“It is finished.”
Gracious and eternal God,
look with mercy on this your family
for which our Lord Jesus Christ was willing
to be betrayed into the hands of his adversaries
and to suffer death upon the cross;
and grant us to rejoice
in the benefits of his passion;
through him who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.
(A New Zealand Prayer Book)
“It is finished.” Three little words spoken by our dying Lord.
Three little words, yet they say so much.
Yes, Jesus was slowly dying and preparing to draw his last breath.
His suffering—the tearing of his flesh and the silence of his Father, were about to end.
The light of his earthly life was about to go out.
“It is finished,” Jesus said, but it was not just his life that was finished.
Jesus saw his suffering through to the end and also completed his mission here on earth.
In obedience he died, God raised him in glory, and the world will never be the same.
Do you ever wonder who he was speaking to? I do.
Was he speaking to his disciples and friends gathered at the foot of the cross, those who wept as he died?
Was he speaking to the Father, letting him know that even though he felt abandoned, he had done everything that God had asked of him?
Could he have been addressing Satan, telling him that his perceived victory was in fact his defeat?
Is it possible that these last words, like all of his other words, were also meant for us?
Yes, Christ’s earthly life ended that day but in that death he conquered death—all of death, all agents of death, all systems of death, the rule of death itself.
The Scriptures say that because of his death and resurrection, death will no longer have dominion over us—any kind of death.
I like how George Macdonald put it, and I am paraphrasing, “In that moment of agony, Jesus cried out for God and in defiance of pain, of death, of apathy, of self, of negation, of the blackness within and without.”
I believe that this is what we mean when we pray in the 12th Station of the Cross—“that God, through the death and resurrection of his Son, has delivered us from the power of our enemy.”
That enemy is death, not only the death of our mortal bodies, but also things like “the economic death of the person we allow to starve; the political death of the people who are oppressed; the social death of the handicapped; the noisy death that strikes through bombs and torture; and the soundless death of the apathetic soul.” Those are the words of Jurgen Moltmann and he eloquently lays out the kinds of death that exist in our world.
We live in world filled with death and I want to think that Jesus’ words addressed all deaths. He said, “It is finished” and maybe, just maybe that included not only our estrangement from God but also our estrangement from ourselves and from each other.
Maybe what is finished is the world having the last word in telling us that things are more important than people,
that might makes right, that our value is found in what we possess not in who we are.
Maybe what’s finished is the tyranny of the voices that keep us from believing that we are beloved, that we are valuable, that our lives are of infinite worth, that we matter.
Maybe what’s also finished, especially since we are made new creations in Christ, is the fear, loneliness, and apathy that can cripple our lives.
As we sit here together at the foot of His cross, if we quiet our hearts can we perhaps hear Jesus say to us:
“For you. For all your regrets and for all your impossibles, for all that will never be and for all that once was, for all that you can’t make right and for all that you got wrong, for your Judas failures and your Peter denials and your Lazarus griefs, I offer to take the nails, the sharp edge of everything, and offer you myself because I want you, to take you, you in your wild grief, you in your anger and your disappointment and your wounds and your not-yet-there you, just as you are, not some improved version of you, but you – I came for you, to hold you, to carry you, to save you.”(—Ann Voskamp)
“It is finished.”
Of course, I don’t know exactly what Jesus meant, who he was speaking to, or what the inflection of his voice communicated. What I do know is that he hung there willingly; out of selfless love; in utter gracious giving of himself; dying that we might live; to make us new; to be our hope; to transform our lives; to deliver us from the rule of death to God’s reign of new life in him.
Lord Jesus, we adore you and bless your holy Name, by your cross and precious blood you have redeemed us and delivered us from the power of the enemy; to you be glory and dominion for ever and ever.