Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,”[a] and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”
Climb inside the mind of a marathon runner. Listen to his thoughts.
You’ve run this race countless times in your mind and hundreds of times in practice. But none of those resemble the real thing. The course takes you cross-country, and the running surface changes constantly. You could stumble at any step. Every change in terrain brings new challenges. Each race offers a different combination of obstacles and difficulties. And even though there are people at the roadside water stations to refresh your body, and crowds of individuals standing by to revive your spirit with their encouragement, it’s still just you out there—you, your two legs and your two feet. No matter which race you’re running, all of them have at least two things in common: the pain and the finish line.
Ah, the finish line! It makes all the pain bearable. Sometimes you forget the idea of winning the race in your all-consuming effort just to reach the finish line. You face the challenge and embrace the pain of running for over 26 miles, and a surge of joy fills your heart as you see the tape stretched across the journey’s end. Every last ounce of strength drives you across the finish line.
Jesus understood that intense drive to finish. With one of his last breaths, he cried out, “It is finished!” In the language of the New Testament, that’s a one-word exclamation: “Done!”
Jesus had joined the human race for a very special and specific reason—to finish God’s plan to provide forgiveness, salvation and eternal life for a fallen humanity. When Jesus shouted “Finished!” he was declaring that he had endured the judgment of sin on behalf of all humankind. He’d crossed the finish line for each of us. And in order to finish, he had to seal the arrangement with his life.
The cross represented the last hours in a long race marked out for Jesus. Even though he knew exactly how the race would end—with his sacrificial death—he still ran. Even though he had his disciples around him to provide companionship and support, not one of them knew exactly what he was going through in his final hours. Jesus knew that he’d experience excruciating pain. He knew that many would never accept his sacrifice, but he also knew that many would, and for us he ran. And finished. For this we’ll spend eternity in grateful appreciation.