REQUEST: "It is finished," the words of Jesus at crucifixion. Help me understand the last words of Jesus from a metaphysical orientation. I believe death and the truth are the same.
RESPONSE: Traditionally, Christians refer to the Seven Last Statements that Jesus made on the cross. Actually, however, the four Gospels differ in their accounts (not surprising; there was hardly someone there taking notes!), and the seven statements are compiled from all four Gospels. Thus, John is the only author who reports the statement you are asking about, in John 19:28-30: "After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the scripture), 'I thirst.' A bowl full of vinegar stood there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said 'It is finished'; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit."
The reference to Scripture is to Psalm 69:21: "They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink." The psalmist, of course, is complaining about his own situation, not predicting Jesus' fate some 500 years in the future. But the theme is consistent with John's portrayal of Jesus as a victim – a helpless innocent forced to suffer by a wicked world.
Certainly what Jesus endured was unimaginably painful, but Jesus was never a victim. What he experienced he chose to experience, out of infinite love, so that we could release our own fear of death and belief in human limitation by watching him move through the worst death experience possible – and emerge triumphantly, expressive of the eternal life that is the truth of who we are. The emphasis was always meant to be on the glory of the resurrection, not on the agony of the crucifixion. And I believe that Jesus' "It is finished," then, is not a whimper of pained defeat, but an assertion of spiritual truth. We, too, often find ourselves in painful, humiliating situations. If we follow the example of Jesus we can affirm that God is present, expressing as release and as the spiritual consciousness that transforms every challenge into an opportunity to express more of our creative Oneness. "It is finished" refers to the challenge he has moved through, not to the spiritual life that can never be “finished” – not for Jesus, and not for us.