In John 17.4 we read this statement by the Lord Jesus: "I have glorified thee on the earth". The work now of revealing the Father has taken effect in the disciples as they commented (Jn 16.29-30). Now the Lord tells the Father, "I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do". The revelation of the Father in every aspect of His character has been carried out to completion. However, it does not stop here, for in 17.6 He says, "I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me".
If the Lord Jesus had not fully shown forth the Father in all His attributes holiness, righteousness, power, long-suffering, loving-kindness, grace, and mercy the finished work of the cross would have been virtually ineffective. Unless man is brought to see these attributes in God in their individuality and entirety, his conscience would by no means be stirred, nor would he have any conviction of sin and see the necessity for salvation.
We come to the word "finished" (Jn 19.30) which is the one we generally look to as referring to "the finished work". Whilst there is a sense in which "It is finished" was in answer to the fact that there was no more vinegar left in the sponge they had put on the hyssop, there is a finish far deeper than that. It was the finish of all that the Father required that He might not look on sin, particularly in those who accepted the work it referred to. It was the work which fully showed the holiness of God, for He could not look on sin. It was the work which fully showed the righteousness of God in that He could not bypass sin. It was the work which fully showed the power of God in that He could deal with sin. It was the work which fully showed the long-suffering of God in that He has not forced man to accept the work, but has left him with a free choice. It was the work which fully showed the loving-kindness of God in order that sin might be dealt with. It was the work which fully showed the grace of God in the way He has dealt with sin. It was the work which fully showed the mercy of God toward those who accept that work.
We read, "Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scriptures might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst" (Jn 19.28). The words "accomplished", "fulfilled", and our word "finished" are all forms of the same word in the original. This means that nothing more is left to be done or can be done, and that every Scripture relating to the Lords death has been fulfilled - for instance, "It [He] shall bruise [crush] thy head, and thou shalt bruise [crush] his heel" (Gen 3.15). Many more Scriptures about His work on the cross, such as Isaiah 53, were all fulfilled to the last degree. We cannot find a Scripture having the slightest hint of Calvarys work which is not included in the words, "It is finished".
Consideration now must be given to the work which the Lord Jesus undertook in order that all the Fathers demands against sin might be met, and His utter abhorrence of sin made manifest. For this we turn to Gethsemane and Golgotha. In Gethsemanes garden, where the Lord Jesus offered Himself to the Father as a complete burnt offering, we see Him in prayer saying, " not my will, but thine, be done" (Lk 22.42). Nothing for Himself, but all for the Father. The intensity of what He was facing in order that the Fathers will should be done left Him so affected that an angel was sent from heaven to strengthen Him. Not only so, but the agony of anticipating all that He was about to be involved in caused Him to sweat as it were drops of blood. What a burnt offering to His Father! We read in Hebrews 5.7-8: "Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death [not to prevent Him from dying for that would have cancelled completely the Fathers will, but from out of death], and was heard in that the feared [for His Godly fear; His determination to do His Fathers will]; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience [not to be obedient, for He was that, but to experience the cost of that obedience] by the things which he suffered".
Moving on now to Golgotha, we stop a moment to see the meal offering, the fine flour, totally free from any lumps or crumbs. Was there even as much as one uprising of thought, word, or deed, as they arrested Him, took Him before the Sanhedrin, Pilate, Herod, and Pilate again, and this in spite of the abuse and maltreatment they heaped upon Him? He answered graciously, and took the buffeting with no offence. He was the One of whom Peter says, "Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously" (1 Pet 2.22-23). What an antitype to the meal offering He was.
We come now to the place called Golgotha, not to engage our thoughts with the brutalities hurled upon Him by men, horrendous as they were, but to enter a little (for we cannot do more than that) into the agony, not now of anticipation but of realization. Let us dwell on it a little. This is the One who eternally dwelt in the bosom of the Father and was daily His delight, the One of whom at the time of His baptism, typifying death and resurrection, it was declared, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (I have found my delight, JND)" (Mt 3.17). Again, this statement is repeated at the mount of transfiguration, after Moses and Elijah had been talking with Him of His decease. With all the intensity of the Fathers love and delight in Him, there were those three hours of darkness when He felt Gods sword against sin pierce His innermost being, and also experienced the complete forsaking of God from Him. What this agony of realization must have meant to Him! In the cross, of course, we may also see the burnt offering, the meal offering, and in addition to them the peace offering (for He made peace by the blood of His cross), as well as the trespass and the sin offerings, for by His blood we are cleansed from all sin.
After the darkness of those three hours while He, as the Son of man, was forsaken of God and cried, "My God, my God " (Mt 27.46), and then could cry, "It is finished" (Jn 19.30), what pleasure, what joy, what relief it must have been to Him now to cry, "Father", taking His position again as the Son of God. Continuing this prayer He was able to say, "Into thy hands I commend my spirit" (Lk 23.46). Back from the God-forsaken position, back into the Fathers hands, pressed to His bosom, and to His Fathers heart, what a delight He would experience, together with that of the Fathers delight in Him. This delight had been expressed on two occasions during His earthly walk, and to it must now be added the delight in the victory over Satan and his power by His work on the cross.
There is, of course, still unfinished work which the Lord Jesus is doing as our Great High Priest, touched with the feelings of our infirmities, yet He remains without sin. He bore and carried it away, never to be remembered against us any more, and He now pleads our cause before the Father. This work goes on as long as needed.
From our own point of view, how greatly we can rejoice in those three words, "It is finished", with all they bring to us of the holiness, righteousness, power, long-suffering, loving-kindness, grace, and mercy of God on our behalf, and for which we should be ever abundantly thankful. May this be our portion before Him, and may we gladden His heart in our lives for Him.