This was the last utterance Jesus said before he died.
A single word in Greek which means “To bring to an end, to complete, to accomplish.” It’s a vital word because it signifies the successful end to a particular course of action. It’s the word you might use when you climb to the peak of a mountain; when you conclude your dissertation; when you make the final payment on a car; when you cross the finish line of the marathon. Archaeologists have found the word stamped across first-century bills. ‘Tetelestai”! It means “It’s paid for”.
But there’s more here than the verb itself. ‘Tetelestai’ is in the perfect tense in Greek. That’s significant because the perfect tense speaks of an action which has been completed in the past with results continuing into the present. It’s different from the past tense which looks back to an event and says, “This happened.” The perfect tense adds the meaning that “This happened and it is still of benefit today.”
When Jesus cried out “It is finished,” he meant “It was finished in the past, it is still finished in the present, and it will remain finished in the future.”
But there is one other thing. Jesus did not say, “I am finished,” for that would imply that he died defeated and exhausted.
No, he cried out “It is finished,” meaning “I successfully completed the work I came to do.”
Late on Friday, before the Sabbath, the day of rest, Jesus took all our sins on his own body on the tree. He died our death so that we wouldn’t have to. He accomplished his mission of salvation for the benefit of all who place their trust and hope in his completed work. Praise God!
“Tetelestai”! The Saviour’s final cry of victory. When Jesus died, he left no unfinished business still to do, and on Easter Day, a whole new world of resurrection hope would come into being.
How good is that!