It Is Finished: Reflections On Jesus’ Final Words
It Is Finished
Somehow, Jesus finds the strength to utter three last words in his final exhale— “It is finished.”
In the Greek, it is one word: tetélestai.
All is now still. All is quiet. There is nothing more to do. Nothing else to fix.
Tetélestai is time sensitive. All that has been, and is, and will be, is now complete.
Jesus is not experiencing a crisis of identity or of self.
He knows exactly who he is, who sent him, what he was sent to do, who he is returning to.
I AM Jesus of Nazareth. I am human.
Before Abraham was, I AM. I am the everlasting God.
The crisis confronting Jesus is that of unanswered prayer.
Earlier, through human sweat, blood, and tears, he prayed in the garden.
Even so, the cup was not removed.
The nails are still in. The spear will soon pierce Jesus’ side.
Tetélestai is where the past, present, and future collide as the heavenly Father remains silent.
The cycle of life created as good in the first garden, broken by Adam and Eve, is restored to its intended purpose in an unprecedented act in history.
For it is God’s sweat, God’s blood, God’s tears.
If Adam means ground or dirt and Eve means life, then we must wonder at the miracle of what happens when dirt and life mix.
The result is a garden.
Now life and death are cradled together in a single moment, in space and time, as two hands stretched far apart and nailed down opposite each other, as two feet pinned down together.
The garden of Eden intersects with the garden of Gethsemane.
The tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil intersect with the cross beams holding Jesus.
Disorientation follows. God is dead and we are lost.
Even so Jesus never says I am finished. For he is not done.
Jesus’ I AM statements throughout John leading up this moment bear witness to the essence of God attuning to our essence.
A mutual abiding is forged, what Luther calls the Happy Exchange.
You are hungry. Jesus said, I am the bread of life.
You are lost. I am the way, the truth and the life.
You are in darkness. I am the light of the world.
You are my sheep. I am the good shepherd.
You are the branches. I am the true vine.
You are a new person. I am the resurrection and the life.
It is finished. Tetélestai.
And it is good. Very good.
Dr. Lace Williams-Tinajero, author of “The Reshaped Mind: Searle, the Biblical Writers, and Christ’s Blood,” (Brill, 2011) writes about the connection between language and the diverse ways people think of, speak of, believe in and ultimately worship God.