Be The Church: Hope in the Words “It is Finished”

Therefore, when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

John 19:30

There may be no more powerful words in all of scripture than these three words uttered by Jesus. A single word in Greek (tetelestai), the expression was actually quite common. Pastor and popular Christian author, Warren Wiersbe, notes, “The word tetelestai is unfamiliar to us, but it was used by various people in everyday life… a servant would use it when reporting [a completed work assignment] to his or her master… when an artist completed a picture, or a writer a manuscript, he or she might say [it].”1 Dr. Edwin Blum, former Professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, highlights the legal/clerical uses of the word, stating, “Papyri receipts for taxes have been recovered with the word tetelestai written across them, meaning ‘paid in full.’”2 When Jesus said this common phrase it took on extraordinary meaning. He had paid our debt in full. Through faith in Jesus, our accounts have been reconciled for good. This is the basis for our hope, the basis for our salvation. 

However, at the time Jesus exclaimed this important phrase there was little rejoicing. Those who had believed Jesus was the Messiah had expected Him to rise to a kingly prominence, overthrowing Roman oppression and restoring Israel. They had high expectations of Jesus and in His death, their world came tumbling down. If this man who could command the wind and the sea, who could heal the sick, and who could feed thousands could be crucified by the Romans, what did that mean for His followers? Hope was seemingly lost, and most of the Disciples went into hiding. It was Friday, but Sunday was coming…

On Sunday morning, everything changed. Their disappointment in lost expectations, their fear of what the future holds, their confused sense of personal identity, all were erased with a second phrase of three words: “He has risen” (Mt 28:6, Lk 24:6, Mk 16:6). Hope was restored and even in the face of trouble, that hope drove the disciples to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth. 

This Easter season there are many (both believers and non-believers) who are facing lost expectations, fear of the future, and confusion. The days seem dark and hopes are dwindling. Hold onto the hope of the finished work of Jesus. Hold onto the hope that even though the outcome of this trial is uncertain, our position and identity in Jesus is certain. 

During this time let’s continue to Be The Church to each other, encouraging one another in love and being there to support each other. We have a list of virtual resources that you can consider to keep connected in community with other believers during this time of social distancing. Many churches are offering Good Friday and Easter Sunday services online so that we can still gather together even when we are apart. Furthermore, please let us know how we can pray for you, how we can help you, or if you just need someone to talk to. Finally, let’s show love to those who may not know Jesus, and are losing hope during this difficult time.

 We are here for you and we love you. He is Risen!

  • The CCEM Team

1 Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 384.

2 Edwin A. Blum, “John,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 340.