Seven Words from the Cross:
The Sixth Word
When the Lord chooses to deliver his word to us, he speaks in language we understand. The Holy Spirit is also particular about the words he uses. While language and grammar may not be your favorite subjects, they serve us well when we consider what God has declared.
For example, a passive verb states, “Jesus was put to death.” It tells us what happened to Jesus, but not who did it to him. The Passion history tells us that the religious leaders were the ones who demanded it. In the Apostles' Creed, we confess that Pontius Pilate is the one who ordered it. This tells us how Jesus got to the cross. But when the Bible records how Jesus died, the Holy Spirit chooses his words intentionally.
The Holy Spirit did not guide St. John to use a passive voice, saying, “Jesus was put to death.” He uses an active verb: Jesus “gave up his spirit.” (John 19:30) Jesus was not a hapless victim. He had come to suffer and die to pay for the sins of the world. When his work was complete, he gave his spirit over. He laid down his life of his own accord.
Another point of grammar is the verb Jesus used when he signaled the end of his innocent life and sacrificial death. In English, it is translated as a present tense: “It is finished.” In the Greek, it is a perfect tense: “It has been completed. It has come to an end.” The perfect tense is used when something has taken place but its effects are on-going. The Bible uses this same tense when it quotes Scripture: “It has been written.” It was penned by prophets long ago, but it still stands. It is still the word of the Lord, and the word of the Lord endures forever. In the same way, Jesus' work as the Savior of sinners has been completed, and it remains complete.
The payment for your sins was made. The payment stands.
The wrath of God has been appeased. It still is.
As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our guilt from us; and it is still gone.
At one time, we were children of wrath; but that is past tense. Now, thanks to Jesus' saving work, we are children of God; present tense.
Nothing extra needs to be done to gain God's favor. Salvation is secure. Jesus has completed it all. It has all been accomplished, and it still stands. It is finished!