Is it Finished?
About 2000 years ago on a Friday morning of a holiday weekend three men were executed by the Roman authorities in Jerusalem. There was nothing unusual about the act of crucifixion, it happened an awful lot. There was something unusual about the one of the victims. Two of them were anonymous thieves who are not even really bit players on the stage of history, the other, well the other was the most influential person who has ever lived.
Born in poverty, raised a Jew, dying like a criminal, he has changed the lives of millions. Through him the world has become what it is today. Many great things have been done in his name and many atrocities have been committed too. His followers have been responsible for some of the greatest discoveries; some of the largest leaps forward in medicine and science; some of the greatest pieces of art. Many of the highest points of human achievement have been done in this man’s name. Others who claimed to follow him have tried to kill whole nations, sunk to the lowest places that humanity can go, because they believed it is what he would have them do. Enslavement, domination, persecution, murder, genocide have all been done ‘for him’.
His actions have inspired some of the greatest acts of love and kindness in recorded history and many of the worst. Whole libraries have been written as scholars have poured over this man’s life and his teachings, even though they aren’t that many of them. Debates still rage over what he would say on the topics of the day. Debates that sometimes get all too heated, debates that have lasted centuries and that still divide thousands.
Some place words of hate on his tongue, condemning entire sections of the population to damnation for not agreeing with their views of what this man said. Others interpret his sayings as a message of love and acceptance. Many of the world’s hypocrites hide behind this man, and twist his sayings to fit the evil they wish to condone. Hate crimes, racism and bigotry of all sorts are committed by his ‘committed’ followers. Many of the great social reformers look to him for guidance.
For he accepted all comers, went where the ‘nice’ folk of his day wouldn’t dream of going. Spoke to the unacceptable, touched the unloveable, ate with the unwanted and forgave the unforgivable. His life, his work was of love and care for anyone, everyone. He tells his followers to do the same.
His name was Jesus.
His last words were, “It is finished.”