The Word of Triumph
John 19:30—Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
This statement, ‘The Word of Triumph’ is theologically interpreted as the announcement of the end of the earthly life of Jesus, in anticipation for the resurrection.
The will of God: that Jesus should incarnate and be exposed to shame and reproach, suffer much, and die is complete, finished, done. The whole work His Father gave him—to preach the Gospel, work miracles, and obtain eternal salvation for all of creation. All now done, the whole righteousness of the law fulfilled, perfect obedience yielded and the penalty of death endured. Sin ended, full atonement given; complete pardon obtained, peace made, and redemption from all iniquity realized; all enemies conquered; all promises fulfilled, and his own course of life ended. The reason of His saying so was, because on finishing, it so complete, so sure and certain that nothing need, or could be added, ever. Entirely done without the help of man and cannot be undone, ever.
One complete sacrifice for all sins ever, Jesus the Lamb of God the perfect once and for all sacrifice died for our sins, so that we may live through him for the glory of God the Father.
Jesus bowed his head as one dying, and freely submitting to his Father’s will, and the stroke of death: Jesus gave up his spirit to the hands of his Father; freely laying down that precious life of his which no man could take away from him.
The work he has come to do is now complete. The great significance John attaches to the saying I am thirsty would then make sense because it would symbolize both Jesus’ commitment to obey God’s will and the fulfillment of the suffering of the one who is the righteous sufferer par excellence.
Jesus had said that no one takes his life from him, but that he lays it down of his own accord (10:18), and his death is indeed described as a voluntary act: he bowed his head and gave up his spirit (v. 30). The order of Jesus’ actions is important. John does not say that Jesus died and then his head slumped over, but rather that he bowed his head, an attitude of submission, and then gave over his spirit. “At his own free will, he with a word dismissed from him his spirit, anticipating the executioner’s work” (Tertullian Apology 21). The very form of his death continues to reveal him as the obedient Son, the key theme regarding his identity throughout his ministry. As the obedient Son, submissive to the Father, he fulfills the type of the true King, truly human confirming the message of the sign over his head.
Jesus has finished his work. He stayed faithful, loving, and true until the very end. He stood, didn’t flinch and He made a way for everyone to encounter, approach, and have a relationship with God. He fulfilled the will of the one who sent him for the sake of all and to the glory of his Abba. Jesus finished strong and displayed the love of God for everyone. God loves us not because we have earned that love, but because God is love and envelops all of creation in a boundless and perfect love beyond worthiness and unworthiness, beyond fidelity, and infidelity.
Ben H. Swett writes, “He has defeated the Tempter again. Despite the agony, he has rejected temptation and cared for those around him. His temporary duty on earth is complete. He has shown the way God wants us to live. He has demonstrated the fact that faith and hope and love cannot be destroyed by anything men can say or do.”
Jesus is the fullest, deepest, and most beautiful revelation of God. Jesus is the best and fullest, deepest and most beautiful expression of a human being. Jesus is both human and God. We need to hold both to see the real Jesus, the Jesus of the gospels. In Jesus, I find the deepest, fullest, most beautiful, enduring revelation of who God really is and what this life and the next is really all about. Not only did Jesus live life to the full with his life he fully pointed to who God was and what our response to life should be. In parable after parable and action after action, Jesus said this is what it looks like when God shows, when Heaven comes to earth this is what it looks like and what it means.