What did Jesus mean when He said 'It is Finished' in John 19:30?

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Question / Comment - What did Jesus mean when He said 'It is Finished' in John 19:30?

Hi, can you expound on what was accomplished on the cross when Jesus said "it is finished"? What does 'It is finished' actually mean? I understand that our sins were taken upon him and that we are forgiven because of what Jesus did for us on the cross.

But is there more to that? Is there more to the "it" part than just our redemption? Or should the question be what more does our redemption avail to us?

I hope you see what I am trying to understand in all of this.

Blessings to you and all who have contributed to your site. Again, thank you.



well... that is a big and important question! Jesus didn't say 'I am finished' as if announcing his death but 'It is finished'. The clue to what he meant is in the earlier verse which says:

"After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished..."

The 'it' of verse John 19:30 was the fulfilled 'accomplishment' of verse 28. In other words the 'It' in 'It is finished' was the work and will of the Father which Jesus came to do that was now complete. Jesus had always said that He came not to do His own will but that of the Father. He had a mission and work to do directly from God the Father and that work lead directly to the cross! Remember earlier Jesus had said:

John 4:34 Jesus said unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

Then when Jesus was contemplating the cross He said:

And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone: but if it die, it brings forth much fruit...Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour:  but for this cause came I unto this hour.(John 12:24-27)

Now this work that Jesus had to complete was the FULL work of redemption. This was even indicated above in the corn of wheat illustration and many other scriptures. To quote one, Paul draws upon this work of redemption that Jesus completed when he wrote:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
(2Co 5:17-21 ESV)

It is interesting in this regard that the single word that Jesus spoke (which we translate as 'It is finished') was 'tetelestai'. This certainly has the meaning of completion (which is what it primarily means in the context of John 19:30) but it can also mean 'discharge a debt' or 'paid in full'. It was common to the Jews and Romans of that time because it was the word they wrote on a debt that someone had, once it was paid. So this victory cry of Jesus would have also meant to His hearers "Paid in full!' I like that!

Now, this work of redemption involved the completion or end of many other things. So as a secondary application you could say that 'It is finished' applied to the following as well (remember, this is not the primary meaning of those words in context but is a part of Jesus' work in dying for our sins...)

'It is finished' applies to:

The work of redemption

The Mosaic covenant with it's priesthood, temple and sacrifices

The curse of the law

Sin (in the sense that it was all placed upon Christ - past, present and future)

The prophecies and types concerning the Messiah's death

The old fallen creation (which was placed 'in Christ'). God's purposes are now centered on a 'new creation' in Christ.

Satan's dominion and hold over man

The separation of Jew and Gentile

There will be other things that I have missed but I hope this helps. You could say that that cry of Jesus from the cross is one of the most important cries ever given! That's why I said it was a good question to ask! It is important that we understand the depth of those words.

In terms of your second question 'what more does our redemption avail to us' it avails much to us! I have written a study on this. Please have a read of it as it is important that a Christian has a good solid grasp on these matters. Our redemption and all that that means is the central theme of the Bible. Have a look here:


All the best and may God bless as you study these things.