The last word spoken by the Lord Jesus from the cross was “tetelestai.” This Greek verb was recorded by the Apostle John in the perfect tense. The literal translation is “It is finished.” (John 19:30) Jesus made a declaration of something accomplished that would have ongoing implications. He said that redemption was accomplished.
Redemption implies that a price or ransom was paid. The price required by God to redeem his people from the bondage to sin was paid more than 2,000 years ago. This is the reason the Friday before Easter Sunday is called Good Friday. Jesus lived a perfect life and he offered himself as the perfect sacrifice.
Those chosen before the foundation of the world to be in Christ have Christ’s finished work applied to them. It is applied by the Holy Spirit when God effectually calls those whom he predestined and regenerates them. God then converts the sinner into a saint and gives the sinner the gifts of faith and repentance. Through God’s gift, expressed by the sinner now a saint, God sovereignly declares him justified. God adopts those whom he justifies. He sanctifies them and assures them that he will bring them to glory.
The completed work of Christ, redemption, extends from the individual to the corporate body. It extends even to Creation itself. The Apostle Paul declared that “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself.” (2 Corinthians 5:19)
Redemption, which is God’s saving act, is for his glory and by his sovereign grace. He extends grace to a spiritually dead person which causes him to see the beauty of Christ!
Good Friday reminds me of what God did in me. Good Friday is personal for everyone who professes Jesus as Lord and Savior.
It is indeed personal. Thirty-five years ago, God snatched me from the pit of hell. He used a devastating auto accident. He broke me physically and caused me to see the Kingdom as Jesus said to Nicodemus. (John 3:3)
Before God’s action on that day, I had no desire for Jesus. I believed that I was a good person. I believed that as long as my “good” outweighed my “bad” God would accept me. I didn’t realize that God is holy and requires perfection.
My thoughts of God were proceeding from a heart of stone. I was spiritually dead and didn’t know it. I used to think that all that “born again” stuff was for the weak-minded.
God caused me to see my helplessness. For a time, I was confined to a hospital bed. Through my accident, God gave me a word picture of my sinfulness that stays with me to this day. God caused me to dig into his word to learn more about his character. Jesus’ words, “It is finished,” have been burned into my mind and heart. Good Friday is a day in which I reflect upon the steadfast love of the Lord poured out on me.
There is a foolish teaching that pervades the evangelical church. People are told that if they believe they will be born again. This is analogous to speaking to a dead person, lying in a casket and saying, “Get up!” Even worse, it is the height of manipulation to tell people that we are made new creations by our own wisdom and ability. How can a dead person believe? The truth is “Ye must be born again” in order to believe. The Bible says, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Every person is born spiritually dead. We are unable to reach out to God and live. (Genesis 3:22-24) God confirmed in me the truth of his word through a tragedy which continues to point me to him. God alone saves those whom he chooses. No one can stay his hand! He chose to save a sinner, namely me! This is the ongoing effect of Jesus’ words, “It is finished.”
God used a traumatic event to cause me to see his sovereignty in my salvation. That is not to suggest that a person must undergo some tragedy to be born again. Some people who were raised in covenant families are unable to recall the moment when they first saw the truth. Yet, God did regenerate them, and because of his grace, they profess faith in Jesus as he is offered in the gospel.
I exhort all who profess Christ to take this Good Friday to reflect upon the finished work of Christ!
The Rev. Lou Tiscione is the pastor of Weatherford Presbyterian Church.