When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. – John 19:30
Nowhere in history do we find a more powerful, yet grace-filled statement.
Tetelestai! It is finished, it has been accomplished, it has been paid, it has been fulfilled, it has been consummated and completed.
These words of Jesus signified to the world that what the Father had required of the Son had been completed—without error or variation. There was perfection and satisfaction in Jesus’ work on the cross. No prophecy had been left unfulfilled. Nothing would or could ever taint the finished, paid, and perfect sacrifice of Jesus.
As the past, present, and future sins of the world were heaped upon our Lord, the Old Covenant became null and void by the perfect sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
In the last moments of His life, Jesus hung high on the precipice of earth and the throne room of heaven where God the Father, reigns. And symbolically He hung high in the temple as well.
Made of blue, purple, and scarlet fine and twined linen, the veil of the temple was approximately 60 feet high and 30 feet long. Scholars have also surmised that it was around four inches thick and was embellished with cherubim.
Jesus’ body was the veil. Just as the veil was rent in two from top to bottom at His death, so Jesus’ body was the flesh—torn so that you and I no longer stand accursed and accused under the Old Covenant Sacrificial system. Rather we stand redeemed and reborn under the New Covenant with our Savior.
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. –Hebrews 10:10-22
The Old Testament Covenant and Levitical Sacrifices provided a way for the Israelite people to be in right standing before their holy God. Daily the High Priest would attend the temple, carrying out the sacrificial protocol instituted by God for each day. The most important day of the year was known as the Day of Atonement. On that day, the priest would take a lamb without blemish, slay it on the altar, then enter the Holy of Holies housed behind the veil. For 364 days of the year, no one was permitted toenter the Most Holy Place where the presence of God dwelled. A picture of the throne room of heaven, the Most Holy Place was hallowed and holy—a place where God, alone, was worshipped.
But on that day—the Day of Atonement—God permitted the veil to be pulled back just enough for the high priest to enter and sprinkle blood on the Mercy Seat for the forgiveness of sins for the people. Can you imagine this sacred moment? Alone, behind the veil, in the Most Holy Place—the place where God manifested His presence. Oh, the glory, the awe and holiness, yet the intimacy of it all. Can you even comprehend the closeness that the High Priest must have experienced as he walked into the throne room of heaven? This one sacrificial act, done year after year so that a sinful people could be in right standing before a holy God.
Don’t you see the beauty of the cross and its connection to the tabernacle? In each article of the tabernacle we see a picture of Jesus—the brazen altar of sacrifice where blood was shed, the brass lavar and the cleansing that took place as the blood from the sacrifice washed away sin, the table of showbread where Jesus, the Bread of Life satisfied the longing soul, the menorah and its light that dispelled the darkness, the altar of incense where Jesus stood as our intercessor, and finally the veil—Jesus’ own torn body that all must walk through in order to access a holy God.
In making His way through the tabernacle, Jesus carved a pathway for us. I can imagine the very hands of God grasping the top of the holy curtain which separated man from Himself. Grasping the holy curtain so that He could tear it from one end to the next just as His own Son’s flesh was torn.
Think of that imagery. The renting of the veil from top to bottom gives further confirmation that its tearing came from the heavenlies. God saw the finished and perfecting work of His Son on our behalf and He knew that Jesus—our Great High Priest—victoriously claimed full access into His presence on our behalf as He defeated sin and death. The veil separated earth and heaven’s throne, and Jesus—the Way-maker, the Justifier, the Substitutionary Sacrifice—bridged the gap between God and man. Separation would no longer prevail. Jesus’ torn flesh and blood would allow us to forever enter into the very presence of God.
In the last moments of His life, Jesus declared, “Tetelestai!” “It is finished.” This was not a whisper of defeat, but rather a shout of victory. With this declaration, Christ gloriously awaited the moment when earth and heaven would meet, and the reconciliation of God and man could be accomplished. The work was complete. The New Covenant established and secure. An earthly priest was no longer needed to make a sacrifice. Jesus’ sacrifice was once for all, and we became the recipients of God’s presence always.
Oh, Victory in Jesus!
Will you spend time today reflecting on the perfecting work of Christ on the cross? Will you recount the numerous prophecies that He fulfilled? Will you show your unending gratitude for Jesus for His perfection, His power, and His presence in your life?
Precious Jesus, thank You for the perfect work You accomplished on the cross. Thank You for establishing, fulfilling, and securing the New Covenant with me. I worship You today, King Jesus. Amen.
Below are some of the prophecies and fulfillments of Christ at His Crucifixion for you to meditate on today.
- Rejected by His own: Isaiah 53:3 fulfilled in John 1:10-11
- Betrayed by a friend: Psalm 41:9 fulfilled in Mark 14:10
- Sold for 30 pieces of sliver: Zechariah 11:12 fulfilled in Matthew 26:14-16
- Accused but silent before His accusers: Isaiah 53:7 fulfilled in Matthew 27:12-14
- God turning His back: Psalm 22:1-2 fulfilled in Matthew 27:46
- Mocked by His own: Psalm 22:7-8 fulfilled in Matthew 27:41-44
- Jesus’s thirst: Psalm 22:15 fulfilled in Matthew 27:48
- The casting of lots: Psalm 22:17-18 fulfilled in John 19:23
Jacqueline C. Heider
Director of Women’s Ministry,
Prayer & Special Needs Ministry