The most significant statement of the Lord Jesus Christ while hanging on the cross was “It is finished.” This is because it brings to conclusion the redemptive work that he came to do. It was a mission accomplished and that mission was “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). He further explained his mission by saying, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17). Contrary to the belief of many at the time, it was not his mission to condemn the world but to fulfil the righteous requirements of the law through his death on the cross. Indeed, Jesus died a terrible death to pay the penalty of the sins that we ourselves have committed.
As far as our salvation is concerned, Jesus did all the work. We do not have to add anything to what he did – it was a completed work. This is the reason the apostle Paul said, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph 2:8-9). But even as we receive our salvation freely through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, it does not mean that we do not have to do any good work. This good works that we do are not meant to earn our salvation but to manifest it. The apostle Paul said further, “For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph 2:10).
We benefit from Jesus’ death on the cross if we receive him as Lord and Saviour of our lives. The apostle John explained, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God– children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God” (John 1:12-13). This process is what Jesus calls as being “born again”. As believers, we need to live our born again life every day. It is a daily struggle against sin but just as Jesus, whose life is now in us, has overcome, we shall also overcome. The sinful nature will come strong but we shall put it to death by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The expectation of God from us is that we be holy before him. He said, “You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own” (Lev 20:26). Even the Lord Jesus demands that we be perfect. He said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). Many resist this command to be holy and perfect, citing the weakness of the flesh as reason. Indeed, no one can be holy or perfect on their own. We need the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ to be holy and perfect before the Lord. This is the reason why the apostle Paul said, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13). While Jesus acknowledged the weakness of the flesh as a possible reason for failing to walk in the spirit, it cannot always be invoked as a defense. To overcome the weakness of the flesh, Jesus said, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41). Prayer is a powerful tool to overcome the flesh.
One who is born again cannot keep going back to his old ways. The apostle Paul described the born again experience when he said, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor. 5:17). It is a hundred eighty degree turn towards God, so that sin can no longer be seen. To someone who keeps repeating the same sin again and again, the apostle Paul warned, “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace” (Heb 6:4-6).
After receiving Jesus as Lord and Saviour, we need to persevere in our walk with the Lord. It will not always be easy but in those times where we shall face difficulties, let us draw strength from the Lord. Let us continue to confess that “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Let us not walk in self confidence. Let us heed the apostle Paul’s warning, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!” (1 Cor. 10:12). Remembering what Jesus had done on the cross will always strengthen us and assure us that he has done it all for us. We do not have to do anything more to save ourselves except to live the life that he demands from us—a life of holiness and righteousness. He has done it all. It is finished! Hallelujah!