Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. John 19:29-30
My brother hiked the last 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail with me. When he asked what it would be like, I said, ‘Oh, just a few ups and downs.’ That is how I saw the situation. I had been hiking for 4 months. My brother had been sitting at a desk for 4 years. We had different understanding of what a few up and downs meant.
Or to slightly shift the analogy, I can say it is finished at 12,000 feet when I give up or at 14,206 feet when I get to the summit. They each have different meaning. The disciples hear one meaning from the foot of the cross. They think Jesus is giving up. In light of Easter, we understand a very different meaning.
We see on the cross the absolute commitment of God for us. The absolute reality that Emmanuel, God with us, humbled himself to even death on a cross.
As Stanley Hauerwas writes, “God has finished what only God could finish. Christ’s sacrifice is a gift that exceeds every debt. Our sins have been consumed, making possible lives that glow with the beauty of God’s Spirit. What wonderful news.”
Yet the cross is not the end of Christ’s work.
In 1 Peter, we read that Christ, after the cross, went to proclaim to the spirits in Sheol, in Hell. Christ does not simply stand in solidarity with us who are living and suffering but also with those who have gone before. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians, Christ defeats death and to do that takes more than just dying.
We must not rush to Easter. Christ did not rush to Easter. It was not enough to suffer and die. Christ had to stand with the dead. Only their would Easter be possible. Only with that solidarity could death be defeated.