It Is Finished... The Last Words of Jesus. (2023)

It Is Finished… The Last Words of Jesus.

This is lesson 4 of 4 in the Last Wordssermonlink series. See also the kids edition of this lesson.

Anyone’s last words are important, but the last words of Jesus obviously carry some unique significance. Just before he breathed his last breath, Jesus uttered the phrase “it is finished.”

Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

John 19:28-30

That phrase is actually the translation of one word, “tetelestai,” in the original language of the Bible. And this rich and carefully chosen word is full of powerful meaning. Let’s explore some of the facets of this words significance.

Tetelestai – The Sacrifice Is Accomplished

Every Jewish person there would have instantly recognized this word as the equivalent of a Hebrew phrase that was used in the Old Testament sacrificial system. Each year, on the Jewish holiday called The Day of Atonement, the High Priest would enter into the temple and make a special sacrifice for the sins of the people of Israel. As soon as the priest had killed the animal, he would emerge from the place of sacrifice and declare to the waiting crowd “it is finished” in Hebrew. In this sacrifice, all the sins of Israel were symbolically placed on the lamb that was killed and punished in their place. Yet the Bible teaches that this sacrificial system was never really complete or finished because the sacrifice of that lamb was imperfect and temporary. But when Jesus died on the cross, he became the perfect and final sacrifice for all sin. The Book of Hebrews describes how Jesus was the ultimate Lamb of God and by his sacrifice, the work of forgiveness was finally complete.

He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption…But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself

Hebrews 9:12, 26

So by saying “it is finished” Jesus was signaling to the Jewish world that there was no more need for sacrifices or temples because that his work brought ultimate fulfillment to what their sacrificial system foreshadowed.

[Related: The Cross of Jesus and the Altar]

Tetelestai – The Work Is Complete

In New Testament times, when an employee had completed a day’s work or finished a project, he would tell his boss “tetelestai.” This was to signal that whatever it was that he was assigned to do was now completed. Similarly, when an artist would complete a piece of art, he would have a moment of unveiling where he would declare “tetelestai.” This too was to signal that his masterpiece was complete. No more touch-ups or adjustments are necessary, the work is done. When Jesus came to this world, he told us what his job was: to provide salvation to a lost and broken world.

For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.

Luke 19:10

So in his last words, Jesus was communicating that the work he came for was accomplished. The task of earning the salvation of the world was completed in his work on the cross. No more additions or adjustments were necessary – salvation was completed.

[Related: Why Did Jesus Have to Die on the Cross?]

Tetelestai – The Debt Is Paid in Full

Maybe the most common use of “tetelestai” in Jesus’ day was in debt collecting. When a person finally paid off a loan they were issued a receipt that was stamped with the word “tetelestai” which meant that their debt was now paid in full. This was verification that they were no longer responsible for any of that debt, that everything they owed was completely and permanently paid for. The Bible says that our sin created a debt to God, and one that we could never pay back on our own. But when Jesus died, he was paying off our debt of sin once and for all. Again, the Book of Hebrews describes the finality of Jesus’ payment for our sin.

But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand…And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices.

Hebrews 10:12-13, 18

[Related: Atonement]

It Is Finished

All of these nuances of tetelestai converge together to communicate a beautiful truth – that Jesus completed the work of salvation once and for all. That means it is not up to us to add anything, complete anything, finalize anything when it comes to our salvation – Jesus did it all. So now, when we have put our trust in the finished work of Jesus, we can rest in confidence of our salvation and pursue God with our whole hearts.

[Related: The Atonement – The Garden or the Cross?]


What does it mean in the Bible when Jesus said it is finished? ›

Hebrews 9:12, 26

So by saying “it is finished” Jesus was signaling to the Jewish world that there was no more need for sacrifices or temples because that his work brought ultimate fulfillment to what their sacrificial system foreshadowed.

What is the meaning of John 19 verse 30? ›

God's mercy provided the willing, perfect sacrifice for sin. The cross is God's love gift. On that cross love made a man die so that His enemies could live. There, the only perfect human died so that we sinners can be forgiven.

What were the last 3 words Jesus said? ›

To Mary, his mother: “Woman, behold your son”... and to John: “Behold your mother.” To God, his Father: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” To all: “I thirst.” To the world: “It is finished.”

