Jesus’ last deep breath: “It is finished!”

This week I have been reading Reaching Toward Easter. It is helpful to have a guide through a time such as “Holy Week” – at least it is for me – to help avoid missing some of the deeper meanings and less popularized themes of that last week in Jerusalem leading up to the cross.

Here in Wake Forest, it is cold and dark and wet – and getting colder by the minute. For me, reading today’s meditation (below) has helped keep me focused on Jesus and on the amazing power of his love.


– My picture of Jerusalem, taken from The Mount of Olives on another cold, wet day

Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

John 19:28-30

So far, for Jesus and his disciples, this had been a week of amazing contrasts and eternal significance:

  • Dinner in Bethany
  • Triumphal Entry
  • Growing controversy and tension
  • The Last Supper
  • Gethsemane
  • Betrayal
  • Arrest
  • Questions
  • Denial(s)
  • Trial
  • Abuse
  • Torture
  • Crucifixion
  • Death
  • Finality

“It is finished.” This stage of the plan is now completed, achieved, accomplished, consummated, fulfilled. The iconic statement is Jesus’ last deep breath, the kind you take after completing a long and arduous task. It is a successful conclusion, a SHOUT, a punctuation mark in bold print! It is, in effect, a compact benediction.

My/Our Complicity:

Jesus’ ministry here on earth had been remarkable to the extreme. His three years of public service were so crucial, so important, that he had spent thirty years in preparation. Thirty years of groundwork for the mission, three decades of foundation for God Incarnate to get to work. Jesus did not rush into ministry.

Therefore, as terrible as it sounds, Jesus’ statement, “It is finished,” serves more accurately as an exclamation point affirming that the Son had been completely successful in his mission, not as a concession to defeat. Because the moment Jesus died the possibility of my redemption – our redemption – was born.

“It is finished” echoes across all of history. Jesus opened the door of possibility so that we could be restored to God as if we actually were worthy. In fact, and because of Jesus, I really am worthy; we all are.

writer/photographer Derek Maul lives and works in Wake Forest, NC

Regardless of how I understand it, that dark day on Golgotha saved me. The best I can do in response is to live in the truth of such generous love. For me and for each one of us, this life of redemptive grace made possible by the events on Good Friday has only just begun.

In love, and because love makes everything (including my redemption) possible – DEREK

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