The Gospel of John: Final Words, Final Act!

“After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (John 19:28-30)

Jesus’ fourth of seven sayings from the cross, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” is not recorded by John (cf. Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34). However, John does record Jesus’ fifth statement: “I thirst.” It is evident from the today’s text that Jesus was fully conscious during His execution, even up to and including the moment of His death.

Why was it so important for John to document Jesus’ physical thirst? One commentator writes, “The wording in John 19:28 indicates that Jesus was fully conscious and was aware of fulfilling the details of prophecies (Psalm. 42:1–2; 63:1). The paradox of the One who is the Water of life (John 4:14; 7:38–39) dying of thirst is striking. Giving Him wine vinegar, a sour wine, fulfilled Psalm 69:21. Putting the vinegar-soaked sponge on the end of a hyssop plant stalk seems odd. Perhaps this detail points to Jesus dying as the true Lamb at Passover, for hyssop was used in the Passover ceremonies (cf. Exodus 12:22).”

After Jesus received the sour wine, He spoke His sixth statement from the cross: “It is finished!” This statement is one word in the Greek (Τετέλεσται; Tetelestai). It means that something is completed or accomplished. It also means “paid in full.”

Dr. John MacArthur explains, “The verb here carries the idea of fulfilling one’s task and, in religious contexts, has the idea of fulfilling one’s religious obligations (see 17:4). The entire work of redemption had been brought to completion. The single Greek word here (translated “It is finished”) has been found in the papyri being placed on receipts for taxes meaning “paid in full” (see Col. 3:13–14).”

Then, the moment of physical death arrived. When Jesus gave up His spirit, it was a conscious act of His will. No one took His life. He willingly gave it up (John 10:17-18).

John Calvin states, “It is finished. Now this word, which Christ employs, well deserves our attention; for it shows that the whole accomplishment of our salvation, and all the parts of it, are contained in His death. But Christ only intends to keep our faith fixed on Himself alone, and not to allow it to turn aside in any direction whatever. The meaning, therefore is, that everything which contributes to the salvation of men is to be found in Christ, and ought not to be sought anywhere else. The perfection of salvation is contained in Him.”

Thank you Lord for taking my place on the cross and being my substitute. May my life be one lived in gratitude to all which you have accomplished.

Soli deo Gloria!

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