This month, people around the world are focused on Easter, so I’d like to take a moment to share from my heart about the cross of Jesus Christ and what exactly it means for you and me.
The cross of Christ is a precious emblem to those of us who call Jesus the Lord of our lives. We love that cross and cherish it because of the price that was paid some 2,000 years ago when Jesus died for our sins.
Christ’s death on the Cross purchased our forgiveness, our redemption, our freedom, our fellowship with God, and our eternal well-being. But we need to remember that when the Lamb of God hung on that cross we deem so precious, He hung there naked, beaten, and bleeding profusely before a watching world — and it was a ghastly sight.
Blood drenched Jesus’ body, pouring from His head and brow, running like rivers from the deeply torn flesh in His hands and feet. The effect of the scourging Jesus received in Pilate’s palace had begun to take its toll as His body swelled up and became horribly discolored and disfigured. His eyes were matted with the blood that poured from the wounds in His brow — wounds caused by the crown of thorns that bore into His skull as soldiers pushed it down hard upon His head. The whole scene was ugly, unsightly, repulsive, sickening, vile, foul, and revolting.
Isaiah 53:3-5 vividly described Jesus’ sacrifice this way: “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
According to this verse, when Jesus died on that hideous cross:
- He bore your
- He carried your
- He was wounded for your
- He was bruised for your
- He was chastised for your
- He was scourged for your
‘IT IS FINISHED!’
As Jesus breathed His last breath, He cried out and said, “It is FINISHED!” These words are a translation of the important Greek word tetelestai (see John 19:30). There were many nuances to this word, but precisely four of them have great significance for you and me.
First, this word was used when a servant was sent on a mission and later returned to his master. Upon finishing his assignment, the servant would say, “Tetelestai,” which meant, “I have done exactly what you requested” or, “The mission is now accomplished.” The use of this word means that in the exact moment Jesus cried out, He was exclaiming to the entire universe that He had faithfully fulfilled the Father’s will and that the mission was now accomplished.
No wonder Jesus shouted, “It is finished!” This was the greatest victory in the history of the human race! He had been faithful to His assignment even in the face of unfathomable challenges. But then the fight was over, and Jesus could finally cry out to the Father, “I have done exactly what You asked Me to do!” or, “The mission is ACCOMPLISHED!”
Second, the word tetelestai was the equivalent of the Hebrew word spoken by the high priest when he presented a sacrificial lamb without spot or blemish. Annually, the high priest entered the Holy of Holies, where he poured the blood of that sacrificial, spotless lamb on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant. The moment that blood touched the mercy seat, atonement was made for the people’s sins for one more year — at which time, once again, the high priest would enter beyond the veil of that sacred room to offer blood. This was done year after year to obtain the annual, temporary forgiveness of sin.
But when Jesus hung on the cross, He was both Lamb and High Priest. In that holy moment as our Great High Priest, Jesus offered His own blood for the permanent removal of sin. He offered up the perfect sacrifice of which every Mosaic sacrifice was a type and symbol. In that instant, there remained no more need for an offering for sin. Jesus entered into the Holy Place and offered His own blood — a sacrifice so complete that God never again required the blood of lambs or other animals for granting forgiveness. Hebrews 9:12 says, “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his [Jesus’] own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”
Thus, when Jesus said, “It is finished,” He was declaring the end of all those sacrifices, because the ultimate Sacrifice had finally been made! Atonement was completed, perfected, and fully accomplished. It was done once and for all — finished forever!
Third, in a secular sense, the word tetelestai was used in the business world to signify the full payment of a debt. When a debt had been fully paid off, the parchment on which the debt was recorded was stamped with tetelestai, which meant the debt had been paid in full. This means that once a person calls Jesus the Lord of his life and personally accepts His sacrifice, no debt of sin exists for that person any longer. The debt is wiped out because Jesus paid the price for sin that no sinner could ever pay.
Jesus took our place. He paid the debt of sin we owed. And when we by faith repent and receive Him as Lord, we are set free! This is why Paul wrote, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:14).
When Jesus uttered those words, “It is finished,” it was His declaration that the debt for the sins of mankind was fully satisfied, fulfilled, and complete. His blood utterly and completely cleansed us forever. It was far-reaching and all-embracing for all who put their faith in Him.
Fourth, the word tetelestai was used to depict a turning point when one period ended and another period began. When Jesus exclaimed, “It is finished,” it was indeed a turning point in the entire history of mankind, for at that moment, the Old Testament came to an end — it was finished and closed — and the New Testament began. The Cross was “the Great Divide” in human history. When Jesus cried out, “It is finished,” He was shouting that the Old Covenant had ended and the New Covenant had begun!
In that divine moment when Jesus cried, “It is finished,” all the Old Testament prophecies about Jesus’ earthly ministry were fulfilled. The justice of God had been fully satisfied by the Lamb of God. At that moment, the sacrifices of the Old Testament could permanently cease, for the perfect Sacrifice had laid down His life for the salvation of mankind. Jesus’ mission was accomplished. Thus, He could cry out that His task was complete!
YOUR DEBT HAS BEEN PAID IN FULL
Never forget that because Jesus was willing to offer His own blood for the full payment of our sinful debt, we are forgiven and utterly debt-free. “PAID IN FULL” has been stamped on our past, sinful record because Jesus paid the price for our redemption with His own blood.
Think of all that Jesus’ death on the cross accomplished for you and me. It leaves me nearly speechless to think of it. It makes me stop for a few moments just to thank Him for what He has done.
Doesn’t it affect you this way too? Where would you be today if Jesus had not died on the cross for you? Why not take a few minutes right now to express your heartfelt thanksgiving to Him for paying the debt you could never have paid? Because of Jesus and His great love for you and me, the debt for sin has been PAID IN FULL, and we are truly redeemed. What victory was won at that hideous place of the cross!
As I close my letter this month, I want to ask you to pray for us as we reach out to even more people with the teaching of the Word of God. We need your prayers, and we are thankful for every financial gift you give to help us do this vital ministry. You are so important to us. If there’s any specific way we can be praying for you, please be sure to let us know, and we will pray eagerly. We are always waiting to hear from our friends and partners!
We love you and thank God for you!
We are your brother and sister, friends, and partners in Jesus Christ,
Rick and Denise Renner
along with Paul, Philip, and Joel and their families