“It is over.” These words reverberated over and over in my mind as I woke up early one morning unable to fall back asleep. A family member had just been diagnosed the day before with a stroke. This relative had been left with various side effects. Due to her age, complete recovery was not expected. “It is over.” I could not shake these words that filled my heart with hope. There had been so many heartaches and challenging health issues for years—release would be a blessing even through the sorrow of loss.
“It is finished.” These words uttered by Jesus were His last as a few friends and His mother despaired beneath the cross. Most of the disciples had scattered, facing disbelief that their Master was being crucified, and as followers feared for their very lives. For these men, no opportunity existed to save their Master and friend. “It is finished” meant no hope, no future, no pathway forward. The few that heard His last three words could not shake the heartache they now felt. There had been so much promise in Jesus. With these final words, they faced the gravity of their loss.
“It is over.” These words soon became indistinct. Just over four weeks after this relative’s stroke as the physical effects subsided, I questioned God about the meaning of these three words. She was gaining strength and appeared to be recovering. I had been certain that “it is over” referred to physical death. My feelings of release evaporated, leading me back into the entrapment of trying to please her and make sense of her demands. What was I missing in believing that “it is over?”
“It is finished.” These words filled grief-stricken hearts with agony. Darkness occupied their hearts while physical darkness permeated the atmosphere. The light seemed to have disappeared along with any hope for the future. To go on without their son and friend, the One who had touched so many lives, was incomprehensible. After all, Jesus was accused falsely and was innocent. They had to have questioned God about the twist of events. It was earlier in the week that the crowds had shouted, “Hallelujah” as Jesus road a donkey into Jerusalem. Something had gone terribly wrong, and their hope died along with Jesus. What were His followers missing in understanding “it is finished?”
Have you ever wondered what God is up to? Have you ever doubted His leading? Have you ever felt confused or totally lost about the course of direction that situations were taking even after diligent prayer? If you are anything like me or the disciples, there are times when you fail to totally comprehend the significance of God’s Word spoken directly into your life. For me personally, I end up questioning what I hear instead of trusting the One who said them—even three simple words.
This passage from Luke 14: 25-27 has always been somewhat of a challenge for me:
25 Many people were traveling with Jesus. He said to them, 26 “If you come to me but will not leave your family, you cannot be my follower. You must love me more than your father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters—even more than your own life!”
For years, I have struggled to preserve my relationship with my step-mother. I felt it was my responsibility to be there for her because I do appreciate all that she did for my brother and I as we were growing up after my birth mother passed away when I was 10 years old. What I often confused was my allegiance to her over my allegiance to following Jesus. I now believe that the words, “It is over,” that came to me many times through the course of several weeks, were for me personally, not her physical circumstance. I had to face the truth that I was unable to meet her physical and mental needs. She was now, as she always had been, in His hands. The Lord had other plans for me if I would release my ties with her and love Him more through the process, allowing Him to be first.
“It is over.” These words meant life not death. I finally came to realize that the words held truth. I had done ALL I was supposed to do for my step-mother. The words held a bigger plan than my human mind could fathom, but obedience was necessary to move forward. “It is over” was actually the summation of a new beginning. Never letting go means not trusting God’s words, not following the plans He has for me. The Lord continually desires to give purpose and bring peace to a wavering child, like you or me, even when we get three simple words confused along the way.
“It is finished.” These words meant life not death. Those at the foot of the cross misunderstood, but Jesus’ words were truth. Jesus did exactly what He set out to do—He accomplished His mission on earth. He paid the price at His death for their sin –not only for His followers over 2000 years ago but for you and me—our sins. Those words “It is finished” were a final summation of a life well-lived. Those words are for every human being who has ever lived or yet to be born. Listen to the message in those words, “It is finished.” They proclaimed a promise of redemption and grace. You and I live because Jesus finished His life on a cross.
Three simple words transitioned into three powerful words on Easter morning:
“After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. 2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it… 5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” Matthew 28:1-7
The Easter message is truth—resurrection is always possible with Jesus. He paid the price, and the glorious three words that need to pierce our hearts anew this Easter proclaim that death is defeated. “He Is Risen!” May those words lead you to love Jesus, the Savior of the World, more than ever before. Follow Him! “He is Risen!”
Grateful for the risen Lord and each of you! Happy Easter!