4.8.23 – Higher Aim

“It Is Finished”

By Dr. Curt Dodd, Westside Church, Omaha, NE

A cross in the middle of a field with birds flying above.


 “Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, ’I am thirsty.’  A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ’It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (John 19:28-30)

 The last word Jesus said before He died on the cross was, “Tetelestai” which is the Koine¢ Greek word meaning, “It is finished.” Koine¢ Greek was the common Greek language used at the time Jesus was on the earth. I want to break down three different ways the word, “Tetelestai” was used during that time period. This will give you some context about why Jesus proclaimed this as His final word.

1. The word was used by a servant.
When a servant was given a responsibility, he was expected to perform the task with great quality, effort, and skill. Once he had completed the job, the servant would come to the master and say, “I have finished the task you have given me (“Tetelestai”)…“It is finished”… and …”It was with great joy.”

2. The word was used by an artist. 
An artist would painstakingly work on a painting for days, weeks, months, and sometimes even years, making sure all of the colors were correct, all of the painting was in full view, and every last stroke was complete. Then, as he would put his signature on the painting, he would take a step back and say, “Tetelestai”… “The picture is complete.”

3. The word was used by a merchant.
Credit was offered for someone to purchase something during Jesus’ time period, just like today. Sometimes, the merchant would carry a note stating the credit given and the payment owed. Then, when the owed amount was finally paid, the merchant would stamp the note with the word, “Tetelestai”… “Paid in Full.”

I want you to see how the different uses of the word, “Tetelestai” tie into the way Jesus used the word with His final breath. Just like the servant, Jesus was sent to earth to complete a task – show the love of God and die so that we could have a relationship with Him. With His last word, He was saying, “It is finished, and it was with great joy.”

Then, like the artist, Jesus worked a long time to complete the story that had begun so many years before. The entire picture of our faith pointed toward the cross on which Jesus died. Hundreds of years of history and prophecy led up to that very moment. By proclaiming, “Tetelestai” before He died for us, He was signing the picture and letting everyone know the work was now complete. 

Finally, like the merchant, Jesus stamped each of our records with, “Paid in Full.” No longer do we have to make up for our mistakes or atone for our sins. He took care of all of that when He died for us. Our debts are no longer ours to worry about; and He made it clear once again by saying, “It is finished.” 

I pray that you understand more clearly the importance of Jesus’ final word and that you embrace the comfort and freedom it gives you.

 Higher Aim

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