“It is finished.” (John 19:30). The battle is over. The war’s last shot has been fired. Jesus was preparing momentarily to surrender the last breath of His life to the Father. Nothing was left to accomplish. “Finished.”
What a blessed word! To finish with a grueling race; to finish the long course of a graduate degree (or, for that matter, high school). To finish with a prescribed course of chemotherapy or radiation. Finished.
For Jesus, this word carried more than meaning just “the end.” There is another Greek word for “the end” which He could have selected. Instead, He chose “tetelestai;” it is finished. It meant, “the debt is now paid in full.” “Nothing else is owed.” With His own blood He wrote in large letters over the “certificate of debt that was against us,” IT IS PAID IN FULL.
The Roman prison system was largely a debtors’ prison. Bad debts were not be forgiven lightly. Prison cells were reserved for those in debt over their heads with no other means to pay what they owed; no family to sell into slavery; no goods to barter.
Bankrupt. Busted. Broke. No hope. Just as we stood before God before our debt was paid on the cross. No way out. Freedom was gone. When a prisoner was locked in his cell, a “certificate of debt” was nailed over the door signifying how much was owed and how long the sentence would be. When the fine and penalty had been paid, the judge would take the certificate of debt and write the word “tetelestai” over the debt.
For most, that certificate never came. It was often a life sentence to pay what they owed. Unless, that is, a benefactor stepped up to pay it for them.
Do you understand that is exactly what Jesus did for us? He stepped in to pay a debt He did not owe, because we owed a debt we could not pay. With His own blood He canceled the “handwriting of ordinances (offenses) that were against us and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross.” (Colossians 2:13-14)
And before He died, He reminded us that this is what He did. The debt is paid. We are free.
“Tetelestai.” It. Is. Finished.”
Heavenly Father, we are thankful as Easter approaches to be reminded again of the great debt that was cancelled by Jesus’ payment on the cross. Our souls would have been locked forever in a debtor’s punishment but because of Jesus the door has been unlocked and we are free. May we never outlive our gratitude to you for that great gift. In Jesus we pray, Amen.