Thursday, April 02, 2009

living with contradictions

From the cross, Jesus says, "It is finished". This is recorded in John's gospel (19. 30), and it is of course a brief word filled with contradiction: it it finished (apparently one word in the greek language), but it is never finished (and this is extended into the very next sentence, where Jesus hands over his spirit (pneuma), just as he had been handed over to those who crucified. And so his work on the cross is finished, but his work through us is never finished. I have wondered if this has anything to do with justification by faith (in his final and complete offering on the cross) being a completed act, and yet the necessity of sanctification as the ongoing work of grace in us, which is also cruciform ("present your bodies as a living sacrifice", Paul urged in Romans 12). The cross is a contradiction, and I am processing all of this. It is finished, but it is never finished. This is both the gift and calling, the law (Jesus' fulfillment) and the gospel (the good news about what happened on the cross), the finality of it all and the way that all of this goes on into infinitity. It is done, it is fulfilled, the cup of suffering is empty, let this cup pass from me, Jesus had asked, and yet he drank it all...but, as Pascal observed, it is also true that "Christ will be in agony until the end of the world."


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