Somewhere outside the gates of the city of Jerusalem (Heb. 13:12) there was a place called Calvary. The Greek word translated “calvary” (kranion) meant “skull.” Luke used this word (Luke 23:33) while the other gospel accounts preferred the Hebrew word “Golgotha,” which also meant “skull” (Matt. 27:33; Mark 15:22; John 19:17). This place was near the city (John 19:20) where there was a fairly busy road that led to the country (Matt. 27:39; Mark 15:21). It was here on a cross far away that Jesus suffered and died by crucifixion.
It is fairly easy enough to reconstruct and relate the historical events which occurred so many years ago. In many ways they were not unlike events which had happened many times before. Persons pronounced guilty by Roman power were often condemned to death and executed by Rome. But on levels that we, perhaps, can never fully comprehend, things happened that day so profound that all the world was forever changed.
As Jesus hung on that old, rugged cross, slowly and cruelly asphyxiating, He managed enough breath to utter seven, short sentences. One of the last of these was the statement, “It is finished” (John 19:30). It is natural to assume that Jesus was anticipating His own death and in such earthly suffering death would have been a welcomed release. But there is more to His saying than a mere expectation to end His physical pain.
Jesus had stated earlier “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me and finish His work” (John 4:34). As Jesus worked His way toward Jerusalem, He told His apostles that “all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished” (Luke 18:31). When Jesus prayed to the Father the night of His arrest, He said “I have finished the work Thou gavest Me to do” (John 17:4). What was this work?
Among other things which could be mentioned, Jesus brought an end to the Law of Moses (Rom. 10:4). The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ and when it had fulfilled it’s purpose it was no longer necessary (Gal. 3:24). Paul tells us that Jesus took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross (Col. 2:14). Jesus had not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it and to fulfill it all (Matt. 5:18). That law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did (Heb. 7:19).
The law of Moses was only “a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things,” and it could “never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins” (Hebrews 10:1-2).
Daniel tells us that when Jesus came it was to “finish transgression” (Dan. 9:24). It was also to “make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.” In Christ we are a “new creation” (II Cor. 5:17). Old things are passed away; all things become new! We are now cleansed of all things that we could not be cleansed of under the law of Moses (Acts 13:38,39).
The world was altered that day in a fundamental way. Man’s relationship to God was changed through the mediatorial work of the Messiah. Upon His ascension back to the Father, the way into the holiest of all was made available to man (Heb. 6:17-20). The change was so profound that the angels and prophets, themselves, sought to look into these things (I Pet. 1:10-12). The Lord “inaugurated the kingdom of God” and gave “birth to a new world.”
Eric L. Padgett