Wineskins Archive

December 19, 2013

Jesus’ Dying Word (Mar-Jun 2010)

Filed under: — @ 8:40 pm and

by Edward Fudge
May 4, 2010

Might John himself have heard it, the final word of Jesus when he bowed his head and died? We cannot say for sure, although John reports it in the Gospel that bears his name. When we consider what Jesus has endured—the scourging and pummeling, the crucifixion itself, the cramping and hunger and thirst, the utter fatigue of body and mind—we might marvel that he utters any words at all. But despite it all, he does. He opens his mouth and says it: a single word in Greek, though in English three. He says it, and someone hears it, whether John or not. And John, sensing that it was important, writes it in his Gospel. “Tetelestai,” says Jesus: “It is finished.”

This is a cry of victory and not defeat. With this word, projected by his final breath, Jesus crosses the finish line. Though weak in volume, he claims a mighty triumph. With four syllables Jesus signals the successful conclusion of a life devoted wholly to the Creator. Faithful in life, he is now faithful in death. Through this faithful life and death, the divine Rescue is a reality. New Testament writers regularly use the past tense when speaking of the Rescue operation. God displayed Jesus publicly on the cross as an atoning sacrifice. He reconciled us to himself in Jesus’ fleshly body.

The Creator saved us and abolished death by the death and resurrection of his Son. Jesus made purification of sins and obtained eternal redemption. The Lion from the tribe of Judah has overcome—in the form of a slaughtered sacrificial Lamb. By his sacrifice Jesus has purchased people for God representing a cross-section of humankind. The gospel is news and the news is good: it is “the good news of your salvation.” The divine Rescue has been accomplished and the Creator has reconciled the universe to himself. Jesus did it and he declared it with his dying breath: “It is finished. It is finished! It is FINISHED!

(This gracEmail is condensed from chapter 37, “It is Finished,” of Edward’s new book The Divine Rescue (The gripping drama of a lost world and of the creator who will not let it go). To order a personal, signed copy, click here (or go to

Copyright 2010 by Edward Fudge. Permission hereby given to reproduce, reprint or forward this gracEmail, but only in its entirety, without change and without financial profit.

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