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Lent 2018: Day Forty Five

John 19:27-30

Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home. After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfil the scripture), ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

A Filipino clergy colleague once pointed out that my Japanese surname also has a specific meaning in the Tagalog dialect: “It’s done, it’s finished,” he remarked. I replied, “That’s scary, since those were Jesus’ last words on the cross!”

When we read John’s account of Jesus’ final moments on the cross and on earth, Jesus is anything but scared. In fact, he’s in total control of everything, even the events that led to his own death. How we wish that we could have such control throughout our lives and over the circumstances from which we will one day die.

Jesus entrusts the Beloved Disciple (who the scholars believe was John) to his mother, showing that Jesus’ mission is complete as he has taken care of his own. Jesus drinks the vinegar, symbolizing “the cup” which the Father has given. By announcing that his mission from God is now completed (“it is finished”), Jesus “hands over his spirit.” We are once again reminded that no one has “taken” Jesus’ life. He has given his life by his own accord.

We live in uncertain times, in which it seems as if no one is in control of anything. Government leaders cannot agree on anything and create gridlock. Religious leaders continue to lose what little influence we have. Business and corporate leaders care more about profits than people.

Yet, we remember Jesus’ last moments on earth. They were chaotic, frightening and deadly.

But, Jesus was in control. And God through Jesus Christ is still in control today. This is what makes Good Friday “good” — to know through faith that in spite of the chaos that envelopes us, God is still in control.

Prayer: God of redemption and mercy, give us the hope that you are still in control of our world and order all things out of your love for us. Amen.

Rev. Mark Nakagawa
West District Superintendent
California-Pacific Conference