GOOD FRIDAY REFLECTION
This Good Friday, I will participate with six other ministers from around the Southeast in presenting “The Seven Last Words of Christ” at the UCC Chapel at Talladega College. I have been assigned the Sixth Word. Below is the Good Friday Reflection I will be presenting.
The Sixth Word: “It is finished!” (John 19:30)
I’ve never seen a more difficult film to watch than Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. Now, I readily admit that I’m rather squeamish and for most of that movie I wanted to avert my eyes. It was horrible to watch even a cinematic version of that Holy Week events, especially the beatings of Jesus with the cat of nine tails ripping the flesh from His body. And if that was not enough; then there was the absolute horror and gruesomeness depicted in the crucifixion; where Jesus proclaimed “It is Finished!” For squeamish me; it was too much for my mind to think that this actually happened to somebody, especially Jesus, my Lord and Savior.
As a minister, obviously I had studied and thought of the crucifixion before. Of course I knew in my head what Jesus experienced. But seeing a visual presentation of His suffering that graphic was almost more than I could bear. When the movie, The Passion of the Christ, was over, I felt palpable relief. Thank goodness “it was finished.”
“It is finished” is the sixth word represented in what we know as “The Seven Last Words of Christ.”
When Jesus said “It is finished,” we are tempted to think surely He was expressing relief that His suffering was over and “This is finally done!” However, the Greek verb translated as “It is finished” (tetelestai) means more than just this. Eugene Peterson captures the full sense of the verb in The Message: when he uses these words: “It’s done … complete.” In other words, “It is finished” means that Jesus had accomplished His mission. He had announced and inaugurated the realm and dominion of God. He had revealed the love and grace of God. And He had embodied that love and grace by dying for the sin of the world, thus opening up the way for all to live under the reign of God knowing God unconditional love, forgiveness and acceptance.
Because Jesus finished His work of salvation, you and I don’t need to add to it. In fact, we can’t. And that’s a problem because too often; we try. However, Jesus accomplished what we never could, taking our sins upon Himself and giving us, His life in return. In Romans 5:6 The Apostle Paul sums up what Jesus meant when He said, “It Is Finished.” He says, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” In I Tim. 1:15, Paul illuminates what the fullness of Jesus’ sixth word “tetelestai” – “It is finished;” meant for him personally. Paul writes, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of which I am the worst.”
“It is finished!” Jesus finished that for which He had been sent, and like Paul, we too are the beneficiaries of His unique effort. Because of what He finished, you and I are never “finished.” We have hope for this life and for the next. We know that nothing can separate us from God’s love. One day what God has begun in us will also be finished, by His grace. And as the title of that great hymn says, “But until then,” we live in the confidence of Jesus’ cry of victory: “Tetelestai” “It is finished!”
As we begin our Easter Vigil for the next 2 days, perhaps the questions before us is do we live as if Jesus finished the work of salvation? Do we have confidence that God will finish that which God has begun in us? Thanks be to God! Tetelestai! It is Finished!