbolize the closing of the tomb that held Jesus’ body; even the music is full of dissonance and disagreement. The truth is, with those very words, “It is finished,” comes a creation story. To understand what I mean, let’s go back to the original creation story in Genesis.
“And God said, ‘Let there be…’” With 3 little words, God created this world as we know it: no big bang. It didn’t take millions of years for humans to evolve from monkeys. No, God said 3 words and so we were. In His power, all He needed to do was speak it all into being. “Let there be…”
In the Old Testament (before Jesus came), people made sacrifices to atone for their sins. Atonement is a fancy word for reconciliation. The people would essentially say with a sacrifice, “Lord, I am sorry for my sins.” The Lord would then use it as a covering. “Your sins have been covered.” We see this in the first Passover meal. The families chose a lamb and used its blood to cover their doors. That night, the Lord passed over Egypt with death to take the oldest son from every family whose door was not covered. The sacrifice of the lamb covered them and saved them from death.
Eventually on Good Friday, it would be Jesus who would be the lamb of atonement. It would be His blood that covered our families and would then cover our sin. Why was Good Friday “good”? Because out of love, God sent His own son and provided His own lamb to cover our sins.
Jesus narrated this for us on the cross. As He was hanging on the cross, just before He died He said, “I thirst.” This was no ordinary thirst. This was Jesus willingly asking God to fill His cup with our sins. He drank all of God’s wrath and judgment. The cup of wrath was full of death, and Jesus, even in His innocence, drank it for us. And He hung on that cross to cover our sins and drench us in His love. He said something after this drink that was so profound, yet confused me for so many years. Jesus said, “It is finished.”
I used to think that Jesus was proclaiming the end of His life with this statement. I used to say to myself, “Well obviously your life is over…” But that’s not what He did at all! He had just taken on the full weight of God’s wrath. He drank the whole cup for us. “It is finished” can be better translated as “It is accomplished,” or “fulfilled.” This atonement needed to cover our sins has been made by the blood of The Lamb, Jesus. “It is accomplished.” You and I, at that very moment, were covered. Our sins were taken care of. Just as God created all of us with 3 little words, “Let there be…”, so did Jesus create in us new life with 3 significant words:
“It is finished.”