Good Friday: It Is Finished

BY FR. JAMES MARTIN, S.J. | March 29th, 2024
Today’s readings
Versión en español

What did Jesus mean when he said on the Cross, in John’s Gospel, “It is finished”?  

Most New Testament scholars say that in John’s Gospel, Jesus is always in control.  This is clear in John’s account of the Passion, where Jesus is clearly in charge.  Notice his stance before Pilate: he speaks when he wants (sometimes remaining silent) and says that Pilate would have no power had it not been given “from above.”  And at the end of his earthly life Jesus “hands over” his spirit.  He is in charge.  

So most biblical scholars suggest that “It is finished” means that Jesus has accomplished the work that the Father has sent him to do.  He has completed his task of revealing the Father.  As Stanley Marrow, SJ, the New Testament scholar, often told our class in theology, Jesus is both the revealer and the revealed.  

At the same time, I wonder if there was in Jesus a grace-filled resignation over the future.  After all, his disciples had abandoned him, and a few lines before, Peter, denies even knowing him.  Could “It is finished” also mean “I’ve done as much as I can do and I leave the rest to the Father”?  

A few years ago, when my father was diagnosed with the cancer that would end his life, I spoke with Sister Janice Farnham, RJM, another professor from theology studies.  I confessed that I didn’t know if I would be able to accompany my dad.  Of course, I wasn’t going to abandon him, Peter-like, but I wondered if I had the fortitude to step onto this painful path.  She said words that I’ll never forget, “Can you surrender to the future God has in store for you?”

Did Jesus know he would be raised from the dead?  There are several indications in the Gospels that he did.  But he also may not have known exactly what would happen when he surrendered to the future that the Father had in store for him.  Can you surrender as well?

6 replies
  1. Cathe
    Cathe says:

    “Surrender” is never easy, however, once you have the courage and grace to truly “let go” it is always worth the effort. Jesus certainly modeled that for us.

  2. Pat
    Pat says:

    What a powerful reflection for Good Friday-“Can I surrender myself to God?” And what will happen if I do? Pondering these thoughts on 2024 Good Friday

  3. Terence Lover
    Terence Lover says:

    This surrender, when grounded in God, can be so liberating. We certainly must do our part in decision-making and actions. With our relationship with God as our foundation, trust and hope in our future become evident. Look to Jesus as our guide and example. Thank you Fr. Martin for your words and thoughts. Peace and a blessed Easter to you!

  4. S. Mary
    S. Mary says:

    God is the designer; He gave it all out of Love, i’m called to at least try to do likewise. Complete Trust in God.

  5. Terence Lover
    Terence Lover says:

    Thank you, Fr. Martin, for your words and thoughts. By surrendering, we must then maintain God as our foundation. This is where we will find trust and hope–not always easy, we are only human. Also, remember to try to see ourselves as God sees us. The surrender can be so liberating. Peace and a blessed Easter season to all!

  6. Dr.Cajetan Coelho
    Dr.Cajetan Coelho says:

    Life is loaded with possibilities. Surrender has a rich potential. In life and death Jesus has shown it to the full.


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