I’ve been driving around the past month with 8 books sitting in my trunk, but I pick up one of these books once, maybe twice, a week. So as part of my goals for the next few weeks, I wanted to finish at least half of these books. I’m around 30minutes finishing the first one but I had to stop and write this blog because I was struck with an epiphany.
Several weeks ago, I was dying to read Rob Bell’s latest book, Love Wins. Bell came and spoke at my college in February, and I had heard of this controversial book and wanted to pick it up. With all that I had been wanting to learn this summer, I ordered the book but simply could not wait for it to come. So, I found an audio version of the book online and downloaded it. I started listening to it, and then I realized I should take notes on my computer simultaneously, making it much easier to multitask as well as finish the book in less than 4 hours and have a collection of notes. With 30 minutes left on the audiobook, Bell struck me with an idea, and I merely could no longer focus because my thoughts were racing, he was continuing to talk, and I was still trying to take notes. So now I have paused the book, and put on my “Jon Schmidt Radio”(Solo Piano) on Pandora.
Although many, as well as myself, would say that Bell has some obsure beliefs, he presents an overwhelming image of the sacrifice of Christ using the story of the prodigal son. Within the story of the prodigal son, there are four smaller stories: the younger son’s story of himself, the older son’s story of himself, and the father’s story for both of his sons. The younger son comes home thinking that he is unworthy to be called a son and will settle to be a servant for his father, but the father says otherwise, “Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” Meanwhile, the older son comes home from the fields to this celebration and says to his father that he has been slaving away for his father and hasn’t received as much as a goat for his own celebration with his friends, but his younger brother gets a whole celebration in his name even though he left. The father goes on to reshape his story as well, “My son… you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”
The younger son though he was unworthy to be called a son, and the older brother thought of himself as more of a servant, but the father tells them both that they are both his sons. I always thought this story was about returning to God and knowing that you will be accepted but there’s more than that. It’s about choosing heaven over hell, choosing to be loved for what you are or holding onto your beliefs about yourself. That’s what Christ came to do, to tell us that we are loved. Return to Him becuase “It.Is.Finished.”
During this last spring, a good friend of mine shared the meaning of “tetelestai” in our weekly friday track team devotional. tetelestai translated literally means “it is finished.” It is the last word that Jesus said on the cross when he was crucified, but simply translated as “It is finished,” the word loses it power and context. Back in the ancient days, when you owed someone you performed labor for them if you could not provide the money. When you had done enough labor, tetelestai was written on a business documents to say that someone’s debt had been paid in full and no more money or labor was necessary, they were free. So when Jesus said “tetelestai” on the cross, He was saying “It is finished. Your debt has been paid in full. You are free.”
I had heard this all before, but today it finally started coming together. My debt has been PAID IN FULL. God has said “YOU ARE MY SON.” It is now up to me to accept God’s story for me, or to hold to the story I have written myself, a story absent of love and soaked in insecurity. Choosing the latter is denying to live in the Kingdom of God and partaking in a reality where the love of God cannot flourish. “Tetelestai.” My debt has been paid in full.
IT. IS. FINISHED.