I have always enjoyed mowing yards. It is satisfying to walk around a fresh-cut lawn after the sidewalk has been swept and enjoy a job well done. But I never understood why until my dad made a comment to me one hot summer day. I was in Jr. High and mowing neighborhood yards was my job. Dad had just come home from work and I must have said something about how many yards I had mowed that day. I remember dad paused and said, “That’s one of the few jobs where you can see it start to finish in one day.”
At that point in my life, my major projects were research papers and assigned reading -none of which I EVER completed in the same day as I started.
Ever since my dad made that comment, I have never looked at mowing the same. To this day, when I pull the cord to start my mower, a spark of excitement rushes through me. Why? Because I know that before the end of the day I will see the job finished!
Of course, the longer the project, the greater the joy from finishing. Think about the joy on the faces of graduates at a commencement ceremony. Or consider the joy of co-workers as they throw a party to celebrate the completion of a months-long endeavor. Finishing is fantastic!
But the joy of being finished is not just an occupational issue, it is ultimately a theological issue.
After a 33 year labor of love, Jesus announced, “It is finished” (John 19:30). It wasn’t a cry of surrender, but instead a proclamation of victory!
What did He finish? Something that started in the garden (Genesis 3:15).
Humanity sinned against God. This rebellion meant that humans (and all their off-spring) could not please God -no matter how hard they tried to rectify the situation.
Animals were sacrificed as a picture of God’s wrath that man had incurred. Every time blood was spilled on an altar, it was a reminder that sin deserves death.
The animal sacrifices were not intended to satisfy God’s wrath, but instead to point to an ultimate sacrifice who would be eternally pleasing to God once and for all –something that fallen man could not accomplish.
To show man how impossible it would be to please him, God gave man the law as a standard to measure against.
But God’s law serves another purpose: it points us to Christ, the fulfillment of the law. Jesus is the only human to ever walk the earth in righteousness.
On the cross, Christ became the substitutionary sacrifice for our sin. And, at the same time, He was the perfect fulfillment of the law.
In this way, only Jesus has the authority and credentials to take our sin and give us His righteousness so that we may be pleasing to God. Christ is the only way to restore fellowship with the Father and avoid eternal wrath.
How do we know that Christ’s work is complete and therefore able to save?
Because He said, “It is finished.”
The provision for sin that was promised in the garden, proclaimed by the prophets, pictured in the sacrifices, and mirrored in the law had finally been completed. Praise God, “It is finished!”
As a believer, Christ’s finished work is not only important for coming to faith. Instead, Christ’s finished work is the foundation for walking by faith and being daily conformed to His image.
Knowing that Christ’s work is finished means we don’t have to fight the battle to become acceptable to God. We must rest in His finished work.
- So, for the workaholic who feels the urge to prove himself by putting in extra hours away from a loving family –what are you trying to prove? It is finished!
- For the lady who feels her identity is wrapped up in a mistake she made years ago and has since repented of –you don’t have to bear it any longer –it is finished!
- For the depressed soul who can’t picture a future hope –take heart, the future belongs to Christ because it is finished!
- For the student struggling to find meaning in life –you don’t have to struggle any longer because it is finished!
Sometimes, in the middle of the Summer, I get tired of cutting the grass. When that mid-Summer laziness creeps in, I just think about how wonderful the finished yard will look. That’s usually enough motivation to keep me going.
Similarly, as humans, there are seasons of life that are difficult. It becomes tempting to give up on a life of faith. However, we have something more powerful than dreaming of being finished with yard work in the future. We have the good news of the finished work of Christ in the present!
Living in Christ’s finished work does not mean we live the Christian life on autopilot, however. While humans do not have to fight a battle to conquer sin and death, we are responsible for living in victory.
The result of Christ’s finished work on the cross is seen three days later in the resurrection. It is that power that works within us as we strive to walk by faith.
So the next time you are struggling to follow Christ, take a moment and ask yourself, “Am I trying to fight a battle He has already won?” If the answer is yes, take heart, and turn your focus to living in victory. The beginning of life is found in what Christ has finished.