Think of the last big job you completed.
Cleaning the car. Building a shed. Completing a major art project or work project or class project. Planting that monster garden.
How did you feel when you were done?
Relief? Tired? Happy? Disappointed? Satisfaction?
Did any of you wonder why it had taken you so long to get at it?
The feeling of satisfaction we get from a job well done seems to depend on a couple things: the effort expended and the difference made. Something that takes five minutes to finished with your eyes closed doesn’t evoke deep satisfaction. But a goal you’ve been slaving for, putting it all out there, working, pulling, reading, sweating–when that job is done, it feels great!
The harder the job and the longer the time + the significance of the results = the greater our satisfaction when it’s all done.
Which made me think of Jesus, just as he died on Good Friday. How is that? As I reflected on Good Friday, this is what I realized.
Jesus, after all he had done, after all that he had given, after the years of preparation, followed by three intense years of pouring himself out for everyone and anyone who needed his touch, giving himself completely to his small group of followers, after the nights in prayer, the opposition and scorn, the mistrust and slander, after all the walking and sailing and walking and sailing, after all the teaching, and preaching and healing, all of it done in obedience to his Father’s will, after all that, then to be arrested like a criminal, charged in a trumped up trial, hustled off to be flogged into pulp and hung out for all to see and mock and scorn. His whole life, given. And then being rejected by his own Father, becoming sin for us, taking upon himself our brokenness, our shame, our rebellion, after that, after all that, he dies naked and alone on a brutal, blood-stained cross.
But just before he died, he breathes one last word, gives one last cry.
Did you hear it? Mark gave us the earliest record, telling us that, after Jesus took a drink, “With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.” (15:37)
With a loud cry. What did he cry? What were his last words, forced out of his lungs as he died? Wasn’t anyone else listening in? Yes, there were others, and one of them was John.
Over in his eyewitness account of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, we hear what Jesus cried out: It captures the same moment in time; Jesus has just been given a drink. And in John 19:30, “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”
What did he cry out? It is finished.
What was finished? It’s done . . . complete!
What was done? What was complete?
His greatest work, his Father’s mission, the job he’d been given, the task he’d been sent to perform, the life he’d chosen to live and then give as a sacrifice for many.
Was there ever a more difficult job? Breaching the gap between us and our God. Responding in the way we could not respond. Covering over all humanity’s sin. Restoring the broken relationship. Taking our place under judgment.
All of it.
Was ever a more difficult, excruciating, heart-wrenching, sweat-inducing, mind-blowing mission ever undertaken? Never before, never after.
And the effects!! Never has there ever been work with more far-reaching consequences, a mission that was more history-altering, more destiny-changing, more life-transforming, more earth-healing, more people-restoring than this work, completed right at this moment, as the last breath of Jesus expired over his broken lips.
It is finished.
Even at that moment as he died, did he feel a rush of satisfaction? A thrill of the finish? Through all the pain, the heartache, the numbing loss of blood and breath, did he, within his heart, feel a surge of delight, carrying him through the veil of death to his Father’s side?
Well, of course, it’s difficult to know for sure. I’m imagining here. But I think that he must have been truly, deeply, immeasurably satisfied with the work he’d finished. I imagine that Jesus, as he was back with his Father, must have had a moment when he just sat back and enjoyed the job so well done. He must have basked in his Father’s praise for his relentless grace, his depth of submissive love, his audacious, bold passion. What they–the Father, the Son and the Spirit–had set out to do–to actually set creation to rights–this bold, courageous, humbling, amazing vision to see the whole of the world returned to righteousness–Jesus must have been so, so happy, with this job so perfectly, so holy, so well done.
And so here’s my question, as we reflect on his death today:
Are we deeply satisfied with the finished work of Jesus?
This is why we call this “good” Friday, isn’t it?
As we see, again, the grace of Jesus poured out, we reflect upon this terrible day, and we dare to call it good–deeply, truly good.
Good Friday is remembered as the Good Day Jesus Died, and a better day there never was. More was accomplished on that day than any other day in history, past, present or future.
For on that day, the Son of God took death unto himself, and died the GOOD death in our place, so we could live the GOOD life in his.
And so we say on this Good Friday, “Jesus, you are good. You did the good work; you accomplished the only and the best thing that could be done, and you did it with such perfection, such grace, such heart, such love, such power. We love you for your love. We love you for your sacrifice. We love you for your good, good work. Thank you for finishing what you started, for us.”
Note: this post is a modified form of my Good Friday message, given at the Erickson Covenant Church, March 25th, 2016.