Completed, Reverberating Action

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

Completed, reverberating action. It is action that is done but has consequences. It is action that isn’t being repeated, but it is action that is shaping and changing things now. There is only one action in the history of the world that has the scope and magnitude to shape the world indefinitely, though it was completed thousands of years ago. Indeed this action has changed things, is changing things, and will change things. This action was written in the Gospel of John as a perfect verb. The verb uttered is one of Jesus’ last verbs before tasting death for His people. It is a last utterance before succumbing to the weight of God’s wrath on behalf of His people. But it isn’t a verb that simply means something has been done. It isn’t a verb that simply indicates a past action. The verb has a nuance. James Hewett, in his New Testament Greek, describes that a perfect verb is one that is completed in the past but “has a continuing effect or consequence in the present,” (103). And John, in his Gospel, records a perfect verb. The verb is TETELESTAI, “It is finished.” Jesus exclaims that His work on the cross has been completed, but the completedness of the verb does not stop the consequences of it from overflowing into eternity. The verb John gives us means that Jesus’ work is, in fact, completed, and yet the consequences and reverberations will be felt and are being felt throughout all eternity. We know this is true. For on the cross, “surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed,” (Isaiah 53:4-5). The man who comes to Christ now by faith does not crucify again the Son of God, he simply participates in the effects of that death, the work of which was finished when Jesus breathed His last. The Christian can find hope in this in the midst of his daily struggles. The work of Christ has been done, and the finished nature of it reaches the Christian today. It quiets his fears of condemnation, for Christ was condemned for him and the acquittal reaches him even as he sits in his office chair. The Father’s wrath has been quenched. The Christian isn’t the only one, though, who is affected by the work of Christ. All people will be affected by this work. Either we will be judged according to our sins by the Christ and for our rejection of God, or we will be saved because of Christ’s work on our behalf. The work of Christ also works backward in time, saving those who by faith trusted in God’s promises as revealed in the word of God. Hebrews 11 is proof that the work of Christ works across, up and down, and side to side on the timeline of the world. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, and Noah (and many more) all were saved by faith in God and His promises, and the work of Christ works its effectiveness even unto them. The completed nature of Christ’s accomplishment is bound by a moment in time, but its effects are boundless, stretching backwards and forwards in time to change humanity. All humanity feels and will feel the reverberations of the cross of Christ. It is the great victory bell that has been wrung, the sound waves of which echo into the past, into our time, and will echo into eternity.

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