Last Words: Day Five
“It is finished.” John 19:30
We live in a world where so much feels “undone” and incomplete. Even more, things are chaotic and unpredictable. As a result, we can internalize our environment and unconsciously believe that it reflects deepest reality. The result is a generalized existential angst in which we ask the questions: can any of this really mean anything? Does all the chaos have any meaning at all? Most often residing deeper than our awareness, this anxiety fuels a constant search for meaning through accomplishment, accumulation, and affection. And so, we flit around frantically …
Pastor Arthur Simon comments that: “Ours is a restless culture. Life has become excessively busy for a large portion of the population. Stress is almost built into our body clocks. I am not a fast driver, probably slower than most. But sometimes I find myself hurrying to get somewhere—switching lanes, passing traffic, going through yellow lights—when it occurs to me that the only thing putting pressure on me to rush is my own state of mind…. Our wants are constantly expanding, and our income usually lags behind. More hours to work, more things to do, and more places to go create pressure. Far from producing a sense of inner peace, this style of life nurtures a spiritual void.”
The next to last words Jesus utters on the cross are: “It is finished.” A simple word in the Greek text of John 19: tetelestai. The verb tense speaks of something that has been accomplished with results that are ongoing! What Jesus accomplished on the cross has effects that are in force and active and real today. And, what did He accomplish? Just the night before the crucifixion, Jesus sat in the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed, asking God the Father if there was another way. Faced with prospect of such suffering, He humbly asked one more time: “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42) What was the task that Jesus had finished? In a word: redemption.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. (Romans 3:23-25)
What this means for us is that “it is finished” – our search is over. There is meaning and grounding in the midst of all the chaos and uncertainty of the world. Jesus’ death answers the questions. The meaning of our existence is relationship with God and Jesus provided for our return. We can let go of our frantic pace and desires to fill the void. Our deep longing for purpose and substance and meaning has been met in Christ. Yet, how often do believers in Jesus still live out of that restlessness produced by anxiety rather than live out of the rest produced by knowing that “it is finished”?
In 1 John 4:18-19, we learn that: “there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.” The generalized anxiety that we feel seeks for meaning, and at deep places in us, we wonder if the chaos and uncertainty is punishment. We ask: did I do something wrong? How can I atone? The love and reconciliation that we have in Jesus meets those fears head on and takes away our shame.
At our core, we long to be clothed and covered, safe and secure but this world sends us on a wild goose chase. The hope of things being “finished” is expressed beautifully in the words of Jesus in Revelation 3:18 that He has “white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen.” The theme of being “clothed” is found in 2 Corinthians 5 as well:
For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
So, we have the Spirit to remind us and nurture within us a sense of calm and peace and love in the midst of the chaos. Today, take a few minutes throughout the day to rest in the reality that it is finished, that His love for you is deeper and more real than what you see around you. Experience the reality that the search is over as you pray this simple prayer:
Father, thank You for meeting my fear with your love. Jesus, thank You for suffering for me that I might be reconciled to God. Holy Spirit, clothe me with the knowledge that I am safe and secure no matter what goes on around me. Amen.