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After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfil the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished”, and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.  John 19: 28-30


Many matters in our world are never closed despite strong desires that they should be.


Almost every day the national newspapers feature people who long for “closure”. Some say that, after certain events, like the imprisonment of a wrongdoer or the award of damages or the admission of guilt, they will now have “closure”. Maybe.


For many there can be no “closure”. The mother-in-law of a Jersey GP never had “closure” regarding the death of her only son – because he disappeared from one day to the next in South Africa some years ago.


Does divorce bring “closure” to the parties? Too often it leave open wounds (for both parties) that are more gaping that those caused by the initial never-resolved dispute.


And Court proceedings for civil (not criminal) claims? Do they bring “closure” to plaintiffs? Even to plaintiffs who win their cases? Well, no.


The reason why not is often because the uncovering of wrong doing in others is intensely unpleasant. Once uncovered you can’t put the genie back in the bottle. And, often, the uncovering of the other person’s wrongdoing discloses your own.....


Take another look at the words in bold above – especially the twice-used word “finished”. This is John the biographer of Jesus. This is his account of the closure of the life of Jesus Christ AD 33. The whole phrase “It is finished” is, in the original Greek the single word, “Tetelestai!  These two uses are the only two occasions in the Bible’s New Testament where this word is used. And it means “Completed!” “Done!” “Closed!”


So here is a “closed” sandwich. Tetelestai X 2 is the bread. But what’s the filling in the sandwich? Read it. Tell me what you make of it.


Sometimes one looks at a particular post-holder in Jersey who is going through a hard time whilst attempting to deal honourably with issues as having taken up “a poisoned chalice”, a poisoned cup.


The sour wine here is the sour wine that the Roman soldiers drank from – as much as they wished because it kept them going in that harsh climate, that harsh unforgiving world which they inhabited AD33.


To participate in this world’s “success” (even as an employee) one has to do harsh things, things that are damaging to oneself as well as to others.


In symbol Jesus actually receives that sour wine. During all this crucifixion process and the Court cases that preceded it he drank the chalice of this world to the dregs. Was there any hurtful thing that was not committed upon him? Perjury, lies, beatings, mockery, conspiracy, rape, torture, betrayal, robbery, wrongful conviction. Finally he died through institutional torture and murder. A real hell.


 He drank all that until he knew that all was now “finished”, closed. He finally says, “It is finished”, it is closed.


What then was finished? What was closed? Greek scholars tell us that the word “Tetelestai” was written on bills when the person paid the bill. Just like our Jersey rubber stamps “Received with thanks” and the date.


Was Jesus saying that he had paid the full price for the sin of which the Roman sour wine was a parallel? If so, for whose sin was the payment made? Who now can have the invoice marked, “Received”? Whose account (will all its wrongdoing) can now be “Closed”?

‘When Jesus went back to heaven his desk was clear." (John Blanchard, Writer and speaker)
‘Christ’s atonement is no passion play. Hell cannot be cured by homeopathy.” (Augustus H Strong, US theologian, 1836-1921)
Richard Syvret

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