It is finished! was Jesus’ victory cry, uttered in a loud voice before giving up his spirit. In the Greek, it is akin to “Mission accomplished!  What mission had he accomplished? What had he set out to do? Jesus was sent to bring about the restoration of everything that was lost in the Garden. He came to rescue humanity from sin and death and to restore the possibility of eternal life with God. Broadly speaking, on the Cross, Christ accomplished two things: definitive atonement for our sins and victory over the alien powers of Evil and Death.

Concerning our atonement, Jesus was sent by the Father to save everyone who would believe in him. Jesus was not only the High Priest entering behind the veil to make atonement for us. He was also the sacrifice, the sin offering, the substitution, and the reparation made for us. He paid the price of our redemption by paying in full the entire penalty or debt for our sin. Shockingly, Jesus also became sin for us, as we read in 2 Cor 5:21 that “God made Christ who had no sin to be sin.” This verse should make us tremble. Holy God became your sin and mine so he might conquer sin for us.

Did you catch that? There’s nothing you have done or ever will do that falls outside the scope of Christ’s atonement for you. Jesus actually became your sin and took it to hell and back to conquer it. Whatever you may have discovered about yourself as you pressed deeper inward with Jesus during this Lenten season, be assured that his body and blood have already paid the full redemption price for you. Grace has overcome, and though your sins were like scarlet, they have become as white as snow.

The rescue mission that was set in motion 33 years before, when Jesus took on flesh and became the incarnate God, has finally been worked through the warp and weft of humanity, with its full glory to be unveiled at the end of the age.

Victory over Evil and Death

Jesus not only won our atonement, but also claimed victory over the Powers of Evil and Death. After Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, he declares in John 12, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified…Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world shall be cast out.” Jesus assures us throughout John’s gospel that he didn’t come to judge the world, but to save it. Jesus’ judgment is reserved for Sin, Evil and Death.

Because Jesus not only atoned for our sin, but also conquered Evil and Death, we can have confidence that God will one day set the whole world to rights. Not only have our sins been forgiven, but all our pain and suffering, all the senseless acts of violence, all the injustice, even the systemic evil where individual culpability can’t be easily identified—all of it will be redeemed in that final day.

In going to the cross, Jesus willingly drank the cup of God’s wrath all the way to the dregs. His prayer in Gethsemane that the cup might pass from him was not a last-ditch attempt to wiggle out of his coming fate of torture and crucifixion. When Jesus prays about letting the cup pass, he is alluding to many images from Scripture about the cup of God’s wrath. His was a plea not to be swallowed up by death as a sinner, because he was bearing our sin on the cross and enduring the wrath that we deserved. His declaration, “It is finished,” is our invitation to soul-penetrating hope.

How do we respond to such a gift?

How are we to respond to this hope-filled, finished work of Christ? Jesus makes it abundantly clear during the last Passover meal he shared with his disciples that our mission, like his mission, is to glorify God. To glorify God is to recognize God for who he really is and to respond accordingly. Jesus glorified the Father in his completed work of salvation on the Cross. Now our ministry of glorifying the Father has begun!

Jesus told his disciples how we too can glorify God— by abiding in Jesus, by keeping his commands, by bearing much fruit, and by loving one another. As we journey beyond Easter, may we spur one another on to abide in Jesus and share his beautiful gospel with others, as we love one another as he loved us. And may our hearts resound with the great “Mission Accomplished!” of “It is finished!” as we seek to glorify the Father together.