Editor’s Note: This article was adapted from one of Rick Renner’s Internet Good News Church sermons.

It is always important for us to honor and thank God for the precious gift of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ. As we prepare to celebrate the Easter season, it is especially important to reflect on the dreadful yet glorious day of Jesus’ death on the Cross. We should never forget just how terrible the price of our redemption was. We must remember that we are God’s most precious and prized creations, and the story of Christ’s passion reveals the magnitude of His extraordinary love toward us. Jesus knowingly and willingly endured the depths of torment for you, me, and all mankind! I believe that as you read this article, you will receive a fresh revelation about the most significant series of events in the entirety of human existence — Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection! The world has never been the same since these events took place. And neither will you! 

Let’s begin in Matthew 27:35, which says, “And they crucified him, and parted his garments, castings lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, they parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.” I want to bring your attention to the word “crucified.” The word “crucified” is a horrible word. Because we live in a modern, civilized world, it can be difficult to understand just how horrendous the practice of crucifixion was. Crucifixion was the most horrible punishment in the ancient world. At the time of Jesus’ death, it was entirely in the hands of the Romans, who were especially merciless in the way they crucified people. It’s difficult for us to understand just how horrible crucifixion was. The cross was appalling. 

Nearly 700 years before the birth of Christ, the prophet Isaiah prophesied what Jesus’ appearance would look like subsequent to His crucifixion, and it was completely accurate. Isaiah 52:14:

As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men.

The New International Version says, “Just as there were many who were appalled at him — his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness” (Isaiah 52:13 NIV). In the next chapter, Isaiah continues his prophecy, saying:

Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.

— Isaiah 53:4,5

I want you to personalize the verse above. Jesus died for the world, but He also died specifically for YOU! Think about it. How does this revelation change how you think about your circumstances? 

Jesus bore your grief and sorrows on the Cross. He was wounded for your transgressions and bruised for your iniquities. He was chastised for your peace. And the stripes that were laid upon His flesh bought your healing! Praise God for the Cross of Jesus Christ!

Now, let’s examine the very last moments when Jesus’ life on Earth came to an end and He took His last breath. As He hung on the Cross, He cried out, “It is finished!” (see John 19:30). The word “finished” is the Greek word tetelestai, which means to end, to bring something to completion, or to accomplish something. It’s interesting that Jesus’ last words on Earth were “It is finished.” What did it mean when Jesus cried out “Tetelestai,” and why would those be His final words? Jesus was intentional with everything He said and did throughout His life and ministry on Earth, so there must be a deeper meaning Jesus wanted to convey to us through these words. 

When Jesus cried, “Tetelestai,” He was declaring that He had finished the assignment His Father had given Him. In those days, when a servant was given a mission, he would return to his master when the mission was complete and say, “Tetelestai.” In other words, the servant reported back to his master that he had done everything required of him, exactly as he had been instructed. The mission had been accomplished. So when Jesus cried out, “Tetelestai!”, He was literally saying, “The mission has been accomplished. Father, I have done everything You told Me to do.”

You must also realize that every Jew understood what tetelestai meant because it was the Hebrew equivalent of a word that was often used by the high priest. Every year, the high priest would enter the  the Holy of Holies in the Temple to present the blood of an unblemished lamb as a sacrifice unto the Lord. The very moment the blood touched the mercy seat, atonement was obtained for another year. They did this continually, year after year, in order to obtain temporary forgiveness of their sins. So when the blood of the sacrificial lamb touched the mercy seat in the Temple, the high priest would declare, “tetelestai,” meaning the sacrifice was finished and accepted for their atonement

Jesus hung on the Cross as the sacrificial Lamb of God, and yet at the same time, He was also our High Priest. As the High Priest, He offered up His own blood and the Cross became the Mercy Seat. When the Lord accepted Jesus’ blood sacrifice, Jesus cried out, “Teteliestai!”, which signified that His sacrifice was sufficient and our forgiveness was obtained. In the utterance of a single word, Jesus proclaimed that there would never be a need to offer a sacrifice for forgiveness ever again. What Jesus accomplished on the Cross was the final sacrifice. God accepted this sacrifice and granted our atonement. Our forgiveness was permanently purchased and our debt of sin settled forever. We see evidence of this in Hebrews 9:12, which says, “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” 

The word tetelestai was a word also used to signify the full payment of a debt. When a public or private debt was completely paid, the parchment on which the debt was written was officially stamped with the word tetelestai. This stamp meant that the debt had been paid in full and the debtor was released from any contractual obligation brought on by what he had previously owed. Once stamped, this document literally said, “It is finished. I have paid in full the debt I owed.”

Sin is a heavy burden, and no matter how much good you do or how hard you try, you simply can’t do enough to pay the enormous debt of your sin. It isn’t worth trying. But when Jesus came to Earth and shed His Blood on the Cross, it was the ultimate sacrifice. In offering His Blood before the Lord, He did something no human being could ever be capable or worthy of doing: Offering a perfect and acceptable sacrifice of blood for the payment of the sinful nature of mankind. And at the very moment you made Jesus your Lord and Savior, you received repentance and Jesus canceled your sin, guilt, and debt — permanently removing it from your life. The heavy weight of sin is immediately removed from your shoulders, and you receive a fresh, new start! 

