The Seven Words from the Savior on the Cross: Victory 2
Jesus’ spoken words from the cross emphasize the truths of forgiveness ("Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." Luke 23:34), hope ("Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." Luke 23:43), love (“Woman, behold your son; behold your mother.” John 19:26-27), atonement (Matthew 27:45-49), humanity and victory (John 19:28-30).
“After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 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. 30 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).
After receiving the sour wine, Jesus said “It is finished.” He made this statement one time and at a particular point in time. The word Jesus uttered was Tetelestai (Τετέλεσται). It means to execute, complete and fulfill; to carry out the contents of the command. It also means Paid in full. Fulfilled.
The word tetelestai is unfamiliar to us, but it was used by various people in everyday life in those days. A servant would use it when reporting to his or her master, “I have completed the work assigned to me” (see John 17:4). When a priest examined an animal sacrifice and found it faultless, this word would apply. When an artist completed a picture, or a writer a manuscript, he or she might say, “It is finished!”
Jesus, of course, as the perfect Lamb of God (John 1:29), is without spot or blemish (2 Corinthians 5:21). The death of Jesus on the cross “completes the picture” that God had been painting, and the story that He had been writing, before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:1-11). The cross of Christ fulfills the sacrificial ceremonies and prophecies in the Old Testament.
As one pastor writes, “Perhaps the most meaningful meaning of tetelestai was that used by the merchants: “The debt is paid in full!” When He gave Himself on the cross, Jesus fully met the righteous demands of a holy law; He paid our debt in full. None of the Old Testament sacrifices could take away sins; their blood only covered sin. But the Lamb of God shed His blood, and that blood can take away the sins of the world (John 1:29; Hebrews 9:24–28).
It was following this statement that Jesus bowed His head and gave up His spirit. He experienced physical death in His humanity.
In His substitutionary sacrifice on the cross, Jesus fulfilled the ministry God the Father had given Him to accomplish. Jesus’ did so not only actively but also passively.
Jesus active obedience to the Father’s will involve the following: to reveal the invisible God – John 1:18; 14:9; Hebrews 1:1-4; to fulfill prophecy – Genesis 3:15; to fulfill the Davidic Covenant – 2 Samuel 7:8-17; Luke 1:31-33; to make a sacrifice for sins – John 10:14-18; Hebrews 2:9; 10:4-12; I John 3:5; Mark 10:45; to bear the sins of many – Hebrews 9:28; I Peter 2:24; 3:18; to reconcile sinners to God – 2 Corinthians 5:19; Hebrews 2:17; I Timothy 2:5-6; to provide an example for believers – I Peter 2:21; I John 2:6; to provide believers a faithful high priest – Hebrews 2:17; Hebrews 3:1; to destroy the works of the devil – Hebrews 2:14; I John 3:8; to provide sinners an escape from Adam’s curse – Romans 5:12; to heal the brokenhearted – Isaiah 61; Luke 4:18; to set at liberty the bruised – Luke 4:18; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord – Luke 4:18; to give new life/abundant life – John 3:36; 10:10; and to glorify the Father – John 13:31; 14:13; 17:1-4.
Jesus’ passive obedience fulfillment of the Father’s will involve becoming a curse - Galatians 3:13; Deuteronomy 21:23 and becoming our sin bearer – 2 Corinthians 5:21.
This is His finished work. This He did on our behalf. Soli deo Gloria!