I would like to begin with a story.
Many years ago, I taught in Campbell River. Enrolling students from other countries was just getting started and our school had several Koreans in attendance. We did not have separate English Language Learning streams in those days so these E S L students were thrown in to regular classes, all taught in English.
I got to know one such student quite well. I spent many hours helping him after school. Other teachers did as well. He recorded his classes and spent hours and hours every night playing them back, translating vocabulary into Korean so he could understand and learn it. On top of that, his personality and his cultural drive to honor his parent’s financial investment caused him to be extremely dissatisfied if he did not achieve high grades. (really high grades).
I returned to Kenya and he went on to graduate from grade 12. He finished. But then it was university and he struggled to find a really good school. He went to UBC Okanagan and I remember meeting him once while I was on home assignment. He was struggling with the work load, struggling with his English and struggling with achieving the highest possible grades. He was at the campus from early morning till late at night. He wasn’t eating properly, he wasn’t exercising, his church attendance dropped off. But he finished.
By now I was back in Canada and we connected again. Now he wanted to go to into architecture, a highly competitive field. Again, the struggle, even doubting if this was the right path because it was so hard. The other day he contacted me and asked me to edit one of his final proposals for a building to promote true multi-culturalism. It looks like soon he will finish.
Of course, next will be applying for jobs, maybe getting married and I am afraid the struggle for next to perfect performance will continue.
FINISHED BUT NEVER FINISHED.
Let us read the latter portions of John 19 together. It is a portion of the Bible normally studied on Good Friday but as we have been going through THE STORY (hold it up) we have reached this point today.
So, the soldiers took charge of Jesus. 17 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.
19 Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: jesus of nazareth, the king of the jews. 20 Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 21 The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.”
22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”
23 When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.
24 “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.”
This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said,
“They divided my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.”[a]
So this is what the soldiers did.
25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman,[b] here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
28 Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST movie was released in February 2004. It grossed over $611 million while only costing $30 million and many people were highly impacted. I am going to read one review of the movie.
The writer/director was Mel Gibson. The movie was his depiction of the last hours of the life of Jesus. It’s Gibson’s personal, spiritual statement about the view that the suffering Jesus endured at the end of his life demonstrated his divinity and his sacrifice.
This movie is the prayer of a gifted filmmaker, but it’s also a narrow and harrowing perspective on a story that, no matter what your faith, is bigger than any attempt to portray it on film. Gibson said that everyone who worked on this film, whether, Christian, Muslim or Atheist were deeply affected and changed. As a movie, it’s a respectful and reverent treatment of a story that has probably been more influential than any other in the history of the world.
This morning we are going to just focus on three little words in English which is one word in Greek. It is finished. Te tell is sty. It is finished ! Te tell is sty! I am praying that this time will again deeply affect us. We will come away with a greater conviction of the divinity and incredible sacrificial love of Jesus FOR US and be spurred to respond to it.
The question we are going to consider is: What did Jesus mean when he said “It is Finished”? Te tell is sty ?
Matthew Henry, who lived over 300 years ago wrote one of the greatest devotional commentaries on record. He lists 8 things that were finished or completed when Jesus cried out “It is finished.”
1. The malice of his enemies was finished. By nailing him to the cross, they had done their worst. There was nothing more they could do to the Son of God.
2. The sufferings ordained by God were finished. Often, during his ministry, Jesus spoke of “the work” he was sent to do and of the “hour” of trouble that was coming. He once spoke of a “baptism” of suffering he must undergo. All those things were ordained by God. But those sufferings were now at an end.
3. All the Old Testament types and prophecies were fulfilled. Matthew Henry lists a number of examples—He had been given vinegar to drink (Psalm 69:21), he had been sold for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12), his hands and feet had been pierced (Psalm 22:16), his garments had been divided (Psalm 22:18), and his side was pierced (Zechariah 12:10). There are many other prophesies surrounding his death. All those had been or very soon would be fulfilled.
4. The ceremonial law was abolished. As Romans 10:4 puts it, Christ is “the end of the law.” It finds its completion and fulfillment in him. Therefore, all the Old Testament rules concerning animal sacrifices are set aside. And the rules and regulations concerning the priesthood are out of date since the Greater Priest has now laid down his life for his people. Those laws pointed to the cross. But once Jesus died, they were no longer needed.
5. The price of sin was paid in full. Recall the words of John the Baptist when he saw Jesus? He called him “The lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) That “taking away” of sin was accomplished by the death of our Lord.
6. His physical sufferings were at an end. “The storm is over, the worst is past; all his pains and agonies are at an end.
7. His life was now finished. When Jesus cried out “It is finished,” he had only a few seconds to live. All that he had come to do had been fully accomplished. His life and his mission came to an end at exactly the same moment.
Before we mention the final and most significant meaning behind Jesus saying It is finished! it would be helpful to expand the meaning of the Greek word Te Tell is sty!
It comes from the verb teleo, which means “to bring to an end, to complete, to accomplish.” It represents the successful end to a particular course of action. You would use it when you climb to the peak of a tall mountain or you make the final payment on your mortgage or cross the finish line of your first marathon. Not just “I survived.” Rather “I did exactly what I set out to do.”
I’m sure we all have some parts of our lives that we feel are successfully completed. However, all of us also have areas in our lives that are unfinished and may remain unfinished when we die.
