Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit.(NLT)
We can so easily misunderstand words on a printed page. We are not sure of what body language is behind the words. What tone of voice was used? When Jesus cried “It is finished”, he could have been expressing how exhausted he was and how he couldn’t take it anymore…”I’ve had enough.” He may have been lamenting how everything had turned out so badly…”I gave it my best shot but it wasn’t enough.”
But we know from the rest of Scripture that this was not so. This was no cry of a weary and defeated martyr. This was Jesus saying, “Mission accomplished.” He had come to open up the way back to God for rebellious humankind. And his God forsaken death on the cross did just that. Of course it wasn’t till Easter Day that this victory became clear, that God the Father had vindicated his Son.
We oversimplify things by suggesting Good Friday was a day of dark defeat, leaving the good news of victory till Easter Day. True, that Friday saw terrible suffering and injustice. But it also saw victory, disguised and shadowy perhaps but still real. Perhaps that is why we still call that day “Good”.
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