It is Finished

11 04 2009


James Ryan arrives at a headstone, and falls to his knees, tears in his eyes. On the headstone is the name “John Miller”.   Ryan looks up to his wife by his side and asks, “Have I been a good man? Tell me I’ve lived a good life.” His wife looks down and assures him that he has. However, the tears continue because James Ryan does not seem to be able to believe that he has been good enough.

Many immediately recognize this scene from the movie  Saving Private Ryan by Steven Speilberg.  The movie is well written. John Miller is portrayed by Oscar winning actor Tom Hanks who is tasked with taking a squad of men to find James Ryan. Ryan is the fourth son of a woman who has lost three son already  in World War II.  Military commanders have decided that Mrs. Ryan will not lose her last remaining son. Miller’s squad eventually loses 8 men so that it can save this one.

Miller dies in battle with Ryan by his side side. With his last breath, he looks at Private Ryan and whispers, “Earn this.”   Back at  Miller’s headstone, Ryan has clearly lived his entire life with a tremendous weight on his shoulders. Has he earned the sacrifice of John  Miller and his men? Miller himself, earlier in the film, says, “He better be worth it. He’d better go home and cure a disease, or invent a longer-lasting light bulb.” 

Christians too often hear these words, “Earn this,” coming from Jesus’ lips as he dies on the cross. We live our lives trying to earn it, to become someone for whom such a sacrifice isn’t so incredibly incomprehensible. We turn into James Ryans, questioning if anything we do could ever be quite enough. 

“It is Finished” is in the Gospel text the single word tetelestai.  Being in the perfect greek tense, it means literally, “it has been and will for ever remain accomplished, completed, finished.”  

Christ’s salvation is a free gift.  He purchased it for us at the high price of his own blood.  There is nothing left for us to pay.    IT IS FINISHED.  There is nothing left to contribute.  Not that we now have a license to sin.  On the contrary, the same cross of Christ is the most powerful incentive to a holy life.  But this life follows the cross, it does not purchase it.  First, we must humble ourselves at the foot of the cross, confess that we have sinned and deserve nothing at his hand but judgement, that he loved us and died for us, and receive from him a full and free forgiveness.  

But Jesus doesn’t say, “Earn this” from the cross. He says, “It is finished.”  The message of the Gospel is diametrically opposed to John Miller’s “Earn this.” Miller applies the law to Ryan’s future in a way that Ryan can never escape. No matter what Ryan may ever do or who he may ever become, Miller’s words will never allow Ryan to live in peace, or safe from Miller’s judgment-from-beyond-the-grave. One word of law destroys the grace Miller shows in giving his life for Ryan. 

No word of law escapes Christ’s lips from the cross. Incredibly, the word of law is applied to Christ (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). We are freed, and safe. Don’t allow your ingrained pride to rebel against God’s grace.  Instead of stumbling on the cross because you insist on trying to earn God’s favor, bow at the cross and receive his gift.

Jesus doesn’t say, “Earn this.” He says, “It is finished.”

*Some of the information used within this post originated from the Christianity Explored DVD Series by Rico Tice.  Rico is a personal friend of mine and has preached at my church.  Christianity Explored is a wonderful evangelism tool of which I serve as a North American Advocate. 



9 responses

13 04 2009
Mrs. Claus

I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed this. Just knowing that I don’t have to worry about whether or not I will ever be good enough for God is blessed relief. My debt has already been paid and I’ll never be too far gone. God will always welcome me with open arms!

14 04 2009

This is something that so many Christians forget. Grace is a gift and not something we earn.

15 04 2009
Carl Gobelman

This is an awesome post! I loved the way you tied in great gospel truth and contrasted it with a great American movie. I can’t believe I never made the same connection you did. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the reminder that Christ paid it all and that we just need to be grateful receivers of his bountiful grace!!!


16 04 2009

Wonderful post and applicable for us today.
I love reading this post and blog.
Keep up the great work!

4 06 2009

Well written. Without grace, Christianity would be no different than any other religion.
We should certainly spend more time thinking on that…

24 06 2009
Cindy Marr

This is a great comparison to a well known, seen by many, Hollywood movie. If we could pay as much attention to the word of God that we do Hollywood movies we would all GET IT!!!
Thank you for this comparison. This is the way you can help people understand that the “Price Has Been Paid” for all who believe.

3 07 2009

Very reformissional! Do you have anything going on closer to Severn, MD than your Baltimore church? I’m moving into that area.

31 08 2009
Zach Doty

Alas that so many today teach and preach an unfinished work of Christ. May God grant His remnant the grace to trust fully in the perfect atonement!

31 03 2010

Your thoughts brought moistness to my eyes today…It is finished. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: