It is Finished: Remembering the Cross

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“When Jesus therefore had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit.” –John 19:30

What did Jesus mean when He said, “It is finished!“?

This was not a statement of defeat, but rather a declaration of triumph.It is finished,” three word in English, one word in Greek – “TETELESTAI.” Derived from the greek word “teleō,” it means to complete, accomplish, finish, or pay off. We may use this same terminology to say, “I’ve completed my dissertation paper for graduate school.” Or, “I crossed the finish line of my first marathon.” Or, “I just completed the Dave Ramsey plan and paid off my last debt.

In all these examples, there’s a sense of fulfillment or accomplishment by finishing that which was set out to do. There’s also a sense of purpose and intention in completing the task. It didn’t get finished by accident or by half-hearted effort, but there was a plan that was strictly adhered to from the beginning.

The five illustrations outlined below sum up what Jesus meant when He uttered “TETELESTAI” on the cross:

  1. ILLUSTRATION OF SERVANTS/SONS – A servant would report to their master, “I have completed (TETELESTAI) the work assigned to me.” Or a father may send his son on a mission and the son was not to return until every step of the mission had been completed.
    • John 17:4 – “I glorified Thee on the earth, having accomplished the work which Thou hast given Me to do.
  2. ILLUSTRATION OF PRIESTS – A priest would always examine the animals brought to him for sacrifice. Only those animals spotless and without blemish were acceptable for the offering. When one such animal was found, the priest would say, “TETELESTAI!”
    • John 1:29 – “The next day he [John the Baptist] saw Jesus coming to him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’
    • 1 Peter 1:18-19 – “You were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.”
  3. ILLUSTRATION OF ARTISTS – Frank Boredom writes, “When the painter or the sculptor had put the last finishing touches to the vivid landscape or the marble bust, he would stand back a few feet to admire his masterpiece, and seeing in it nothing that called for correction or improvement, would murmur fondly, ‘TETELESTAI!'”
    • Hebrews 10:12-14 – “But He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from the time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.”
    • Hebrews 1:3 – “And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” 
  4. ILLUSTRATION OF MERCHANTS – During the days of Jesus, when a promissory note was paid, the one holding the note would write, “TETELESTAI” across it. Also, when someone had a debt and it was paid off, the creditor would write, “TETELESTAI” on the certificate of debt signifying that it was paid in full.
    • Romans 6:22-23 – “But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 
    • Colossians 2:13-14 – “He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” 
  5. ILLUSTRATION OF PRISONERS – When a Roman citizen was convicted of a crime, he was thrown into prison. A “Certificate of Debt” listing all his crimes was nailed to his cell door so that anyone passing by could know what he had been accused of and the penalty he was to serve. When the prisoner had served his sentence and was released from bondage, the indictment was taken down and the judge would sign the indictment and write “TETELESTAI” across it. The freed prisoner would keep this as proof that his sentence had been served and that charges for those crimes could never be brought against him again.
    • Isaiah 53:6 – “But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.”
    • Romans 8:1-2 – “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” 

POINTS TO PONDER

  • Are you living like “it is finished” (TETELESTAI)?
  • Are you walking in freedom or still in chains of bondages?
  • Are you trying to earn your salvation or have you accepted it as a free gift?
  • Do you feel shame from your past or do you approach His throne with boldness?
  • Have you forgotten the significance of the cross?

CLOSING PRAYER

Father, I thank You for loving me so much that you would send Your only Son into this world to die so I can live. What love is this, Lord? I stand amazed at Your goodness and mercy and grace. Father, forgive me of all my sins. Wash me clean from all my iniquity. Thank you for removing my sin as far as the east is from the west. Thank you for eternal life. Thank you for Jesus Christ. May I never take the cross for granted. May I never become calloused to the price Jesus paid for me. May I always remember. And may I always share the gospel of the cross with others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

 

Love Won!

(Photo via webneel.com)
(Photo via webneel.com)

My God is a God of promise and I am a child of promise. The promise comes by faith. Upon the consummation of the ages, my Lord established a blood covenant with me. It is a covenant of redemption – of eternal inheritance. But it did not come cheaply…

***

I was born. A perfect son. A child of promise. My father googled and awed over me. I brought such joy to my father’s heart. He loved me and I loved him.

As a young child, I looked like my father. Everyone saw the resemblance. It was an innocence. Purity. Trust. I had a child-like faith knowing my father would never leave me or forsake me.

I grew in stature and in favor with my father. His delight was in me and mine in him. He helped me see the beauty in creation. I loved picking beautiful yellow flowers from a nearby field and bringing them to him. I waited eagerly for his reaction and was overjoyed when he cherished them like a pristine rose (although I knew they were only weeds).

