There are always great human interest stories that come from the Olympic games. And they’re not always the winners. Case in point: John Stephen Akhwari. In the 1968 games in Mexico City, Akhwari represented Tanzania in the marathon.
Due to the high altitude he developed leg cramps. Then at the 19 kilometer mark of the 42 km race, Ahkwari was bumped as runners were jockeying for position. He fell hard to the pavement, wounded his knee and dislocated his shoulder. But kept running.
Mamo Wolde of Ethiopia won the Marathon in 2:20:25. Seventy-five runners began the race and fifty-seven finished. Akhwari was dead last at 3:25;27. By the time he entered the stadium the sun had set. Only a few thousand spectators remained in the stands. But a reporter learned there was one runner left and a TV crew was sent to cover it.
As a bloodied and battered Akhwari hobbled across the finish line the small crowed cheered. Later when he was interviewed and asked why he continued to run he said, “My country did not send me 10,000 miles just to start the race; they sent me to finish the race.”
Finished. Don’t you like the sound of that? It says complete. Accomplished.
There is a human tendency to leave things unfinished. Incomplete. And undone.
Sometime it’s just little things like a half read book. An incomplete assignment. A partially painted house.
But this failure to finish can also manifest itself in more serious ways. A broken marriage. A neglected child. An abandoned faith.
Jesus’ sixth saying on the cross speaks to the ability to complete the task when he said, “It is finished.”
“It is finished.” But what? Certainly His agony. The Man of Sorrows would cease from suffering. The fleshly pain was about finished. The mental and emotional anguish would soon come to end.
“It is finished.”
The fulfillment of prophecy. The seed of the woman. The virgin birth. The descendent of Abraham He completed the prophecies. He was the son of David. The Messiah. The suffering servant.
“It is finished.” The consummation of God’s eternal purpose. Paul said it was in the mind of God before the world was created (Eph. 1:4).
The incarnation of the God-man. Finished.
The mission of His ministry. Finished.
The accomplishment of atonement. Finished.
The nailing of Moses’ law to the cross. Finished.
God’s plan. Purpose. Finished.
It is the irony of all ironies that the destructive nature of the devil’s power was finished. Oh, it didn’t appear so to human eyes. It appeared as if the Prince of Darkness had won. But in reality the cross had set Satan up for his greatest defeat. Because “It is finished” was spoken on Friday. But little did he know… Sunday’s coming!
“It is finished” was not the whisper of defeat. But the shout of victory! In His completed work, Jesus was proven to be the Christ. He would be crowned King. He would rule. Reign. And triumph over his foes.
Remember these words when you want to quit the race. When it’s tough. Painful. Discouraging. Then the Tempter leers and says, “I gotcha! Again!” When your friends say, “It’s not worth it.” When it seems that some brethren let you down. Remember you haven’t finished yet.
When the world is laughing and joking and drinking. And letting the good times roll. When it seems easier to compromise right than to confront wrong. When “everyone else is doing it.” You’re still in the race! It’s not over yet!
When you’re spiritually bloodied. Beaten. Bruised. And you’re hurting. Mentally. Emotionally. Physically. Take a look a Jesus. See him on the cross. Wait to hear those words. “It is finished.” You’re not there yet!
So, stick to the fight of faith. Be not weary in well-doing. Lift up your drooping hands. Strengthen the weak knees. Count trials a joy. And let the testing of your faith fortify your resolve.
You didn’t come this far to just begin the race. You’re running to cross the finish line and say with the Savior, “It is finished.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman.