Friday, April 03, 2015

The Sixth Word: It is Finished

This is a sermonette I preached as a part of a local community Good Friday service today. There were 7 ministers representing several different denominations and each of us preached on one of the last words of Christ.

John 19:29-49
29 A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. [1]

“It is Finished.”
Rev. Charissa Clark Howe
Liberty Presbyterian Church

            For being such a tiny word, “it” can be terribly problematic. What is “it?” It is finished. Is Jesus simply saying that his life is done and this is the end of the story? If that’s the case, what’s the point? Surely, this is not where the story ends.
“It is finished.” These words seem dark and frightening as we think of a world that would brutalize and kill the very one who came to save it. And yet. . . even in this dark hour. . . Jesus seems collected. He knows what is happening. Jesus seems to know that there is something bigger in the “it” than one human life.
            If this is simply Jesus conceding that the world has won and his life is over, then surely we have no hope in this dark and dreary world. The Jesus that John writes about is not so easily beaten. The Jesus that John talks about is the very Word of God, the light in the darkness – a light that cannot be extinguished. The Jesus that John talks about has a very clear mission and sense of what his ministry on Earth is to be. This death – this ending – this finish – it is not an interruption of his ministry. It is not a life cut short.
            Jesus – the Word of God – the Light in the Darkness – came to earth for something greater than mere teaching and healing. There is a Joan Osborne song from the 1990’s that asks “What if God was one of us?” That song always intrigued me and drove me crazy all at the same time. God WAS one of us. Then again, God wasn’t just a “slob like one of us.” Here in the Gospel of John, we see that even at the end of his earthly life, Jesus is in control of his mission and his ministry. He’s not just some stranger on a bus trying to make his way home.
            What is “it?” What is finished? “It” is the earthly mission of Jesus. Jesus declares on his own terms that he is done with his work on earth. Jesus is not leaving us alone to figure out what he did and said by ourselves. This is not a hopeless finish, but a victory. This is not the end of the story, this is the climax. This is where a glimmer of hope starts to appear as we see Jesus not as just a man suffering for being nice, but as the Ruler of the Universe. . . in control. . . even in the dying moments of his earthly life.

[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Jn 19:29–30). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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