It is Finished

“It is finished”

Three words in English, but in the original Greek it was only one word. Jesus uttered a single word, tetelestai.  A.W. Pink said, “’It is finished’ is but one word in the original, yet in that word is wrapped up the gospel of God; all assurance, and the sum of all joy.”
Too many of us are walking through life, thinking we must do something more to earn God’s love and forgiveness. You stumble and beat yourself up. You cut your prayers short and torment yourself about falling short.  

Remember Jesus’ words, “it is finished.” You do not have to do anything further. Honestly, you could not even if you had to, that is why Jesus died.  

The Meaning of the Word  

Perhaps the single greatest word ever spoken. No other word can better show us the greatness of Jesus. Tetelestai means finished, accomplished.  

This word also meant “a debt paid in full.” During this time, when you incurred a debt, you could not pay back, you were thrown into the debtor’s prison. They would write down a list of all your debts and you would have to stay in prison until it was fully paid off.  

The only way you could get out of debtor’s prison was if somebody else came on your behalf and paid your debt. After paying them off, they would take the list with all your debts and write a single word across it, tetelestai, debt paid in full.  

This word points to the greatness of Jesus and everything He accomplished for us.  

Bulls & Goats  

We need to look at the Old Testament to understand what Jesus meant when He said, “it is finished.”  
Sin entered the world through Adam and Eve. Starting with them, the way God dealt with the sins of His people was through blood sacrifices. God is just and because he is just, He demands payment to be made for sin.  

 Sin has to be dealt with. However, He is also merciful; He has provided a way in which the blood that needs to be shed is not your blood, but the blood of a substitute.  

Hebrews 9:22 says, “And almost all things are cleansed with blood, according to the Law, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
The book of Leviticus is about God setting up a sacrificial system by which the blood of bulls and goats are spilled instead of the blood of his people.  It is called atonement, the demand for the payment of sin being satisfied.  

In Leviticus 16, we have the description of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the day sin was dealt with.
The high priest would take two goats and present them before God at the door of the tabernacle. The priest would take the first goat, pull its head back and slit its throat, the goat’s blood being shed as a sacrifice. Then he would take the blood into the tabernacle, into the holy of holies where the presence of God dwelt and sprinkle the blood on God’s mercy seat.

This was to satisfy the demand of God’s justice. He would then come out and take the second goat, the living one, and putting both hands on its head, he would confess over it.  

Leviticus 16: 21 says, “Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wrongdoings of the sons of Israel and all their unlawful acts regarding all their sins; and he shall place them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who stands ready.”  

As the priest would call out one sin after another, imagine the feeling of guilt and shame weighing heavier and heavier upon your shoulder. But, by putting both of his hands on the head of the goat, he was signifying all the sins of Israel being transferred to their substitute. It was guilt transference. This is where we get the term scapegoat.  

The goat, bearing Israel’s sin was taken into an uninhabited wilderness, outside their camp, where it would go an die. The goat walking into the wilderness until it disappeared was a picture of all your sins, shame, guilt, and consequences of sin disappearing, being removed, and taken from you. But there was a problem.  

It was only a picture. It pictured what needed to happen but did not actually do what needed to happen. Hebrews 10:4 says, “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” 

Then, how were people in the Old Testament saved? How were their sins dealt with?  All the Old Testament sacrifices made through the blood of bulls and goats was like making a payment with a credit card.  

Charging a credit card is not making a real payment, it is just a picture of a payment that is only valid if you make good on the real payment at a future date.  

God kept his promise to make the real payment; He put Jesus forward as the payment. Propitiation means satisfying the demand of payment. The propitiation was Jesus’ blood, the only blood that could pay for sin. God forgave countless sins through the blood of bulls and goats because he promised one day, He would make the true payment.  

God put Jesus forward to make good on that promised payment, because by Jesus being the true Lamb of God, He could pay for our sins.  “The next day he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).  As, the perfect, spotless Lamb of God, Jesus accomplished within Himself the picture of the two goats.  

The first goat was killed, sacrificed to be a picture of the payment that is being made for sin. Jesus was killed, crucified, His blood was shed, not just to be a picture, but also to be the actual payment for sin.  

The second goat was taken away, removed outside of the camp, to be a picture of the removal of our sin and guilt. Hebrews 13:12 tells us that Jesus was also taken and crucified outside the camp, not just to be a picture of the removal of sin and shame, but He was the actual remover of our sin and shame.  

Having accomplished it all, making the payment for sin and removing our sin, shame and guilt, Jesus then said, “tetelestai,” your debt is paid in full; it is finished!  

Tetelestai changes Guilt  

With our sins we racked up a debt we could not pay, we were imprisoned, slaves to sin. What happened to this debt?  

“And when you were dead in your wrongdoings and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our wrongdoings, having canceled the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.” Colossians 2:13-15
The record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands was nailed to the cross. Jesus, with His blood, declared over it, tetelestai, debt paid in full!  

The cross of Jesus is now our receipt. That is why Christians, throughout the ages, have looked at this cross and held it to be so precious. Our debts have been paid in full. No one can ever accuse you of these same debts ever again. Finally, we can deal with guilt!  

Some of you used to dream about Jesus, but then, the guilt of sins set and paralyzes you. We apologize to God for messing up again, asking Him to be merciful and gracious to us and forgive our sins. We need His mercy and grace. However, because of the tetelestai of Jesus, we are able to pray something more, not just for mercy and grace, but also for Him to forgive our sins.  

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous, so that He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9).  

Pastor Chris Williams
To learn more about Pastor Chris and his teaching, visit us on the web at and make sure you subscribe to receive these weekly encouragements in your inbox.  




no categories


no tags