When Jesus has received the sour wine, he said ‘It is finished’ and bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

After receiving the sour wine in fulfilment of the scripture, Jesus utters the word “It is finished.” One, with some sympathy, may think that, in the light of the terrible suffering that he has endured that this exclamation ‘It is finished’ is a cry of relief that his suffering is now over- death becomes a merciful release. We might after a difficult task, state “Thank goodness that’s over!”

However to view Jesus’ words in such a light is to miss the significance of what is taking place. We cannot ourselves think ‘It is finally over,” so now we can get back to what we were doing. This phrase, ‘It is finished,’ carries much more the sense of it is completed, consummated and perfected. It is the end or completing of something so that something else can emerge.

John in his gospel set the understanding of the whole gospel drama from Maundy Thursday to Good Friday in the context of the Passover.

From Chapter 2, we have John the Baptist exclaiming “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.’ The Beloved disciples see Jesus take the feast of feasts, the Passover and consummate it in himself.

The Lamb without spot or blemish is sacrificed, the blood shed and sprinkled onto the post and lintel so that death may pass over those covered by the blood. The people set are set free from bondage, so that they might make a covenant with the Lord at Mount Sinai. It is the establishing of the covenant that brings to completion the Passover.

The Seder meal, celebrated by the Jewish people as the Passover feast retells the story of their liberation from slavery into covenant relationship with God.

As the story unfolds four cups of wine are offered to mark the different promises of God. First is the cup of Sanctification: I will bring you out. Second the Cup of salvation: I will free you from being slaves. Third, the cup of Redemption: I will redeem you. Finally the cup of completion: I will take you as my people.

The Last Supper is the celebration of the Passover of Jesus with the disciples. Yet Jesus at particular points re-interprets the Passover in relation to himself and the events that are to take place. Jesus is owning the title “Lamb of God.” He is the true and real Passover Lamb.

The first cup of sanctification Jesus would have had prior to washing his disciples’ feet- these are the actions of the sanctified and true disciple. The second cup of salvation is hinted at in Matthew’s gospel, “The one who has dipped his hand in the bowl will betray me.’ This is played out more fully in the agony of the garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus asks three times if this cup may be removed from him and it is fulfilled with the kiss of betrayal by Judas.
The third cup- the cup of redemption- is where Jesus announces the ‘New Covenant in my blood for the forgiveness of sins.’ The fourth cup of completion he doesn’t drink with his disciples, in the upper room. John seems to be telling us that the New Passover began at the Last Supper but was only perfected here on the Cross. The cup of completion is received by Jesus on the end of the hyssop plant in the drinking of the sour wine. Then and only then can he say ‘it is finished, completed and perfects.’ It is less a cry of relief and much more the shout of triumph! “I have done it” The true and living Passover has been celebrated, A new covenant established, a new community emerges built on Mary and the Apostles.

True liberty from Slavery to sin and death; into the promised land of Paradise: “Today you will be with me in Paradise,” is promised, secured and waiting for the redeemed.

It is at the foot of the cross that the true meaning of everything can be understood. The tree of curse has become the Tree of Life again. At the foot of the cross we understand the truth about God, the truth about sin and death and the truth about what it means to be human. Everything that has come before has led to this point and everything comes after leads from this point. We understand what has been and what will be only from the perspective of the cross. This is the great cross point, the axis of all meaning and purpose because the one crucified is the Alpha and Omega. “In the beginning was the Word” states John in the Gospel and in the Book of Revelation the last Words are ‘Amen, Come Lord Jesus!”

The Cross is the point of entry into the heart of God, from whom and for whom, quite simply, everything is. Here beginning and end come together, along with everything along the way from beginning to end.

“It is finished!” I have loved to the point of death. I have loved that others might live. “It is finished.” Come to me because ‘I am. I am the way the truth and the Life.