The necessity of finishing

Mar 31, 2015 by

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This is from a Lenten series on the seven last words of Jesus. The following is on the sixth word, John 19:30.

“It is finished.”

It began with a barnyard birth and a flight from a murderous king. It began with a promise of turmoil and divisions, and that’s exactly what he got.

Yes, there are glorious moments. When the heavens opened, and God sang his praises. When he stood on a mountain and glowed like the sun. When he walked on the waves. When he called to the dead. But much of the time it was doubting disciples, betraying friends, plaguing demons, vengeful leaders.

Yet for all that rose up against him, Jesus kept on walking, an unswerving path to Jerusalem. Through raging storms and raging crowds. Through threat and innuendo. He wept tears and sweated blood, rose early and worked late, never hid, never fled, never stopped, never turned from the mission he’d been given. Finally here at the end, he can at last speak with joy the words he’s waited so long to say: “It is finished. I’ve faithfully done everything that I was given to do.”

Let’s be honest — finishing things is not our human strong suit. The last few spoonfuls of the ice cream crystalize in the freezer with all the cookie dough bits picked out. The Bible reading gets stuck two lines through Leviticus. The day comes when we can’t remember why we first started out on this marriage or calling. Our intentions are good, but we get tired or distracted. Inspiration fades and passion thins. The costs add up too high. All the good parts are gone.

But if life is a road, that road is a slowly curving circle, not an endlessly straight line. Mercy, goodness, passion all recur, are discovered again and again as Galilee turns to Golgotha from which comes New Jerusalem. Too often in failing to finish, we miss the chance to see how resurrection comes. In the circle, death holds hands with birth. “It is finished” gives way to “It has begun.”

Those who will not wind their way through Friday’s crisis and Saturday’s silence will never know the joy of Sunday dawning around the bend. Maturity is learning to anticipate this curve at the heart of the world and to press forward in the courage of its coming.

Jesus, give us grace to finish, so as to rise again.

Meghan Larissa Good is pastor of Albany (Ore.) Mennonite Church. She writes at where this first appeared.

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