Jesus had some unfinished business to attend to on the cross. Oh how Satan would have loved for Jesus to come down from there! He used others to hurl insults upon Jesus and to mock His deity–even one of the criminals beside Him. He tempted Jesus to show the world who He was right then and there. If Jesus didn’t die, then Satan would win. The world would be forever lost and separated by sin from God. There would be no hope of salvation or an eternity in heaven.
τετελεσται, or tetelesti, was a familiar Greek word at the time of Jesus’ death. We most commonly understand it to mean, “It is finished.” It was the last of seven phrases Jesus shouted out as He strained to reach upward for breath. Back then if someone purchased an item, they would receive something like an invoice in exchange. Once the final payment was received, the word tetelesti was written on it, meaning “paid in full.” Jesus paid our sins in full. It was a glorious exchange. Our ugly, stained sins were exchanged for pure white robes of righteousness. Jesus became sin, and His own Father in heaven could not look upon His beloved Son. God is a just God. Justice was served by Jesus for all men. Jesus will one day look at every believer who dies and declare him or her NOT GUILTY. Your sins have been forgiven. The price has been paid in full. The punishment for your sins has been served. You are white as snow. Clean and pure. You are free because of the power of Jesus Christ and the finished work of the cross!
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: Who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9). Men and women are born sinners, and no matter how good they strive to live their lives, their righteousness is like filthy rags before the Lord. Filthy rags like those used by women during menstruation. Disgusting, putrid, and worthy of only the garbage can and trash heap. These good works will never be good enough to save you or anyone else. Being good only some of the time or most of the time is simply not good enough to gain salvation. We boast not in our own works, but in Jesus Christ. Jesus died for all of our evil thoughts and actions: every look of lust, every stroke of anger, every jealous glance, every feeling of discontent, every spread of gossip, every fit of rage, every deceitful deed, every murderous decision, every foul usage, every stir of wrath, every bitter thought, every slanderous statement, every quarrel with another, every hurled insult, every form of malice. Every imaginable sin. We are all guilty of all of these things, but for every one of them Jesus paid in full on the cross.
Jesus was the only blameless person to walk the Earth. He was the spotless lamb led to the slaughter. The final sacrifice. The sacrifice of all sacrifices. The spilling of His blood makes us clean and washes away the stench and filth of sin forever. Jesus is the only way, truth and life, and no one comes to the Father in any other way but by accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Humans must enter through this narrow gate. There are other wide open gates, but they all lead to death and destruction. Many religions offer alternatives that drag people down into the pit of Hell where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Jesus is the giver of life eternal. We must believe that He truly finished off all sins of the past, present and future. He overcame the world. We must be sorry for all of the awful sins we have committed and be willing and ready to repent and turn from them forever. We must put our faith and trust in the Lord, and die everyday to our flesh and self. We must take up our cross daily and follow Jesus. He makes us a new creation in return. He transforms our hearts and minds. We are reborn by the Holy Spirit and adopted by God as one of His children.
In Jesus’ day, once the final brushstroke was added to a painting, the final chisel was carved into a sculpture, the final shape was molded by the potter, the final touch was added to a work of art, the creator would step back from his masterpiece and exclaim, “Tetelesti!” He was fully satisfied with what he had accomplished. There was nothing more to be done to make it better. Jesus died on the cross, and it was the best that could be done to overcome sin and death. The Father in heaven looked upon His beloved Son with pride and raised Him up to be seated and exalted at His right hand. Someday we too will be seated with Christ in the heavenly realms. Let us offer up our praise and thanksgiving this Easter as we celebrate our risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!