Friday, February 3, 2012


This past Sunday our pastor shared this word with us. It was the first time I had ever heard it, but I liked it immediately. After hearing it, I wanted to study it further. Tetelestai comes from the verb teleo, which means “to bring to an end, to complete, to accomplish.” It means a successful end to a particular course of action. It’s the word you would use when you climb to the peak of Mt. Everest; the word you would use when you turn in that final paper; the word you would use when you make the final payment on your new car; the word you use when you cross the finish line of your first 10K run. The word means more than just “I survived.” It means “I did exactly what I set out to do.” Also, Tetelestai is in the perfect tense in Greek. The perfect tense speaks of an action which has been completed in the past with results continuing into the present. It’s different from the past tense which looks back to an event and says, “This happened.” The perfect tense adds the idea that “This happened and it is still in effect today.” When Jesus cried out in His final moments on the cross Tetelestai, he meant “It was finished in the past, it is still finished in the present and it will remain finished in the future.” Also, He did not say, “I am finished,” for that would imply that he died defeated and exhausted. Rather, he cried out “It is finished,” meaning “I successfully completed the work I came to do.”

Why does this word capture my attention so much? First, it's important to pay close attention to a dying person's last words. Jesus said this right before His death. What He is telling us is the work He was sent here to do is finished. Jesus came here to die for you and me - and He did. Finished means done, completed, there is nothing more. Jesus' death means just that. There is nothing we can add to it. Our redemption is based solely on the work He finished on the cross. We can do the things that make us feel righteous, but our righteousness is only because of the crucifixion. Jesus paid our debt that day. Because of His sacrifice, God in all His splendor and ultimate holiness can look at us and see the righteousness of His perfect son (our sacrificial lamb). I've heard people say, when I get my life together I will come to church and focus on Jesus. It's not about us getting our life in order; it's about accepting what Jesus did for us. Acknowledging Christ as our Savior (saving us from separation from God for eternity) and loving Him as our Lord (seeking to know Him completely), is all we do. He did all the work.

Also, when we stumble - believe me we are all human and we will stumble, forgiveness is waiting there for us. Jesus paid the price for our sin in full. His beautiful blood covers all our sin. He told us it is finished and that includes our burden of guilt for our sin. Do you remember the words of John the Baptist when he saw Jesus? He called him “The lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” John 1:29 That “taking away” of sin was accomplished by the death of our Lord.

Tetelestai, the Savior’s final cry of victory. When he died, he left no unfinished business behind. “It is finished!”

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