The Tabernacle Scroll

Issue 90

"It is finished” – John 19:30

Isn’t it amazing how some of the most powerful truths are contained in just a few words?

To be a Christian one must appropriate the fundamental truth expressed in these words. Charles Spurgeon, the prince of preachers, is reputed to have described them as “the greatest words ever”. I believe so too. I believe that no real spiritual progress can be accomplished unless this foundation is laid, because it has to do with the fact of Christ’s atonement for us. Let me explain its importance.

Perhaps the best way to start is by showing erroneous interpretations that might be placed on these words. For example we could assume (as some notable scholars have done) that Jesus was expressing his thankfulness that it was all over! He had endured so much of pain and agony, both physically and emotionally, that it was a relief that death was upon him. Or, it could be assumed that these words were an expression of his despair, in so much that the work he had started had come to such an abrupt end. A sort of ‘woe is me!’ cry. Let me say quite categorically that those who proffer such reasons for the expression “it is finished” (regardless of their great scholarship) have no understanding of Scripture. I would even go so far as to say that they are not truly ‘born again’!

It is only when it is viewed in the context of why Jesus came to earth, took flesh and became man, that this statement can be understood. He came to pay the price for sin, through taking upon himself the sins of all mankind and dying in their place. He was mankind’s substitution. Importantly, his death for sin was the only sacrifice that was acceptable to a Holy God - the righteous (sinless) for the unrighteous (sinful). Christians who are misguidedly trying to atone for their sins must accept this fact. Otherwise, firstly, they believe in vain! Secondly, they will never be able to exercise their freedom not to sin! It was for freedom that Christ set us free!

You see, creditors used the Greek word ‘tetelestai’ in those days to certify the full payment of a bill. Whenever a debtor presented a bill for settlement, after it was fully paid by the handover of the total amount, the creditor would write ‘tetelestai’ across the face of the bill – ‘paid in full’. The word, in Greek grammar, is in the perfect tense. The use of this tense indicates an action that is not ongoing, cannot be added to, and is never to be repeated. It is absolutely completed!

Stop trying to repay God. Just accept his free gift. The power to live holy lives comes primarily out of this acceptance!

            Devotional                                                                                                                            Preach The Word The Word with Pastor Joseph Rodrigues