When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
John 19:30 ESV
I knew what I wanted to write about prior to reading it, but as a related topic I highly recommend another blog by Pastor David Kemp (click here to go there)
It’s been a long week. This was supposed to be my day off and yet I find myself just having completed a relentlessly busy day. I’m looking forward to going home, sitting down on anything other than institutionalized furniture, see my wife (whose company, incidentally, I immensely prefer to the guys I work with everyday), my kids (who are far more like the guys I work with), and pet my dogs (who are a dead ringer for some of my co-workers).
There’s something about being done that is an important part of the created order. Completion is a thing that God created and then exemplified. He finished things and then said, “that’s good”. When we come to the end of a long day, week, month, or, for some perhaps, year it’s a uniquely wonderful feeling to be done. In fact, the longer and harder we’ve worked the more we appreciate finishing (I don’t get the same sense of completion after finishing a movie or a bag of candy corn…it’s different).
So much has been said and written and sung about Jesus on the cross. Every aspect has been scrutinized and mulled over and boiled down and fluffed up; and all of this is needed and good practice and necessary considering that it was the most important event to ever take place in the history of the world. And while I’m sure someone has brought it up, and I may have even read about it at some point, it occurred to me this afternoon that along with the love and mercy and grace and beauty and glory that the cross represents, there is another quality that is expressed on that hill, on that tree, in that Man.
Jesus was called the “Man of sorrows” prophetically. He was tasked, by His Father, with revealing the enormity of the kingdom of Heaven, bringing eternal light into a painfully dark world, giving proof of God’s love, care, and truth through conquering the effects of sin through miracles, and then taking the weight of the sins of untold numbers of wicked people all by Himself on cross. Along with being amazing and wonderful and awe-inspiring, if I may point out the obvious, that is also exhausting.
Jesus sat down, got hungry, felt thirst, and got frustrated. We get examples of these things not to point out a one time occurrence of each, I believe, but to offer a glimpse into the norm for our Lord. Though He retained all of His divinity for the trip to earth, He also became fully man, and as someone who is also “fully man” (though without the divinity part) I can testify that life will wear you out. And can we even imagine the stress and energy-leaching tumult that was the last day of His life? Can we even begin to fathom just how tapped His physical resources were? At some point, despite the will to live and the love for life and the notion that our bodies were not meant to expire…in the midst of all of that I can’t help but believe that near the end, Jesus was just worn out. Bloody, broken, bullied, and betrayed He hung on that crossbeam and having endured one final insult He said, “It is finished”. I wonder if it’s possible that the most profound thing Jesus felt in that moment of resignation was not just love, or just mercy, or just reward, but relief. It was done. The mission was accomplished. The veil was torn. The walls of sin’s captivity were crumbling. And like a dry-waller coming off of seven 12-hour shifts, He finally felt the rest that can only be known when it’s quitting time.
Hebrews says this:
But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,
Hebrews 10:12 ESV
Don’t get me wrong, I know the significance of the priestly service in the Temple. I know that they weren’t supposed to sit down for their entire shift and this text is pointing the Jesus Christ as our “once-for-all” High Priest. I’m not re-interpreting anything. All I would like to point out is how wonderful it must have felt to Jesus, our Lord, at the end of it all, to go back home to His Dad’s house and just sit down for a bit. The language Hebrews uses is too wonderful to overlook. “He sat down.” Yes it’s symbolic, and yes its meaning is steeped in Old Testament history, but don’t miss the big “E” on the eye chart: “He sat down” because He was finished.
Friends as we get off work this afternoon and as we enjoy some much-needed rest, let us not forget what our relaxation is a shadow of. God created the feeling of completion and rest that we experience at quitting time with full understanding that one day it would point our souls to the greatest “quitting time” ever. We rest, ultimately, because He rested. We find peace, ultimately, because He was chastised. We are forgiven, ultimately, because He was condemned falsely. But then He rested.
Rest well, but don’t rest like those with no hope. Rest like the redeemed. Rest with joy and anticipation because someday we will find perfect rest. Someday, sort of like Jesus on that day, we will find ourselves in our Dad’s house and we will sit down with our Lord and eat and laugh and sing and dance. Is it any wonder that the “old timers” call heaven our “eternal rest”?