Tetelestai

by Levi The Poet

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about

It is finished.

Three words that I can't comprehend.

The Jesus Storybook Bible says this about Jesus' crucifixion: "God was going to pour into Jesus' heart all the sadness and brokenness in people's hearts."

I wrote Tetelestai because I wanted to try to capture some of what welled up in my heart when I read that children's bible. I wrote it because I wanted it to be a resource for others who hoped to put words to the weight of this day that we remember together. I hope it accomplishes that end for you. I hope that it proves helpful for the rest of you who seek to rest on this promise with me:

It.
Is.
Finished.

lyrics

When your betrayer kissed your cheek, did he slip his serpents tongue between his “Greetings, Rabbi,",
and did you feel it forked and flickering against your skin?
I guess it’s vulgar, but I wouldn’t put it past him.

My tongue is shaped the same.

I know without a doubt that I do not understand the weight in my pockets,
change clashing with change and did you know that thirty pieces of silver
was the penalty paid by the owner of an ox that gored a slave to death?
(And I know, I know: “I’d have sold you for less.”)
I guess...

More than likely, I’d have tried to monopolize, like:
you mean you didn’t negotiate the rate and ask for a higher price?
Counting my own pennies like how high can I stack this copper
and what’s the value of my ROI when I decide to commodify Christ?

Like moralistic, therapeutic deism was exactly what you were going for
when you told us to make disciples of all nations,
and baptize them in the name of celebrity bank statements,
and motivate replication in the same dualistic vein as
The Way aka self-actualization...

Like we didn’t commit cosmic treason so much as made a mistake, and
our bodies aren’t groaning along with the rest of creation, and
our hearts aren’t broken, what good is reconciliation
to an adulteress who doesn’t see
her need to consummate with
God?

Let alone that God would want or long after her.

Misplaced worshippers,
praise is inherent to the way we were made,
but our hearts are easily led astray.
Our hearts are idol factories.
I was reminded of it this morning,
when I woke up intimately aware of my desire for God
to bless this silver piece that I’m writing
about elevating Jesus so that whoever sees it
might elevate
me.

Preceding time and space, God spoke, and in that thunderous tone,
purposed to forfeit his rightful throne and cloak himself in flesh and bone and enter into humanity.
(And we called it vanity.) No, we called it profanity, slandering, blaspheming
“all hail to the king” and still, I see my name in his handwriting,
kite flying, flailing but still tied to the string that rejoices over me with singing.

Quiet me, repeat.

And in the quiet conversations before the beginning,
I wonder if you laughed together,
about what was to come,
or what came,
or however time works where it doesn’t.

Not making light of or minimizing my blame
but the kind of laughter that helps us cope with the pain,
like a farewell between friends
when they know that when they see one another again,
it will have hurt, but they both know there’s no other way.
And in that Perfect Community’s case there’s no character change,
but the both/and of God’s wrath and grace cut crimson across Christ’s face
as the Father forsakes the son who suffers in our place.

And I don’t have a son of my own yet, but I know what it’s like to be forsaken by a father.
But I still see selflessness in that selfishness and
if sinful, lowercase s “saviors" think that they know how to give good gifts to their kids,
then how much more a perfect king become sin that I might become his righteousness?
When you predetermined in pre-incarnate existence to persist in pursuing the people you envisaged
as the profane remnant made pure through crucifixion,
as the blood-stained hands redeemed through your submission,
did you shudder at the anxiety?

Did you bleed my Type B through your sweat at Gethsemane?
Greater love knows none than to lay down one’s life for his friends
(who were once his enemies).

Condemnation flows through our bloodlines
and it’s true that all of us have been consigned
to disobedience, yet through Christ the most high
will have mercy on all of us.

God have mercy on all of us.

I gathered thorns and rust and money for bludgeoning,
unleashed all of my fury whipping, ripping ribs from their core
and washed my hands clean.

I gathered fame and pleasure and glass strapped to leather,
availed myself to the Baals and whittled them into nails,
and washed my hands clean.

I gathered dice and clothing and splinters and fear,
clenched my fists for the blow,
and washed my hands clean.

As if Pilot and I aren’t really stained red.

It has been said
that “behind Calvary lies the throne of heaven."
When you carried the grave to Golgatha, was the crown eclipsed by the cross?

While you were suffocating,
did you think back to time that predated time,
drowning to the sound of mockery on both sides?

That’s my voice.

"Today you will be with me in Paradise."

That’s your voice.

While they cast your clothing for lots,
did you recognize their intimate design,
giving your life up to the sound of pride screaming crucify?

That’s my voice.

“Tetelestai."

That’s your voice.

And when they mocked and called you a liar,
did they see the truth in your submission
when you withheld power and committed your spirit to the father’s vision?
When the centurion was gifted with conviction
following your dying plea that the father wouldn’t convict him
- that the father would forgive him,
that the punishment that the perfect law demanded would be rescinded
on your behalf -
did you wash our hands clean?

At the cross of Christ I see:
compassion. Mercy.

And Jesus is more than a selling point for a piece
of self-serving silver penance on personal piety when
at his cross we see:
compassion. Mercy.

And we can’t keep flogging ourselves for staining filthy rags.
He
isn’t sold on either.

When they retrieved your broken body and buried you beneath
time and sin and space and folly and guards set to ward off thieves,
did the thief come in to gloat and glory in your defeat and did he
slip his serpent’s tongue between his lips to kiss your feet and did he slither at your side
for all three days boasting in his cunning?

And did he ever see it coming?

When they retrieved your broken body and buried you beneath
wrath and love and hate and cup pleased to crush the low-born king,
did the thief come in to curse the quarry that quaked and
God, when death lost it’s sting
did you crush his serpent’s tongue between his lips using
the skin scarred into your feet and
swallow the grave in victory?

You swallowed the grave in victory.

credits

released April 2, 2015
Lyrics by: Levi Macallister | levithepoet.net
Music by: Alex Sugg | alexsugg.com

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Levi The Poet Albuquerque, New Mexico

Writer and storyteller. Everything is a gift.

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