The Finished Business of the Cross

Like many of you my life includes a lot of unfinished business. Just a few nights ago I lamented to my husband that I was never going to be able to finish my dinner because our newly potty trained twins kept needing to go the bathroom during dinner. My husband and I have a running unfinished conversation (life with kids!). I have an unfinished to-do list that I sometimes add finished tasks to just to feel good about completing something. I have an unfinished book I need to write. I have unfinished bills that need to be paid off. And my dirty house is like one big unfinished order of business.

So much of our unfinished business is part of life in a fallen world. Sin has infected every part of our lives, leaving work thorny and difficult, relationships messy, and life just plain overwhelming at times. Even our sanctification feels unfinished most days. We take one step forward and three steps back with that besetting sin. We see growth in our response to circumstances only to be met with a heart that distrusts God in the next test. Our to-do list may be unfinished, but we also feel the weight of the unfinished business of our soul. I know I do.

But there is one thing we can bank on being finished right now—the problem of our sin.

On that Good Friday all those years ago Jesus dealt the final blow to the unfinished business of our sin. So complete was his work that as he took his final breath he cried out “it is finished” (John 19:30).

What was finished? If you are like me, and still struggle with sin, you may find yourself wondering if that agonizing cry by Jesus included your sin, your shame, your brokenness? You see the unfinished business of sin in your life every day when you look in the mirror. Or maybe it’s the unfinished business of someone else. You are the recipient of their sin, the one who feels the heavy weight of their besetting sin, and you wonder if somehow that cry missed them as well.

What did Jesus finish for us at the cross?

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”—Romans 8:1

This is you. At the cross, Jesus drank every last ounce of the condemnation you and I deserve, so there is none of it left of for us. He paid for our sin with his very blood. He finished the solution to our great sin problem with his life.

But we know that sin still lurks around in our lives, don’t we? How can it be “finished” when we just yelled at our husband yesterday, or gossiped about a friend this morning? We live in what theologians call “the time between the times”, when Jesus defeated sin’s deathly grip, yet we are not yet fully perfect. Sin was defeated at the cross, but we are still sinners living in a fallen world. It doesn’t rule us any longer, but we aren’t home yet. We still live with the reality of sin, while the stain is far removed from us. We have been cleansed by Jesus, yet are awaiting the perfect glorification that comes when we shed these earthly bodies and get new ones.

We don’t live in threat of judgment any longer. That’s what he finished for us. When we sin, we have an advocate. When we sin, he says “take my righteousness instead.” When we sin, God sees him in us, not us in our naked sinful state. The greatest unfinished business of our souls, the sin that threatened to destroy us, is covered by the blood of the lamb who was slain that Good Friday for us. The sin that we never could have dealt with on our own, that separated us from God, was paid for and defeated by Jesus at the cross. For the Christian, the unfinished business of sin reigning in your life is finished in Jesus.

Whatever unfinished business looms over you today, know this, dear Christian: your sin is nailed to that cross and you bear it no more. Let’s rejoice in his work together today and rest in the finished work of Christ on our behalf.