At the age of 33, most people are saying about their life, "It is beginning." But for Jesus, at age 33, as He hung on a cross, having paid the price for the world’s sins, He declared, "It is finished!" Note, however, that He did not say, "I am finished!" This was not a cry of defeat, but a shout of victory. In the original Greek text, this phrase is one word of ten letters - "Tetelestai" - which literally means: "It is finished, it stands finished, and it always will be finished."
The word, "tetelestai," was a word with which the people of Jesus’ day were very familiar. Today, I want us to think of some common ways in which the word was used as we consider the significance of this cry from the cross. In so doing, we will find that the word "tetelestai" explains two important truths for us.
1. "Tetelestai" Explains The Mission Of Christ.
A. "Tetelestai" Was A Word Used By Artists.
When a painter had completed his work, he would step back and say, "Tetelestai - it is finished!"
Jesus came to give us a full portrayal of what God is like. He was God in the flesh, come to make Himself known to us (John 1:1; 14, Hebrews 1:1-3).
“In the beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God himself. And the Word (Christ) became flesh (human, incarnate) and tabernacled (fixed His tent of flesh, lived awhile) among us; and we [actually] saw His glory (His honor, His majesty), such glory as an only begotten son receives from his father, full of grace (favor, loving-kindness) and truth.”- John 1:1; 14 (Amplified)
“Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command.”- Hebrews 1:1-3 (NLT)
When you read the Old Testament, you have a rather difficult picture. In the Old Testament are ceremonies, types, prophecies and mysterious symbols. Even those of us who have been studying the Word of God for many years often find serious difficulties as we study the Old Testament. The reason for this is that the Old Testament portrayal of God is an unfinished portrait. However, the revelation of God that is found in Christ is complete.
Each Old Testament prophet is like an artist that came along and put their own unique “brush mark” on the canvas of history. One by one, they came, each putting their particular color and touch on the canvas. Then in Christ, we have the final brush stroke which completes the picture of God for us. With Him, the revelation of God to mankind is finished!
With respect to God’s revelation of Himself to mankind, “It is finished.”
B. "Tetelestai" Was A Word Used By Servants.
A master would tell his servant to go and do something, and when the servant had completed the task, he would come back and say, "Tetelestai - I have finished the work that you gave me to do."