John 19:30 NRSV
When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
It’s easy to forget that we live our lives on this side of the Resurrection. In other words, we can’t imagine the utter hopelessness and disillusionment of standing at the foot of the cross and hearing the words “it is finished” from Jesus as he took his final breath. There were no comforting words to offer each other about the promise of eternal life through Christ’s victory over sin and death because, in terms of linear time, it hadn’t happened yet. All that was left for Jesus’ followers who were witness to the crucifixion was walk away holding their grief and despair, shaking their heads in agreement with the seemingly inescapable truth: “It is finished.”
But, according to Adam Hamilton in Final Words from the Cross, perhaps that wasn’t at all what Jesus was saying when he cried out and breathed his last breath. Perhaps it was a cry of victory rather than a cry of defeat. Jesus had lived for 33 years, actively ministered for three of those years and publicly suffered for six hours on the cross. In life, he had accomplished what he had set out to do. And now, in his final moments, his words testified to same in death. “Finished! Done! I did it!”
We do, indeed, live on this side of the Resurrection and as such we know that hopelessness never gets the final word, Christ’s restorative love and grace always do. I can’t imagine living in a world where, in the face of the most impossibly desperate of situations, I couldn’t lean on the promises that Jesus made in life and kept through the work of his death and resurrection. When I cry out to him in times of deep despair, when nothing but the darkness of life is apparent or visible, I can listen for his voice. Comforting. Strong. Victorious.
“It’s OK. Don’t worry. I’ve got this. Don’t lose hope. It is finished.”
Prayer: Gracious and loving God. You love us beyond our capacity to understand it. You love us when we are faithful and when we are not, when we follow you and when we do not. You even love us so much that, in spite of everything, you gave us the greatest gift we could ever need or want: hope in Christ Jesus. We can’t fathom a love so amazing, but we are so very grateful to you for it. In Jesus name, Amen.
Pastor Eve Williams