When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30
Good Friday. “Good” but not “pleasant” or “honky dory” or “carefree,” not exactly. Here’s another passage from Jesus on the cross, another with some of his few words while hanging there. So, therefore, another one that must be significant since Jesus probably spoke it, like so much else, for the sake of not himself but his hearers. And it’s a great sample of how careful we need to be when interpreting language, particularly God’s language. A turn of phrase isn’t always what it seems on the surface, have a good goofy, traditional example:
It doesn’t take Abbott & Costello to know that. And maybe you think it’s a stretch to somehow tie “It is finished” to “Who’s on first,” but, look here — for all those present at the cross, this sentence on Jesus’ part was a sign of what? Of surrender, even to death. Of having fought the suffering long enough, and proving his mettle, but ultimately, like every mortal, succumbing. Of a Messiah beaten by the Romans. Or, as some would’ve said, another “would-be Messiah” found out for a fraud, AGAIN. These words meant the movement was finished, and the disciples; they meant that this miracle-worker’s good deeds were over, and what did they stand for anyway? They meant an end to hope, and a decision, on some people’s part, to never hope like that again.
But what a grand misunderstanding. For, after the fact as some realized, and to some of us now, we know that only one piece of Jesus’ story was over with the uttering of these words. The heinous, painful, utterly destructive task of dying as an atonement for all sin. It was the piece of his mission that seemed to always loom like a deep shadow, even for the Son of God. And now, it was complete. When he came back to life, people could like back and see that death did not defeat him, nor any Roman tool of torture — he only gave up his spirit once the act of rescue was complete. It might be as appropriate if he had said, “Mission accomplished.” Now, the tomb was still to come, and Resurrection morning, and other appearances, so it wasn’t all accomplished, no. But I think it was important to Jesus for his disciples to know that he chose death, and endured the cross by choice, and gave up his spirit on purpose. It should be as important to us today. Today, Good Friday, take heart that your King chose rags and torture and cruel death at the hands of evil, something no one could ever force upon him, for no other reason than because he loves you. Take that, and live with it. Even if you choose to doubt it or disbelieve it, it is still true, and he is your King, alive today, and he has done this on your behalf. Consider it.