John 19:30. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
It is finished. One single Greek word – Tetelestai. Covered. Satisfied. Paid in full. The word tetelestai has been found by archaeologists to be stamped on paid bills. In the center of this word is the word telos. End. Goal. Purpose.
What does all this mean? It means that Jesus’ last words on the cross are much more than a declaration that his crucifixion over. Tetelestai is a declaration that his crucifixion is the completion of all God’s work. That may sound like an overstatement, but, trust me, it’s not. Consider all that the cross brings to an end in Christ:
- The revelation of God – the cross is the final and complete revelation of God and his character.
- The work of God – because of the cross no work of God is unfinished.
- The mission of Christ – the cross was Jesus mission accomplished on earth.
- All prophecy – the cross is the event all prophecy pointed toward.
- The law – the cross satisfied every requirement of the law (love God and neighbor), and every curse of the law (the wage of sin is death).
- Justice – the cross satisfies all of God’s divine justice.
- Death – the cross put death to death.
- Sin’s penalty – the cross paid the penalty for all sin.
- Sin’s power – the cross crucified the old nature in us.
- The Devil – the cross secured his ultimate demise.
- Righteousness – the cross fulfills all righteousness and by faith its righteousness is imputed all who believe.
- Salvation – by the cross we are rescued from eternal death and separation from God.
- Reconciliation – the cross restores our relationship to the Father, making us sons and daughters of God.
- Sanctification – by the finished work of the cross we are daily and progressively transformed into the cruciform life.
- Striving – the cross removes all works, all performance, all efforts to make my own way to God and his mercy.
- The unification of humanity – the cross has torn down the divisions within humanity allowing the reconciliation of all mankind in Christ’s Body.
- The Abrahamic Covenant – by the cross all nations will be blessed in Christ.
- The Davidic Covenant – by the cross Jesus will ascend to the throne of Israel (humanity).
- The kingdom of God on Earth – the cross of Christ establishes the kingdom of God in our hearts on Earth, one day to be physically inaugurated in Jerusalem.
- The new creation – the cross brings an end to the old order of creation and makes alive the new creation in us today.
- The cross ends all hopelessness.
- The cross ends all joylessness.
- The cross ends all faithlessness.
- The cross ends all hate.
- The cross ends all bitterness.
- The cross ends all guilt.
- The cross ends all shame.
- The cross ends all fear.
If there is one word spoken in human history that carries more weight than all other single words it may just be this word, tetelestai. By it Christ died, and by it we live. We live confidently each day knowing that the good work begun in us is finished. There is nothing left for God to do. No greater work than the work already accomplished by your union with the cross. No further blessing than the blessing of Christ’s death. Nothing else to trust in, look for, commit to, or figure out. No gift, no sacrifice, no effort, no deed can add to the finished work of the cross of Christ. By the cross we stand justified, sanctified, and glorified. NOW. Our future is today. Our living is the cross of Christ. And our dying is gain.
Can you identify ways that you are still working for your salvation?
You in Christ
What does “it is finished” mean to you?
Christ in you
How might “it is finished” change what you do today? Might it allow you to rest a bit?
Playlist: Songs of tetelestai.