bruce_woodJesus was hanging from the cross, his breath coming out in gasps now. The blood ran from the wounds on his head as large thorns had been forced into his scalp. It easily could have blinded him, but the sweat was pouring from his face both washing the blood out and stinging him terribly. His body ached from the beatings he had taken from the Garden to the trial to the Roman courts. His skin burned, or what was left, after the Roman whip finished with him. The wounds in his hands and feet from the large jagged metal spikes that were recently driven in were excruciating. He thirsted and got only vinegar. He only wanted his Father and felt abandoned. He only wanted for one person to have followed him, and yet they all fled. The whole week from the fellowship of the table in the Upper Room to the trial, beating, and march through Jerusalem had taken every ounce of strength he had left.

“It is finished.” he declared.

Reading through the list of injuries and emotional pains that Jesus suffered (a sequence of events that we as Christians commemorate and celebrate as Holy Week –starting this week) one would think that Jesus would have well been in his right to say just about anything from cross. Here he was at the very last few breaths of his life and he declares to all who would hear (or even just to the Father above) that “it” was “finished.”

Which leaves us asking…just what was finished?

Could it have been just his life? Could it have been the trial of his suffering and dying? Could it have been just his acknowledgement that he had “reached the end of the road?” I recently read that what is interesting is that while many of us would have expected that if that was what he meant he would have just said, “I am finished” not “IT IS finished.”

No, Jesus is not recognizing that his trial was over. He was not merely saying that he had reached the end of the road and that he had nothing more to give. It was deeper and further and wider than we could ever imagine. What was finished was the greatest act of sacrifice ever. What was finished was the greatest act of grace ever. What was accomplished was a mixture of grace, justice and love the likes mankind had never before and never again would ever see. For what Jesus did on that cross, what was finished, was the summary redemption of every single man, woman, and child for eternity past and eternity future. In one act of suffering and death, Jesus changed the course of redemption history – past, present, and future.

All the sin, evil, darkness, and depravity of humankind that ever was and that ever would be was nailed to that cross two thousand years ago. What was finished was the greatest rescue plan ever devised. Jesus, the man who was also God satisfied the price for human sin and forever opened the door to anyone who would just receive this gift with an open heart and an open mind and embrace Him to enjoy eternity in paradise (as He had just earlier promised would be the reward of the other repentant man on the other cross).

As I have said before, this act may have occurred two thousand years ago, but its impact ripples through to today. For those of us who believe, Jesus’ victory in death is what we are called to in life – to continue the ministry He began all those years before. Because of what Jesus finished on the cross we have the power to reach out, to touch hearts, to change lives, to minister to others. We have a calling to reach deep into the hearts and lives of those who are in need, to comfort the sick, the dying, the depressed. We are called to touch the lives of the poor, both in spirit and in substance. We are called to preach the Gospel of the coming Kingdom while living in the reality of the Kingdom here on Earth.

While Jesus was breathing His last on the cross he declared that the act of rescue had been accomplished. It was truly finished. But HE was not, and neither are we. We are only just getting started. The message of Christ both in word and deed is never finished. Jesus himself is never finished. What was accomplished was eternal forgiveness, but with its finishing came a new challenge: “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel…”

I encourage you, if you are a believer in Christ to take up the challenge and learn how to preach the Gospel in both word and deed today. Take this opportunity to renew your commitment to Jesus this week as we celebrate and commemorate. Take an opportunity to meditate on the sacrifice and then take joy in the celebration to come: EASTER.

I encourage you, if you are not a believer in Jesus (or if you are still asking questions) to spend some time with Christians this week. Seek out a church that has a Maundy Thursday service to learn about the Last Supper. Find a Good Friday Service to learn about the day of Jesus’s death, that wonderful day when “it was finished.” Finally, go the full mile and find a church for Easter Sunday so that you can learn how the story both ends and begins anew. The act of rescue was finished, but Jesus was by no means done on this Earth.

As Easter fast approaches I pray you are all blessed by our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ who died for our sins and rose again to give us eternal life.

Let us turn our hearts today…for IT IS FINISHED!