In the text of John 19, which narrates the death of Jesus, His last words were: “It is finished”, meaning of the Greek word “Tetelestai”.
“When He had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished’. With that, He bowed His head and gave up His Spirit.”John 19:30
Do you know what the weight of that word was when it was uttered by Jesus?
No more debts
“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us. He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.”Colossians 2:13-14
We were always taught in church about the last word of Jesus before his death, a word that carries so much devotion and surrender. But studying more about it I came across a wonderful explanation of how this word was used in the time of Christ.
When someone committed a crime or had a debt to be paid, that person received a document as a certificate of debt. When the imposed sentence was fulfilled or the debt was fully paid, the Judge updated the document and signed the word “Tetelestai“ at the end of the sheet, which meant that everything was already been paid, that there were no more debts, that all conviction was terminated.
Jesus at that moment was saying “The debt is paid. There is no more condemnation, you have achieved forgiveness“. It was not something He owed, but something we deserved to die for.
Nothing beyond the blood
“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life…but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”1 Peter 1:18,19
All that we could deliver and pay, with our resources and lives, would not be enough to achieve forgiveness. So God Himself died in our place and everything was paid for with His life. It was on that cross that we found complete redemption! It is through it that we access forgiveness and renewal.
A document on paper signed by human hands, payment in money, a punishment, a sacrifice of an animal… nothing that comes from us is able to save us. For that reason, we only access salvation through what comes from Him. That is, we access salvation when we surrender all that we are so that He can act with all that He is.
A new life comes from Him and nothing and no one else is able to offer it. The debts that our sins leave cannot be paid through our work and strength, but through what comes from Him and His mercy.
We have been set free. It is finished! Tetelestai!