One day, on an outing to pick flowers for my father, I met some other kids my age. I was shy at first, but they looked nice enough so I ventured closer. I offered a meek wave to get their attention and said, “Hi.” Simple enough.

The oldest looked my way and immediately started laughing. I glanced behind me to see what was so funny, but saw nothing. I shifted my weight starting to feel uncomfortable. Then the taunting began.

“What are you wearing?” they shouted hysterically. “Are those sandals?”

I looked down at my feet. These were shoes my father bought me. I always wore them because I liked the way they felt.

Another one of the kids chimed in, “And look at your hair. No one wears their hair like that!”

My hands instinctively went to my head where luscious locks of golden curls grew. This was the hair I was born with. My father adored my hair, but suddenly I was beginning to hate it.

I felt such shame. Why was I so different from these other kids? Immediately, I wanted to run. I knew I should have ran straight home to my father. He’d know what to do. But my legs wouldn’t go that way.

I ran into the woods on the other side of the hill to hide. No one would see me there. I ran and ran from the cruel laughs of the taunting, mean kids. I ran so far my feet began to hurt as bad as my heart. Winded, I pulled up to a tree to catch my breath.

I wasn’t sure which was going to burst first. My lungs or my heart. But it was my eyes bursting into tears that won. I cried harder than I had just ran until not a tear was left in me. I was empty. Spent. And looking around I realized… lost.

Then I heard something. My ears perked up, listening. Yes, I heard it again. It was the sound of kids playing. At first, I was scared. I did not want another encounter like the one I just had. But as I continued to listen I became curious. I’ll tiptoe a little closer and just take a peek, I thought to myself. They won’t even know I’m there.

And so I crept a little closer. Bit by bit. It dawned on me that the closer I got to these kids, the more comfortable I felt. They weren’t like those mean kids at all. They were just having fun. Lots of it, too!

They were playing a game. Peering through the bushes it looked like they took turns tagging each other saying, “You’re it!”

Oh what fun! Suddenly, I had a huge desire to be “it”! No longer caring about what anyone thought of my sandals or my hair, I leaped out from behind the bushes. No longer hiding they saw me. They immediately ran to me and began hugging me.

Initially, I felt very self-conscious and very awkward. I remembered the comforts of my father’s house, but I stifled the child inside of me. It was time to let it go. These kids were different somehow, unlike the mean kids. They accepted me and I longed for them to love me. And love me they did.

I was terrified. It was nothing like the love from my father. He was always so gentle and selfless. Never imposing or impatient. What I experienced was a jealous love. A love never satisfied, but always wanting more. “Tag! You’re it!” And then when I gave in to them, I was no longer “it” and they moved on to the next kid.

In the end, this hurt worse than the hurt I felt by the taunting, mean kids. I felt I was in an ocean being tossed by the waves to and fro. I’m not sure how I kept my head afloat, but I did. I’m also not sure how long I remained in this condition. So long I was becoming numb.

After a while, I learned how to ride the waves. It became fun and I started to see why the others loved it so much. Sure I crashed all the time, but I just found another wave and got back up again. My father became a distant memory. I was enjoying this joyride!

Until one day I got hurt. Really. Bad. I had found a love to replace my father’s. Still, it was different from his unconditional love, but I found comfort in it nevertheless. They let me be “it” for a really long time. It hurt terribly when they decided not to play tag anymore. I was all alone. Days went by while I searched for love. Weeks followed. Then months. Without love, real or counterfeit, I was empty.

It was in this empty void that my mind uncovered a memory hidden long ago. It had been lost just like I had become that fateful day in the woods. It was a memory of my father singing to me as a child.

“You are a child of promise,
You are the one that I love.
So come to me child of promise
And receive kisses from above.”

I remembered those days of being comfortable in my own skin. Of being safe. Of not being someone that I’m not. The more I pondered that memory, other memories began flooding my mind. I knew beyond a shadow of doubt that I had to get back to my father’s house. I just had to!

It was as simple as putting one foot in front of the other. As if guided by a force I could not see, in an instant I knew how to get back home. And I ran!

I literally had run no more than a few feet until I heard a voice calling, “Son! Son, where are you? Come to me, Son!”

Those last words, spoken in such anguish, echoed through the woods bouncing from tree to tree until it struck my heart like a knife. It broke me straight to the core and there I lay shattered on the ground. I was not worthy to be his son. No, a good father deserves a good son and there was nothing good left in me.

Sadness overwhelmed me. I had hurt myself, but mostly I had hurt my father. I lay face down on the ground crying and saying the only words I could. “I’m sorry. Father, I’m so sorry.”

Then a voice, that same voice, my father’s voice, spoke. Interrupting my repetitious repentance. Slowly, I lifted my head and I could see my father’s shoes right before me. It cannot be! Raising myself and my gaze, I saw the signet ring upon his finger. Continuing upward, I saw his favorite purple robe. Then I saw his face.

