This one truly is a gem to be shared. I believe you will be blessed.
It Is Finished
Any who have heard the gospel of Jesus Christ know at least in some sense what He accomplished.
He died at the hands of our fathers in order to free us. It was a gruesome death. Prior to dying on the cross, He suffered torture, humiliation, and shame. Worst of all, He became sin for us.
Here’s what the gospel of John tells us about what He did when He realized His mission had been accomplished:
John 19:28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, ” I thirst!” 29 Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. 30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ” It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.
He took a drink and passed into death. I don’t know about the rest of you guys, but this passage of John always had a sense of a feeling of relief in it. Not just relief from the physical and emotional pain of the crucifixion, but relief in having accomplished a monumental task. But He was God, in the flesh, so why would He be relieved that it was over for any reason other than being released from the pain?
Sometimes I think we get so caught up in the God-likeness of Jesus that we forget that He was, and is, a man. His favorite title for Himself was Son of Man, after all. That’s no coincident. In order for Him to be fully God and fully man, He’d have to have a soul. Perfect in every way, yes, but a soul none-the-less. Jesus was fully lead by the Holy Spirit and obedient in every way, but because of His soul, He suffered like we do.
Don’t believe me? Consider the following scriptures:
Matt 26:36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, ” Sit here while I go and pray over there.” 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. 38 Then He said to them, ” My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”
He was in so much intense turmoil, in fact, that He asked The Father if there were any way “this cup” could be taken away from Him:
Luke 22:41 And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, ” Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”
Scripture goes on to mention that Jesus was so completely distressed that He started to sweat blood:
Luke 22:43 Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
This is actually a real physical condition. It is brought on by extreme levels of stress. Jesus was so stressed by what was about to happen that even an angel that was sent to strengthen Him couldn’t relieve the stress.
Have you ever had to face something so stressful that you sweat blood? How about something so stressful that you couldn’t sleep or eat? Maybe something that made you sick to your stomach? We all know stress to varying degrees. There are even some who have sweat blood like Jesus did. The closest I’ve come to that kind of stress is running a 3.1 mile race.
I ran cross country races as a freshman and sophomore in high school. I found that, while I had the physical frame for it (lanky), I wasn’t very well conditioned to running. Maybe I was too skinny. I ended up at the end of my sophomore year with stress fractures in both shins yet still able to run a mile on a track in 5 minutes flat. What I lacked in physical ability, I made up for with heart. You see, I never really had any sense of worth until I discovered running. It was the one place, the one sport, where tenacity alone could see you through. I resolved to prove myself worthy, no matter the cost.
I trained hard. I gained in strength and endurance. But it didn’t matter how much I had grown physically, cross country running is a mental sport. You can only go as fast as you are willing to endure. The last races of the cross country season are in November. In the north eastern U.S., that’s not a good season to be running in short shorts and a tank top. By the first quarter-mile mark, your skin is screaming in pain. Your eyes, nose, throat, legs, lungs, and heart will quite literally burn for upwards of 17 minutes. That’s a long time to remain focused on a goal in the face of overwhelming pain.
Passion will push you through pain. When your entire being is saying, “STOP NOW, WE’RE DYING!!!”, your heart will respond, “I. WILL. WIN.” During a county title race when I was 15, I learned a great lesson about passion and desire. I had about 200 meters left to run, was neck and neck with a runner from our high school’s rivals and I was one hundred percent spent. I was beyond spent. I was so wrecked by what I had physically pushed myself to that I literally started to descend into self-pity. I could see the finish line and I could feel the guy beside me start to pull ahead. “Who cares, let him go.”, I thought. Then I saw a team mate of mine on the side line of the course, running along side us. As I looked at him, he screamed “DIG DEEP, SIMMONS”. I was suddenly reminded that the race wasn’t about me or my pain. If I stopped now, it was all for nothing. This got me angry enough to summon strength I didn’t know I had. I found myself suddenly in a full-on sprint. I passed the guy who was pulling ahead of me and 2 more before crossing the finish line. Thank God someone was there to catch me. I remember thinking, “It’s over. Oh God, it’s over.” I was relieved, and proud.
For some reason, God related my running experiences with what Jesus did on that last day of His ministry. Being God, Jesus knew what was coming. The anticipation of the race was quite literally more than He could physically bear. Stress hormones were so high in his blood stream that it broke the capillaries in His skin and caused Him to bleed from His pores. The closest I can come to that feeling is standing at the starting line before a big race, knowing the pain that lie ahead. I imagined myself on the side-line cheering Him on: “DIG DEEP, JESUS!!” God showed me that this was Jesus’ big race. He pushed beyond His physical tolerance and He finished well. For the first time in my life, I was proud of Jesus, not as the Son of God, but as the Son of Man.