What is the Greek meaning of it is finished? ›

Tetelestai – It is Finished.

Where in the Bible does Jesus say it is finished? ›

“When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, 'It is finished,' and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:30). Tetelestai, it is finished. We've no doubt heard these words during a Good Friday service or during our reading of the Gospels.

What do the 7 last words of Jesus mean? ›

What are the 7 Last Words of Christ? Traditionally, these seven words (which are more like “sayings” that contain more than a single word) are known as words of Forgiveness, Salvation, Relationship, Abandonment, Distress, Triumph and Reunion.

What did Jesus mean in John 21 19? ›

After indicating to Peter “the kind of death by which he would glorify God,” Christ says to him again, “Follow me” (21:19). This kind of love, whether it is called philos or agapē, involves an inherent expectation of “doing.” Love is as love does.

What does it mean to proclaim the Lord's death until he comes again? ›

To proclaim the Lord's death is to affirm that in Jesus Christ ofNazareth God's holy love and our desperate human plight meet redemptively. When we proclaim the Lord's death we gladly acknowledge that neither our emotions nor our morals can stand in their own power.

What is the life lesson of John 3 30? ›

John 3:30. “He must increase, but I must decrease.” It's John the Baptist talking about Jesus, saying his purpose in this world is to decrease. That's what he must do, and Jesus must increase. Meaning, John the Baptists purpose in this world was to exalt Christ, not himself.

What three words did Jesus say just before he died? ›

Sayings of Jesus on the crossPsalm
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?22:2
I thirst.22:16, 69:22, 42:1
It is finished.22:32
4 more rows

What was the last thing Jesus said before he ascended? ›

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” These are the final recorded words of Jesus before He ascended into Heaven – the very last thing He said to His disciples.

What was Jesus last name? ›

Jesus is sometimes referred to as Jesus Christ, and some people assume that Christ is Jesus' last name. But Christ is actually a title, not a last name. So if Christ isn't a last name, what was Jesus' last name? The answer is Jesus didn't have a formal last name or surname like we do today.

What was Jesus's last 6th word? ›

Christ's Sixth Word From the Cross: “It Is Finished.”

Where did Jesus go when he died? ›

At death his Spirit went to the Father in heaven, and then returned to be clothed in the resurrection body, in which he appeared to the disciples over a period of 40 days before the ascension. The statement in John 20:17 tells us that the ascension of the resurrected Christ had not yet happened.

What language did Jesus speak? ›

Aramaic is best known as the language Jesus spoke. It is a Semitic language originating in the middle Euphrates. In 800-600 BC it spread from there to Syria and Mesopotamia. The oldest preserved inscriptions are from this period and written in Old Aramaic.

Where in the Bible does it say that God has the final say? ›

Proverbs 16:1-9 In-Context

1 We may make our plans, but God has the last word. 2 You may think everything you do is right, but the Lord judges your motives. 3 Ask the Lord to bless your plans, and you will be successful in carrying them out.

What verse is God's not finished? ›

Philippians 1:6 ESV

I'm not finished, he's still making me! I'm still being molded and shaped and conformed to Jesus' likeness (Romans 8:29). And here's more good news—so are you. God's not done with us, we are still being drawn and invited into relationship with him.

Where in the Bible does it say the last finish first? ›

"So the last will be first, and the first will be last." and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!"

What is Jesus most famous quote? ›

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

What did Jesus say when he died? ›

Luke 23:45b-46: And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!" And having said this he breathed his last.

How many last words did Jesus have? ›

As we reflect on Christ's sacrifice this Good Friday, the Seven Last Words give us powerful insight into His thoughts as took all the sins of mankind upon Himself. With these words, He forgives His enemies, forgives the penitent thief, cries out to God, and declares the end of His earthly life.

Why did Jesus call John the one he loved? ›

Yes, Jesus chose John because he was tender and affectionate. He told her, “Woman, behold, your son” (John 19:26, ESV). Then, to John, He declared, “Behold, your mother” (verse 27, ESV). The disciple knew what He meant precisely.

