Dr. John K. Mathew
Traditionally, a dying person’s words are taken seriously. This is certainly true in the case of Jesus, although in his case His dying words were not in fact final words, for he was raised from the tomb soon afterwards and said many other things to his disciples.
According to Stephen Lang, the seven sayings of Jesus from the cross are some of the most memorable words He ever spoke, and they have been the subject of countless sermons, commentaries, art works and musical compositions – not to mention being widely quoted in daily conversations.
On the cross Jesus shows his human nature and divine nature to the full. In his humanity He said, ‘I am thirsty’. In His divinity He said, ‘It is finished’. What is finished? “The will of Him who sent ‘him’ to finish His work”. Prophet Isaiah, writes,“ it was the Lord’s will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in His hand”. Jesus was more than happy to give his life as a ransom for many, as the author of Hebrews records it, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the ‘throne of God”.
Ian Macpherson states that there is always a peculiar satisfaction in finishing a piece of work. It may be the building of a house, the writing of a book, the construction of a great machine. Whatever it is, its complete brings to the one employed on it a gratifying sense of accomplishment. At last he is able to say, “I have finished the work.” One must admit that some people never finish anything. They lack the qualities of persistence and perseverance, their lives are littered with jobs half done, and aims half realized. Beginning an enterprise with boundless enthusiasm, they soon lose taste for it and set it aside unfinished. Others fail to finish their work because death robs them of the opportunity. Before they have a chance to achieve their purposes or carry their plans to fruition, their lives are cut short. Think of Matthew Henry and his monumental commentary. He died after completing his notes on Matthews Gospel, and other hands had to finish what he had begun. Or think of Cecil Rhodes with his dream of the development of Africa and the Cape to Cairo Railway, dying before his schemes could materialize with the wistful lament: “So much to do, so little done”!
Jesus completed the colossal task assigned to him, despite the brevity of his earthly career. On the cross He was able to cry: “It is finished!” ‘TETELESTAI’. In this, as in all other things, He is our example. Let us see to it that we, too, by His grace and in His strength, seek to complete the work committed to us.