It is Finished

Photo:  Sunset over the mouth of the Au Train River on Au Train Bay, Lake Superior, Au Train, Michigan.  © Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2022.

John 19:30 – When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

“It is finished.” The most obvious meaning of these words, and the one most likely understood by those present at the crucifixion, is that Jesus was speaking of the end of his mortal life.  The Greek word translated here as “finished” is also rendered, in other New Testament passages, as “accomplished.”  Given this, it seems that, while he may be acknowledging the certainty of his death, there is much deeper meaning to these words.  As we contemplate these near final words of Christ, let us examine three things, who Jesus is, why he came, and what he accomplished.

Who Jesus is

As for who Jesus is, one place we can look is his own, “I AM” statements recorded throughout John’s Gospel: 

John 6:35 – Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”

John 8:12 – Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 10:9 – “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.”

John 10:11 – “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

John 11:25-26 – Jesus said to her [Martha in the context of her brother, Lazarus’, death], “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”

John 14:6 – Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 15:1-2 – “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”

And one more place to look is the disciples’ answers to Jesus’ question in Matthew 16:13-16, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”  And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  He [Jesus] said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”  Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

If all these give us an idea of who Jesus is, let us next look at a few passages that tell us more about why he came.

Why Jesus came

Before Jesus birth, in Matthew 1:20-21, we read of the “angel of the Lord” appearing to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

In the first chapter of the Gospel of John, we read words of John the Baptist spoken at the beginning of Jesus earthly ministry, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

In his life Jesus himself speaks to why he has come.  In Matthew 5:17-20 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”

And in Luke 18:31-34 he tells his disciples that, “we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.  For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon.  And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.”  But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.”

What Jesus accomplished

So just what was Jesus telling his disciples he would accomplish in the coming days?  He was certainly describing his suffering and death on the cross, which they did not yet understand.  But more importantly they did not yet understand that his death would be the ultimate fulfillment of all the prophecies and laws, the complete payment for the sins of the world, the perfect and final sacrifice of the spotless Lamb of God.

We have the benefit of knowing the rest of the story, the benefit of having all of scripture before us now, so we do understand what was accomplished that day by Jesus’ death on the cross of Calvary. There is so much more scripture to explore if time and space permitted, but as a conclusion, Colossians 1:15-20 gives us a nice summary of who Jesus is, why he came, and what he accomplished, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.  For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him.  And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.  For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”

© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2023. This piece was presented as part of the North Cincinnati Community Church Good Friday service, “The Seven Last Words of Christ” on April 7th, 2023.


Happy New Year – 2023

Featured Image: On a clear, cool, late summer’s eve, the milky way shines brightly in the night skies of Picture Rocks National Lakeshore.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so.
~Gen 1:14-15 (ESV)

As we begin a new year let us remember, as the words of Genesis 1:14-15 tell us, that marking the passage of time was part of God’s design from the beginning. The vastness of the heavens, and the passage of time not only remind us of our limitations and finite existence in this life, but also of God’s infinite and eternal majesty.

Let us also remember that the God who created this magnificent universe is also the God who sent his eternal Son down into time and history to do what no human effort could ever do, providing the ultimate, perfect, sacrificial Lamb of God, that he who knew no sin became sin dying the death we deserved so we could be reconciled to God once and for all time.

God’s grace and peace be with you in the coming year!

© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2023.

“I Thirst”

Photo:  The view looking west from atop High Dune in Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve, Colorado.  © Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2020.

John 19:28-29 – After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.”  A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth.


“I thirst.”  As I considered these words of Jesus, three things stood out.  First, as the passage states, prophecy was being fulfilled.  Second, an immense price was being paid for the forgiveness of our sins.  And third, even in the agony and suffering of our Lord, we can find the promise of eternal life.

Prophecy Fulfilled

As the passage directly states, Jesus words were meant “to fulfill the scripture.”  One of the places we can turn to find prophetic words foreshadowing Christ’s suffering and death is Psalm 22.  Verses 14 and 15 are especially poignant when it comes to the passage at hand, “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.”  Another place to turn is Psalm 69:21 where we find these prophetic words relating to our passage, “They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink,” which plays out in the guards’ response to Jesus’ thirst.

Even with the many prophecies fulfilled in Christ’s life and in his crucifixion, as well as several occasions where he foretold his own suffering and death to his disciples, there had been an expectation of an earthly king and kingdom which in this moment would appear to be lost.  If we had been there, we probably would have had similar expectations and lost hopes; although, from our vantage point we know that Jesus offers much more.

A Price Paid

Which brings us to the next point; this passage confronts us to consider the price that had to be paid for the forgiveness of our sins.  We see before us on the cross the Creator of the universe in agony, thirsting for the very water he created, suffering and dying one of the more cruel and painful deaths invented by the mind of sinful man, demonstrating that although he was fully God, the great “I AM,” he was also fully man.

Even his closest disciples did not fully grasp this despite witnessing the many miracles he had performed during his earthly ministry demonstrating his divinity.  He turned water into wine, he fed the multitudes with a few fish and loaves, he exercised dominion over his creation by walking on water and calming the storm, he healed the disabled, sick, and blind, and brought the dead back to life, and yet here he hung on a cross, suffering an unjust and agonizing death alongside common criminals.  Paul sums it up well in Philippians 2:5-8, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”  An immense price, indeed!

The Promise of Eternal Life

Finally, Jesus’ words bring to mind the promise of eternal life, particularly the one found in John 4:13-14.  Jesus’, in his encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well, makes this promise, “Everyone who drinks of this water [that is, the water from the well] will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

“I thirst.”  Jesus’ words on the cross fulfilled prophecy, they confront us with the immense price Christ paid for the forgiveness of our sins, and ultimately point us to his promise for something much greater than just the satisfaction of our physical thirst, they point us to the promise of eternal life with God.

© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2022. This piece was presented as part of the North Cincinnati Community Church Good Friday service, “The Seven Last Words of Christ” on April 15th, 2022.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore


This gallery contains 51 photos.

Pictured Rock National Lakeshore: Photo gallery highlights from our 42.4 mile backpacking journey across Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan, September 9th through 14th, 2018. Continue reading