“It is finished.”
Most people do not understand the significance of these last words uttered by Jesus as he hung dying on the cross.
Back in biblical times, like today, people would borrow money and incur debt. This seems to be part of the human condition. Since there was not an elaborate banking system, the common person might borrow from a wealthy individual. A written agreement, called a “certificate of debt” would be drawn up. This certificate of debt spelled out the terms and conditions of the loan.
Over time, if the debtor could not pay the loan (they did not have bankruptcy protection), the creditor had two options. He could have them sent to debtor’s prison for a period of time which, in essence, would wipe out the debt.
A preferred option would be to have the debtor work off the debt. In essence, the creditor owned the labor of the debtor. This may be where we got the idea of going to jail for a crime to pay your debt to society.
Once the debt was paid off (through prison or labor), the creditor would take the certificate of debt and stamp it with the Greek word “Teleo” which translates to “Paid in full.”
The Bible says this is the situation we find ourselves in with God. As sinful people we have incurred a debt we can never ourselves repay.
When Jesus cries out “It is finished,” the actual Greek translation is “Teleo.” It is paid in full.
Jesus suffered and died on the cross so that our certificate of debt, which consists of all our sins, could once and for all be “paid in full.”
The Apostle Paul put it this way in Colossians 2:13, 14:
God has forgiven us all our transgressions, having cancelled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which were hostile to us, and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
The redemption of a person’s soul is costly, so much so that we could never repay it ourselves. Only He could cancel it by the shedding of his blood. And in his last dying words from the cross, our sins are paid for, in full.
“It is finished.”