Paid in Full

As I work on updating my out of print book on prayer I keep hitting sections that remind me of how awesome Jesus is. Here is one on what he accomplished on the cross:

Jesus taught the disciples to pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors,” (Matthew 6:12). The word translated “debt” here is the Greek word “opheilema”. In most cases, it refers to one person owing money to another. In Matthew 6 it is used metaphorically of a debt we owe in our relationship with God. The most vivid biblical illustration of this concept is found in Colossians 2:13-14.

In this text, Paul writes that through the cross of Christ the written charge against us has been cancelled. The word translated “written charge” is the Greek word “cheirographon”. It was primarily a business term used in the first century for a note or certificate of debt. It is synonymous with the Greek word “epigraphon” that was used when referring to the list of charges drawn up against a convicted criminal in the Roman court system.

In the Roman business world, when the debt had been paid, a word was written across the note of debt. The word was the Greek word “tetelesthai” meaning “paid in full.” The certificate with “paid in full” was a receipt guaranteeing no further payments were necessary.
In the Roman judicial system, when punishment for a crime had been fulfilled, the same word was written across the list of charges, releasing the convicted criminal from any further punishment. In capital offenses, the Romans would nail the written charge to the top of the cross when the sentence called for crucifixion. That way all who passed by the hideous scene would know what led to this person’s execution. You might imagine that this approach was a powerful deterrent to crime! We are told that when Jesus Christ was crucified as a common criminal, Pilate had a written charge (epigraphon) drawn up and affixed to his cross. Pilate had found no guilt in Jesus, so the written charge read:

“This is Jesus, the King of the Jews,” (Matthew 27:37).

These were the words people would read as they passed by the cross of Christ that day so long ago. But from God’s perspective something much more significant was taking place. What Paul tells us in Colossians 2:13-14 is that from God’s perspective it was our written charge, our “cheirographon” that was nailed to the cross of Christ. You might conceptualize this as a document containing every failure on your part to meet God’s standards morally, ethically, or spiritually in attitude, action, or intent. This certificate is a history of all the sin, trespass, and transgression of our lives – past, present, and future. For most of us, this would be a long and ugly document.

When Jesus Christ was crucified, this document was nailed to the cross with him. Our sin is the true reason Jesus suffered such a brutal execution. He was paying the price to cancel our certificate of debt. Just before Jesus died we are told that he cried out from the cross. Most translations read that his cry was, “It is finished,” (John 19:30). But if you look at the Greek text, you will find that this cry was actually one word. Jesus cried out, “Tetelesthai!”… “Paid in full” was the triumphant declaration Jesus made with his dying breath. In that instant, God took our certificate of debt and cancelled it. You can think of it as God writing across the record of our sin, “Tetelesthai.”

Amos on Rt. 66

This Sunday we continue on our journey down Rt. 66 by studying the prophet Amos.  His book is the third book of the Minor Prophets.  Check out our little teaser: https://vimeo.com/225502866.

You might not be familiar with the message of Amos, but you will recognize some of the more well-known verses.  Here is a hint.  Amos was quoted on August 23, 1963.  I’ll tell you Sunday what happened on that day if you can’t figure it out.  (You might try asking Alexa or Siri).