There’s a strong chance the words it is finished conjure up an image in your mind of Jesus on the cross, mustering up just enough energy for one last sentence before He bows His head and gives up His spirit. Before He breathes His last breath. They may take you back to a solemn Good Friday service, a quiet occasion where communion is shared and tears are shed recalling our Savior’s incalculable sacrifice. When I was young, I believed those words only indicated the end of Jesus’ time on the cross, or even His time walking the earth, wrapped in human flesh. That could give us some sense of relief, as if a loved one who had fought cancer for so many brutal years, were to finally slip into the eternal rest of their Father’s arms. But His words carry much more weight and they give us a reason to celebrate.
Since Good Friday of last year (2014) I desired to write a song using those words to celebrate the finished work of Christ on the cross. It is finished is a pronouncement of completion. It was a term used in a variety of ways during Jesus’ time on earth; one way was to indicate that a debt had been paid in full, therefore when Jesus proclaimed it is finished from the cross, He was declaring a debt as being satisfied, His mission to take away the sins of the world was complete! There’s another fascinating usage of that phrase, but first, how we wrote this song:
January 21, 2015, I had an online writing session scheduled with Mia Fieldes and Hank Bentley, they were in Nashville, I was in Pittsburgh, in my basement, in my PJs. We spent about 30 minutes trying to re-write a hymn, but Hank wasn’t really into it. We were hitting the proverbial wall and had barely begun. I mentioned my desire to write about It Is Finished and Mia perked up as only extroverted Australians can. She had spent the first week of the year at the Passion Conference in Atlanta and the first thing Louie Giglio spoke about was the Greek word tetelestai: which translates it is finished! Hank was sold, we were in agreement and set out to craft a party song, celebrating the finished work of salvation!
As Louie brilliantly unpacked this concept, (a must-watch) he explained that in the Old Testament system of sacrifices, every time a spotless, sacrificial lamb was slain for the forgiveness of the people, the Priest would declare the Hebrew word kalah…which just so happens to mean, you guessed it: it is finished!
All our striving, all our searching, all our good works, all our pursuit of God will achieve us nothing apart from the work Christ accomplished at the cross. We begin to strive, search, perform and pursue from the starting point of right standing with God, because of His finished work!
OUR DEBT HAS BEEN PAID IN FULL!
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