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Jesus's Punch List

28 Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit (Jn.19:28-30, NIV). ***

14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead. 15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.

16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.

17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.

18 "Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!” (Jn. 20:14-19, NIV).

If you have ever been involved in a building project with a contractor or a professional builder, you probably know about a "punch list."

Or, if you find the HGTV channel irresistible, you’re probably familiar with the term “punch list.”

So, what is it?

A “punch list” is simply a list of the “jobs” or “details” that remain to be done in a nearly finished project.

Often, as the project nears completion, the occupants already have taken possession of the building, but a few last-minute items still remain to be done.

In this case, the items are usually small things: a missing plate on an outlet, touching up the paint where someone bumped the wall, or cleaning up a paint spill .. things that don’t change the function of the nearly completed project, but just make it complete.

Even a “builder” in ancient times (the Greek word is tecton, which in some contexts might adequately be translated to “carpenter” but more appropriately as a “builder” or a “mason” given the context and usage of first-century Jerusalem) would be familiar with some sort of “punch list.”

So, even Jesus (as a builder) would have known about these lists.

Such a list might have been kept in the builder’s head or might have been scratched onto the wall or the dirt in a corner of the room. It didn’t always need to be written down. But, builders were always mindful of the incomplete items that had to be completed in order to receive their final payment … even if the owners had already taken possession of the home!

Maybe that’s why when Jesus said, “It is finished” on the Cross,” he still knew there was a “punch list” of things left to complete.

The major “lifting” of the “project” had been accomplished (i.e., the project being the restoration and the rebuilt relationship between the image-bearers of God and their high and holy Creator), but there were still those few small details that needed attention.

There was, for example, the need to comfort and to reassure Mary (so that she could be the first to proclaim His victory over death to the world). There was the need to appear to the disciples so that they would believe the story of the women who discovered the empty tomb.

Then, there was the appearance to the other, “unnamed” disciple in order to reframe and to reinterpret the prophecies about Himself. And, of course, to the unfortunate Thomas, who had not been there when Jesus appeared to the other disciples. And, as we all remember, Thomas had to see and to touch Jesus’s wounds for himself. After all, the Good Shepherd leaves the ninety-nine to seek the one who is lost so that none are left behind.

And then, there was Peter.

The first one to confess. The first one to be given the “keys to the Kingdom.” And perhaps, depending on how you look at Judas’s role, the first one to deny his faith as well.

And Jesus, who had taught that we are to “turn the other cheek” seventy times seven, came to Peter and forgave not only the “three times Peter denied Him,” but also, forgave all of Peter’s unspoken doubts and fears that had existed (and those that would come as well in the future). Jesus came to let Peter know that despite his weakness, the Master Builder still entrusted him with the keys to the Kingdom … a sign of Jesus’s love and forgiveness, but also, as importantly, of the trust and responsibility He had bestowed upon Peter …

and upon you and me.

We are not called to build and to maintain His church … to create or to sustain a denomination or even a particular movement. Instead, we are called to “finish building His Kingdom.”

And so, I wonder what kind of “punch list” do you have for Jesus today?

What do you need for Him to touch?

What word do you need Him to speak? What space do you need Him to occupy for you to KNOW that He IS Alive? To know that your sins are forgiven? To Know that He Loves You?



Jesus, you have left us with the keys to your Kingdom… and yet there are those things that only the Master Builder can repair. Come Lord Jesus and touch that part of us that needs your attention. Send us, Lord Jesus, to repair that which we can repair. Use us, Lord Jesus, in ways that only you can. Amen.


Steve Van Ostran

Executive Minister

American Baptist Churches of the Rocky Mountains


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