Word of the Week

It is Finished

The sixth word of Jesus from the cross found in John 19: 29-30 is: "It is finished!"

There is no shortage these days of folks seeking to help us find fulfillment before we die. From books like 1001 Places You Must Visit before You Die (that I’ve seen on the coffee tables of more than one parishioner of mine lately) to popular movies like “The Bucket List,” there is no lack of encouragement to go, and do and be all that we can be before we reach the end of our lives.

 Yet, no matter if your “Life Top 10 list” is complete already or not, there seems to be a sinking feeling in our stomachs that our life’s work is not yet finished.

 If we were to die tonight, would we be ready? Would we have said everything we needed to say to love ones? Would we have had all the life experiences that we feel are necessary to constitute “a good life?”

 We ask ourselves these questions because often clarity for our lives purposes isn’t quite there. While we  think we are doing the right things and spending our lives in worthy pursuits, there is a part of us that wonders and worries that maybe we’ve got it all wrong. There is a restlessness we feel—the kind the keeps us up at night asking ourselves: “Have I done enough?” Or . . .

 Yet, such was not the case with Jesus that afternoon as his final words were coming to a close. We hear Jesus saying with confidence: “It is finished.”

Now, what might first come to mind when we hear this statement is the feeling that Jesus knew he was reaching the end of his suffering.  

 Saying: “It is finished” was his way letting out one big sigh, “Finally my pain is over. Finally my discomfort will be gone. Finally I soon I will be heading in back to my heavenly home.” Words like we might find expressed today around the bedside of someone whom we know has been suffering a long death from a cruel illness. Words that express relief that finally the pain, which seemingly was without end, will be through once and for all. . . .

Yet, if we go back to the Greek mean of this verb “finish” which John’s Gospel only uses in this chapter we learn that “It is finished” might be better translated as “It is complete!”

While yes, Jesus was tired and was thirsty and was in more pain than he’d never felt before in his humanity, the most prominent thought on his mind was the fact that the mission he’d come to live on earth was no reaching its close for it was FULFILLED!

How could that be, you might wonder, especially all you type A personality list makers out there? For Jesus: weren’t there more people who needed healing? Weren’t there more lessons to go over with the disciples as hard-headed as the disciples acted sometimes? Weren’t there more places to go and people to meet?  Could have Jesus made a trip outside of the middle east and visited another continent or two? Jesus was only in his 30s after all!

 The answer is at this moment was NO. Even if he had his own list of 1001 places to go before he died, it mattered not.

 No, there was nothing left to do. There was nothing more to complete. You see, at this very moment it was his way of saying, “I’ve done it all. There is nothing left undone. I have completed my Father’s will. I have fought the good fight. I have accomplished the race which my Father had set out for me to run. And there’s nothing more I have to achieve.”

 John’s Gospel tells us: “With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”

 Or, a better translation for this might read that Jesus handed over his spirit. Why? Because this was what his degree of “It is finished was about in the first place. Jesus had said all along that he came to do the work of his Father and there was nothing that he did that his Father did not tell him to do.  So, as Jesus reaches the end of his breath, he does so with great poignancy and grace—submitting himself to the God who gave him breathe in the first place.

And Jesus models for us, yet again the answer to one of our greatest life questions: “What is my purpose on earth?”

 Though many would have called Jesus a failure (and did), though many would have laughed at his resolve (and did), and though many would have thought such a death was the most humiliating way to reach the end of your life (and did), none of this mattered. For with conviction he said: “It is finished.”  And there was nothing else to it.  Loves redeeming work was done!

As we pause to remember this moment of Jesus’ life, let us too remember that our great purpose comes from following in the steps of our Lord and going about NOT our plans, but our Father’s plans for all our days. AMEN