Recently I have been reading about Jesus’ final moments on the cross. Let me share one of
the reflections from the book, “In the Shadow of the Cross” by Ray Pritchard.
John 19:30 records for us one of the final sayings of Jesus as He hung on the cross, “When He had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’”
In Greek, it was only one word, Τετέλεσται (te-te’-le-stai, “It is finished.”) After Jesus
breathed His final word, He was dead.
’Τετέλεσται’ comes from the verb, ’τελέω’ (tel-eh’-o), which means “to bring to an end, to
complete, to accomplish.” It is a word you would use when you graduate from university; or when you cross the finish line after running your first marathon; or when you pay off all your credit card bills or mortgage loans! There is a sense of accomplishment of task, upon
which you would say, “I did what I set out to do.”
Christ’s death on the cross not only glorified the Father (John 17:4), but also made the work
of salvation complete. When He died, He left no unfinished business behind. And there is
nothing you and I could do, to add to what Christ did on the cross. God has no Plan B.
‘Τετέλεσται’ is in the perfect tense in Greek. The perfect tense has the idea that “this
happened and it is still in effect today.” When Jesus cried out, “It is finished,” He meant
it was finished in the past, and it is still finished in the present, and it will continue to be finished in the future.
Bible scholar Merrill Tenney notes that the verb was used in the first century in the sense of fulfilling or paying a debt. “It is finished” could be interpreted as “paid in full.” “Paid in full” means that once a thing is paid for, you never have to pay for it again.
Some years ago, my wife and I met an old friend while dining. Unbeknownst to us, our friend had foot the bill for us on his way out. We were of course pleasantly surprised (and touched) by his act of generosity. Our meal was fully paid for. It would have been silly for us to pay the restaurant again. Likewise it is assuring to know that all our sins — past, present, and future — have been paid for in full. They have been stamped with ‘τετέλεσται’!
Each one of us has been “bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20a). We carry a price tag of
Christ’s sacrificial death for us. May we live worthy of the high price of our calling!
Easter is a wonderful season to share the reason for our faith. The message of Easter is the Good News of Christ’s finished work on the cross for each of us. Let’s look out for opportunities to share the reason for the season.
Grateful that I am Fully Paid for,
Lam Kok Hiang