His eyes pierced with love – true love – and I immediately hung my head in shame. I was not worthy of my father and he knew that. Then I noticed him reaching toward me. But his hand stopped midair as if something blocked him from going further.

Alarmed and desperate for his touch I reached for him. My hand stopped too with a thud and then I realized why. There was a barrier between us. I had put it there. It was my sin.

Devastated, I screamed and beat my chest. I pulled at my hair. Then dropped to my knees. In torment, I pounded the ground. In frustration, I pounded the invisible barrier. It didn’t budge. I crumbled. Defeated.

Looking at my father, I saw the agony in eyes. Separated by my sin, but not from his love. I knew in that moment nothing could separate me from his love.

My father spoke, this time with authority and determination. “I know what I must do. I will be back with the keys so you may enter my house again!”

“Where are you going?” I cried. But before I finished the question, he was gone. A letter sealed with his signet ring fell at my feet. I quickly grabbed the letter and sat down right there to read it.

Dear Son, my child of promise,

I love you. Nothing you’ve ever done and nothing you could ever do can separate you from my love. I long to hold you in my arms and take you into my house.

But your hands are defiled and your iniquities have made a separation between you and me. Your feet have ran to evil on crooked paths and there was no justice to be found.

For if I leave you in your sins, you will surely die. Your enemy will come and devour you. Therefore, I must go and take your place. I will give my life so you can have your’s. No greater love can I give you, but to lay down my life. For you.

Your Redeemer, Your Father

I read those words and I looked at my stained hands. I’m the one who deserves death. He who knows no sin is taking my place. He is rendering himself an offering for my own guilt.

I wanted to die and I collapsed, stricken by my own grief.

Lying on the ground as though dead, a light began to shine. It continued to get brighter and brighter when its brilliance woke me from my deep slumber. I heard a boom like a mighty peal of thunder saying, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? Arise, my son, for your light has come!”

I squinted through the light finding a different world. It was like being born a second time. A new beginning! I felt renewed! Restored, just as if I’d never sinned! The barrier had been torn. From top to bottom.

My father gently took my outreached arms and I noticed scars on each of his hands. Somehow I knew he had those because of me. He pulled me to my feet, enveloping me in a warm embrace. Rejoicing, we held each other tightly. When we pulled away, my father gave me his signet ring and he placed his favorite robe upon my shoulders.

“Instead of your shame,” he said, “you will have a double portion. For this day, I sought you out. I redeemed you from your sin and my kingdom is your inheritance. For this day, love has won!”

Smiling with a peace indescribable, I vowed then and there to bask in that love for all of eternity!


I hope you’ve enjoyed this narrative, but it’s more than just a story. For God so loved YOU that He gave His only Son so that when you believe in Him, you will not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16) If you don’t know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, all you have to do is turn. Turn from your sin and repent. He will run to you and take you as His own son or daughter. He will clothe you in His righteousness and remember your sin no longer. Old things pass away and all things become new! There’s no greater love than that of our heavenly Father!

Also, I encourage you to check out these amazing videos/songs from Youtube. If the story didn’t touch your heart, these songs will!

Close Enough Only Counts in Horseshoes and Hand Grenades

(Photo via Getty Images)

Anyone who has ever worked retail knows that, periodically, inventory must be taken. What seems like ages ago, I worked at a retail pharmacy and there were certain medications of high commodity (if you know what I mean) for which we maintained a constant inventory.

Not only did we lock these drugs up in a safe, but we also knew exactly how many pills we had on hand at all times. Every time we dispensed a drug in this category, we logged the quantity dispensed in a book and placed our initials by the on-hand quantity remaining. If something came up missing, we were responsible and had to answer for the discrepancy.

Spiritual Inventory

A similar concept should be applied to our spiritual lives. Our relationship with God should be of very high commodity to us. We should treasure it and keep it safe. There is coming a day in which we will all stand before God and give an account of the lives we’ve lived out on this earth. [Matthew 12:36] Every one of us will be judged according to our deeds. [Revelation 20:13]

Everything will be brought into the light. Nothing will be hidden. [Luke 8:17]

We shouldn’t be surprised by the verdict. We should know exactly what will be said on that fateful day. Either “Well done, my good and faithful servant” or “I do not know you.” [Matthew 25:21; Matthew 25:12]

The truth is, I believe many will be surprised at what they will hear. Broad is the way that “leads to destruction and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.” [Matthew 7:13-14] We can fool many people here on earth, but there’s no fooling God. He sees straight to the heart.

Over and over the word of God emphasizes a daily walk with Jesus. Once a week just isn’t going to cut it for us.