What lesson do we learn from John 21? ›

This passage shows us that even though we are sinners, Jesus continually showers his mercy on us, gives us innumerable second chances to show our love for him and never gives up on us. In fact he has a plan in his kingdom for us. In this instance Jesus is addressing Peter only, both in greeting and instruction.

What does John mean by sin that leads to death? ›

According to 1 John, “Sin that leads to death is deliberate refusal to believe in Jesus Christ, to follow God's commands, and to love one's brothers. It leads to death because it includes a deliberate refusal to believe in the One who alone can give life, Jesus Christ, the Son of God" (248).

What is God's promise after death? ›

He accepted that God will rule over his life and death. Even if he dies, he will be with God, although the resurrection has not yet taken place. He will receive a place in heaven, full of glory.

What does God mean the first will be last? ›

In a general sense, “the first” are the privileged, prestigious, and selfish who get ahead in this life while defying God's commandments. But they will receive condemnation in the life to come. “The last,” though rejected by the world, will receive a great reward in heaven.

What is the coming alive of Jesus after being dead called? ›

The resurrection of Jesus (Biblical Greek: ἀνάστασις τοῦ Ἰησοῦ) is the Christian belief that God raised Jesus from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion, starting – or restoring – his exalted life as Christ and Lord.

What does it mean to have a clean heart before God? ›

It means having an undivided loyalty to God - loving Him above all else. This kind of love comes from a clean heart that has been transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. When we have this kind of love for God, it will overflow into every area of our lives - including our relationships with others.

What means turning to God with our whole heart? ›

To love God with your heart means to love God with your emotions. Praising him with your happiness, smile, and gratitude is easy when things are going well. Like when you perceive an answer to prayer or one of life's good gifts comes your way, but how about when things aren't going so well?

How can I apply John 3 16 to my life? ›

We can be with God again

This life does not end after death—we will all be resurrected. If we love God, believe in Him, and follow the gospel of Jesus Christ, God promises that we can return to live with Him after we die. Because God loves us, He wants us to be happy now and for eternity.

What was Jesus's 5th last word? ›

The fifth word, I thirst, is the only time that Jesus speaks of his physical suffering and pain. It is a reminder that the Passion is not only a spiritual reality, a cosmic happening. It is a bodily act, the crucifixion of a man's body.

Did Jesus know he was going to be crucified? ›

There are several references in the Synoptic Gospels (the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke) to Jesus predicting his own death, the first two occasions building up to the final prediction of his crucifixion.

What words did Jesus cry out? ›

“About three in the afternoon, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 'Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani? '” which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (ESV, Matthew 27:46).

What is the last miracle of Jesus? ›

The healing of Malchus was Christ's final miracle before his resurrection. Simon Peter had cut off the ear of the High Priest's servant, Malchus, during the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus restored the ear by touching it with his hand.

Who was the first person to see Jesus after his resurrection? ›

9 Now when he was risen early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. 10 She went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept.

What were the last moments of Jesus life? ›

Jesus Christ is crucified, suffering intense pain and completing His atoning sacrifice. His body is removed from the cross and placed in a tomb (see Matt. 27). “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost” (Luke 23:46).

What was Jesus real first name? ›

Jesus' name in Hebrew was “Yeshua” which translates to English as Joshua. So how did we get the name “Jesus”?

Who was named Jesus before Jesus? ›

Yes. It is the Greek transliteration (because the New Testament was written in Greek) of Joshua.

What was Jesus's last three words? ›

To Mary, his mother: “Woman, behold your son”... and to John: “Behold your mother.” To God, his Father: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” To all: “I thirst.” To the world: “It is finished.”

Who wrote the 7 last words of Jesus? ›

Haydn wrote The Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross in 1786 in response to a commission from the bishop of Spain's Cadiz Cathedral. The bishop requested music to accompany the cathedral's Good Friday service that year.

What is the first last word of Jesus reflection? ›

1. “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) Even as he is wrongfully accused, convicted and tortured, Jesus asks God to grant mercy unto his persecutors.

Do Adam and Eve go to heaven? ›

God is the One who decides who does or does not enter heaven. There's no place in the Bible that says they were saved. But there is no place in the Bible that indicates the couple was lost, either.

