My eldest son does 24- hour mountain bike races, and my youngest has just announced he wants to start training for a marathon hill race.
What IS it that makes people want to do this stuff?
Well there seem to be two sides to that coin ...
At the end of a marathon effort you can get two reactions - and the balance to be kept between them is a fine one, because there's quite possibly a bit of both reactions kicking around in the mix.
What two reactions am I talking about?
Well, just picture in your mind's eye the cry of 'Finished' as an exhausted runner crosses that line ... the cry of 'finished' there can either be about the task or about the person themselves.
It can mean 'I'm finished' (which is probably true anyway!) or it can mean 'I've achieved the objective that I set myself, and have completed my task', and the sense of that last one is of course really rewarding.
Welcome to the Thought for Good Friday!
It would be easy to hear Jesus's final cry of 'Finished!' in John 19:30 and assume that He was simply saying now that He was 'all-in'.
Quite understandable, of course.
He WAS no doubt exhausted in body and spirit.
But it looks as if there were a couple more things that John is telling us were going on here, so this isn't simply a cry of capitulation at the end of a tortuous passage from this life.
Listen carefully to the way that John's Gospel puts this here:
"When he had received the drink,
Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’
With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit."
This verse inj the original Greek language starts 'Then when'.
There's a definite sense that there was this one last thing that needed to be done and 'then when' Jesus had finished that final thing (having that drink) He said ... 'It is finished'.
We'll see why in a minute!
But first ...
What is finished?
There's an interesting word used here to express the ending of something that's taken place.
It's not like when te credits start to roll at the end o a film and you might see the words 'The End.'
This is far more a word for having arrived at a target or a goal ... there's a sense of accomplishment here that mustn't be missed, so in the attempt to get at that Bible translastors opt for phrases like 'It is accomplished over 'It is finished' or 'It is ended'.
It's much more like the declaration 'done' when a new deal has been completed and hands are struck as the satisfying price is agreed, accepted and paid.
So what is it that has beenn concluded, achieved and ended?
Firstly, the Lord's holy life ... and that's reallly important for us.
His holy life
There's no DOUBT that Jesus' earthly life was just about finished.
His struggle with sin was now just about over.
He had come through the battle every human being has with sin and ALONE from the rest of humanity He'd come through that struggle unblemished.
This was a phenomenal achievement in itself, and meant that His perfect record with God could be reckoned up and placed against His followers' account.
His fulflment of prophecy - sour wine
"Later, knowing that everything had now been finished,
and so that Scripture would be fulfilled,
Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.’
A jar of wine vinegar was there,
so they soaked a sponge in it,
put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant,
and lifted it to Jesus’ lips."
What Scriptures are getting fulfilled here?
Well, to start with, Psalm 22 has clearly been on the Lord's mind already because earlier sayings of His from the Cross come from this psalm.
The underlying experience that gives rise to His 'I'm thirsty' also comes from this psalm:
"My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death."
And then in terms of what happened to slake the Saviour's thirst, of course, there's Psalm 69
""You know how I am scorned, disgraced and shamed;
all my enemies are before you.
Scorn has broken my heart and has left me helpless;
I looked for sympathy, but there was none,for comforters, but I found none.
21 They put gall in my food
and gave me vinegar for my thirst."
His servant task
Throughout the prophecies of Isaiah in particular about God's coming Saviour ther is an emphasis on His being God's Servant to th world ... you may be familisar with 'The Servant Songs' of Isaiah.
Now, it isn't obvious from our English translations, but there is an important lexical link between this passage and the same word for 'it is finished' (, “It is ended”) in John 13:1 which says.
"It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end."
(It's in the translation there in that phrase 'to the end' that this same word recurs).