As Christ breathed his last on the Cross, he uttered several “last words”, one of which was, “ it is finished!”
We know that the phrase, rendered in English, does not capture the full meaning. Some translations render the phrase, “it is accomplished”. His last word was a word of triumph, a note of victory or achievement, as though this moment of apparent defeat was what he felt his life was all about. In some way, rather perversely to his devastated and scattered disciples, this was what he had come for: a death – but a death like no other death – for it was the most life affirming of deaths.
The meaning of Christ’s death – his life affirming death – is this: The only kind of life worth living, for any of us, is the life that brings life to others.
Life for self, life lived for accumulating personal wealth, life lived for power or success in worldly terms is a life lived “for the hell of it”. With aims such as these as the centre and focus of our lives, we are bound ultimately to diminish the lives of others and the life of the world. Life lived with these things as our goal will not last, we will bankrupt ourselves and plunder our planet.
However, a life lived for the enhancement of the life of the world and the life of others – a life lived in sacrificial service – even unto death – is a life that gives life.
The American Scientist, Edward O. Wilson has won the Pulitzer Prize, is Harvard professor of Zoology and has written of the condition of the planet and the human condition.
He argues in his book, On Human Nature, that humanity must strive to evolve beyond selfish desire and short term aspiration. Our lust for power, money and selfish gain is diminishing the planet and is consequently self-destructive. He writes, “a change of heart occurs when people look beyond themselves to others and the rest of life”.
This attitude perfectly encapsulates the way of Christ. A way so utterly at odds with our prevailing attitudes that Christ had to be put to death.