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John Grady: Reflect on Good Friday, rejoice on Easter Sunday

What did Jesus mean when He said, “It is finished?”
When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30)

When most of us finish a project, whether it is milking the cows, doing the dishes, or our school homework, we know when it is finished and we can offer a sigh of relief or pure joy on its successful completion. As we approach the Easter weekend, we remember the words “It is finished” spoken by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. What did He mean?

When we celebrate Palm Sunday, a week before Easter Sunday, we recognize it represents the time that Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey with the cheering crowd shouting and encouraging Him by waving palm branches. What a welcome, and yet when Jesus spoke those words on Good Friday, the only allies He had as He hung on the cross were the Apostle John, His Mother, His Mother's sister, Mary, the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. Quite a contrast, as all His followers fled from Him because they did not understand what He had been telling them about who He really was, why He had to give His life, His ultimate victory, and where He was going to prepare a place for all who believed in Him.

All they saw was Jesus being arrested, flogged, whipped, a crown of thorns being placed on His head, and being nailed to a cross. In contrast on this dark Friday, what He meant by “It is finished" was that He saw my sins and yours on that cross. He saw victory over satan, which freed us from his hold over our lives. He saw the New Covenant of His blood that guarantees salvation for those who believe. He saw eternal life for all who follow Him. He saw the fulfillment of scripture, He saw sorrow being brought into joy, He saw evil into love, He saw darkness into light, and He saw death into resurrection.

As He rose from that Garden Tomb on Easter Sunday, having conquered sin and death itself, we again see the contrast in two different gardens. Just a few days earlier, while He was in the Garden of Gethsemane knowing what He was about to endure for you and me, he prayed the words to His Father, “Yet not as I will, but as You will.”

On a personal basis, I don’t know about you, but I can accept what He did for me. But still to this day I cannot understand why He would choose to call me to His love, forgiveness, and eternal life. That is why as the clock turned from Good Friday to Easter Sunday we can rejoice, honour, worship, and celebrate the truth that indeed He has risen. Those words “It is finished” are the reason that on Easter Sunday you can celebrate and proclaim with the words “He has Risen indeed.”

This year on Good Friday, the Ministerial leadership of Pastors is united by having two church services (10 a.m. and 7 p.m.) at the Peace Lutheran Church instead of having individual services. Regular services will take place at individual churches on Sunday. I encourage any reader who does not normally attend church to make an effort this Easter weekend to go so you can contemplate His words “It is finished" and join in celebrating ”He has Risen indeed.”

Have a great Easter.

John Grady lives and writes in Fort St. John

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