John 19 tells the events of the crucifixion of Jesus. Pilate caves to the crowd and religious leaders and agrees to the crucifixion but puts up the sign, “King of the Jews.” The crowds mock. The soldiers throw dice for his clothes. The disciples watch helplessly and probably in shock, though the women stand near the cross. John records Jesus’ closing comment, “It is finished.” In Greek it is translated, “paid in full.”
What is finished? We must go back to the beginning of our epic story. People were created perfect, in perfect relationship with our epic hero, God, and living in harmony with the creation and its creator. The one restriction was to not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It was never the creator’s intention that people would be morally responsible. But that rule was broken. Rather than live for eternity with guilt and in exile from God, death became the consequence of sin. Death provided an avenue to end the separation from God caused by peoples’ sin. The result of sin is death. When we do things the wrong way, death results. When we are selfish, someone gets hurt. When we are jealous, someone gets hurt. When we are hateful, someone gets hurt. Death results. We will all someday die for we have all sinned in some way. I leave the discussions about children to theologians to argue and for God to decide.
Jesus, God incarnate, walks through the experience of death and resurrects, appears alive three days later and shows us that God is stronger than death and that life eternal is possible. Our epic hero, God, has provided a way to be reunited with his creation. The consequence of sin, death, need no longer bind us. The debt is paid and we now have the option of eternal life if we follow him.
The point of todays’ devotions is to realize that at the beginning of the epic story, when the ground rules were set, the result of sin was death and that applies to all people. It is not measured out by how much sin or how much repentance. The murderer and the liar and the gossip all die. The philanthropist, the doctor, the teacher, and the politician all die. When Jesus, God incarnate, walked through the death experience, he was able to say, “It is paid full.” As we follow him, we too can walk through physical death to eternal life. We can choose to follow or do it our own way but he has paid our entrance fee into eternal life.
Today, we face small death experiences. Death of dreams, death of hopes, aging, disease, and troubles all remind us of our mortality. Perhaps our best application of the crucifixion is to spend some time in prayer and reflection thinking about habits we do that destroy and thank God for forgiveness and that he took the punishment for our wrongs. He wants us to be with him for eternity.