Then there are the "one-off" responsibilities. Perhaps it is a project - self-chosen or committed to us by someone else. All those recurring tasks - plus some - keep getting in the way. Time is escaping us. The deadline is looming ahead. We are afraid that, if we actually get around to doing it, we wonít do it well.
We are impressed by the life of Jesus. In some ways his life seems to have been full of interruptions. Yet those very interruptions always became opportunities. Nothing was ever wasted. As he said, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work" (Jn 4.34) - not the whim of the people, but the will of the Father.
In the upper room we are told, "Having loved his own who were in the world, [Jesus] now showed them the full extent of his love" (13.1b). How he had tried to prepare them for the events that were up ahead! After Peterís great confession at Caesarea-Philippi, "From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life" (Mt. 16.21).
None of it seemed to sink in. And now, with his arrest, trial and crucifixion imminent, they were all totally unprepared. Peter was positive he would remain loyal, even if the others didnít. The only disciple who achieved what he intended to do was Judas - and he was crushingly disappointed by the result.
Jesus loved them to the end. Even Judas could have been restored, had he been willing.
Jesus had now been taken before the Sanhedrin - the Jewish council. They judged him a blasphemer and worthy of death and handed him over to the Roman authorities to carry out the death sentence. That wasnít so easy, but Pilate finally succumbed to pressure and "handed him over to them to be crucified" (Jn 19.16a). That means he acceded to their wishes - the Romans still had to carry out the sentence.
Jesus might now seem the victim of other agendas, no longer in control, quite unable to fulfil any personal destiny.
Pilate was intrigued by Jesus. Jesus, he concluded, was indeed a king, but not in any political sense (18.36). He claimed to have come into the world "to testify to the truth" (v. 37).
Pilate didnít pursue this conversation any further, but he had heard enough to enable him in the end to fulfil the wishes of the Jewish leaders and to get his own back on them. The notice on the cross read, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews" (19.19). In spite of their protests, he wouldnít budge on this one.
And on that cross, Jesus was still focused on the needs of others - "Dear woman, here is your son", "Here is your mother" (vv. 26-27).
"Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, ĎI am thirstyí." (v. 28)
When he had sucked the wine vinegar from the offered sponge, he said, "It is finished" (v. 30). It is the identical Greek word in v. 28. Jesus had fully accomplished the work that he had come into the world to do.
It has often been noted that papyri receipts for taxes have been recovered with the word tetelestai written across them, meaning "paid in full". The penalty due for human sin has been "paid in full". Forgiveness is freely offered to all in his name.
Finished? No, Jesus wasnít finished! And he isnít finished with us! Paul could write with confidence, "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death" (Rom. 8.1-2).
Set free! No longer living by the memory of past sins and failures or by the whim of unwelcome present circumstances, but able to do the will of the Father - no matter what happens to us.
|Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are the Lamb "slain from the foundation of the world". You came into human history to live and to die for fallen humanity. You always did the will of the Father. And as men did their worst to you, you were fulfilling the very purpose of your coming. Jesus, we receive your redeeming grace. We welcome you, raised to life, into our lives. We thank you for what you finished. By your Spirit, finish that work in us and enable us to fulfil our mission in reaching out to others and caring for them. We pray this in your name, Amen.|
GolgothaBy a bus station
whose stony face
and a tomb.
Two were dying