Experiencing the Cross - Fulfilled
by Pastor Mike Fortune
May 15, 2010
- Even on the cross, Jesus put others first [John 19:28]
- Jesus thirsted for our salvation to be complete [John 19:29-30; Revelation 22:17]
- Jesus' death fulfilled prophecies [John 19:31-37; Exodus 12:46; Zechariah 12:10]
Christianity Today called the 2003 award winning short film entitled The Bridge [Most in Czech] “life changing.” It is the story of a single father who takes his eight year-old son to work with him at the railroad where he is the drawbridge operator. While there are a few more story lines in the original film than the scenes we saw, the central theme is about the bridge operator’s son who falls into the drawbridge gear works as an oncoming train approaches leaving the father with a horrific choice. Save the people on the train. Or save his son. So that earthly Father, just like our heavenly Father, chose to lower the drawbridge and save others first. Even if that meant not saving his own son.
Which as we discovered last time, much to our surprise, really is the most Biblically accurate description for what our Heavenly Father did too. For it was God who crucified Christ. Not Pilate, the soldiers, or the Jews. Isaiah 53:10 and Acts 4:28 says it was God’s will for Jesus to die. Why? Because God’s unchangeable law demands of us in Deuteronomy 6:5 that we should, “5Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” But as John Piper says in his book The Passion of Jesus Christ, “We have all loved other things more. This is what sin is—dishonoring God by preferring other things over him, and acting on those preferences” [p.20].
Yes, God loves sinners like crazy! But what’s also true is, because God is holy, he hates sin! And the Bible says in Romans 3:23 that the wages of our sin is death! God has a wrath against sin. But the Bible also says that Jesus died to absorb that wrath and the wages of sin [cf. Romans 3:25; Galatians 3:13; Colossians 2:13; 1 John 4:10]. So the mockers in Matthew 27:41-42 were right. The God who chose to save others chose not to save Himself. Because God is not just just. He is also love! And even on the cross, perhaps, especially on the cross, this becomes most clear. He always puts others first. Hopefully, you’ll see that clearly in our passage today. So turn with my in your Bibles to John 19:28-37.
“28Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.’ 29A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips. 30When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. 31Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. 32The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. 36These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: ‘Not one of his bones will be broken,’ 37and, as another scripture says, ‘They will look on the one they have pierced.’”
Point number one: Even on the cross, Jesus put others first. Verse 28 begins by saying, “Later, knowing that all was now completed...” But what is the most recent thing Jesus completed? If we take a step back from the literal and spiritual darkness of the cross [Matthew 27:45] and the theological depth it reveals about the Father’s love and the plan of salvation as prophesied being fulfilled before our eyes [John 19:28], and you back up in John 19 to verses 25-27, as we did last time on Mother’s Day weekend, you’ll notice that here is where the last two “beholds” show up [we noticed the other two in John 19:5 and 14]. Jesus, in the waning moments of his life, when he sees his mother near the cross and the disciple Jesus kept on loving, presumably John, he says “Behold your son” [verse 26 KJV]. And to the disciple, “Behold your mother” [verse 27 KJV]. And from that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
Isn’t that just like Jesus? I get mad when they run out of baked potatoes at Wendy’s. And cranky the next day if I don’t sleep well the night before. I hate it when they air a re-run of your fave show on TV. But Jesus, after not sleeping all night or eating or drinking all day endures lives his drama! He endures two beatings and then most of six hours on the cross before finally expressing a thought for himself. “I thirst” [verse 28]. But notice that he does this only after he arranges care for his mother! Even on the cross, Jesus put others first. Which kinda puts all our petty issues of selfishness in perspective right? If Jesus could put others first while dying on the cross, don’t you think his followers should be able to put others first while living in the lap of luxury? We have beds. Plenty of food. A roof over our heads. And still we have the audacity to put our wants before Christ’s needs. God help us!
