Although the Easter story may be difficult to hear, it offers true and lasting comfort. As Jesus hung on the cross dying for people who did not love him, his final words rang out to the far reaches of the universe. "It is finished" (John 19:30). But what was finished and when had it begun?
In the beginning, God created a beautiful garden paradise, a sanctuary for him to enjoy loving fellowship with the woman and man. God only restricted them from eating the fruit of a particular tree. But, tempted by the serpent, they rejected his love in order to eat the forbidden fruit. Because they disobeyed God, the newly created world experienced suffering and sadness. But no sooner had the woman and man sinned against God, he expressed his love to them in words of hope. The Creator told them that a woman's offspring would one day crush the tempting serpent and all the forces of evil (Genesis 3:15). God did not give many details, but made one point very clear. Someday he would finish what he had promised. But when and how?
Throughout Jesus' earthly ministry he told people that the Father had sent him on a mission to submit himself to death on a cross. Crucifixion, a brutal form of execution, was intended only for non-Roman citizens. In fact, Roman society believed that simply saying the word "cross" was shameful. Millennia after that first garden, Jesus knelt one lonely night in another garden. Our Savior prayed to the Father that his role in this promised solution to man's sin might pass from him. But it was the Father's will that Jesus finish the task (John 4:34).
With humility Jesus submitted his will to the Father, and in so doing, left us with the most striking example of obedience mankind has ever witnessed. Jesus took the full penalty for our sin knowing that the Father would reject him for it. The shame and physical agony of the crucifixion were only a small part of what Jesus endured for us.
Being rejected by the Father, with whom he had enjoyed fellowship from eternity past, far outstripped the most intense crucifixion shame and pain.
On the cross, Jesus did what he came to earth to do for sinners who did not deserve his sacrifice. Jesus completed his mission. He crushed the serpent. It is finished.
David Deuel, Ph.D., preaches at West Galway Presbyterian Church.