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“It is finished.” A narration for Haydn’s “The Seven Last Words of Christ”

April 16, 2019

Last night, Grace was privileged to host a performance of Haydn’s “The Seven Last Words of Christ,” expertly offered by the Kontras Quartet. Along with a handful of gifted colleagues, I was given the opportunity to offer narration and commentary. Here is my piece, for the sixth word of Christ from the cross. Blessings to you as you journey through Holy Week, to the cross and beyond.

John 19:30

Tetelestai. Consummatum est. It is finished.

However you say it, it’s over. It certainly looks that way, doesn’t it? There Jesus hangs, from a tree made for death, on a hill bereft of life. The machinations born of our sin and brokenness are complete, and there he hangs. As good as dead; about to die. It is finished.

He bows his head, gives up his spirit. It is finished.

His killers surely thought so, believed they had rid themselves of this nuisance of a prophet, this preacher of mercy and grace and other such useless things.

And we, in our grief, might think so, too, as we stand on the Calvarys of this world under the death tree’s shadow.

It is finished. Yes. But what is finished?

Is Jesus finished, or is Jesus finished?

Yes, the world did away with Jesus, but it turns out that this death was exactly what Jesus set out to do. Yes, it is finished, but in the inverted calculus of God’s incalculable grace, this end is the end of all endings. A new beginning blooms, for in his death Jesus’ work is accomplished and his goal has been reached.

Why, just the night before, there in that Upper Room, Jesus talked about love. How he would love his friends to the end. Now he has; it is finished. All the way to death, Jesus lived with love and fulfilled his calling, for the sake of your salvation.

It is finished. But Jesus? He’s just getting started. The only thing finished, the only thing ending, is the end. In Christ, it’s now nothing but new beginnings.

From → Lent/Easter

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