Isaiah 52:13-53:12 -Psalm 22 -Hebrews 10:16-25 -John 18:1-19:42
Each of the four evangelists—Matthew, Mark, Luke, John—has his own way of framing the story of Good Friday. Each one wants to convince us that the crucifixion of Jesus is the most important thing that has ever happened and that it reveals the true destiny of humanity and creation. Mark and Matthew, for example, have one and the same saying: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” It is a shriek of abandonment. On the cross, Jesus experienced hell—the absence of God, the ultimate judgment—and he appeared to suffer defeat at the hands of the Evil One. Mark and Matthew want us to know that there is no hell that Jesus has not entered, no demon that he has not confronted, no abandonment or despair that he has not felt. The Gospel of John tells the same story in another way. John ends his story with Jesus saying: “It is finished.” Certainly, the words mean, “It is over”, “It is the end”. But for John, that saying means much more than that. It means that Jesus is not a victim. He is not crucified by mistake or just an unfortunate thing that happened to him on his way to Easter Sunday. It is on the cross that his work is completed. Therefore, the crucifixion is not something optional, only a passing episode to be noted briefly on our way to the resurrection. The resurrection finds its meaning from the crucifixion. The resurrection vindicates, verifies, confirms, authenticates the crucifixion. “It is finished” means that the Father and the Son together, in the power of the Spirit, are saying to us, the work that the Father gave the Son to accomplish is consummated, completed, and finished as he dies. There are many threads in John’s Gospel that are being tied together here in this word, “finished”. He has fulfilled the Scripture. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. To all who receive him, he has given power to become children of God. He has created the new community, the church, and he does this in full view of his enemy, the devil. Truly this saying is central to this faith we share because when Jesus said “It is finished,” he meant what he said. Thanks be to God.