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Have you ever sat and read through the New Testament and read only the words Jesus’ words (the words in red in some Bibles)? For a completely new perspective, I challenge us to do just that. I know context is everything, but let’s step out of the exegesis box (interpreting the Scriptures) for a brief moment, to get an amazing snapshot of Jesus. His strength, authority, love, and compassion.
Without all the narrative, those stand alone red words pack a powerful punch, knowing that Jesus says them. There are dramatic statements, strong commands, and tender words. “Let it be so…” (Matt. 3:15) “It is written…” (Matt.4:4) “Get up…” (Matt. 9:6) “Take courage it is I…” (Matt 14:27) “Quiet, Be still…” (Mark 4:39) “Come forth …” (Jn. 11:43) “Don’t be afraid just believe…” (Mark 5:36) “What do you want Me to do for you…”(Mark 10:51) “Who do you say I am…” (Lk. 9:20) “Then neither do I condemn you…”(Jn. 8:11) “I am He…” (Jn. 18:6).
These are just a few, but there is one more that stands out among the rest. Here I do want to set the context. Jesus is agonizingly set between two thieves. His feet and hands are nailed to a wooden cross. Hours earlier, He knelt in a garden declaring with complete honesty, “Abba Father … everything is possible for You. If You are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from Me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” (Lk 22:42)
God’s will. There at the foot of the cross, many mocked, some cried, and I am confident there were those in complete silence. After the vinegar water was given to Jesus, He said “It is FINISHED…” ( Jn. 19:30, emphasis mine). He then bowed His head and gave up His spirit.
It is finished. The word finished in the Greek is amazing! The word ‘tetelestai’ comes from the verb teleo, meaning: “To bring to an end. To accomplish something not merely to end it, but bring it to perfection for its designed goal.” It signifies the successful end to a particular course of action. Grammatically in the Greek, it is a crucial word, it is in the “perfect tense.” Meaning the action was completed in the past with results continuing in the present. Basically, “This happened and it is still in effect TODAY.” One might say, “The gift that keeps on giving.” (This is different from the ‘past tense’ which points to an event, declaring “This happened.” Nothing more. The end.)
As Jesus said this, His blood flowing down His forehead, from His hands and His feet, He declares sharply, the debt owed to God the Father is now wiped away. His sacrifice, now eliminating the debt owed by mankind … you and me. May we take careful notice that Jesus didn’t say, “I am finished.” That would imply He was a mere man and died defeated. Instead, He declares, “It is finished.” When he died, he left no unfinished business behind. He successfully completed the work He came to do.
Jesus rises from the dead triumphantly, engages and commissions the disciples, and returns to heaven to reign forever. Now we the church, as inspired by the Holy Spirit, carry on with the red letter commands, statements, and tender words.
“It is finished.“ Now let’s LIVE like it really IS! Relationship offered, relationship restored. May we live each day as a red letter day!
Blessed Easter to you and yours.
DeDe Southwick is mother of two wonderful sons, two lovely stepdaughters and a sweet granddaughter. She resides outside of Portland, Oregon with her husband, Mark. She enjoys gardening, making her guys laugh, and a hardy theological geeky-looking book. She and Mark enjoy ministry as a team, he the solid calm strength to her silly geeky side. You can find her blog here.