May I begin by saying Merry Christmas. Although I am writing this technically 2 1/2 hours after Christmas is officially over, to me, it is still Christmas, as I have not gone to bed yet.
We live in a world where people have forgotten what Christmas really is, and means. Just think back at the commercials you watched over the past couple months. How many were for things for sale that some manufacturer or store was telling you had to have? How many were for things you had considered getting, maybe in the Spring, but may as well get now, because of a “Post-Thanksgiving Sale”, or “Pre-Christmas Sale”? Now, how many of you saw ads for Jesus? Promotions for Church events? Sales on Bibles?
Let’s see what renowned Christian Pastor and Author Ray Pritchard says, not about Christmas, but actually about the last words of Christ on the Cross. When we do, reflect back on the birth of our Savior. If His birth was His “beginning”, how much more significance does this bring to His final words. Does this not bring new reason for the entirety of His birth?
Can you even imagine being born only to die a sacrificial death for others who were not even worthy of it? Yet that was what Christ did, and He did it selflessly. His own Father sent Him to do it. Now, rethink the gifts you gave and received this year for Christmas.
Serving Him through Serving Others,
Tetelestai comes from the verb teleo, which means “to bring to an end, to complete, to accomplish.” It’s a crucial word because it signifies the successful end to a particular course of action. It’s the word you would use when you climb to the peak of Mt. Everest; it’s the word you would use when you turn in the final copy of your dissertation; it’s the word you would use when you make the final payment on your new car; it’s the word you use when you cross the finish line of your first 10K run. The word means more than just “I survived.” It means “I did exactly what I set out to do.”
But there’s more here than the verb itself. Tetelestai is in the perfect tense in Greek. That’s significant because the perfect tense speaks of an action which has been completed in the past with results continuing into the present. It’s different from the past tense which looks back to an event and says, “This happened.” The perfect tense adds the idea that “This happened and it is still in effect today.”
When Jesus cried out “It is finished,” he meant “It was finished in the past, it is still finished in the present, and it will remain finished in the future.”
Note one other fact. He did not say, “I am finished,” for that would imply that he died defeated and exhausted. Rather, he cried out “It is finished,” meaning “I successfully completed the work I came to do.”
Tetelestai, then, is the Savior’s final cry of victory. When he died, he left no unfinished business behind. When he said, “It is finished,” he was speaking the truth.