READ: John 19: 28-29
“Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”
Have you ever heard a battle cry? I grew up in the ‘90s, which was a strange era where goofy television shows basically raised children. I recall sitting in front of a television the size of a refrigerator, eating cereal, and cheering on the action icons on the screen. In these cheesy shows, heroes often had a battle cry that they’d shout before their final fight. In the Power Rangers, they shouted, “It’s morphin’ time!” In Pokemon, Ash exclaimed, “Picachu, I choose you!” In the modern cinematic landscape, we get chills when we hear, “Avengers, Assemble!”
John 19 contains the battle cry of Jesus. In Greek it’s actually just one word, TETELISTAI. This phrase means “it is finished.”
After spending six hours on the cross, people could see the life leaving Jesus. He was gasping for air, He was turning pale, and His body was trembling as His organs failed. He told the Roman guards, “I thirst.” They gave him a some vinegar soaked into a sponge— one last way to mock our Messiah. I believe that He took this small sip off the sour sponge to help Him exclaim the following words with as much force as possible. He took a gulp and announced, “It is finished” (John 16:30)!
In the ancient context, TETELISTAI was commonly used in the context of debt payment. There are first century receipts where we see this slogan stamped on the bottom in red ink. When Jesus said, “It is finished,” He was saying, “It’s over; it’s paid in full; you are off the hook.” He did not just mutter these words; this was His battle cry. This is not the cry of a victim; it’s the scream of a victor. With the loudest voice possible, Jesus announced that He had abolished anything and everything that was getting in the way of Him and the people He loves.
When Jesus said, “It is finished,” you were on His mind. There is poignant power in this phrase on the cross. It’s so easy for us to get caught up in our failures and faults. Jesus knew that we’d fail on our own, so He made us failure-proof on the cross. He won. He defeated sin and death on your behalf. We must never give too much power to our shortcomings, sin, shame, and struggles because Jesus said it is paid in full. Don’t live as if your sin is greater than the cross of Christ. When Jesus said, “It is finished,” He meant it.
TETELISTAI! It’s done. It’s over. It’s paid in full.