Three years of hope, gone. Jesus gave John, the only disciple with him at his death, final instructions about caring for his mother. Then Jesus spoke his final words — “It is finished.” To you and me, now, those are words of hope and wonder. Jesus did what was necessary to secure life for his sheep. “It is finished” means that our sins are forgiven, Jesus did the will of his Father. They are words of comfort and peace.
But that is not likely what they meant on that Saturday to those who had followed Christ. In the distance, perhaps they could still see the three barren crosses. Their ears had heard the unique, precious words of their Teacher. Their eyes had seen glorious wonders and miracles. Their hearts had been touched by the heart of God. Now, it was all gone. Jesus had said it himself — “It is finished.” It appeared their hopes and dreams had vanished.
To the Roman leaders, Christ’s words were likely words of relief that this whole mess was behind them. Perhaps, the emotion-driven Jews would give them some peace. But there was the Centurion who knew that a great wrong had been done. And, of course, there was Pilate, perhaps still washing his hands, still haunted by the face-to-face encounter with the Lord of the universe. Saturday brought no peace to his anguished soul.
To the Jewish leaders, “It is finished” should have meant all of their planning and treachery was a success. But they were uneasy and filled with apprehension. They urged Pilate to seal the tomb and place a guard in front of the tomb to thwart any attempt to steal the body. They had what they wanted but they knew something was not right. They knew in their troubled hearts that something was just beginning.
For everyone, sleep did not come easily that Saturday night. They thought things were over, but somehow they knew it was not true. The unspoken question still hung heavily in the air. What would Sunday bring?
You and I have days like this, a day of anti-climax after upheaval and dramatic circumstances. What’s next? This is where faith matters.
Faith is based on belief, not circumstances. The disciples had all of the promises, all of the information they needed to be encouraged. But they looked only at apparent their circumstances. They were in deep despair. They had lost hope. To them, “It is finished” meant that they were finished.
In the days ahead, those words would transform into words of hope and joy as the disciples began to grasp what they truly meant. Compare that dark Saturday to the days when circumstances overwhelm you. Remember that your circumstances only tell part of the story. Just like the disciples, you need the promises and truth of Scripture to understand what is really going on.
Remember the words of your risen Savior. “It is finished” means your sins are forgiven. Your Savior will never leave you or forsake you.
“It is finished.” Praise God.