29 April 2019

Hi everyone, welcome to a new week of STC Podcasts. My name is Mick and with my wife Tricia, we have the privilege of leading this great church – ordinary people learning how to follow Jesus, our extraordinary God every day!

This week’s reflections are slightly different. The planned readings for this week are in Mark’s gospel following on from the great reflections last week by my colleague Helen. However, this week we will be reflecting on John’s account of the Easter story and the repercussions it had for those involved and for us today. We had an extraordinary Easter here at STC – over 1500 attendances from Palm Sunday, through our Holy Week meditations and then an amazing Easter Day celebration with many people encountering Jesus in a new and real way. Before that Easter experience gets lost in the business of our lives, we have an opportunity this week as a church family to ask ‘what next Lord?’ as we reflect on these final two chapters of John’s gospel. Mark Podcasts will continue next week with my colleague Liam.

The theme throughout this week is ‘encouragement’ – it’s there every day if you look for it and I believe it’s the word Jesus has for our church at this moment. On this Monday let’s go back to where this Resurrection miracle began – the death and burial of Jesus and what it means not just for us in our daily lives but for all people. These last verses in John are a great encouragement to us – packed with Godly wisdom and significance for our lives and our future- so let’s go!

REFLECTION:

Our reading today is John 19:28-52 – the death and burial of Jesus: do read the whole passage when you can but our focus today is verse 30.

Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

It sounds a rather depressing start to the working week doesn’t it. Where’s the encouragement? But these words are actually a great encouragement to us!
It is finished. The word in the original Greek writing for ‘finished’ means to ‘fulfil’ or bring to an end – to complete’. Question: Have you ever used a telescope? If not a real one (if there’s one in the loft it’s probably worth a fortune) then perhaps one that kids use. Telescopes just keep extending don’t they – you keep thinking that’s it, then… another section is pulled out until it comes to its end. No matter how hard you pull, there’s no more left – it can’t go any further, it’s finished.

That’s what Jesus is saying here. He had fully completed that which he had come to do – no more left, finished. What was finished? All the prophecies, all the healings, all the ministry, all the teaching was now, in this moment, finished. This was not just the cry of an exhausted dying life, but the powerful declaration that it was now finally completed. All had now been done that could be done to make God known to people. The door of heaven was now opened to us – to you and to me – to be forgiven, to be known and to know God forever. To be in a welcoming community, the church, and to live a life of purpose and meaning. That’s the plan. There is nothing more to add – it is finished. I still find that mid blowing and I hope you do too!

That is such an encouragement as we begin the working week. No matter what obstacles or challenges we face today and the days to come – difficult job, stressful relationships, tiring family, struggling health – nothing, absolutely nothing is beyond Jesus. St Paul says in Phil4:13 ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’; this has been such an encouragement to me over the years. It is finished, the way forward is clear, Jesus is the way for us today and every day … Christian, in this moment be encouraged – and whatever it holds – enjoy this day!

PRAYER:

Thank you Jesus for your amazing sacrifice on the cross. Thank you that, in a way I will never fully understand, your finished work enables me this day to receive your strength and know your love. Prepare me this day and this coming week to meet with you afresh. Amen

READING: John 19:28-42

Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: ‘Not one of his bones will be broken,’ and, as another scripture says, ‘They will look on the one they have pierced.’

Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about thirty-five kilograms. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was near by, they laid Jesus there.