“He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.”
“Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there in no longer any offering for sin.”
No religious act in the Old Testament was complete unless accompanied with sacrifice; God designed the system with the intention of awakening a consciousness of sin and uncleanness. In fact, the system was utterly gory, repugnant, sticky and otherwise grotesque. (A foreshadowing of the death of Christ.)
Everyday hundreds, if not thousands of Jews would go to the temple to offer the appropriate sacrifices. Many of them were blood sacrifices. It is likely that there was a continual discharge of blood that flowed from the temple – a constant, somber, putrid reminder of the high cost of sin.
Now hear the shocking words of John the Baptist – “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). The entire book of Hebrews teaches us that the blood of Christ was the sufficient blood offering for the sins of the whole world (cf. 1 John 2:2).
The single Greek word translated by the NASB as “It is finished” is tetelestai. It is an expression of completeness. In New Testament times many merchants would stamp tetelestai on notes that had been “paid in full.”
The gospel truth is that we can offer nothing to atone for our sin. Jesus paid it all! It is the work of the enemy to convince unbelievers and believers alike that good works count toward our right standing with God. They do not. They count, yes, but not for righteousness, not for eternal life.
This understanding is essential as it relates to our worship of God because He judges the thoughts and intentions of our hearts. It is hugely important that the things we do and offer as worship are motivated only with the unalterable, singular devotion of glorifying God (read 1 Peter 2:12). They are otherwise considered bribes to a just and merciful God.
Any attempts to appease God’s demand for justice tramples underfoot the perfect sacrifice of His Son and should be considered a serious offense to Him. Take some time to consider how the blade of God’s justice was plunged into the Son as payment once for all.
Believing that we now have to make further sacrifice, or perform good works to ensure or assist in our salvation says to God that His unfathomable and inestimable sacrifice was not enough! May it never be! But let worship be the believer’s delight and duty of love!