Tetelestai – It is Finished!

In my pursuit of trying to simultaneously play catch-up and get a little ahead in my school work, I almost let Easter weekend slip by without even reflecting on what it means for my life and the world.

Good Friday and Easter Sunday are days we set aside to remember what happened on the cross thousands of years ago. In His indescribable goodness and grace, God the Father chose to accept the crucifixion of His only son as punishment enough for all the sins you could ever commit, and because of that, you can be forgiven and clean no matter what your past looks like. Jesus fulfilled the Law and paved the way for everyone to share the glory of God’s goodness forever and ever, without having to feel condemned or guilty or judged.

What amazing grace! To be able to know that I am an adopted son into God’s growing family, and that he is actively making me holy through the sanctification process, forgiving me no matter how many times I fall short… that is some amazing grace. For him to look at me and call me righteous because of the sacrifice Jesus made.

That is freedom from legality and rules, and an invitation to build a true relationship with the Creator of the Universe. It is the Gospel! It is Good News, indeed. Thanks be to God and to our Savior, and to the Holy Spirit that draws us to them.

It is so easy, though, to judge others based on what sin I believe they are committing, and make that my focus in interacting and/or praying for them. I find myself falling into that more than I’d like to, and I’m not proud of it.

But doesn’t that mean I’m not fully trusting Jesus when, in John 19:30, he exclaims on the cross “tetelestai” (which we translate to “It is finished.”)?  There, Jesus is telling us that his task of defeating sin is finished. The debt caused by our disobedience is paid in full. It’s over. Done. Period. The end.

A question I need to ask myself, then, especially this weekend, is whether or not I truly trust Jesus with the task of dealing with the world’s sin. It seems like a simple question, but the implications are more significant than you may think.

In John 3:17, Jesus says:

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Jesus was not about bringing judgement on people because of their sin. His ministry sought to save the world from their sin. How often do we find ourselves judging others, though? If we’re being honest, its a lot. The truth is, we all sin and no sin is greater than another. The same grace that we cling to is offered freely to all.

Even that one person who you think is just the worst.

In complete disregard and defiance to the other religious Jewish leaders, Jesus forgave an adulterous woman who the Pharisees wanted to stone to death, drove away those who were accusing her, and told her:

“Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.” – John 8:11

Later, while he was dying on the cross, Jesus spent time praying for those crucifying him and forgave the sinner being crucified with him:

And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” – Luke 23:34

And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” – Luke 23:43

Jesus had mercy on even those who were killing him, and grace for someone who was rightfully being punished as a criminal. We don’t know what the charge of that criminal was, all we really know is that it didn’t matter to Jesus what the man did as long as he was truly sorry and seeking Jesus.

This is what I should model my witness and life after. This is the Gospel we should preach! Let us learn from Jesus instead of the Pharisees!

If I am truly to live a life worthy of my calling (see Ephesians 4:1), I should be loving people unconditionally, encouraging them towards a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Other people’s sin should affect my relationship with them little, if any, especially if they don’t have a relationship with God. How can I expect someone who doesn’t know God to know why not to sin against Him? Once they know Him and form a relationship with Him, the Holy Spirit will be the one to convict them if they have areas in their life in need of change, not me.

I should be praying, more than anything else, for people to experience the amazing love and grace and forgiveness that I am reflecting on today.

Jesus didn’t die on the cross so that I could live a life judging and pointing out the sin in others’ lives. Jesus died on the cross so that sin could be defeated and so that I could point others to the love and grace of God. We all need grace. We all need love. Will I trust God and the Holy Spirit enough to convict His own people as He sees fit and stop wrongly placing that responsibility on myself? Do I believe Jesus when He said “it is finished”?

Just a thought.

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“After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), ‘I thirst.’ A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” – John 19:28-30 (ESV)

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