A Word of Accomplishment (John 19:30)

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Sermon Text

Dear Fellow Pilgrims traveling down the Road of Lent,

We greet each other in a number of different ways. Usually we know what to say in return.

For instance, when someone says, “good morning” or “hi” or “hello,” we say the same thing in return. When someone asks, “How are you doing?” most of us understand that this is really a form of greeting rather than an inquiry, and we normally say, “Fine.” Even when someone greets us by saying “What’s up?,” we’ll usually come up with the stock in trade reply, “Not much.”

But when someone says, “What’s the good word?,” I don’t know about you, but I’m never sure what to say. I’m not sure if they looking for an actual word, or a string of words, or the best news about myself or my family that I can think of at that time. So I usually end up not answering it well, all the while inwardly wishing the greeting were a little less complicated.

However, tonight (and personally, after all these years) the quest for an appropriate response is over. Tonight I believe we can put all doubts to rest as to how that question, “what’s the good word?” can be answered in the best possible way.

The answer is found in Jesus’ sixth word from the cross. As recorded in the Greek of John’s gospel, our Lord’s sixth statement from the cross was a single word. As such, it must rightfully be considered the single most important word ever spoken. When the Bible reports our Savior saying the single word “Tetelestai,”


  1. He finished all he came to do
  2. He paid all we owed

“Tetelestai” is a fascinating word. It is rich and full of meaning. Maybe an illustration will help us savor its full flavor.

Imagine that tomorrow, when you go to work, your boss asks to speak to you in the privacy of his or her office. The door closes, your boss smiles and pumps your hand and says: “This is amazing! I’m not sure how you did it, but you did it.”

“Did what?” you ask. “You absolutely, perfectly, finished every job this company could ever think to assign you.” You’re mystified, but your boss continues: “Yes, and you’ve brought this company such unprecedented success that we’re going to reward you. Because there is nothing left for you to do, from this day on you do not have to come into work, your time is yours to do with what you want, and we will compensate you generously for the rest of your life. It’s the least we can do, because you deserve it!”

Unfortunately, it’s only an illustration. We’ll still have to go to work tomorrow. But not Jesus. His redeeming work is finished. Absolutely, completely, 100 percent finished.

In John chapter four Jesus states His job description in a rather unique way. “‘My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.’” Food keeps us going. Oftentimes food also brings us pleasure. We all have favorite things we like to eat. What kept Jesus going and what gave Him pleasure was to do the special work assigned to Him by His Heavenly Father.

And what work was that? Even before Jesus was born, the Father used angels to announce the critical mission that His Son alone could do. In a dream, an angel told Joseph, “She [Mary] will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Mt 1:21). Jesus was sent to our earth and born of the Virgin Mary to do one thing. Save. And Jesus never lost sight of His mission.

Do you remember when He was 12 years old and His parents found Him at the Temple in Jerusalem? He couldn’t understand why they were so worried. “‘Why were you searching for me?’ he asked. ‘Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?’” This tells us that Jesus understood the role the Father had given Him.

The childlike devotion exhibited by the young Jesus didn’t lose its luster with the passing of years, either. Once, after rescuing a man named Zaccheus, Jesus could say: “The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Lk 19:10). This is always what He was doing. Whether it was reaching out to tax collectors or prostitutes or lepers, never once did Jesus avoid lost souls.

And never once did Jesus evade His mission to save – even though He knew full well the high price involved in rescuing sinners like you and me.