When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,”
and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
:: John 19:30 ::
As we sit right in the middle of Holy Week, I have to ask my heart to sit with this truth.
In this moment, Jesus spoke in Greek, Tetelestai. For us, “It is finished”.
IT: Every prophecy that needed fulfillment.
That’s every word written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, from Genesis 3 to Malachi 4. That’s every little thing down to where he would be born, what people would say, how people would act, how he would act and who his heritage would come from.
The FINISHED part of this IT is that it is fulfilled in Jesus, the Word Made Flesh. There is no stone left unturned, no T left to cross or I left to dot in this finished work of fulfillment. The probability that this could all be fulfilled in one man is more than absurdly impossible. And yet, it is finished!
IT: The Law
Not only are we talking about the law God passed down to His people at Sinai, but even the law of the religious elite. The law that said only certain men of certain heritage on certain days could enter into the presence of God. This was the IT that relegated division, hierarchy, and subjugation among the image bearers of God. This was the IT that remained the standard of perfection which had been long-destroyed by the first Adam. This was getting up in the morning, knowing you’d fail before noon. This is the IT of being present at all the right religious events and the placing of sacrifices on altars where all the Father wants are humble hearts laid bare. This was the IT of comparison, self-righteousness, legalism, and penance that could never fully propitiate for the chasm of sin we create. This was the IT of hallow, strawman religious piety that leads to a false sense of security.
The FINISHED part of this IT is that this was the prophesied completion of all the holy, altruistic, pure perfection. The law has nothing to hold over us! The Law of the Spirit of life has set us free from the law of sin and death!
IT: The providing of sacrifices for sin.
“IT” is the exchange of innocent blood for wrongdoing. Year after year, the high priest went within the veil and sprinkled the Mercy Seat with blood; the next year he will do it again, and the next, and again, and again, and again. The spirits of the just ask, “Will it never be done? Will the sacrifice never be enough? How long will there be a remembrance of sin?”
But in this “IT is FINISHED” he who comes is in the line of priests! There, on the cross of Christ, was nailed both priest and sacrifice. He, arrayed in flesh, offers up His soul within the thick veil of holy mystery which had separated man and God until now! In this “IT”, he brings in His blood, enters within the veil, sprinkled it there on the Mercy Seat in the presence of the Father. And coming out He looked down with compassion on sinners, then upward to expectant Heaven, and says with hard-fought victory, “It is finished! It is finished!”—that for which you worked toward for so long, is achieved perfectly forever! And the veil in the Temple tore from top to bottom!
IT: The power of sin and Satan
IT is the darkness of sin that enslaves us. I have exchanged the truth of God for a lie. IT is the fact that before His death, I was dead, following the ways of the world and the prince of the power of the air. That spirit that was in me was at work in the sons of disobedience, I lived in the passions of my flesh, carrying on the desires of my body and mind. I was, by my nature a child of wrath. I was separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth, a stranger to the covenant of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. I was once far off.
Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself took part in the same,
that through death He might render powerless him who had power of death, that is, the devil,
and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.
:: Hebrews 2: 14-15 ::
But GOD (!!!) rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved me, even when I was dead in my sin, made me alive with Christ – by grace I was saved because IT IS FINISHED!
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
:: Ephesians 2:13-19::
It was finished then, at 3pm on a Friday at Golgotha.
Even with it being finished, our sisters were mourning death. They were expecting death and were prepared for a meeting with a dead King just 72 hours after the horrific scene on the hill. So they made their way to that borrowed tomb.
See, they were there when it all happened. They saw him healing the sick and raising the dead. They saw him recline at their tables to eat the food they prepared. They heard him speak the Word of the prophets and call them fulfilled. More than this, they had been delivered out of darkness by this man, Jesus. Mary Magdalene herself was free of seven demons. One day these demons were torturing her broken heart and the next, Jesus spoke the words of freedom over her and all she could do was give her new heart to him. They saw this man, Jesus, being given over to the people who gave him over to death on the cross.
They heard Him cry out to God and ask “Why? Why have you forsaken me?” And you can bet they too felt forsaken. Where was the hope? Where was the freedom? Where was justice?
The women asked, “But who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up they saw the stone had been rolled back – it was very large.
And they asked the man in white who was in the tomb where their dead Jesus was…
“Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him.” (Mark 16:6)
So when I come expecting death where life is found instead, I can know…. IT IS FINISHED, Tetelestai.
When I ask how the very large stone sealing death inside can ever be moved for me…. Tetelestai.
When the lies seem to crowd out the truth….. Tetelestai.
When the wrong seems oft so strong….. Tetelestai.
When the world around me asks for hope, justice, and freedom …. Tetelestai.
When the same sin continues to tempt and resurface in our lives….. Tetelestai.
When the law tells everything in us that we aren’t worthy…. Tetelestai.
When the debt I owe is more than I could ever hope to pay…… Tetelestai.
Having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness,
which stood against us and condemned us;
he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.
:: Colossians 3:14 ::
Now my debt is paid
It is paid in full
By the precious blood
That my Jesus spilled
Now the curse of sin
Has no hold on me
Whom the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed