April 10, 2020
by Jonathan Chute
“It is finished.” John 19:30
When Thyra and I were first married I did most of the laundry. I had been taught by my mother from an early age and have always been pretty particular about separating darks and lights, cold and warm water washables. I did my own laundry in college and seminary. In the division of chores in our newly married life, it was easy enough to take that one on.
But there is something about the laundry that one notices after a while. It never ends. Never. You empty the hamper, pull the sheets off the bed, pile all the towels in a heap and go to work. The washer hums along. They dryer tosses. We sort and fold, deliver to the appropriate bed, drawer or closet. There is a sense of satisfaction at a job well done. The laundry is finished.
But it is not finished. Because you are wearing the clothes on your back. And as you get ready for bed you know that you will put them in the hamper. It will be empty no more. The great circle of laundry life has already begun again.
That is actually true for most of our human endeavors. Doing the dishes. Mowing the lawn. Pulling weeds. Filling a prescription. Passing a test. Preaching a sermon. Buying groceries. Just as soon as we think we are done, the next one is already on its way.
So when Jesus utters the words recorded in John’s gospel, “It is finished,” I find that compelling. It is the sixth of the “Seven Last Words” of Jesus, spoken from the cross on the Friday Christians have called “Good.” What would it be like to know that we have actually finished the work we have been given? I honestly have no idea. Nothing I have done has ever really been complete.
But Jesus says “It is finished.” Even in the midst of suffering and anguish he is able to consider the meaning of what he has done and know that it is enough.
Many years ago someone asked Thyra’s mother if she knew when she was saved. It seemed that they were checking on the status of her faith, to see if it was as sure and certain as their own. When people ask that question often they are thinking of the moment when they first saw themselves as forgiven and loved by God.
She repeated the question. “When was I saved?” And then she answered. “I remember it well. It was about noon, on a Friday, about 2,000 years ago….” That’s what Jesus meant when he said those words. The work of reconciliation, healing the breach between the human family and the God who made us, has been accomplished. He has reached across the chasm that divided us and closed it for good. There is nothing more for us to do than trust. It is done. It is finished.
Thanks be to God. Amen.
April 10, 2020