Revd Jeannette McHugh
6 April 2006
Jeannette used Nikos Kazanstaki's Last Temptation of Christ to reflect on the words "It is Finished".
Jesus rotated his eyes with anguish, and looked. He was alone. The yard and house, the trees, the village doors, the village itself all had disappeared. Nothing remained but stones beneath his feet, stones covered with blood; and lower, further away, a crowd: thousands of heads in the darkness.
He tried with all his might to discover where he was, who he was and why he felt pain. He wanted to complete his cry, to shout LAMA SABACTHANI… He attempted to move his lips, but could not. He grew dizzy and was ready to faint. He seemed to be hurling downward and perishing…
But suddenly, while he was falling and perishing, someone down on the ground must have pitied him, for a reed was held out in front of him, and he felt a sponge soaked in vinegar rest against his lips and nostrils. He breathed in deeply the bitter smell, revived, swelled his breast, looked at the heavens and uttered a heartrending cry: LAMA SABACTHANI!
Then he immediately inclined his head, exhausted.
He felt terrible pains in his hands, feet and heart. His sight cleared; he saw the crown of thorns, the blood, the cross. Two golden ear rings and two rows of sharp brilliantly white teeth dashed in the darkened sun. He heard a cool mocking laugh, and rings and teeth vanished. Jesus remained hanging in the air, alone.
His head quivered. Suddenly he remembered where he was, who he was and why he felt pain. A wild indomitable joy took possession of him. No, no, he was not a coward, a deserter, a traitor. No, he was nailed to the cross. He had stood his ground honourably to the very end; he had kept his word. The moment he cried ELI ELI and fainted, Temptation had captured him for a split second and led him astray. The joys, marriages and children were lies; the decrepit degraded old men who shouted coward, deserter, traitor at him were lies. All all were illusions sent by the Devil. His disciples were alive and thriving. They had gone over sea and land and were proclaiming the Good News. Everything had turned out as it should, glory be to God!
He uttered a triumphant cry: IT IS ACCOMPLISHED!
And it was as though he had said: Everything has begun.