Although it’s difficult for us to forget something that we already know, let’s imagine for a moment that we are hearing these words for the first time. Let’s imagine that we don’t know, as Paul Harvey would say, “the rest of the story.”
Imagine a mother and a friend, looking up on the one they love so dear now horribly disfigured—and how their own countenances have been disfigured by their sorrow. Intense fear and agony overwhelm them, yet we can imagine that there was still hope: hope that in spite of all the mocking and jeering he may yet work a miracle that would save him from this death. “It is finished.” Even for these, the ones who were closest to Christ’s heart, as the resurrection was yet unknown to them, these words must have cast a shadow of doubt on their hope in the fulfillment of all that God had promised them throughout the ages.
Imagine also a crowd of priests and soldiers, looking with anxiety to ensure the execution is completed. As the intensity of their fervor diminishes—as the intensity of their mocking and jeering subsides— imagine that a certain uneasiness crept into their hearts. “It is finished.” Outwardly, they agree and are satisfied; yet inwardly their consciences continue to question.
Imagine the disciples who didn’t follow their master to that hill, those who were afraid and hid away. Imagine their questions to those who returned. “What happened?” “Did they kill him?” “Did he say anything before he died?” “It is finished.” The intensity of their fear spikes as they hear these words. Immediately they are flooded with confusion and doubt about their future, about what it will mean to be a follower of his way. In the days following, fishermen will return to their nets, women will prepare the final burial spices, and pilgrims will walk the long road back to their homes questioning how this could have been the end.
It is only the light of the resurrection, however, that can reveal that what is finished—that is, what has ended—is not our hope in one who can save, but rather our slavery to sin. Christ proclaimed these words as a definitive statement to the evil one that his reign had ended and that death—Satan’s last power over man—had been forever destroyed.
Friends, listen closely to these words of Christ. In these words he says to each of us, “Your life of sin is over. It is finished.” May this end that we remember today lead us to begin anew our lives in Christ.
~ Given at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, Carmel, IN - April 6, 2012