I don’t know about you, but I have this “thing” about getting things finished. I’m not satisfied with a project until it’s done. Now, mind you, that doesn’t mean all my projects are complete, but it bothers me until all the little details are checked off the list. Does anyone relate to this?
I remember, back before I retired, I had lots of work projects. Someone told me that when I die, I’m not going to care if all my To Do List items were checked off. I was appalled at the idea! “I will too care!”
Back then, I would go to the Friday evening service at church. It was close to my work, and I felt like it was a way to wind down to “a Sabbath rest.” It’s a good thing we had a longer worship time before the sermon because it took me quite a while to shift gears. I remember praying, thanking God that Jesus had said “It is finished” on the cross. He understood my obsession with checking things off my list. But then this thought went through my mind.
“Was Jesus really concerned about finishing a chair, or a plow, or a carpentry job? No. That was not why He was here on earth. He was only focused on completing the work the Father had sent Him to do. Redeeming us!”
Can I just say that was a mind-blowing thought! It didn’t change the fact that I still like checking things off my list, but I did begin to re-prioritize my lists. What was really important? What was worth stressing over? Would this task or event really matter in the light of eternity? To this day, I try to look through this lens at my daily life. Not that I’ve mastered it, but it has helped keep me calmer and more at rest.
Back to what Jesus said on the cross. John 19:30 records His last words. When he had received the drink (the wine vinegar on a sponge), Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. “It is finished” is the Greek word Tetelestai.
Tetelestai (sometimes spelled telelestai) is an interesting word. From Crosswalk.com,
It is finished” is a translation of the Greek word telelestai, the perfect indicative passive tense of the word telos, which means to end; to bring to completion; to bring to a conclusion; to complete; to accomplish; to fulfill; or to finish.
It is much more than a check mark on a list. In the business dealings of the day, it meant PAID IN FULL.
When someone owed a debt back in Jesus’ day, a statement of what was owed was nailed to the door of their house. When the debt was satisfied, the notice of debt was folded over in half and the word “TETELESTAI” was written or stamped on the back of the folded statement. PAID IN FULL!
This gives a clearer understanding of Isaiah 40:2.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.
I had always wondered about this verse. How could giving someone twice the punishment they deserved and “speaking tenderly” to them even fit in the same sentence? Made no sense to me… until I understood “Tetesestai.” The double was not twice the punishment, twice the consequences of my sin, it was that my sin was paid for – PAID IN FULL!
So, what does that mean for you and I? It means we do not finish our salvation by good works, by “carrying our cross” or by Purgatory. Jesus did it all! Praise and thanksgiving to Him forever!
That doesn’t mean we coast through life, doing anything and everything our hearts desire. We still are being transformed into the image of Christ. We still need to learn to walk according to the Kingdom of God, not the kingdom of this world. We are still to be salt and light in this world. Those require us to partner with Holy Spirit as He changes us from the inside out, and as we align ourselves with the plans God has for us.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
As I was finishing this blog article, an old song (I’m old too!) kept running through my mind. Like I said, it is an OLD song, but a good song. Here is a link. Be blessed.
It Is Finished (Lyric Video/Live At Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia/2003) – YouTube