“It is Finished,” these three words in English translate only one word in Greek tetelestai. It refers to a work completed. This was a cry of triumph, not a moan of defeat! As William Barclay comments:
When we compare the four gospels we find a most illuminating thing. The other three do not tell us that Jesus said, “It is finished.” But they do tell us that he died with a great shout upon his lips (Matt 27:50; Mk 15:37; Lk 23:46). On the other hand, John does not speak of the great cry, but does say that Jesus’ last words were, “It is finished.” The explanation is that the great shout and the words, “It is finished,” are one and the same thing. “It is finished” is one word in Greek–tetelestai–and Jesus died with a shout of triumph on his lips. He did not say, “It is finished,” in weary defeat; he said it as one who shouts for joy because the victory is won. He seemed to be broken on the Cross, but he knew that his victory was won. —Barclay’s Daily Study Bible (NT)
So Christ cried out triumphantly, “It is Finished!” But, what exactly was finished?
1. Saviour’s Pain: The hours of torture leading up to the cross, the crucifixion itself. Aren’t you glad he’ll never have to suffer and die again.
2. Satan’s Power: Satan was defeated on the cross! As Hebrews 2:14 states: “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.”
3. Sin’s Penalty: Every year the high priest would bring a sacrifice into the holy of holies and yet he could never say “It is Finished!” “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;” Heb 10:12
4. Scripture’s Prophecies: One commentator said that 28 different OT prophecies were fulfilled while Jesus was hanging on the cross. The immediate context shows Christ fulfilling one last prophecy while hanging on the cross. Jesus’s cry of suffering, “I Thirst!” fulfilled the prophecy of Psalm 69:21. This tells us God’s plan has been accomplished. That plan which began in the mind of God before the foundation of the world and was first spoken of in Genesis 3:15, that the seed of the woman would crush the seed of the serpent. Satan’s head was crushed! All we see now is the involuntary muscle movement of a snake who’s already defeated.
Lifted up was He to die; “It is finished!” was His cry;
Now in heav’n exalted high, Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Hallelujah! What a Savior!