What a glorious few days we experienced this past week celebrating our Resurrected Lord! After seven church services and a huge community outreach event, it’s amazing to think of the thousands of people that were touched and changed by the incredible love displayed for them on the Cross. As hard as it is to believe that Easter Weekend 2019 is finished, every year I’m reminded that while church services may have ended, Easter outfits may be back on their hangers, and Honey Baked Hams may now return to normal prices, the story of the Resurrection is far from over.
From elementary school through college, I did not enjoy academic subjects involving numbers, formulas, or scientific methods, but I loved learning about all areas of social studies and history. My Bachelor of Arts in History indicates just how serious my pursuit of the subject became. Among other reasons, I continue to love history because of how it contributes to my study of God’s Word and my understanding of the life of Jesus. Historians often hesitate to make broad, subjective claims or conclusions about periods of time from the past, but anyone who has carefully examined the evidence surrounding the period between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday could easily conclude that those moments represent the most profound three day period ever recorded in human history. A man that suffered a humiliating public death at the hands of His own people was nowhere to be found just a handful of hours later, and his body hasn’t been located since. Many claim to have seen him alive, spending a brief amount of time on Earth with his disciples before leaving for his rightful place in Heaven. A profound sequence of events to say the least. In the midst of this unthinkable story, Jesus provides us with possibly the most profound statement ever spoken by a human being, and only he had the power to say it. As he surrendered His spirit to death on the cross, Jesus uttered a single word that altered the course of human history and countless lives for eternity:
“Tetelestai,” literally translated in Greek
to mean “it is finished.”
Tetelestai comes from the verb teleo, which means "to bring to an end, to complete, to accomplish." It is a crucial word because it signifies the successful end to a particular course of action. As Dr. Ray Pritchard says, “It's the word you would use when you climb to the peak of Mount Everest; it's the word you would use when you turn in the final copy of your dissertation; it's the word you would use when you make the final payment on your new car; it's the word you use when you cross the finish line of your first 10K run. The word means more than just ‘I survived.’ It means, ‘I did exactly what I set out to do.’”
But the significance is much greater than just the word itself. Tetelestai is in the perfect verb tense in Greek. That’s significant because the perfect tense speaks of an action which has been completed in the past, but whose results continue 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 idea that “This happened, and continues to happen today.”
Jesus died for all the sins of mankind, past, present, and future, but Jesus’ intentional choice of word, “Tetelestai - It Is Finished” really means that Jesus is just getting started. The story of the Resurrection has continued ever since. Jesus has huge plans for the lives of those who choose to believe in him. His command is clear for the redeemed to now go and make disciples of all nations. His redemptive work on the Cross is now the launching pad for disciples to spread the good news of the Gospel with the confident hope that the finished work is still working, alive and active and prepared to rescue all who confess and believe.
History really is HIS-STORY isn’t it?
This week, what will you do to share the finished and continuously fresh work of God?