“It is finished!”
Human history pivoted with the uttering of those words from the mouth of God, Who robed Himself in flesh and shed His own blood for our sins. The closing of one Testament and the opening of another was occurring before the bewildered eyes of His followers and the blinded eyes of those who too soon rejoiced over His apparent demise.
Without taking away from where those words were spoken and by Whom, I’d like to focus on what they may mean to us beyond what they signified on that Day of days. For they will be expressed in some sense by all who have faithfully run our race for God. Paul said, “I have fought a food fight, I have finished my course…” (2 Timothy 4:7)
Here are some thoughts about weighty matters we tend to forget in the daily grind.
During a Sunday service awhile back I was worshiping God to the strains of “Soon and Very Soon”, rejoicing over the promise of “going to see the King”. “No more crying there…” brought such a sweet picture of Jesus physicially touching each face of those who hear Him say,”Well done, thou good and faithful servant” to “wipe away all tears from their eyes”.
Beyond that image, though, I was struck by the thought that tears won’t follow us into Heaven, not only because Jesus went to prepare a place of rest for the faithful, but also because on the way to the Promised Land, we who serve Him in Spirit and in truth will have finished crying. Scripture teaches that crying itself has a purpose. It is part of faithfully running our race.
Let that sink in.
Saints of God are doing something when we cry — something for the Kingdom. “As soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.” (Isaiah 66:8)
Children are not born into God’s church by good advertising and wonderful programs. New saints are added because true saints of God wept and travailed and labored in an altar of prayer until a fellow human being was ready to repent and obey the Gospel (Acts 2:38). Sheep beget sheep, and anyone who has given birth or known anything about the process knows children don’t just appear in your arms. There’s sacrifice that accompanies bringing newborns into the world.
Jesus said, “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted…” (Matthew 5:4) and “Blessed are ye that weep now…” (Luke 6:21) James admonished, “Be afflicted, and mourn and weep…” (James 4:9)
Surely there is joy unspeakable in living for God. But as Pastor John Bowen, Jr. preached in that service, “It’s not always harvest time – there is famine, too, and there is a time for sowing…” The Psalmist said, “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” (Psalm 126:6)
Are we to try to have all the good here, avoiding the pain? The Apostles rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for His name when they had been beaten. Where are they now? Rejoicing and enjoying their eternal reward.
The next verse of the song was “No more dying there, we are going to see the King.” See, the dying has a purpose as well. We are not meant to be here always, although we are natured to linger as long as possible, and fight to do so. That instinct is God-given, but it’s not all there is. Reality is on the other side of death. The “life forever”, and the eternal damnation, are past the river Jordan. We are living on this side only to prepare for that life or death.
We seem to treat that other realm as the surreal — somehow beyond reality. In the eternal scheme of things, this life is actually the surreal. “…For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away,” (James 4:14)
Even this earth is only here by His Word: “…by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth…” and “…by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto…the day of judgment…” (2 Peter 3:5,7) The earth, which seems firm and solid beneath our feet, is only temporary and one day it is going to “… melt away with fervent heat” (2 Peter 3:10).
The world that is to come after, where the soul of man will live or die with absolutely no time constraints, and no hint of an endpoint to the joy or to the indescribable torment, is the ultimate reality.
How should we then live? To prepare for the other side, the reality of eternity that we were made for. We get a choice — only on this side of Jordan — what we will be on that side.
“It is finished” only applies to what we are living here and now. On that side, we will never be finished worshiping and praising and enjoying the beautiful presence of the Lord, or else weeping and wailing and gnashing our teeth, remembering every instance we were stirred to go beyond what we knew and had in God, to be sure we were obeying what He intended for us to obey and to be faithful to what we had already obeyed.
Jesus will wipe tears from the eyes of those to whom He says, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant…”, which is worth shouting and weeping and rejoicing over.
Will you finish well? Beginning today taking steps today do so.