The Word That Changed Everything

Erik Cooper —  April 3, 2013 — 4 Comments

I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t in church on Easter Sunday. After 12 years in full-time ministry (and most of the rest of them in leadership without the paycheck), I might have some insight into how a newly retired NFL player feels on that first weekend in September. Weird.

Instead of preparing to lead masses of worshippers, I found myself leading a mass of Spring Breakers back across the 3.6 mile Destin Mid-Bay Bridge on a 12-hour drive back to reality. Like any good government-built project, the use of the Bay Bridge comes with a price tag. So even as we enjoyed the scenic view over Choctawhachee Bay, I was quietly searching every nook and cranny of the dash for the $3 fare it was going to take to earn our passage home. But then I got a surprise.

“Go ahead sir, the car in front of you paid your toll.”

Paid my toll? My expense? My debt?

How unexpectedly apropos on Easter Sunday.


A few months ago I stumbled onto a new word – Tetelestai.

It’s a Greek word, found only two times in all of Scripture. Both in the book of John. Both in reference to the death of Jesus. Literally translated it means completed, or as it reads in John 19:30, “It is finished.” In New Testament times, it was a term regularly used in reference to a paid debt, stamped onto business documents to show a bill was paid in full.

If you’ve been a regular reader of this blog over the past year or so, you’re well aware that this church kid has been completely re-captured by the scandal of grace. That because of Jesus, there is nothing left to earn. Nothing left to pay for. That the chasm we could not cross has been crossed on our behalf. That the love we crave is given, not worked for. That in Christ, it truly is finished.


So this week after Easter, I want to remind you to continue living that way. Now that the great reminder of Easter is over, don’t fall back into an “earn as you go” mentality. Because of Jesus, everything has already been earned. You are free to love and to serve the world around you with the grace you’ve been given, not because that’s what makes God happy with you, but because all the acceptance you long for has already been provided through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

It is finished. Completed. Paid for. Tetelestai.

It’s time to add that word to your lexicon.

4 responses to The Word That Changed Everything

  1. David Wigington April 3, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    When preaching about how He (Jesus) has by grace paid in full our sin- dept , I often ask people how much time they spend thinking about a bill that’s paid .

  2. Hi Eric,

    We are requesting to use your image on our Church bulletin for Easter and the bulletin will be uploaded to our website. Do we have your permission to do this please.

    Thank you,

    O. Jones
    Communications Ministry Chair

    • Hi Ossie, you more than have my permission, but that is actually a photo of a painting I bought and hung in my office from an artist names Cathy Freeman. She would really be the one to ask. Her email is I would think she would be fine with it, especially if you gave her credit underneath. But a quick note to her might be a nice gesture. God bless your Easter services.

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