Today’s Bible passage and an excerpt
Read John 19:30
It is finished.
More thoughts for meditation
The sixth statement Jesus spoke aloud on the cross, “it is finished”, is ironically not the final statement he spoke. Huh? What does “finished” mean then? He wasn’t finished speaking, but he was surely finished the work he came to do on earth, on our behalf, to reconcile us with God. As we have prayed so far this week with Jesus’ first five statements, we have journeyed through understanding and acknowledging how we are forgiven, we can be united with God and one another on earth and in heaven, we have a God who is sympathetic to our human experience and we can find complete satisfaction through our connection with God.
Jesus’ sixth statement is a summary that the deal was done. From that moment on, no more sacrifices would be needed to approach God openly and freely; no more blood needed to be shed to feel alive on a daily basis, no more endless efforts of trying to be good enough to gain good standing with God. Jesus hanging on the cross was the final sacrifice that enables us all, Jew and Gentile, to stand before God unashamed, and be fully alive as we were created to be.
To ensure the tangibility of this reality, three of the four gospels record that “the curtain in the temple was torn in two”: Matthew and Mark’s gospel detail “from top to bottom” (Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38, Luke 23:45). This action was not only miraculously done but monumentally important. The temple included a thick, tall and wide curtain, elaborately woven and decorated, that separated the main area of the temple with the Holy of Holies (an area only the high priest was entitled to go). The combination of historical records that include the Old Testament, the Talmud (a collection of Jewish laws and traditions) and Josephus’ writings (a Jewish historian) describe the veil and its function as pivotal to the atonement process and understanding our relationship with God. The curtain, in form, was described as four inches thick, sixty feet tall and thirty feet wide. Historical records suggest it took 300 priests to erect it because of its weight and that a horse tied to each end could not tear it apart because of its woven strength and thickness. It was a symbolic and literal barrier between the people and God. Only the high priest was permitted to enter and not without much preparation and a blood sacrifice. History notes the high priest would wear bells so the outsiders could know if he was still alive behind the curtain. If he died while in the Holy of Holies, he wore a rope around his ankle that outsiders could pull to remove his body, lest they enter the most sacred place unpermitted and die as well. The veil proved an intense separated reality between God and humanity. Yet, its destruction proved its irrelevance after Jesus’ act of atonement on the cross. Its form and function was no longer needed, no longer required.
Suggestions for Action
Since the onset of sin (being disconnected from God), the human experience has been bent to feel ashamed, afraid, alone, forsaken and wanting for more. There are most certainly moments you have experienced these feelings and have thought that you are not good enough and have desperately wondered what can you do to be better. Let Jesus’ words on the cross speak, on your behalf, to such feelings and thoughts of isolation and insignificance to redeem your experience in a way that permits you to feel forgiven, confident, brave. Satisfied, alive, loved and not alone. Let the work Jesus accomplished on the cross be your redemption to declare victory over all that seeks to make you forget what you were created to be: alive, loved and not alone.
Pray (anytime/anywhere): “It is finished.”
Use this phrase to confront each and every feeling and thought that overwhelms you and inhibits you from believing that you are anything other than alive, loved and not alone because of Christ. Speak these words with authority, because Christ has equipped you with power over fear and death.