The phrase “It is finished” is translated from a single Greek word tetelestai. Tetelestai had many different usages, but the following three have significance to the story:
1. Tetelestai was used by a servant reporting to his or her master upon completing a task: “The job you gave me is finished.”
2. Tetelestai was also a familiar term in Greek commercial life. It signified the completion of a transaction when a debt was paid in full. When the final payment was made, one could say “tetelestai,” that is, “The debt is finished.” Ancient receipts for taxes have been found with tetelestai—paid in full—written across them.
3. The selection of a lamb for sacrifice in the temple was always an important time. The flock would be searched and, upon finding an unblemished lamb, one would say tetelestai—the job was finished.
Quite literally Jesus shouted:
“The work you gave me is completed.....the debt is paid.....the sacrificial lamb is found!”
The Scripture says Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “It is finished (Tetelestai)!”
Isn't it ironic that there are two things in life that are certain - death and taxes - and that Good Friday and tax season are right now? Do you believe that the dead will be raised? Many don't, even in religious circles. Jesus responded to them, "You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. For the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: 'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not God of the dead, but of the living." The Apostle Paul explained in letters in the first century... "If Christ is not been raised, then ... your faith is in vain. We are ... misrepresenting God...And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile...we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead...for as by a man (Adam) came death, by a man (Jesus) has come also the resurrection from the dead." And Paul also said, "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." Saved from what? Physical and spiritual death.
Men have decided that God is dead. Astounding. Man has come to the conclusion after thousands of years of its species that instead of an eternal and all-powerful God, the "Universe" is alive, self-sustaining, eternal, and somehow cognizant, operating things, resulting in millions of years of evolution to produce... us! That's a pathetic result - look at how we damage the earth and produce energy that harnesses destruction, the ripping apart of matter and resulting corruption and harmful output.
It's a lie. This relativistic, naturalistic and humanistic worldview provides not only zero rationale for life, but it spawns death. The system of belief and understanding is inconsistent within itself. It is illogical. It gives no answers to the mind, to the heart. It also defies physical laws.
This weekend, I am reminded that we must understand God's will. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." He either rose from the grave, or He did not. And if He did, you better repent! And if He didn't, there is no hope for mankind.
What does the Lord mean when He utters these words in Psalm 50?
“Gather to me my consecrated ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”
He is telling us that our way to be reconciled to him - always - will be by a covenant made with Him by way of sacrifice. Way back in Psalms, there is a whisper, a hint, of the glorious salvation to come by way of Sacrifice.
In the Old Testament, this was pictured for us in the sacrificial system, a system practiced for thousands of years by the Jews. This involved sacrificing an unblemished animal (in itself a mercy, that God would allow an animal representative to temporarily cover the sins of the human who was bringing it for sacrifice, but still showing the seriousness of sin, in that blood was required for the sin to be covered).
“Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” Hebrews 9:22
In the New Testament, this sacrificial system was gloriously fulfilled in the One of whom John the Baptist said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) That One was Jesus Christ, the God-man who was both fully God and fully man, the One who manifested himself in the flesh that He might fulfill the righteous requirements of the Law. This was done out of the great mercy of God, who sought us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8), while we were dead in our trespasses and following the ways of this world (Eph 2:1-2).
The Old Testament sacrificial lamb: this was but a shadow of the New Testament Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, who came and gloriously fulfilled this shadow.
“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” 1 Peter 1:18-19
Death in Adam, Life in Christ
Jesus was "the last Adam" who did what the first Adam was unable to do: He fulfilled the righteous demands of the Law, and in so doing, He "earned" the right to give his life as a ransom for many:
“Thus it is written, 'The first man Adam became a living being'; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” (1 Cor: 15:45)
“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:12-21)
The path to reconciliation with God - both Old Testament and New Testament - has always been through faith in God and his plan for salvation. In the Old Testament, God's faithful believers did not know that this plan was a man named Jesus who was God's own Son, who would fulfill the Law on our behalf, that He would suffer and die on a Cross, and that his blood would be shed as a ransom for many. They did not fully know what God's plan was for them, but by faith, they obeyed God in offering up sacrifices to him in the sacrificial system implemented by Him.
New Testament believers have the joy of having Christ himself, who gloriously fulfilled all the types and shadows of the Old Testament sacrificial system that were but dim pictures of him and the work of salvation the He did. We also have the Scripture, the completed and finished canon, which reveals in full God's plan of salvation. Glory to God, that in his boundless mercy He would make a way for wretched, sinful man to be reconciled to him.