Back in the 1950’s there was a TV show called the millionaire. In this series an anonymous millionaire would give away a million dollars to someone that he had never met.
If you were a recipient, it could enable you to pay off car loans, a house mortgage, and/or significant medical bills. How much joy would there be knowing that you were able to pay off all your debt, due to the benevolence of an unknown individual!
‘Tetelestai’ – Debt Cancellation in the Bible
In Biblical times when someone paid off a debt, the creditor would mark the bill with the word, ‘tetelestai’. This is a Greek word that literally means, ‘bring to an end’. A servant who finished his task would tell his master that he had completed the work, ‘tetelestai’. When a priest would find the perfect lamb for sacrifice, he would exclaim, ‘tetelestai’. In regards to the payment of a debt, ‘tetelestai’ would communicate that ‘the debt has been paid’.
The Last Words of Jesus
In John 19:30 the word is used in the perfect tense and is translated, ‘It is finished’. “So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.” It was the final words of Jesus on the cross. In other words, the debt has been paid. The certificate of debt has been cancelled. (Colossians 2:14 NASB)
What Debt Did Jesus Pay?
His death satisfied the Father’s holy wrath toward sin. Every person has a sin debt that he/she cannot pay. “The wages of sin is death (eternal separation from God)”. That’s what our sin earns – eternal death, being separated from God forever in the place the Bible calls the Lake of Fire.
But, JESUS’ DEATH PAID OUR SIN DEBT! If Jesus paid our sin debt, do we have any debt to pay? No! He paid it all. For example, if I was found guilty of speeding and the judge was about to fined me $100. But someone else, out of the kindness of their heart, stepped up and paid my fine of $100. Would I have a fine to pay? No, because someone else paid my fine for me. On a much grandeur and infinite scale, Jesus’ death paid our fine, our sin debt. Therefore, we have no debt to pay.
A Transfer of Trust
Most people think that they will get to heaven based on their own personal goodness. Recently, I had a young man tell me that he believed it was 50% his effort and 50% Jesus. He needed to transfer all of his trust (100%) to Jesus.
By transferring your trust from yourself to the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, you pass from death (eternal separation) to (eternal) life. (John 5:24) You receive the benefit of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. You no longer have a sin debt to pay and you gain spiritual life (eternal) which you can never lose. ‘Tetelestai!’