From Six Good Friday Meditations by David Runcorn

Reflection 6              ‘It is finished’ – the victory of God

Hymn – to sing or read

Were you there when they crucified my Lord? 
Were you there when they crucified my Lord? 
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. 
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Reading

Standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home. After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfil the scripture), ‘I am thirsty.’ 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. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:25b-30

 

Reflection

And what is finished? The phrase comes twice. Sin? Evil? Death? Pain? Suffering?  Plainly not. Whatever is finished, this world is not yet problem or pain free.  Far from it. 

‘It is finished’ completes the earlier cry – ‘Why have you abandoned me?’  

The gospel accounts express this in different ways. Matthew tells that, at the moment of his death, the curtain of the Temple was torn ‘from top to bottom’. Top down. This is God’s doing. That huge heavy curtain hung before the holiest place separating off God’s presence. God now rips it apart. 

Something is open that was closed. Something is united that was divided.  Nothing is outside the love of God. No one and nowhere is beyond the reach of his crucified embrace. There is now no division, no separation. It is finished.

The church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is built over the site of the crucifixion and tomb of Jesus. Climb the stairs and there is a crowded chapel where you can reach in and touch the top of the Calvary stone.  But underneath is an unmarked chapel. It is usually empty. Behind the altar, behind a glass window is the bottom of the same fractured rock. It is called ‘Adam’s Chapel’. The message is clear – the cross penetrates down to the very beginning. Nowhere and no one is beyond its reach.  The embrace of divine love on the cross reaches it all.

It is finished. The story can begin again.

In John’s account, when all is finished, Jesus simply bowed his head and ‘gave up his spirit’. For a few deadly hours Jesus had been willingly surrendered to earthly powers – passive in the hands and will of others. Now, at the last, Jesus again takes the initiative. He completes his earthly ministry – his total self-offering – in a final act of trusting surrender to the Father’s will. ‘Bowing his head’ is the language with which you might describe someone quietly going to sleep – though here the pain and thirst are acute.

One thing remains – to give up his spirit. In John’s gospel what is offered ‘up’ is found in the perfect will and purpose of the Father.  The earliest teachers of the faith would teach that, if Jesus had not handed over his spirit to the Father at this moment of death, the world itself would have ended.

Bowing, laying down, offering up, handing over… The final complete, trusting, self-offering of himself. The sacrifice complete. It is finished. The Father and the Son are one. 

David Runcorn

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