“When He had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished!’” (John 19:30)
These last words of Jesus on the cross actually are one word in the original language: “Tetelesti.” In those days this word was written over the record of a prisoner after completing his or her sentence in a Roman prison. “Tetelesti” was also written above the cross of a prisoner crucified by Rome. Jesus chose this word at the end of His suffering for your sins and mine.
What Jesus meant is that He paid in full a debt He did not owe because we owe a debt we cannot pay. Theologians refer to this as the finished work of Jesus Christ on the Cross. One thought is that we cannot possibly add anything to what He finished for us on the cross. A more profound thought is that we must put our faith in what He did for us there.
Still another thought is if we could add anything to what He did or be forgiven on the basis of our own good works, then Christ did all that suffering for nothing.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus sweat great drops of blood as He pleaded with the Father to let this cup pass from Him.
The Father’s response was that there was no other way, so Jesus had to go to and through the suffering of the cross. To think we can save ourselves by our works is like saying to our Heavenly Father and to our Savior: “You really didn’t have to go through all that suffering because I can save myself by the good works I am doing.”
Do you believe in what Jesus finished on the cross? “It is finished.”
Dick Woodward, 28 August 2009