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Happy Easter: 'It is finished' and the meaning of hope

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Easter Sunday can be summed up with one word: hope. Today is a day of remembering the hope that Jesus of Nazareth bestowed upon humanity when he walked out of that tomb nearly 2,000 years ago.

Hope in restoration. Hope in reconciliation. Hope in healing. And hope that no matter your circumstances, the empty tomb stands as a reminder that God has a plan to redeem your life and bring you back into right relationship with Him.

It's hope that the world will once again exist in shalom — wholeness, peace, abundance, harmony.


"Tetelestai" is the Greek rendering of Jesus' dying words on the cross. It's translated to English as "It is finished" in the Gospel of John.

The word comes from the Greek root "telos," which means the "end" or "ultimate" fulfillment of something full of meaning and purpose. It's the perfect word to describe Jesus' death on the cross and his entire ministry, which had been the build-up to the Passion Week.

And while it was difficult to see at the time, Jesus' last words had more meaning than his disciples could have ever imagined.

For centuries, the Israelite people were enslaved under the thumb of enemy empires. They made a covenant with the God who had redeemed them out of slavery in Egypt. In return, they vowed to be a "kingdom of priests." But at every turn, the Israelites were compromised by corruption and sin. Still, God remained faithful and promised to bring a new Moses and a new David — a messiah — who would restore their relationship with God, and therefore, God's relationship with all the nations.

Jesus — His life, ministry, death and resurrection — was the ultimate fulfillment of those promises. He was the "wounded victor" prophesied about in Genesis 3 and the "suffering servant" previewed in Isaiah 53.

With His death and resurrection three days later, Jesus had finally "telos-ed" what had been building up for all of human history.

Hope, not optimism.

But don't think for a second that an optimistic outlook is what sustained the Israelite people for centuries of slavery and brutal occupation. For those serious about God, it was hope that sustained them and hope that defined their faith — a hope that Jesus embodied, literally.

And for Christians today, hope — not optimism — should continue to be our heart posture. Life isn't easy, but we hope for new creation, where Jesus reconciles humanity and deals with our sin and evil once and for all.

Cornel West once said:

Hope and optimism are different. Optimism tends to be based on the notion that there's enough evidence out there to believe things are gonna be better, much more rational, deeply secular, whereas hope looks at the evidence and says, "It doesn't look good at all. Doesn't look good at all. Gonna go beyond the evidence to create new possibilities based on visions that become contagious to allow people to engage in heroic actions always against the odds, no guarantee whatsoever." That's hope. I'm a prisoner of hope, though.

West's view of hope versus optimism hits the nail on the head. Christians hope. We know things aren't as they ought to be, yet we know that God, through the work of Jesus, is working to restore humanity back to those blissful Genesis 2 days. That's where we place our faith.

Now to you

Jesus is alive and his spirit is abound, working in and through the church to advance the Gospel — the good news about Him — and make disciples at the ends of the Earth.

This Easter, if you're a Christian, reflect on the Gospel and what it truly meant for Jesus to do what he did: The power of His sacrifice, but the hope of the empty tomb.

That hope translates to your life. Jesus did what He did, not only to fulfill the Scriptures, but for you — because He loves you and desires your relationship with Him to be as it ought to be. There's so much hope in what happened 2,000 years ago — A DEAD MAN WALKED OUT OF AN EMPTY TOMB ALIVE!

And that's what we remember today: that a life following Jesus is one marked by hope.

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