“Tetelestai!”



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“It is finished!” (John 19:30) That’s the sixth of the seven last words of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. He did not say, “I am finished!” It was not a cry of surrender. It was a declaration of victory. In the Greek, He shouted, “Tetelestai!” that is, “It is finished, it stands finished, and it always will be finished!” [1] That word is rich in meaning.
A servant would use [tetelestai] when reporting to his or her master, “I have completed the work assigned to me” (see John 17:4). When a priest examined an animal sacrifice and found it faultless, this word would apply. Jesus, of course, is the perfect Lamb of God, without spot or blemish. When an artist completed a picture, or a writer a manuscript, he or she might say, “It is finished!” The death of Jesus on the cross “completes the picture” that God had been painting, the story that He had been writing, for centuries. … Perhaps the most meaningful meaning of tetelestai was that used by the merchants: “The debt is paid in full!” When He gave Himself on the cross, Jesus fully met the righteous demands of a holy law; He paid our debt in full. [2] 
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I also read somewhere that, when a person got imprisoned during those times, the authorities would write his offenses on a paper as his debt record and have it posted on his prison door. It stated his criminal offense and the penalty that he incurred in committing that crime. After serving his sentence, the prisoner was released. That paper would be handed to him with the word tetelestai. It means his debt to society has been paid in full. With that in mind, read Colossians 2:13-14.
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. (Emphasis added)
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God wrote the words “paid in full!” in our spiritual debt record with the blood of Christ. Our debt to God has been settled forever. Our Lord Jesus already paid the price for our redemption in full. It’s paid. It stands paid. It always will be considered paid.
Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! (Ephesians 1:7, The Message. Emphasis added.)
Indeed, it is finished! “Tetelestai!”

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Significant Step

Remember the time when you were neck-deep in debt (or, at least, incurred a big debt)?  Think back on how you felt after settling it. Now, reflect on your spiritual debt when you haven’t accepted the Lord as your Savior. Take time to praise God for settling that debt for us. Thank Him that it is finished, it stands finished, and it always will be finished!

NOTE: This is Day Five of the devotional guide (Volume 1, Issue 3) of our church, Filinvest Community Christian Fellowship, for the message last Sunday, March 15, on Know How Much You Are Worth Part 2” (“Significance” series, a verse-by-verse study of the book of Ephesians).
[1] Warren Wiersbe, “John” in The Bible Exposition Commentary(Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1989), 384.
[2] Ibid. Italics his. Emphasis added.

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