Τετέλεσται

We all know the joy or relief of completing a task; shoveling snow off the drive, mowing the lawn, finishing the laundry or the dishes, finishing a major project at work; or in my case, completing the preparation of a sermon.

The problem with all these things is that the job is finished only to cycle back around and needs to be done all over again.  Wouldn’t it be great to say, “It’s done,” and it really was?  Jesus could truly say that about His work.

After six hours of hanging on the cross, and shortly before Jesus died, He uttered what was translated into Greek as just one word, Τετέλεσται.  The common English translation, It is finished! or It is accomplished!

What was finished?  What was accomplished?  While it is true that his life was finished in death, it is clearly more than that.  D.A. Carson’s outstanding work on the Gospel of John in the Pillar New Testament Commentary helps us understand how rich this cry is. The verb…denotes the carrying out of a task…  It ties in with Jesus’ earlier prayer, I have brought you glory on earth by completing… (accomplishing) the work you gave me to do. John 17:4

What was that work that Jesus accomplished?

It was taking the punishment for my sin and yours.

He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. Hebrews 7:27b

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.1 Peter 3:18

It was the end of animal sacrifice offered every day for the sins of the people that was never finished, never adequate.

Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. Hebrews 10:11-14

It was the full payment necessary to provide for our Justification, our Righteousness before God.

…and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:24

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  2 Corinthians 5:21

The list of passages that develop this is long.  Watch for it as you read the New Testament.  But even more rejoice on this very very good Friday that Jesus finished for you what you could never do for yourself in an eternity of trying.

Christ died for our sins.  1 Corinthians 15:3b  That’s what makes it Good Friday1

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