Is Jesus is God? ›

In Christianity, Jesus is the Son of God as written in the Bible's New Testament, and in mainstream Christian denominations he is God the Son, the second Person in the Trinity.

Where did Jesus live before heaven? ›

New Testament gap

Christian tradition suggests that Jesus simply lived in Galilee during that period.

What religion was Jesus? ›

He was born of a Jewish mother, in Galilee, a Jewish part of the world. All of his friends, associates, colleagues, disciples, all of them were Jews. He regularly worshipped in Jewish communal worship, what we call synagogues.

What did Jesus look like? ›

For many scholars, Revelation 1:14-15 offers a clue that Jesus's skin was a darker hue and that his hair was woolly in texture. The hairs of his head, it says, "were white as white wool, white as snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace.”

Did Adam and Eve speak a language? ›

The Adamic language, according to Jewish tradition (as recorded in the midrashim) and some Christians, is the language spoken by Adam (and possibly Eve) in the Garden of Eden.

What does God's not finished mean? ›

God's not done with us, we are still being drawn and invited into relationship with him. Jesus served us first, and from that place of being served by him, we can serve him and his Church.

What is the meaning of finished works? ›

Article Talk. The Finished Work is a doctrine associated with Pentecostals of the Finished Work Pentecostal tradition, that locates sanctification at the time of conversion; afterward the converted Christian progressively grows in grace.

What does it mean that Jesus is the author and finisher? ›

The author also calls him the perfecter of our faith. This word in Greek can be translated as “finisher” or “completer.” His sacrificial death on a cross, and his resurrection three days later, completed the mission of God. The Mission of God.

What is the meaning of John 19 26? ›

Jesus was giving a new son to his mother to replace himself. And he gave her the best son she could expect, the disciple Jesus loved. John, the only one of the disciples there now, indicates his loyalty, courage, and faith by his presence.

Does God finish what he started? ›

God Finishes What He Starts

As Paul declared, “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). Whatever God starts, he finishes!

Where in the Bible does it say God isn't finished yet? ›

Have patience, God isn't finished yet. - Philippians 1:6.

What is the finished work of Jesus? ›

The finished work of Christ refers primarily to His death on the cross. That's where the judgment of God against our sin was endured by Christ. He became our substitute in order to become our Savior. Jesus was not our Savior until He suffered and died for our sins on the cross.

What is the difference between finished and have finished? ›

The verb to finish can be used with the auxiliary 'to have' or 'to be': 'I have finished' (the auxiliary verb 'have') as well as I am finished (auxiliary verb to be) (predominantly American). Both have the same meaning. I am finished with the work you gave me. I have finished, I have completed the work you gave me.

What's a better word for finished? ›

Some common synonyms of finish are close, complete, conclude, end, and terminate.

What is the difference between done and finished? ›

The short answer? There is no difference between “being done” and “being finished.” Grammar experts note that “done” and “finished” can be used interchangeably.

What is the shame of the cross? ›

And so on the cross, Jesus experienced shame. He experienced the shame of rejection, as his disciples abandoned him, and his people – the Jews, the very people he had come to minister to – publicly and completely rejected him.

What is Jesus final teaching called? ›

In the New Testament, chapters 14–17 of the Gospel of John are known as the Farewell Discourse given by Jesus to eleven of his disciples immediately after the conclusion of the Last Supper in Jerusalem, the night before his crucifixion.

What is the end of our faith? ›

The end or outcome of our faith will be rewarded with eternal life. A life of sin and a love of this world will cost us our inheritance in heaven and cancel our reservation of eternal life. Let us strive to receive the end of our faith, the salvation of our souls.

What does it mean for God to fill your cup? ›

Filling your cup means replenishing your spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical reserves. It means stopping and recharging your batteries. It means giving yourself permission to rest and be spiritually refreshed. Yet, it's easy to overlook and neglect our need to recharge.

What does and God shall wipe away all tears mean? ›

We can take strength in knowing that all the hard experiences in this life are temporary; even the darkest nights turn into dawn for the faithful. When all is finished and we have endured all things with faith in Jesus Christ, we have the promise that “God shall wipe away all [the] tears from [our] eyes.”

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