Jan 24, 2020
I love the story of the guy who went to the Pharmacy to pick up some medicine for an ear infection. When he picked it up the instruction read, “Place one drop every eight hours in ® ear, circling the “R” for emphasis. A few days later he called the doctor to say that his ear still hurt, and he had questions about the prescription instructions.
“Hey Doc, my wife told me to call you because she thinks I’m crazy. The medicine isn’t helping and is very uncomfortable to apply. Why do I have to put ear drops in my rear?!”
It is finished. It is finished? It is finished!
Something similar—yet very different—recently occurred on the Men in the Arena forum when men were asked about their favorite man quote. Over 200 men responded, including Brent from Texas who offered one of my favorite quotes from Jesus, "It is finished. (John 19:30)"
Trying to hide my passion I politely replied that he forgot the exclamation mark but opened a Pandora’s Box when I typed “Explanation” on accident. Brent kindly explained that “It is finished is actually one word—tetelestai”—and continued with an excellent teaching on the subject.
Once I realized my typo, we had a good laugh (online of course).
It’s Greek to Me!
Scholars believe that Jesus spoke mostly Aramaic but knew Greek and probably Hebrew as well. Because none of these languages use punctuation, Bible translators have to use their most educated guess when translating the Bible from the original languages into English.
The Bible, however, offers some strong clues about how Jesus finished on the cross that day. All three synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) record that Jesus cried aloud from the cross (Matthew 27:50, Mark 15:37, and Luke 23:46). Only John excluded this fact, but John is also the only gospel writer who included Jesus’, “It is finished!” statement.
I, and many others, believe Jesus' crying was actually his final victory shout, “It is finished!” Sadly, not all would agree.
I believe so strongly that we must include the exclamation mark to be biblically accurate of Jesus that I will not use any translations that exclude it for personal study or reference.
The following popular translations do not include the exclamation mark after John 19:30: English Standard Version (ESV), New International Version (NIV), King James Version (KJV), The Message (paraphrase), American Standard Version (ASV), Wycliffe, and Darby Translation (unfortunate for my son, Darby).
Here are some of the Bible translations I recommend that include the exclamation mark after John 19:30: New American Standard (NASB), New Living Translation (NLT), Christian Standard Version (CSB), New King James Version (NKJV), JB Phillips, and my favorite—the Hawai'i Pidgin—"Wen Jesus wen suck da cheap wine he say, “Every ting pau awready!”
Three Cross Options
You may be wondering, “Who cares anyway? Aren’t you taking this a bit far?”
We already live in a culture calling masculinity toxic, a Church that has been feminized for centuries. It’s time for the pendulum to swing back. It’s time to portray an accurate view of the masculine side of Jesus. We have three options when we consider John 19:30 what “It is finished!” meant when Jesus said it.
Option #1: A wimpy cry of anguish because Jesus wasn’t who he said, was NOT the Messiah, was uncovered as a fraud and paid the ultimate price—crucifixion. His final words were those of confession and an epic ministry failure. Jesus’ enemies might have thought it was a cry of defeat, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. The virgin birth, bodily resurrection, and continuous, exponential, growth of His Church are proofs this option really isn’t viable for anyone who follows Jesus (or has a clue at all).
Option #2: A weary cry of relief because his sufferings were finally over and what He came to do was accomplished with tremendous agony and sacrifice. If your Bible doesn’t have an exclamation, its translators hold this view. Psalm 90:9-10: “All our days pass away under your wrath; we finish our years with a moan. Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.” Is that what Jesus was experiencing?
I don’t buy it. Not for a second.
Option #3: A war cry of victory because God had triumphed in Jesus’ death, a death that three days later would be swallowed up in victory. Jesus died well. He died strong. He died with a triumphant scream that shattered rocks, slit the earth, tore the temple curtain, and caused the skies to lightning and thunder as an exclamation mark to the greatest life ever lived!