TETELESTAI – “Finished”!


It is Finished! The Courage of the Cross.

As I contemplate the events of this week of His Passion, I’m fascinated by the penultimate cry of Jesus on the Cross. Of the many lessons that He taught us through His life on earth, here is one that resonates in all of us spoken at His death. “It is finished.” His first recorded words were, “Should I not be about my Fathers business?” Among His last were “It is finished”, or more simply and definitively stated in the Greek text, “Finished!” Of all the words Jesus spoke throughout His life, I believe this one paralyzed hell with fear!

Several years ago, Simon and Garfunkel wrote a song about a poor boy who went to New York on a dream and fell victim to the harsh life of the city. Penniless, with only strangers as friends, he spent His days “laying low, seeking out the poorer quarters where the ragged people go, looking for the places that only they would know.”

Easy to picture him there. Looking for work and finding none he dreams about going somewhere “where the New York winters aren’t bleeding me, leading me home.” He thinks about cutting lose, going home. Quitting. Something that he never believed he would do. But just when he is about to give up, he encounters a boxer.

The words go:

In the clearing stands a boxer and a fighter by his trade, and he carries a reminder of every blow that laid him down or cut him till he cried out in his anger and his shame – “I am leaving, I am leaving!” but the fighter still remains.

Those who remain like the boxer are a rare breed.

A colorful character in the world of heavyweight boxing was a close friend of mine, Gerrie Coetzee, three times WBA heavyweight champion of the world, taught me first hand the resilience and tenacity of a boxer. He had a flaw which would be any boxers’ worst nightmare. He had brittle bones in his wrist that were broken in almost every fight he had. He once gave me a plaster cast that was removed from his fist after one of these repairs. Many of his championship fights were won with broken hands. Gerrie would never give up! Though many times his cry may have been the same as the boxers in the clearing, but the fighter still remains.

Our human tendency is to quit before we cross the finish line.

Our inability to finish what we start is seen in the smallest of things.

A partly mowed lawn
A half-read book
An unfinished letter
An incomplete degree
An abandoned diet
A car up on blocks
An Expired Gym membership

Or it shows in life’s most painful areas.
An abandoned child
A faded faith
A job hopper
A wrecked marriage
An un-evangelized world.

If you’ve considered or are considering giving up, I hope I can encourage you to remain. I want to encourage you to remember Jesus’ determination on the cross. His commitment to the end.

He did not quit. And don’t think for a minute He was not tempted to.
Wincing as the disciples backbite and quarrel.
Weeping as He sits at Lazarus’s tomb
Wailing as he claws the dirt of Gethsemane.
Watching as small groups of Pharisees, scribes and soldiers secretly plot his death.
Did He ever want to quit?
You bet. Twice that we know of…

That is why these words are so remarkable. “It is finished.”

Stop and think for a minute what it was that He finished. There is one thing of which I am certain. It was not a cry of defeat. It was the cry of a certain victory.
Tetelestai comes from the verb teleo, which means “to bring to an end, to complete, to accomplish.” It’s a crucial word because it signifies the successful end to a particular course of action. It’s the word you would use when you climb to the peak of Mt. Everest; it’s the word you would use when you turn in the final copy of your dissertation; it’s the word you would use when you make the final payment on your new car; it’s 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.”(Dr. Ray Pritchard)

Tetelestai! One word is really all it took and heaven and hell knew exactly what it meant…“FINISHED”

So what was finished? Many have asked this question.

In Acts 2:23 Luke says that Jesus was delivered into his sufferings by the determinate council of his Father.

Jesus had said upon entering his sufferings “Father, thy will be done” and he had said earlier in John 4:34 “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me and to finish His work.” Now he is able to say with victory,  “Father it is done.” He had carried out his Fathers will to the nth degree. And it was finished.

What was finished?

The Old Testament contains no less than 37 prophecies pointing directly to Christ. Seven of these had been fulfilled at Calvary. Now upon receiving the vinegar Jesus realizes that all 7 had been fulfilled and cries out in victory “Finished” All has been fulfilled.

What was finished?

Up till now mankind had been judged under the law. Now the substance had been provided to free man from the burden and the shadow of the law. No more would animal sacrifice have to be made. No more would our access to God be through the priest. The veil of the Temple separating man from the presence of the holy of holies would soon be rent in two. The wall of partition would be taken down. “It is finished.” The price is paid.

What was finished?

The power of sin is ended by the bringing of an everlasting righteousness.

Dan 9:24 Tells us that “he would finish the transgression, that he would make and end of sins and make reconciliation for iniquity and bring an everlasting righteousness.” The Lamb of God would be sacrificed to take away the sin of the world, and it was done!

What was finished?

Jesus sufferings were now over. Both those of his soul and of his Body. The storm was over. The worst was past. All his pains and agonies are at an end and he is going to paradise. He was no longer to be of this world. He had run the race. He had finished the course. Along with this, there is an assurance that all who suffer for and with Christ throughout the world must endure for but a little while and then will also be able to say “It is finished!”  “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith and there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord will give me on that day.”

What was finished?

Finally and above all, the work of mans redemption and salvation is now completed. Full satisfaction has been made to the justice of God.

A fatal blow has been given to Satan and death.

A fountain of grace has been opened which shall forever flow.

A foundation of peace and happiness has been laid that shall never fail.

God’s work is perfect. “When I begin,” said He, “I will also make an end. And so in the purchase of our redemption, there must also be an application. He that has done a good work in you will also perform it to the end. The mystery of God will finally be finished.

Wherever you are in life at this point, let not your heart be troubled! This Passion Week holds a promise for you that can never be broken because it was made by one who is the embodiment of all Truth. His promise is clear that through His Life, Death, Burial and resurrection, there is nothing that can separate us from His love.

Romans 8:31-39

31 So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? 32 If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? 33 And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? 34 Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us – who was raised to life for us! – is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. 35 Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: 36 They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. 37 None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. 38 I’m absolutely convinced that nothing – nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, 39 high or low, thinkable or unthinkable – absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

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