Monday, April 22, 2019

It Is Finished

[the following is my sermonette from our Downtown Good Friday Service.
Since many of you weren’t there, I thought I would share my brief thoughts]

Jesus’ sixth word—his penultimate line before succumbing to death—was both simple and significant: IT IS FINISHED. It’s hard, if not impossible, to know the tone with which Jesus uttered these words. Our culture is one that fears and avoids death like the plague. But I choose to believe, based on the quiet strength Jesus has exuded throughout the day we know as Good Friday, that these words—it is finished—are spoken with a peaceful confidence.

Jesus had lived in the emotional chaos of Holy Week. He had experienced the excitement and high of Palm Sunday—being paraded into Jerusalem as a hero. He had experienced anger about spiritual and religious abuse—chasing the cheats and swindlers from the temple and opening it again to the marginalized and poor. He had experienced doubt and fear in his time in the Garden of Gethsemane—sweating drops of blood and asking God for any cup but death.

And now, almost everything he said in his final hours seems to have come from a place of peace. He offers forgiveness to his floggers, salvation to the sinner, and provision for his parent. And after one more groan of agony, amidst feelings of forsakenness, Jesus arrived at the end of his life with a strong, peaceful confidence—calmly uttering, “It is finished.” Which is remarkable—and different than how we generally handle our mortality.

You only say a phrase like ‘It is Finished’ with peace and confidence—like Jesus does—if you have a depth of understanding about the temporal nature of this life, a confidence in our God-given calling here in this world, and a deep-seated trust in God for the life to come.

“God, I’ve done all I could to honor you and bless others with the days I’ve been given…so I come to the end with a peace and confidence…ready to enter into new life with you”

May we all have that sort of peace about the inevitable finality of this earthly life and the beautiful promise of the life to come. If God is making all things new—reclaiming this world for himself—then we can confidently live in the temporality of this life.

Let’s do all we can in this life to further God’s kingdom of love, blessing, healing, and salvation. Let’s live the kind of life now, where we can one day say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Let’s live lives—here and now, not waiting one more second to get started—that are so beautifully attuned to the words and ways of Jesus, that we will one day be able to say—with peaceful confidence—it is finished.

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