What was Jesus’ Last Word on the Cross Before He Died, and HOW Does That One Word Proclaim the Best News Ever? #90
Happy Lord’s Day, dear friends! If you don’t have a streaming church home – or if you do, and you want more, I guess, then please allow me to invite you to join our church – Valley Baptist Church in Salinas – for a livestreamed time of worship, Word and prayer tomorrow. Our church is going through the book of Proverbs, and the message is on Quarantine wisdom – because there is a surprising amount of applicable wisdom in Proverbs for those of us who are quarantined or close to it. Our website is: https://www.facebook.com/VBCsalinas/ Come join us!
Today’s Bible passages include Exodus 40 – the Glory of the Lord fills the Tabernacle – what an awesome passage for the Lord’s Day. We are also reading Proverbs 16, John 19, and Philippians 3 – a particularly rich day of feasting on the Word in the New Testament passages. Because I am recording this on Saturday night/early Sunday, it will be a shorter than normal podcast, because I want to maintain focus on celebrating the Lord’s Day today with the church I am pastoring. Our focus today is the crucifixion of Jesus in John 19, and in this passage we hear the last Word of Jesus, which He said right before He died. I vividly remember a sermon that our pastor preached on this word when I was in college eons ago, and I vividly remember the word to this day – ‘Tetelestai,” Which simply means, “It is finished.” We are going to focus this episode on that one BEAUTIFUL Word of Jesus, because it loudly proclaims the Good News in and of itself.
I very rarely discuss grammar here on the podcast, but this Word of Jesus deserves more scrutiny than normal. For one, it is in the perfect tense, which has some important implications according to one of my Greek grammar textbooks:
The perfect tense in Greek corresponds to the perfect tense in English, and describes an action which is viewed as having been completed in the past, once and for all, not needing to be repeated. Jesus’ last cry from the cross, TETELESTAI (“It is finished!”) is a good example of the perfect tense used in this sense, namely “It [the atonement] has been accomplished, completely, once and for all time.”Larry Pierce, Tense Voice Mood (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, n.d.).
In further discussing this amazing word, let’s start with one old school Baptist – Herschel Hobbs, and then close out with an older school Baptist – Charles Spurgeon.
With a clear voice Jesus uttered one last word from the cross: tetelestai (John 19:30). The papyri throw great light on this word. If a promissory note were paid, the one holding the note wrote “telelestai” across it. A deed to property was not in effect until it was dated and signed. When this was done, the clerk wrote “tetelestai” across it.Herschel H. Hobbs, My Favorite Illustrations (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1990), 218.
Another example of its use was when a father sent his son on a mission. The son was not to return until he had performed the last act of the mission. When he did return from a successful mission, he used tetelestai to report it.
What do these meanings say to us? In eternity the Son gave the Father a promissory note that He would pay the price for humanity’s redemption (see Heb. 10:5–7). On Calvary the note was paid-in-full. Tetelestai! The Son reported His completed mission to the Father. Tetelestai! Perhaps when the waiting hosts in heaven heard of the completed work of Jesus heaven rang with it. TETELESTAI! And the Father smiled His approval.
And now, here are some blessed words from friend of the show, Charles Spurgeon:
IN the original Greek of John’s Gospel, there is only one word for this utterance of our Lord. To translate it into English, we have to use three words; but when it was spoken, it was only one,—an ocean of meaning in a drop of language, a mere drop, for that is all that we can call one word. “It is finished.” Yet it would need all the other words that ever were spoken, or ever can be spoken, to explain this one word. It is altogether immeasurable. It is high; I cannot attain to it. It is deep; I cannot fathom it. “Finished.” I can half imagine the tone in which our Lord uttered this word, with a holy glorying, a sense of relief, the bursting out of a heart that had long been shut up within walls of anguish. “Finished.” It was a Conqueror’s cry; it was uttered with a loud voice. There is nothing of anguish about it, there is no wailing in it. It is the cry of One who has completed a tremendous labour, and is about to die; and ere he utters his death-prayer, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit,” he shouts his life’s last hymn in that one word, “Finished.”…C. H. Spurgeon, “Christ’s Dying Word for His Church,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 40 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1894), 29.
Dear friends, once more, take comfort from this “It is finished,” for the redemption of Christ’s Church is perfected. There is not another penny to be paid for her full release. There is no mortgage upon Christ’s inheritance. Those whom he bought with blood are for ever clear of all charges, paid for to the utmost. There was a handwriting of ordinances against us; but Christ hath taken it away, he hath nailed it to his cross. “It is finished,” finished for ever. All those overwhelming debts, which would have sunk us to the lowest hell, have been discharged; and they who believe in Christ may appear with boldness even before the throne of God itself. “It is finished.” What comfort there is in this glorious truth!
And I think that we may say to the Church of God that, when Jesus said, “It is finished,” her ultimate triumph was secured. “Finished!” By that one word he declared that he had broken the head of the old dragon. By his death, Jesus has routed the hosts of darkness, and crushed the rising hopes of hell. We have a stern battle yet to fight; nobody can tell what may await the Church of God in years to come, it would be idle for us to attempt to prophesy; but it looks as if there were to be sterner times and darker days than we have ever yet known; but what of that? Our Lord has defeated the foe; and we have to fight with one who is already vanquished. The old serpent has been crushed, his head is bruised, and we have now to trample on him. We have this sure word of promise to encourage us, “The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.” Surely, “It is finished,” sounds like the trumpet of victory; let us have faith to claim that victory through the blood of the Lamb, and let every Christian here, let the whole Church of God, as one mighty army, take comfort from this dying word of the now risen and ever-living Saviour, “It is finished.” His Church may rest perfectly satisfied that his work for her is fully accomplished.