As Jesus hung on the cross, we have seven of his phrases recorded. We remember them at each Easter time but as this is somewhere near the half-annual mark of Easter (ok, within a couple of months of the half-annual mark!), it might help us to have a quick refresher. Jesus’ seven “words”from the cross:
- Father, forgive them, they know not what they do;
- Truly, I say today you will be with me in paradise;
- Behold, your mother; woman, behold your son (to Mary and John the Apostle- John took care of Jesus’ mom after he died);
- My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
- I thirst;
- It is finished.
- Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit.
Today, the sixth of these words stuck out to me as I was reading John’s vision of the coming of Jesus’ kingdom in its fullness. In Greek, this is known as The Apocalypse, though we know the book by the equally excellent title of The Revelation.
In chapter 21 (there are 22 chapters, so this is right at the end), John sees the Son of Man (a title of Jesus’ worth exploration) coming down with the new heavens to the new earth and making his home with the re-created versions of his people. He comes down and it is a celebration where sin, death, hell and charts predicting the rapture are all brought to an end. And do you know what he says?
It is done.
Does that sound vaguely familiar to anybody else? Sounds like the sixth word from the cross, right? Right. Think about that, Jesus declares all things are finished on the cross and when he comes back for good, he declares that all things are done.
Now, two biblical phrases that are similar should be approached with caution. For instance, when James wrote, a person is justified by works and not by faith alone, he was with Paul when he wrote by the works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight. These are two different men, inspired by the same Spirit, using the same words differently to make one point, which, as Bonhoeffer would say, is: to obey is to believe and to obey is to believe. But what about when one author makes similar points using different words, speaking about different situations? Well, now we may have something!
So is there a difference between Jesus declaring all things finished and all things done?
Jesus’ word from the cross is speaking to the work of redemption, hence the word “it” is finished. His work to suffer us back into the life of God had been fulfilled- this is what we mean when we say there is no punishment left for those in Christ. The work of suffering for our sins has been taken care of; we have peace with God through the blood of Jesus.
But Jesus’ work does not stop at the cross, as if he retires to the status of Savior Emeritus, the symbolic figurehead of the operation of God. Remember, he was in the grave for three more days. He still had to raise from the dead to give us life. He still had to appear to his disciples to give them hope. He still had to ascend into heaven to give us power over death. He still had to sit at the right hand of the Father and pray for us. He still had to go and prepare a place for us. Even after it is finished, Jesus was not done acting on our behalf.
So this word of finality in the story of the Revelation marks the end of the beginning. God now lives with his people. All the work of bringing us into the life of God will one day be so ready that he can say all things have become; the plan of God has been completed.
And can you imagine that God’s amazing, spectacular, boundless and ancient plan was to live with us?
What more can we have to be thankful for in the lives we live in between finished and done than to know that God is for us?