  • “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” –Luke 9:23
  • “Give us this day our daily bread.” –Matthew 6:11
  • “They seek Me day by day, and delight to know My ways, as a nation that has done righteousness… They delight in the nearness of God.” –Isaiah 58:2

The Holy Spirit is our Security System

Do you know the enemy comes like a thief seeking to steal, kill, and destroy? [John 10:10] 2 Timothy 1:14 tells us to “guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.” If we could guard our soul so closely that we would catch Satan red-handed every time he comes sneaking at our door to steal from us, he would never get a foothold in our lives! If we would repent every time sin starts to creep in, we would bear much more fruit! Resist the devil and he will flee! [James 4:7]

And then, when God finds us faithful in these things, He will bless us with more. We will begin seeing our spiritual inventory – our giftings, the fruit of the Spirit, and the anointing of God – grow exponentially. [Matthew 25:29]

Sadly, I realize there are many who have not assessed their spiritual inventory in a while. Satan has been robbing you blind leaving you spiritually drained.

Comfortable at Lukewarm?

Close enough only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. We cannot go through life thinking, “Ah, I’m good enough to get to heaven,” or “I’ve lived close enough to the Lord.”

To that, God says, “Enough! Enough of your lukewarm living!” He says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me.” [Revelation 3:20]

Blessed Assurance, Salvation is Mine

God gives us assurance of our salvation. When all our sins are covered by the blood of Jesus, we can know we are saved!

“By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And we have beheld and bear witness that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.” –1 John 4:13-17

Let us now take an intricate look at ourselves…

  • How is our relationship with God?
  • Are we abiding in Him and He in us?
  • Are we taking up our cross and dying to our sins daily?
  • Are we partaking of the bread, the Holy Word of God, daily?
  • Are we asking God daily to show us His ways so we can know Him more?

Inventory Ransomed, Redeemed, and Restored!

These answers can be very revealing, but should never be discouraging. We ALL sin and fall short of the glory of God. We ALL are in need of a Savior. The good news is Jesus Christ came and paid the ransom for ALL our stolen inventory and He will redeem that which was lost! The God of our salvation will restore us again! [Jeremiah 15:19] Today is the day of salvation! Let us return to Him today with ALL our heart!

“And now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.” –1 John 2:28

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Lost… but not Forgotten

(Photo via CMCSVirtues)

A love story based on Ezekiel 16 & 36

I have loved you from the beginning of time. In the beginning, I created the heavens and the earth thinking about you and My Son. I created you for Him. Blood, water, and spirit I created you from the dust and separated the veil of time to place you in your point of history. For such a time as this you were created.

I look upon you and admire the beauty of My creation. Your hair as dark as the midnight sky; your eyes sparkling like the ocean at dawn. A delicate flower on the outside you are, but on the inside I made you a mighty warrior. I made you to be mighty for My Kingdom. To wrestle violently against the darkness.

I loved the days of your childlike faith when you let me hold you in the palm of My hand. But one tragic day, your warrior spirit – the tenacity that I love so much about you – turned against Me. You thought you knew better than Me and you jumped out of My hand. I could have closed My fist and held you tight, but I didn’t. In My great love for you, I always give you a choice.

You didn’t choose Me.

No longer safe and secure and clothed in My splendor, you lay naked and exposed and you hide in darkness. I cry out for you to return to Me and you turn the other way in shame. The darkness I created you to wrestle against, you begin making it your home.

You quickly become prey for all that is in the world. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. Quickly you ran and quickly you fall. Every good and precious gift I give you, you squander with your loose living. You worship everything that catches your eye. All the while, I never take My eye off you.

My heart yearns for you. The separation you’ve built between us doesn’t hinder My love for you. Though you drown out My voice with endless distractions, My love for you is never quenched. Neither height, nor depth, nor any other created thing can separate you from My love.

So, I sent you a Savior, my Son, to rescue you from your harlotries. He was pierced through for your transgressions. He was crushed for your iniquities. The chastening for your well-being fell upon His shoulders. He poured Himself out to death only so you can live.

I know your heart aches as does Mine, for you were created to abide in Me and I in you. We were not meant to be apart so I’ve provided you a blood-stained cross to bridge our great divide. Come to Me, I beckon you. Let Me sprinkle clean water on you and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your filthiness. Let Me replace your heart of stone with a heart of flesh. Let Me put My Spirit within you. I will save you from all your shame and disgrace. I will clothe you in My splendor once again. You will be Mine and I will be yours.

And same as always, I leave you a choice. Will you choose to cross that bridge and return to Me? Will you choose life through the death of your Savior? Will you choose Me? Choose this day whom you will serve.

Remember, you may be lost… but you are never forgotten.

Signed and Sealed with No Greater Love,

God, your Father