Friday, April 10, #6: John 19:30: “It is finished.”
Written by Rev. Jonathan Page, Pastor of Herndon United Methodist Church.
John 19:30 (CEB) — When he had received the sour wine, Jesus said, “It is completed.” Bowing his head, he gave up his life.
Generally, when I think of finishing or completing something, I think of relief. After all the preparation, work, or anything else that has gone into what has taken place, it is done. Imagine a runner crossing the finish line of a race or a student defending her dissertation. The feelings are palpable. The Scriptures even emphasize the feeling of completion. Do you remember 2 Timothy 4:7? “I have fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith” (CEB). In these words, there is a sense of an exhale, an accomplishment.
So why is it, then, that Jesus’ sentence “It is finished” is one of the most harrowing phrases in all of the Bible? I don’t know about you, but when I read or hear this, I feel an immediate sense of dread and sorrow. Perhaps this is because, in this brief expression, we can sense the fullness of the weight of sin and shame that Jesus is bearing. We feel our own culpability and lament the gaps of our lives. Maybe we wonder about the taste of the sour wine, the pain of the nails, or the last exhale of our Savior’s breath. No matter what our perspective is, there is a heft to these three words.
Even in this space of great gravity, there is reason to be a people of resurrection hope. Jesus gives up his life so that we might have life to the fullest. And even in this moment of sorrow, the darkness does not extinguish the light. What takes place on the cross may be done, but the story is not finished.
Within all of this there is a reminder to us: as long as we are breathing, our stories are not finished. Although there may be seasons that cease, there will be others that are still beginning. In moments of great hardship or pain, there is hope for what may yet come. For in these words of great challenge, there is a great challenge offered to you and me: what is God starting afresh in you? In your family? In your community? In the whole of God’s creation?
What Christ Jesus has finished does not need to be redone. But I imagine that God has planted some seeds in your life and in our world that need to grow and be cultivated. Where might God be calling you to cultivate those? To breathe life into those spaces that are not yet complete? As we remember the full weight of Jesus’ life, words, and actions, may we be inspired to use our every breath to share the hope of God’s love through all creation.
If you’ve missed any of our previous daily readings, you can find them all archived here. We hope these readings are helping you encounter God this season!