Tetelestai!

 

 Hebrews 10:19-31
“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

God, is a God of wrath, but He is also a God of rescue. It’s important for the Christian to always keep in view the balance between the two. That last line, though, is an eye opener: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Unfortunately, some of us (Christians) just focus on His wrath; solely pointing out to people their sins. Such is unbalanced, and it’s why Jesus rhetorically asks: “…how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:4) Even though it is a vital aspect of the Gospel message, bringing sin to light, it is only half of the message. At the same time, we cannot just go around announcing that God is solely a God of rescue, giving the impression that everyone will be rescued, or that everyone has the opportunity to be rescued. Such, is also an unbalanced view as well. Yes, God is a God of rescue, hallelujah, but not everyone is rescued. Some are passed over, and we must always keep this in mind by having a healthy, reverent fear of Him. “But I will warn you whom to fear: fear Him who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:5)

In his letter to the Romans, Paul illustrates this same point, that not everyone is rescued:

Romans 9:18-23
“So then He has mercy on whomever He wills, and He hardens whomever He wills. You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who can resist His will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show His wrath and to make known His power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of His glory for vessels of mercy, which He has prepared beforehand for glory.”

There was only one place in history where both wrath and rescue coincided and was fully realized. That place was on the cross, 2,000 years ago in Palestine. It was where Jesus took on God’s wrath, in order to rescue God’s elect.

Matthew 27:46
“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?””

On the cross, while under God’s wrath, Jesus recited the words of David from Psalm 22:1. In the Psalm, we find God’s answer to Christ’s desperate cry for rescue:

Psalms 22:1-2
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.”

Christian Apologist/Radio Host, Greg Koukl, recently spoke to a caller about Psalm 22, regarding what both David and Jesus were experiencing while uttering the same words:

“David is left by God in his misery, and his prayer is not answered, and his rescue is not forthcoming. It’s the exact same thing that Jesus means when He says the exact same thing from the cross. Jesus is basically saying: ‘Here I cry out to You, and I am not being rescued. I am the subject of Your wrath, not the subject of Your rescue.”

Jesus became the subject of God’s wrath on the cross, in order that the elect may become the subject of God’s rescue. Only those who are forsaken are passed over by God. The elect are never passed over by God. The elect were predestined for rescue since before the foundation of the world. (Ephesians 1:3-5) Jesus, however, was passed over by God on our behalf, and we must always be mindful of the wrath we have been rescued from.

There is one more interesting parallel between the last thing said by Christ on the cross, and Psalm 22. It is referred to as the “tetelestai” (“it is finished” in Greek):

John 19:30
“When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”

Look at how Jesus’ last word, “tetelestai” (it is finished), is parallel to the very end of Psalm 22 (capitalized):

Psalm 22:31
“They will come and will declare His righteousness, to a people who will be born, that HE HAS PERFORMED IT.” (NASB)

Some speculate that Jesus recited the entire 22nd Psalm on the cross. We really don’t know if He recited the whole a Psalm or not. However, Jesus’ last words on the cross “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” and then “Tetelestai!” were synonymous with the beginning and ending of Psalm 22; and the body of the Psalm gives a vivid depiction as to what Christ experienced on the cross, and the overall scene therein. In other words, it makes sense that Jesus would quote Psalm 22, because it encapsulates the entire cross experience, and it’s significance:

Psalms 22
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.
Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried and were rescued;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
“He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;
let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”
Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.
On you was I cast from my birth,
and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
Be not far from me,
for trouble is near,
and there is none to help.
Many bulls encompass me;
strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.
I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.
For dogs encompass me;
a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet —
I can count all my bones—
they stare and gloat over me;
they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.
But you, O Lord, do not be far off!
O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
Deliver my soul from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dog!
Save me from the mouth of the lion!
You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!
I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
For he has not despised or abhorred
the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to him.
From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord!
May your hearts live forever!
All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before you.
For kingship belongs to the Lord,
and he rules over the nations.
All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
even the one who could not keep himself alive.
Posterity shall serve him;
it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn,
that HE HAS DONE IT!” (ESV)

Godspeed, to the brethren!

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