—the half-read book – books in my
case – you should see the pile on my table
—the letter started but never sent
—how about the abandoned diet
—or the phone calls never returned
But it can be much more serious
—the job we quit in a fit of anger
—the wrecked marriage
—the bills never paid
—the promises never kept
There is a trail of unfinished projects and unfulfilled dreams behind us all. Jesus was the one person in history never left behind any unfinished business. He is the only person who could come to the end of his life and say—with absolute and total truthfulness—”I have finished everything I set out to do.”
But there’s more. Tetelestai is in the perfect tense in Greek. That’s important because the perfect tense refers to an action which has been completed in the past with results continuing into the present. It’s not the simple past tense which looks back to an event and says, “This happened.” Rather the perfect tense means “This happened and it is still in effect today.”
Jesus’ cry of “It is finished,” meant “It was finished in the past, it is still finished in the present, and it will remain finished in the future.”
He did not say, “I am finished,” for that would imply that he died defeated and exhausted. Rather, he cried out “It is finished,” meaning “I successfully completed the work I came to do.” It is the Savior’s final cry of victory, with no unfinished business behind.
Finally, let me add one more piece of the meaning of Te tell is sty
It means everything listed above, but it especially applies to the price paid for the sins of the world. Historians discovered this verb was used in the first and second centuries in the sense of “fulfilling” or “paying” a debt and often appeared in receipts. “It is finished” (Tetelestai) could be interpreted as “Paid in full.”
“Paid in full” means that once a thing is paid for, you never have to pay for it again.
So, with this full definition of I will share the last thing Matthew Henry said were finished when Jesus died.
8-The work of redemption was now complete.
Man’s redemption (buying back from the enemy) was completed.
- the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil.
“God’s plans for the redemption of his world”
- the action of regaining or gaining possession of something in exchange for payment, or clearing a debt.
So, let me put this all together in the context of our sermon series.
When Jesus said It is finished, He was saying he had accomplished everything He set out to do. He was saying It was finished in the past, it is still finished in the present, and it will remain finished in the future.” And he was saying that the work of saving mankind from sin and buying them back was complete. Paid in full.
If you have been with us throughout the last year you will be aware that we have gone on a journey through the whole Bible, Story by Story.
Way back at the beginning we learned about the creation of the world and the creation of man and woman made in the image of God.
God placed them in a beautiful garden and came down to live with them – to walk in the quiet of the afternoon together.
Unfortunately, the man and woman chose their own way, rather than following the good plans of their creator. This is called sin which is defined by the author of the Story as a preoccupation with selfishness. Selfishness over otherness. A disregard for God and a disregard for others in our lives.
This broke the possibility of mankind living together with God and set a chain of events in place in which mankind became separated from God and each successive person inherited the stain or virus of sin from their original ancestors. Due to that, mankind lost the ability to have fellowship with their creator. Due to God’s great love for mankind He set in motion an upper story in order to some day restore the ability for men to once again come into His presence. While He was working out all things in this grand redemptive (saving or buying back) plan in the upper story, the conditions on the earth (the lower story) were tragic and got worse and worse the farther away from the original intent of God.
God chose a people (Israelites) and established rules of conduct (10 Commandments) in order to preserve them and help them be a witness to all nations. They failed to obey them. He chose to be their God but they cried out for human kings which he granted but very few of them followed after Him. He sent prophets to warn and hopefully cause His people to return to Him but the people did not listen or respect the prophets or God. He performed miracles of deliverance to prove his love to his people. When the conditions on the earth became so bad, judgement came upon people to get their attention always with the promise and reality of deliverance.
And He helped people to make a written record of His commandments for mankind and a history of his dealings with them. (The Torah or Old Testament as we call it now). And throughout the whole written record there were foreshadows of the Upper Story plan to redeem mankind and make a way for men to be able to fellowship directly with God again.
When Jesus said It is finished Te Tell is Sty he was saying that the upper story and lower story had intersected (come together) and the plan of God to bring back mankind back into fellowship was completed. Through Jesus’ sacrificial death people have the opportunity to walk once more in the garden with God.
Application 1: The way is open for you to connect with God. You don’t have to earn it like my friend constantly does. Jesus accomplished it all. The finished work of Christ. All you have to do it accept it. You can’t earn it – you would be foolish to try. You can’t add to – it is finished. Let me put it very simply. If Jesus paid it all, you don’t have to. If you try to pay for your salvation, it means you don’t think he paid it all. There is no middle ground between those two propositions.
Since Jesus Christ paid in full, the only thing you can do is accept it or reject it
Application #2: No sin is too great to keep you from God. Name any sin – the price has been paid in full. What sin is keeping you from God today? Is it anger? Is it lust? Is it a hard heart of unbelief? Is it alcohol abuse? Is it an uncontrollable temper? Is it cheating? Is it stealing? Is it adultery? Is it abortion? Is it pride? Is it greed?
Let me tell you the best news you’ve ever heard. It doesn’t matter what “your” sin is. It doesn’t matter how many sins you’ve piled up in your life. It doesn’t matter how guilty you think you are. It doesn’t matter what you’ve been doing this week. It doesn’t matter how bad you’ve been. It doesn’t matter how many skeletons rattle around in your closet. When we accept the sacrifice Christ made for us on the cross all of our sins have been stamped by God with one word—Tetelestai—Paid in full.
Along with that we do not have to pretend anymore. I don’t have to wear a mask and try to appear to be someone I am not. Application #3: There is no place for discrimination or pride. Each person in the auditorium has the same spiritual problem and the same spiritual solution. There is no place for otherness. Galatians 3:28 makes is very clear. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.