The Lord’s Supper (or Communion) is when we take time each month to reflect on the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf and remember his great love for and forgiveness to us. We are currently in the midst of a series of monthly posts during which we are exploring the depth of Jesus’ sacrifice by considering his seven last words on the cross. The following reflection was shared at our Good Friday Service on March 25, 2016, by one of our staff members, Melissa Lowther.
“When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” —John 19:30
My life has often been burdened by trying to gain the approval of others. If I got good enough grades, my parents would be happy and people would think I’m smart. If I do well at work, my boss will recognize me. If I sing well enough, people will compliment me. If I make yummy food, people will want to hang out with me. So many times my efforts in life have been focused around what others will think of me, hoping they won’t see right through me and know that I’m not as great as I try to make myself look. I’ll even avoid doing certain things if I feel like I won’t do them well enough or if I think I’ll fail. And even in the moments where I let my guard down and step out of my comfort zone, I’m overcome by such deep insecurity: what if I mess up? What if it’s not good enough? I’ll look stupid or uncool or uptight or silly. People will realize I’m actually a wreck.
Jesus’ mission on earth was to seek and save those who are lost. He came to give relief to those like me who were trying so hard to gain the acceptance of others. Jesus shows us that – actually, we’re not good enough; we’ve failed miserably – I hold myself to such high expectations that I can’t even meet, so how am I supposed to live up to God’s standards?
But Jesus’ work on the cross was to pay the debt that I owed for my failure. I’m not good enough to earn my own way into God’s presence, but I am known by God and still deeply loved by him. I don’t have to fight for people’s approval, because I have already been approved. Without having done anything to earn it – Jesus showed his love for me on the cross.
When Jesus says “it is finished” it can be easy to think it means – oh, he’s just giving up. He’s waving the white flag, raising his arms in surrender, saying “okay, you win – it’s over”?
Jesus’ cry on the cross is not a cry of defeat. It’s a cry of success and triumph. He worked and fought and endured and his mission is now accomplished. The battle has been won. His work is complete. And it has ongoing implications even for today. Because when Jesus cried “it is finished” it was like he was saying: “Your debt is paid. You are approved. You are loved. You no longer need to work for yourself to gain favor and acceptance from others. I’ve already given it to you.”
I so easily forget that my redemption has already been won. I often fall back into my mindset of grasping for approval. So today – and hopefully every day – I look to the cross to be my reminder. I see Jesus hanging there – after being mocked and beaten, after seeing his friends desert him, after painfully gasping for air for hours – I see him hanging there, and I hear him saying “it is finished.” May you also hear those words from Jesus today.