We always enjoy having guests over to our house. The fresh faces and conversation are a welcome change of pace, and this past weekend was no exception. So, of course, the days before their arrival were filled with preparation and much needed cleaning. In an attempt to spread out the workload, I gave each of the kids their assignments, but before they got very far, previously scheduled activities interrupted the completion of their tasks. As you might expect, their chores were eventually added to my strike-list. But while I was tidying up the last few details before our guests arrived, Ryan wandered through the now spotless kitchen and asked if I needed help with anything. I thanked my son for the offer, but told him that I was finished, and there was nothing more to be done.
As I wiped the counter for the last time, I thought about Christ’s declaration from the cross recorded John 19:30.
“When he had received the drink, Jesus said,
“It is finished.”
There are a myriad of theological and foundational implications contained in those three English words, ‘it is finished’, but it’s noteworthy to point out that in the original language, Christ’s statement was actually just the single Greek word, tetelestai. This common accounting term is one that a merchant would have used when a debt owed to him was ‘paid in full’ by the borrower. It’s a wonderfully accurate parallel for what was taking place behind the veil of Heaven in these crucial moments. In his final breaths, Christ was declaring that the sin debt for the entire world was paid, and His work to atone for the sin of mankind was finished.
But, don’t miss the tangential – and very simple – truth that jumped out at me in my exchange with Ryan… When something is finished, there’s nothing more to do. No help is needed, no effort has to be expended, and no assistant is required. It’s all done. Complete.
There’s definitely something inside of us that yearns to ‘help out’ when it comes to our salvation. It makes us feel better about ourselves to join in the process of attaining righteousness. We want a list to check off… our own strike-list of things to do to make us feel acceptable before the Lord.
But the good news contained in Christ’s statement is this: God doesn’t need our assistance!
His relationship with us (and ours with Him) never depends on our conduct. He declares us righteous based solely on our faith in the death of Jesus Christ on the cross… and nothing else. No amount of good behavior on our part can bring us to Him. And once we are His, no poor behavior pushes Him away. We are fully “accepted in the beloved” (Eph 1:6 KJV) and “clothed in the righteousness of Christ.” (Is 61:10) From the vantage point of Heaven’s throne, we stand in the purity of Christ, perfected by His finished work on our behalf!
So, if you are working hard to try to be good enough for God to love you, or to feel worthy of salvation, stop your striving. Rest in this simple fact:
It is finished! There’s nothing left for you to do!