The word tetelestai also signifies the end of something and the beginning of something new. Jesus’ death was the turning point in history when the Old Testament ended and the New Testament began. You may think, When did the Old Testament end, and when did the New Testament officially begin? It was at the moment when Jesus said “Tetelestai,” or in other words, “The old is finished. Now we’re entering into a new period of grace.” It also represents the end of the Old Covenant and the beginning of the New Covenant. And for us, it indicates the end of an old life and the beginning of a beautiful new life! 

To review, when Jesus said, “Tetelestai,” He was saying four things:

  1. The mission is complete. 
  2. The final sacrifice has been offered. 
  3. The debt has been fully paid. 
  4. Old things have ended, and everything new is beginning right now. 

Hallelujah for the Cross! When Jesus said, “Tetelestai,” it was a declaration that all of Heaven rejoiced to hear. But it was not the end of Jesus’ work. It was the end and perfection of the sacrifice. But there was still more for Jesus to do. 

The Bible tells us when Jesus died, He went into hell. But why did Jesus go to hell? Because sin goes to hell. It’s that simple. Jesus didn’t just take our sin, but He took it and returned it where it belonged. What an extraordinary thought that not only did Jesus suffer unimaginable anguish on the Cross, but He took it a step further and went straight into the headquarters of the enemy!

Jesus became sin. He took it on like a disguise or costume. He dressed Himself as sin and it gave Him access to hell. It was absolutely necessary for Jesus to go to hell — He had to take the fight into Satan’s domain. On the third day after Jesus’ crucifixion and burial, the Bible tells us that God used the power of the Holy Spirit to raise Jesus out of hell (see Romans 8:11). In Colossians 2:15, the Bible depicts what happened when Jesus was raised out of hell. This is an amazing verse! It says:

And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

— Colossians 2:15

Notice the word “spoiled” in this verse. “Spoiled” means to strip the enemy naked of all his weapons, to leave him no weapons with which he could ever again retaliate, or to strip the enemy to the point of nakedness. When Jesus ascended out of hell, He plundered it — disarming the principalities and powers of darkness. The powers that once held us in bondage to sin were broken by the resurrection of Jesus Christ!

Can you imagine how shocked hell must have been? One moment they rejoiced because they thought Jesus had been defeated. They could never perceive that Jesus’ death, crucifixion, and descent into hell were all part of God’s plan. Jesus became the personification of sin to gain access to hell, and it was there that He dismantled and disarmed the enemy, stripping the powers of darkness naked. They had nothing left to retaliate with! Jesus “…made a show of them openly triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:15). 

You must realize that not a single word in the New Testament was used by accident. The word “triumph” is significant in Colossians 2:15. It describes what happened when Jesus came out of hell. It was a very specific word used to describe an emperor who had won a battle in enemy territory and collected all the enemy’s weapons, put the defeated king in chains, and marched him around for all to witness. That is where the word “triumph” comes from. Historically, the foreign kings defeated in battle hated these parades of triumph because when the victorious king returned home, the people rejoiced over the defeat of their enemy! The spoils of war would be brought in behind the king and the defeated king would be walked in chains behind all that had been taken from him in utter shame and humiliation. Friend, that is what Jesus did! He put on a triumphant parade of His victory and mastery over Satan and his kingdom of darkness! 

Make no mistake about it, Jesus humiliated Satan when He plundered hell. When Jesus returned to Heaven, He displayed everything He took away from the enemy. We can’t know how, but He even displayed Satan’s miserable defeat! “Triumph” also describes a great celebration of shouting, singing, dancing, and twirling. When Jesus completed the work of atonement and returned victorious over death, hell, and Satan, Heaven held the greatest celebration the universe has ever witnessed!

Let’s take another look at Colossians 2:15, which says, “And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” A literal translation of this verse could say, “He stripped Satan and left his forces naked, leaving no weapons behind to use in retaliation. But the biggest spectacle of all was when the enemy himself was put on display — bound, disgraced, defeated, humiliated, and stripped bare of power. All of these amazing things took place when Jesus was resurrected! When we celebrate the sacrifice Jesus Christ made on that day, we’re celebrating the greatest victory in all of human history! No other conquest can compare! To this day, we don’t have to try to defeat the devil because he has already been defeated because Christ is risen — it is the undeniable proof of Satan’s total humiliation. Glory to God! 

I want to remind you of Isaiah 53:4 and 5. It reads:

Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.

If you have grief, Jesus took your grief. If you have sorrow, Jesus took your sorrow. If you are trapped in a life of sin, you can escape it today because Jesus took your transgression. If you are sick, Jesus took your sickness and replaced it with healing. If you live in sin and iniquity, you can change the way you live today because Jesus took your iniquity. If you live in torment and don’t have peace, you can have peace today because Jesus paid the price for you to have peace in your soul. 

If you are carrying a heavy load of sin, there is nothing you can do in the natural to pay that debt. But Jesus can, and He has already paid your debt on the Cross. He has stamped the debt under your name as paid in full! All you have to do is receive Him as your Lord and Savior. When you do, His precious, holy blood will wash every stain and defilement of sin from you.  He will provide you with everything you need to live a life of victory and authority over all the works of the devil. That is the power of the Cross — the true meaning of Easter. 

I wish you a Happy Resurrection Day! Jesus is Lord, and He has risen!