After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (Jn 19:28-31)
Jesus knows that everything is finished. It has happened on his terms. He wasn’t a martyr dying for a cause that wasn’t his own. He was a sacrifice who went uncomplaining forth. Everything he wanted to do is accomplished. He was apostled, sent, for this very task. It was for this that he suffered, and suffered he did. Now he thirsted.
The soldiers had compassion. They had some wine, it was the cheap and pour sour wine of a soldier’s rations. It was the only wine they were allowed to drink while on duty, it was often diluted as well. This sort of wine could slake their thirst without getting them drunk. It was a completely different thing from the type of wine that would be offered to those who were being executed that was mixed with other herbs in an attempt to numb the pain. The soldiers took a sponge and showed compassion by soaking it in the wine, and sending it up on a hyssop branch. John is reminded of the Passover lamb and temple sacrifices. It was the hyssop branch that was used to sprinkle the blood on the altar, and sometimes on the people themselves when a lamb would be sacrificed. It was the hyssop branch that was used to paint the doors with the blood of the Passover lamb, before it was eaten. Now it is used for wine, to show compassion to the Passover lamb dying on Golgotha. And with that Jesus utters his last. “It is finished.”
It is finished. Our salvation is complete. The task for which Jesus came is done. It is finished, victory is his. This is why Christians don’t believe Jesus suffered in hell for us. It was finished on the cross. That he descended into hell was for the purpose of declaring victory. Even the resurrection is a victory lap. Everything that needed accomplishment, the payment for our sin, Christ’s victory over the devil and death happened with his death. This is why the gospel concentrates on the cross. This is why Christians focus on the cross. It was there that Christ managed victory, and for this reason Paul himself will know nothing but Christ and him crucified.
Now Jesus can return to the one who sent him. He gives up his spirit, he commended it to the Father, handed it back to him. Now everything is done.