When I was in ninth grade, I joined the high school track and field team. I didn’t really care for running…I certainly didn’t like practicing or training…I didn’t like shin splints, sprained ankles, or muscle strains…and I didn’t like the 400m dash. Unfortunately for me, the 400 meter dash was my best running event. I was not a world class runner, nor was I an All-American runner…I wasn’t even an All-State runner…I may have been an All-Conference runner…once. The 400m was the longest event that I have ever competed in, and it would be safe to say that I prefer dental procedures to the 400m dash.
The 400m dash is one of the few physical punishments that schools, teachers, and coaches are allowed to legally inflict upon a student athlete. If given the choice of running the 400m dash or petting a bumble bee…I’d pet the bee. Should I choose between this grueling race or giving a black bear a back scratch?…That bear would be purring beneath my fingers. Run a 400m dash or kiss my sister?...Hmm…that’s a tough one.
Imagine having your shoes filled with tacks, your shorts three sizes too small, and you run as fast as you can…until you just cannot run anymore…and then someone duct tapes your mouth and nose and says only 100m left to go! Then at the end of the race, you vomit…except that you still have duct tape on your mouth and nose and so the bile comes out of your ears and eyes.
Congratulations! You have just run the 400m dash! Your coach responds, “Next time, I think you could shave a few seconds off!”
I don’t ever want to do that again!
In truth, there are few experiences in life, where I have desired to cross the “finish line” more than in running that ridiculous race. Honestly, it feels so good…kind of…to cross that finish line and have that race finished. However, the coach was right…I had to do it again…and again…and again.
In John 19, we read about Jesus being hung on the cross. After 6 agonizing hours, Jesus made a powerful statement…he said, “It is finished.” At that moment he gave up his life. It is finished. Jesus accomplished a great work on that cross and then when it is all done he said, “It is finished.” He didn’t say, “It’s mostly done.” He didn’t say, “I am done for now…this time…next time I will do this or that differently.”
His work is done…he has no touch up paint to do…he does not need to fill any nail holes…all the pieces of trim are set where they need to be…it is all done…nothing is left incomplete. He has fulfilled Scripture. He has taken our place on the cross. He has conquered death. He has conquered sin. He has taken the sin away. He has emptied the cross of its shame. He has drawn all people unto himself. He has begun a new community…and on and on. Complete…it is all done!
The table is set, the turkey has been cooked, the stuffing made, Jell-O sits in a bowl with Cool Whip on top, cranberry sauce, potatoes and gravy…it’s all ready. It is finished. Now all you have to do…is…sit down and eat. What a blessing to enjoy and accept the work that Jesus has finished.