Summary: Good Friday address
IT IS FINISHED
GOOD FRIDAY 2001
I am sure like me you have often said, with some satisfaction, ‘It is finished.’ Sometimes we hear children say those words and we know that the opposite is actually the case. This Good Friday I want just to spend a few moments thinking together what Jesus meant when he said ‘It is finished.’
“It is finished” – this was the cry of Jesus moments before he gave up his spirit and died on the cross. But what is finished? What does this cry of Jesus mean?
First let us be clear what ‘it is finished’ means. It is three words in our language but in Greek it is only one word – ‘tetelestai.’ Tetelestai means it is finished, it is accomplished, it is completed, the work is done, it stands finished, it will always be finished. Tetelestai was an everyday Greek word.
A Servant would use tetelestai to tell his master that he had completed the work/task set for him.
A Priest would say tetelestai in relation to the sacrifice offered by someone at the temple, meaning it is perfect, it is accepted.
A Merchant would state tetelestai when a debt had been fully paid for a purchase. It would mean paid in full.
An Artist would use the word tetelestai when he had completed his work. He would step back and exclaim tetelestai – it is finished, the picture is completed and excellent work.
So let us now turn to Christ and seek to understand what he meant by saying tetelestai before he gave up his spirit and died.
Jesus’ Life is Finished.
Jesus’ life was finished, it was ended. He was a living, breathing human being. We know from the gospels that he was like any other man, except for sin. He ate and drank, slept and walked, preached and prayed. But now all that was finished. His life was at an end. In a moment he would die. In verse 30b we read that he then bowed his head and gave up his spirit. I have sat with many people as they have died. It has always been the same: a fight for each breath, a struggle to hang on to life, a battle to the very end. Not so with Christ. He submitted himself to death. He embraced death. He died willingly, of his own accord. But then he had already stated that he would in John 1017-18 READ. He died willingly for you and for me. He died willingly so that his death would overcome the power of death in our lives and bring us the hope of salvation and the resurrection to new life.
Jesus’ Redemptive Work is Finished.
When people die at a young age we often say that they leave much unfinished business behind. The world speculates what J F K Kennedy would have achieved if he had not been assassinated. My dad tells me that Duncan Edwards would have been one of the greatest footballers the world has ever seen if he had not died at Munich. Jesus also died at a young age but his work of redemption was finished and so he said ‘it is finished.’ Jesus had completed the work that his father had sent him to do on earth. His work of salvation was now completed. In John 174 Jesus says this on the night before he died, ‘I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.’ Jesus had completed all that was required by the Father for our salvation. Everything that was needed to atone for our sin, a perfect life of righteousness to present as an atoning sacrifice had been completed. Nothing more was or is needed. No other sacrifice is required. There is absolutely nothing you and I can add to the sacrifice of Christ. There is absolutely nothing you and I can contribute to his sacrifice – Jesus has done it all that is why he said ‘it is finished.’
Scripture’s Promises are Fulfilled.
As I said earlier tetelestai can mean to bring to fulfilment, completion. In verse 28 of Luke 19 we read that Jesus ‘knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.. .’ now Jesus uses the same word at the end of his life – it is finished.
Let me share just a few of the Scriptures which were fulfilled by Christ:
Gen. 315 should be of the woman’ seed, he was born of a woman – Gal. 44.
Born of a virgin Isaiah 714. Then it was literally fulfilled in Matt. 118
Line of David (2 Sam.712,13) and it was so (Rom. 13).
Seed of Abraham (Gen.2218) fulfilled in Matt.11.
Born in Bethlehem (Micah 52) the very village of his birth.