Nehemiah is inspiring. He finished in 52 days what had remained undone for 141 years. He stayed on the wall as he rebuilt and didn’t come down, even in the face of opposition. He knew that in doing a work for God, he would make enemies and that the best way to overcome opposition is to outlast it. His enemies tried to frighten and intimidate him, but when the wall was finished, they were the ones frightened and intimidated. They recognized God’s hand in the finished work.
The question today isn’t if or when we’re going to finish, but how.
I will finish with forgiveness.
As Nehemiah finished the wall, he asked God to bring judgment on his enemies—judgement was justice in the Old Testament since mercy and forgiveness hadn’t yet been revealed. But as Jesus finished his work on the cross, he begged his Father to forgive his enemies (Luke 23:34). Nehemiah’s prayer of judgment represents the old way, an “eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” mentality, but Jesus made a new way of forgiveness.
We live daily in the forgiveness Jesus gave us, but we don’t confer that same grace on our enemies. Unforgiveness hurts us more than it hurts the people we won’t forgive—it’s a poison the devil tries to make us swallow when distraction and discouragement don’t work. We have to recognize that when we do something significant for God, we will be opposed. Focus less on the opposition and more on finishing the work with a clean heart and right spirit.
I will finish with faith.
Before he died, Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). He used the same word bankers used to label a debt that had been completely paid off. He wasn’t just expressing relief for having made it to the end. No—he was saying, “Mission accomplished.” In that moment, the world’s debt was completely paid, and a new way was established.
There’s only one response to Jesus’ act on the cross—faith. Religion says we have requirements to meet before we’re made right, but Jesus says he already met those requirements; it is finished for good, and the only necessary response is to believe. Don’t finish by trying to add to what Jesus already completed. Finish with faith.
As incredible as Nehemiah’s work was, what Jesus did is even more incredible. He stayed on the cross and didn’t come down, even when tempted to do so. He was ridiculed, mocked, falsely accused, and crucified for sins he didn’t commit, and still he refused to exonerate himself by coming down from the cross. Because if he had, none of us would have had the chance to live. Nehemiah represents the old, ugly way of cursing one’s enemies, but Jesus made a new way, forgiving his accusers even as they were putting him to death. He remained faithful to God’s plan and opened a new way for us to live by simply believing in him (2 Cor. 5:21). Remain in the finished work of Jesus, and finish the task he has given you with forgiveness and faith.