I’m a sucker for a good story.
Pages on pages of plot and character development to reach a resolution of some kind – that has always been one of my favorite things. The words “the end” on the last page of a novel leave me holding the book to my chest, sighing with satisfaction.
But as many of us know, life is not a story or a fairytale.
While society may say that should be a disappointment, we know that God has a greater story to unfold. Additionally, we know that the Kingdom of God is a place beyond what any fairytale could fathom. What if in God’s Kingdom, “the end” was just the beginning?
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1
If the Bible followed an “average” or “normal” storyline, this is most likely how we would classify it:
Middle: Exodus up until Jesus’ ministry
End: Jesus’s ministry until his death
It seems as though the Bible was poised to stop at John 19:30
“When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” Then bowing His head, He gave up his spirit.” John 19:30
Right there, on the cross, seemed to be a cut-and-dry ending to the story. We have traveled through the promised land, across generations that multiplied to be more numerous than the stars, until our beloved savior gave his last breath on Calvary. “It is finished” would stand to be the equivalent of “The End.”
In literary terms, Jesus had brought the greatest conflict resolution imaginable, one that God’s chosen people had waited centuries for. But if that is the case, why does the Bible continue for 23 more books?
Simple: “It is finished” was not the end.
I imagine life, our lives, and our purpose as if it started in a library. There is access to every story imaginable, but God ran his fingers down the ragged spine of humanity and chose our story as his bestseller. Lifting us from the darkest, dingiest corner, God blew the dust off our cover in much the same way that he once breathed the breath of life into the dirt.
“The the Lord God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7
This was where our spines cracked open and our pages lay bare. “It is finished” left a blank canvas, white as snow. What could easily have been deemed the end was where the greatest author of all time picked up his pen again and continued with a flourish.
Now, if we continue with our idea of a storyline, this would be a more accurate representation:
- Beginning: Jesus’s ministry and death
- Middle: The Great Commission
- End: Revelation
Now Genesis 1:1 may read “in the beginning,” but it’s not the only book of the Bible that speaks about the beginning. The book of John, which is the fourth and final gospel, begins in much the same way:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” John 1:1-2
From this standpoint, the beginning of our story sure looks as though it starts with Jesus. As Jesus was with God in the beginning, so was He with us during ours. While John 19:30 marked what could have been the end, God began working things anew.
As it has been more than 2000 years of the “middle” of our story, it is important to remember just what our middle should be filled with.
“Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent me, I also send you.” After saying this, he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” John 20:21-22 (emphasis mine)
“I also send you” is our starting point. The call to follow Christ with Holy Spirit within us– that call came after Jesus declared it was finished. A beginning doesn’t mean that nothing came before. In contrast, our beginning was marked by a wretched past opening into a beautiful future.
Our Great Commission was established after “it is finished.”
The journey and calling we all have on our lives was only truly revealed after Jesus’ death. How can our calling be revealed if our story had ended? It couldn’t. The story had reached its climax, Jesus had offered a resolution, and the Great Commission unfolded.
And here is where we find our call to a new beginning. On a road to Galilee with 11 disciples, Jesus commanded:
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:19
“It is finished” established our expected next steps and opened wide a new freedom from sin. As followers of Christ, we are called to make disciples, love others as our self, and be Christ-like.
With a new beginning in Christ, our calling has so much purpose. The promise of everlasting life with the author of the universe is more than any genie, magician, or an alternate universe could even attempt to offer in a fairy tale.
We don’t live waiting for our “happily ever after,” we live knowing the One who wrote our story.
Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection may have been the end of one beginning, but His obedience finished death, which means our lives have a new beginning.
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