Servants who had completed a task would say, "It is finished! I'm done with the work."
Jesus had done everything the Father had given him to do.
Priests and shepherds who found a lamb without blemish would declare, "It is finished! I've found the right sacrificial lamb."
Jesus was the perfect lamb of God, the Messiah that Israel had been waiting and looking for. There was no need to look further. He was it!
Merchants would stamp "tetelestai" on a bill to show, "It is finished! Paid in full"
Jesus' sacrifice erased the debt of sin that was held against us.
Jesus' cry was not one of defeat just before death would claim Him. It was one of victory over the enemy.
Five years ago, I had my own Good Friday "it is finished" moment when we buried our daughter Naomi, who had died in my second trimester of pregnancy. It was a gloomy, rainy day. We drove to the hospital to pick up her body and had some precious moments with her in the hospital chapel where we dressed her in a gown made by a friend from a satin slip and wrapped her in a blanket i had crocheted for her. Along with our one-year-old, my parents, and a good friend, we drove three hours to the natural cemetery we had chosen.
In the chapel there, we took one last look at her before we placed her in a box - a treasure box - made by my husband and an older gentleman in a church where we used to serve. Then, to the strains of Amazing Grace played on a recorder by the woman who runs the cemetery, we took the longest and shortest walk of our lives down the path to the burial place we had chosen. Placing that box in the ground was one of the hardest things I have ever done. We did, though, and read some Scripture, and prayed, and covered the box and planted some flowers.
And we were done. Finished. There was nothing left to do for our daughter.
People talk about moving on. How do you move on from a too-small mound of earth heaped up over a treasure box that holds the body of your child? That was the question I pondered in my heart on the three-hour journey home. I had no answer, at least not that day. My Good Friday was coming to a close. Resurrection Day seemed an impossibly long way away. My Saturday Between was about to begin.
The one thing that was soothing to my raw and bleeding heart was the knowledge that I would see my daughter again. Because of the first "it is finished", because Jesus paid the debt of sin, because He was the perfect sacrifice, because He completed the work the Father gave Him to do...because of that, life doesn't end in a hole in the ground. And although my heart was still broken, and I would miss her with every breath I took, I took hope in the knowledge that death in all its ugliness was a defeated enemy.
It is finished!