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Finished!

When finished means more than done.

“FINISHED!” the young boy yells to his mom as he slams his math notebook closed and heads outside.

“Finished!” says the couple as they breathe a sigh of relief after sending in their tax returns.

Just think of that relief and release you feel when you can say, “Finished!”

From his cross, Jesus said, “It is finished.” That three-word phrase is actually just a single word in the Greek text: tetelestai (pronounced te-tel’-e-sty). But when Jesus utters, “Tetelestai,” he is expressing more than just relief and release.

To deepen your appreciation for what Jesus said with his dying breath, consider how the word tetelestai could have been used in Greco-Roman culture during Jesus’ day.

  • A servant who completed an assigned task might notify his master, saying, “Tetelestai.” “I have completed what you told me to do!”
  • When rendering a ruling, a judge could have said, “Tetelestai.” Justice has been served!
  • A priest might say to a person offering a sacrifice before God that the sacrifice is tetelestai. What the priest meant is that the sacrifice met the requirements of the laws of God.
  • When customers paid off their invoices, a merchant might have stamped the bills with the word tetelestai. The word verifies that the debt has been paid.
  • When routing an enemy, a soldier might have said, “Tetelestai,” announcing to his adversary, “You are finished!”

Jesus, the suffering servant, cried, “Tetelestai,” announcing to all that he finished the work of salvation his Father assigned to him.

Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, cried, “Tetelestai,” proclaiming that God’s wrath against all human sin has been justly satisfied. Jesus, our great High Priest, uttered, “Tetelestai,” affirming his sacrifice has met the requirements of divine law and is acceptable to our heavenly Father. Jesus, our gracious benefactor, paid our debt in full. Jesus, God’s army of one, called out, “Tetelestai,” a victory cry announcing Satan’s defeat.

Thank God for Christ’s tetelestai! It is Jesus’ cry about our salvation: “It is finished.”

Author: Jason Zahn
Volume 111, Number 03
Issue: March 2024

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