When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
There is a brave young man in our midst. He has become a hero to me over the months, and now years, that I have had the privilege to be his pastor during a dark time in his life. This young man just celebrated his 45th birthday (in worship, last Sunday!). Two years ago he was diagnosed with cancer. We first met in a Jackson Hospital room where he received me warmly and we shared in reading the 23rd Psalm together.
Since then he has undergone multiple rounds of chemotherapy, spent many nights in the hospital, and recently lost sight in one eye due to an infection. He has trouble eating and has lost considerable weight. He is tired the better part of most days.
Yet since that first meeting in the hospital room he has also knelt at our altar rails for healing prayers as you, the congregation, laid hands on him in support. Since then he has been baptized by water and anointed with oil. Since then he has become a member of our congregation.
Together, this young man and I, we have wondered how such pain and discomfort can exist in this world. We question the purpose of the physical body and the meaning of that body when it becomes nearly useless. Yet this young man has a response. He understands that our bodies are only a part of who we truly are. The spirit of this young man is stronger and fiercer and bolder than his body allows him to be. He is confident, as am I, that the Lord’s response to his physical illness is the shedding of tears over the brokenness of our world, and our bodies that often live that brokenness.
As we begin this Good Friday, remembering the broken body of Christ on a cross and our own brokenness of body, heart and mind, we hear the words of Jesus with a new ear, “It is finished.” Yes, his life as he knew it was coming to an end. But, what was most significantly “finished” that day on the cross was the interminable brokenness of humanity. No longer will the aches in our bodies, the weakness in our voices, the troubles of our hearts be “the end.” Indeed, the end is now the beginning with the hope that follows the cross.
I invite you to read the entire Passion story from John 18:1-19:42. You can find it here: http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=200681733