Good Friday – Reflection 6 (2.30pm) – by David Runcorn

Runcorn cross

‘It is finished’ – the victory of God

Hymn – to sing or read
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Reading
‘… standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.
After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfil the scripture), ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. Jn 19.25b-30

Reflection
And what is finished? The phrase comes twice.
Sin? Evil? Death? Pain? Suffering?
Plainly not …..
Whatever is finished this world is not yet problem or pain free. Far from it.
‘It is finished’ completes the earlier cry – ‘why have you abandoned me?’
The gospel accounts express this in different ways.
Matthew tells that, at the moment of his death, the curtain of the Temple was torn
‘from top to bottom’. Top down. This is God’s doing. That huge heavy curtain hung before the holiest place separating off God’s presence. God now rips it apart.
Something is open that was closed.
Something is united that was divided.
Nothing is outside the love of God.
No one and nowhere is beyond reach his crucified embrace.
There is now no division, no separation. It is finished.
The church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is built over the site of the crucifixion and tomb of Jesus. Climb the stairs and there is a crowded chapel where you can reach in and touch the top of the Calvary stone.
But underneath is an unmarked chapel. It is usually empty.
Behind the altar, behind a glass window is the bottom of same fractured rock.
It is called ‘Adam’s Chapel’. The message is clear – the cross penetrates down to the very beginning. Nowhere and no one is beyond its reach.
The embrace of divine love on the cross reaches it all.
It is finished.
The story can begin again.
In John’s account, when all is finished, Jesus simply bowed his head and ‘gave up his spirit’. For a few deadly hours Jesus had been willingly surrendered to earthly powers – passive in the hands and will of others. Now, at the last, Jesus again takes the initiative. He completes his earthly ministry – his total self-offering – in a final act of trusting surrender to the Father’s will. ‘Bowing his head’ is the language with which you might describe someone quietly going to sleep – though here the pain and thirst are acute.
One thing remains – to give up his spirit.
In John’s gospel what is offered ‘up’ is found in the perfect will and purpose of the Father.
The earliest teachers of the faith would teach that if Jesus had not hand over his spirit to the Father at this moment of death the world itself would have ended.
Bowing, laying down, offering up, handing over ….
The final complete, trusting, self-offering of himself.
The sacrifice complete.
It is finished
The Father and the Son are one.
The image of the cross above was designed by Scilla Verney, an artist, who was herself dying of cancer at the time. The world is portrayed as split apart – painfully, sharply separated. That split can express anything that is fractured, separated and lost. Christ, in his own body, fills that contorted gap. His arms are thrust into the midst of it all. In his own being he holds it all together. This is our faith. This is where the world is now held In Christ. Nothing is outside of it. That is where all broken and separated things are found – in Christ. Nothing separates us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
Where do you connect with these thoughts?
You might pause and keep silence for a few moments.

Prayer
Look, Father, look on His anointed face,
And only look on us as found in Him;
Look not on our misusings of Thy grace,
Our prayer so languid, and our faith so dim;
For lo! between our sins and their reward,
We set the passion of Thy Son our Lord. (William Bright)

A space to add your own prayers
We adore you O Christ and we bless you
For by your Holy Cross
You have redeemed the world.