Once a day dawned dark, the clouds hanging limp like wisps of smoke that clog the lungs after a fire has burned beyond its life.
Tear-stained faces watched a man displayed, his torn body nailed to a tree torn from the ground and weeping over its foul fate. His face contorted with pain as his laboured breathing slowed, blood from a hundred tiny wounds staining the wood he lent against.
He had spoken to them six times as they watched, in an agony of unknowing, the man they had followed like a lamp against the dark be slowly snuffed and ground into ashy waste. It was cruel, how slow it was, for all the soldiers laughed about how quick he was fading. Though their laughter too was fading to thoughtful silence as they watched this man die. There was something of strange dignity in it that spoke to the soul.
His mouth twisted in an effort to open and utter a hoarse whisper that the wind caught. It almost didn’t catch their ears, muffled by the dying of other men, and the clamour of the silence of the watching crowds.
“It is finished.” He whispered, and bowed his head, and died.
That whisper, unheard even by the wind that solemnly carried it to the handful of onlookers, was the loudest thing they had ever heard.
It is finished. Some scoffed at the noble understatement assuming the man in his strange, gentle, vigour was referring to his attempt to reshape Judea in his own image—referring to his life. It was, indeed, finished. And what an ignoble end to this wandering teacher. Another backwoods prophet had found his grave.
Yet, as the women who loved him and his greatest friend in the world listened to the words—”it is finished”—something rumbled in their guts. What was finished? More than they knew for now, but grief-stricken hearts would give to theological reflection in time. Of course, it helped that he came back to tell them.
It is finished. But what was finished?
There hung that day a darkness deeper than the longest watch of the night, as though light had been extinguished and the gritty veil of clouded hope was placed across every eye. Each moment shadowed, the hills never again rimmed with eastern fire, every dawn false.
“It is finished,” he mumbles from whispered lips. The light will blind the darkness.
The cherubim stood, heads bowed from their wearisome guarding, flaming sword held aloft by those whose wings burned with fire. Those angels’ long guarding to keep all who would attempt it from ascending the hill, from the garden, from that most holy place among the trees. Entry is rare, and careful, and dangerous for all who attempt it.
“It is finished,” he speaks from bloodied lips. The guardians put up their swords, the curtain is torn in twain.
Each day is a grind like the millstone across the kernel of corn, that reduces the husk that remains of life to a powder, blown away on the wind. The momentary joys that made hard days endurable, the short lifting of burdens, the sure and certain brightnesses that relived the drudgery of a world where enslaved princes make bricks from straw—they fled to leave a world to turn in endless toil.
“It is finished,” he growls from wearied lips. And the powder of so much living is baked into bread.
Each person, a mirror of God, stands in the great unknowing. A cloud of confusion, of dripping darkness, of comradery cleaved, clusters about our heads. We know not ourselves; we know not the Maker; we know not our Father, or from whence we came. There is much chattering but little insight, we stand with Plato ensconced in his cave.
“It is finished,” he spits from cracked lips. That which was sundered shall be remade, God was revealed in his radiance, and we saw him face-to-face.
Chains have long bound emaciated arms so that to act is to pull the weight of a thousand temptations and myriad failed attempts to live righteous lives. We cannot move, we cannot act, we cannot hope, for our arms and hearts and minds are locked in a prison of our own making. We are weighed by guilt, weighed by shame, weighed by the burdens of Lawish murmuring.
“It is finished,” he speaks from crusted lips. Chains break. Shame is shamed, guilt guilted, and Law read its rights. Sin shatters under the weight of righteousness.
Our days are dank with the stench of the swamps in which we dwell. We struggle, we suffer, we die. Not a jot of it carries significance. There is no purpose to our pain, or meaning to our misery. Our lives are nasty, brutish, and short—and the heavens are as uncaring as the sea. We are treated to the blank stare of cold, unfeeling stars until we simply stop looking.
“It is finished,” he calls from twisted lips. There are no more meaningless actions and a reckoning is coming where everything sad will be untwisted from the loam.
The curse that dust was entrusted to speak was hurled against every woman, every man, every day that they lived. Thorns will crowd your dreams. Thistles will choke your hopes. Pain will wrack your bodies as you strive to work. The dust spoke in horror at its own words as a serpent slithered by.
“It is finished,” he rumbles from angry lips. And a bruised foot came down.
The inevitable end of every life is to be pushed into the earth, into the cold embrace of soil, to be returned to our mother in the ground. But our foolish attempts to beautify the brutal do not convince our hearts. Death is wrong. It is final. It cannot be overturned. It has the last word.
“It. Is. Finished.” He shouts and the earth shakes at the sound, for the Christ has conquered death. And he has the last word.
Then as our last enemy is trampled to death the rumble under his words continues to shake. And all the pillars come tumbling down. Everything is unmade. There, on the last day of the making week, he says: “It is finished.” And creation was.
Until he made it anew on the third day.
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