Completion; April 8, 2023

John 19:30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

This was the final demonstration of Jesus’ faithfulness. He wouldn’t escape His body until He had fulfilled every prophecy about the death of the Messiah. The NIV very understandably uses the expression familiar from just about all English translations, “It is finished.” However, the Japanese uses an expression that I think puts a finer point on it: “It is completed.” Jesus had been given a job to do, actually from the point He arrived in Mary’s womb but then explicitly from the point of His baptism by John, and here He wraps it up. Going through what for most of us is unimaginable pain, not fleeing even though He could have, He fulfilled His role as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) As the following verses make clear, further prophecies were fulfilled after this, but Jesus had no direct input into them, so His role was indeed completed. We don’t know all the details of God’s plan for us, in contrast to Jesus’ level of awareness, so we have to operate in faith that we are indeed taking care of everything asked of us. However, we do have two statements by Paul to encourage us: “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6) And, “It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13) Paul spoke from personal experience, because as he approached his own martyrdom he was able to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8) We need to learn from Jesus, and even from Paul, to follow through with all that we are given to do, but we aren’t to be anxious about it, but know that God who gave us the task will enable us to indeed complete it.

I am personally very aware that this isn’t an easy thing for us to figure out. At the time my father woke up in heaven after heart surgery, he was exactly halfway through a project translating the New Testament into contemporary Japanese. About 30 years later the part completed was indeed published, but that doesn’t fit our usual human definitions of completion. In more general terms, very few people leave this life without dangling loose ends. The picture of Einstein’s desk taken the day after he died is justly famous. Having already outlived my father by over 10 years, this is something I think about! My task, as I see it, is to ask the Lord for His plans for each day and then apply myself fully to follow them. The temptation is always there to cook up my own plans, but that has never ended well. However, I have experienced God doing things through me that amazed me, and I am very aware that I can’t take the credit. I am to accept whatever assignments I am given, and let the Lord define “completion” and “success.” My goal is very simply to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21)

Father, thank You for this reminder. I am very aware of my own weakness, in faithfulness as in everything else. Help me let Your strength flow through me, so that Your purposes for me may be completed indeed, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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