And when before the throne
I stand in Him complete
“Jesus died my soul to save,”
My lips shall still repeat.
Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe,
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.
(Elvina M. Hall)
Today our attention is on the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ where He hung over 2,000 years ago. Many are reflecting on the cross of Christ and on the words that He uttered that day. Indeed, there are some people who despise the cross of Christ while others delight in the cross of Christ. And, by God’s grace, we (as believers) are those who delight in the cross of Christ. Now someone may ask how we could do this? Why would we delight in the cross of Christ? My friends, I point you to the seven sayings of Christ on the cross to find the reason for our delight. We’ve come near that cross, as it were, and listen intently as the Savior speaks. And what do we hear? We hear words of Pardon (“Father, forgive them…”); and words of Promise (“Today, you will be…”); and words of Provision (“Woman, behold…”. There are those awful words to that prayer, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” But it is in that prayer that we come to delight in the fact that Christ took our place…He was forsaken so that we might be forgiven…He was abandoned that we might be accepted. And then we heard the words from the parched lips of the Lord as He said, “I thirst”. And then we read:
After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, ‘I thirst!’ Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.
The Synoptic gospels explain that Jesus cried out with a loud voice (Mt. 27:50; Mk. 15:37; Lk. 23:46). This indeed is His heralding cry of victory. It is in this loud cry that Jesus reveals His real and true victory. This is not the voice of a victim, as we would well expect. Perhaps we would think to hear words of regret or reviling but we do not. We might expect to hear a man bemoan his present circumstances and weep over his lost opportunities in life. But not this Man, He cries out in triumph, success, and achievement. Indeed, this was no ordinary man, as the Roman Centurion and those with him testified in Mark 15:39, “So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, ‘Truly this Man was the Son of God.”
We hear these three words, “It is finished!” . This is actually one word (10 letters) in the Greek language and could be rightfully translated “finished!” The root word itself means “complete, end, perfect, goal”. This same word was found stamped on receipts for taxes that were “paid in full”. However we must note the grammatical construction of this word if we are going to arrive at its full meaning. This word is used in the perfect tense. The perfect tense is unlike any other tense in the English language. It is used to speak of a past event with ongoing results. It is the tense that is used to emphasize the lasting effects of an action that took place in past time. Jesus is making a sure and complete statement of fact regarding an action that has taken place accompanied by ongoing results. Here is the authoritative declaration of our Lord, “Finished, once and for all!”
But what is finished? When we examine the Scriptures we will come to the conclusion that the “what” is simply: The Cup of the Wrath of God
“O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”
We find something similar in John 18:11. We are still in the Garden, but now Judas and the detachment of troops have arrived to arrest Jesus. Peter, thinking to try to save Jesus drew his sword “and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear.” But Jesus “said to Peter, ‘ Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” On the night before Christ went to the cross, Jesus spoke of “the cup which My Father has given Me”. What is this?
Psalm 75:8: “For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is fully mixed, and He pours it out; surely the dregs shall the wicked of the earth drain and drink down.”
Isaiah 51:17: “Awake, awake! Stand up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk at the hand of the LORD the cup of His fury; You have drunk the dregs of the cup of trembling, and drained it out.”
Revelation 14:10: “If anyone worships the beast …he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. …”
Revelation 16:19: “Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath.”
The “cup” of which Jesus spoke in the Garden of Gethsemane was the cup of the wrath of God. It is a symbol of the judgment of God against the wicked of the earth. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18). In other words, the wrath of God is His fury against the wicked and their wickedness. It is the fury of God against the sinner and his/her sin. It is the righteous indignation of God against all of those who “suppress the truth in unrighteousness…[who] although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Rom. 1:18,21,22). It is the rage of God on those “who knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things [as sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, disobedience to parents, unforgiveness] are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them” (Rom. 1:32).
There is no escape from this judgment: not on the basis of ignorance (Rom. 1:18-32); not on the basis of human standard of morality/self-righteousness; not on the basis of religion…all are guilty! All are under sin!
That is why, when Jesus thought of the cross, He thought of “the cup which My Father has given Me.” Why? Because in going to the cross, Christ would take my sin and your sin on Himself. He, the Innocent, would become the Guilty. He, the Righteous would become the Wicked. He the Sinless would become the Sinner. And therefore, He would become the object of Divine Wrath against the sinner and his/her sin. That indeed was what took place on the cross. The Lord Jesus Christ was taking the wrath of God. And so, when we hear the loud and triumphant cry of Christ from the cross, “It is finished!” We know that He is saying, “The cup of Divine Wrath has been drained! The dregs and all has been finished. I drank it all. It is finished!”
Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood
Sealed my pardon with His blood:
Hallelujah, What a Savior!
(Philip P. Bliss)