But while we were still sinners, Christ died for us [Romans 5:8]. He demonstrates his love for us long before we even consider loving or giving anything back. Which leads us quickly to point number two: Jesus thirsted for our salvation! He who in John 6:35 said, “He who believes in me will never be thirsty” himself was thirsty! Even his physical need has a spiritual truth. Previously he told the Samaritan woman that “Whoever drinks the water I give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” [John 4:14]. But as we’ve discussed, to secure this living water and eternal life for us, he himself had to pass through “a dry and thirsty land, where no water is” as Psalm 63:1 says. Just like the children of Israel made their Exodus, Jesus’ is making a new way out for us as well because he is the way, the truth, and the life. How reassuring it must have been to Jesus, to see in the lives of at least a few people around the cross, that his sacrifice would accomplish the salvation of at least some that were watching that day.
I imagine that Simon of Cyrene, who was forced to carry the cross, stayed to see what Matthew 27:32-34 says happened next. “They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). 34There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it.” Perhaps he was with John and the “many women watching from a distance” that Matthew 27:55 says followed Jesus to care for his needs. Scripture doesn’t say if it was Simon, John, or one of these dear women who by now had apparently come close enough to hear what Jesus was saying. But as soon as some of those standing there heard him, Matthew 27:48 says someone “at once” or “immediately” ran and got a sponge, filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink [Matthew 27:48].
So Simon, John, and this group of women including in his own mother were there at the cross. Close enough to care for at least one of Christ’s needs. But they weren’t the only ones whose hearts were undoubtedly moved by the love of God. As Luke 23:41 records, at least one of the thieves being crucified beside Jesus also believed that He who was thirsty could provide for him living water of eternal life. That thief rebuked the other. “‘We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’”
That’s it! No 28 week Bible study. No baptismal class. No small group attendance required. You wanna be there? You’re in! Maybe that’s why John 1:12 says, “To all who receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to be called children of God. Maybe that’s why John 6:29 adds, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” And maybe that that’s why Revelation 22:17 proclaims, “17The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.”
Point number one: Even on the cross, Jesus put others first. Point number two: Jesus thirsted for our salvation to be complete. And how it must have encouraged him to know that at least a few people were ready to accept it! And as we’ll see next time, they weren’t the only ones who would. Verse 30 is one of the most significant scriptures in the Bible. It simply records, “30When Jesus had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”
At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, he had said in John 4:34 “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” And now in John 19:30, at the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, he says he has completed the work His father had given him to do. Every step in the plan of redemption, laid before the foundation of the world according to Revelation 13:8, had been completed. Jesus the prophet had pity on the women of Jerusalem [Luke 23:27-31]. Jesus the King told Pilate not to worry because his kingdom is not of this world [John 19:36]. And now, after accomplishing everything required of Him to prove that God is just and love, Jesus was prepared to become our high priest. Offering his shed blood as a propitiation or atonement for our sins. Just like the high priest did on the Day of Atonement in Leviticus 16:14 when sacrificial blood was sprinkled above the tablets of law on the mercy seat in the Most Holy Place.
The book of Hebrews reveals that Jesus is still mediating, not meditating, mediating in heaven. Which we can be glad for because we still fall short of the glory of God don’t we? Hebrews 10:14 says it this way, “By one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” I don’t know about you, but I am eternally grateful that Jesus not only saves us. He also sanctifies us. He died outside the gate to make us holy [Hebrews 13:12]. His blood covers ours before and after we accept his sacrifice for our sins.
Jesus accomplished everything necessary for you to be saved at the cross. Everything else that Daniel 7 & 8 and Matthew 22 and Hebrews says is happening before Jesus returns is merely icing on the cake. For Jesus is our prophet, priest, and king. And the genealogies of the Bible, as boring as they are to read, are important because they trace the lineage of Jesus back through the Bible to King David. I’m not going to do that this morning. It would take too long. One guy says there are over 456 prophecies in the Old Testament pointing to Jesus being the Annointed One or Messiah [The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah: Alfred Edersheim, 980]. So I’ll do that some other time if you want. But today, what I want to do in closing, is leave with you 29 of those prophecies Jesus fulfilled in the last 24 hours of his life. Don’t try to write all these down. I’ve got a handout for you today on your way out of church with everything I’m going to say next.
Point number three: Jesus’ death fulfilled prophecies. The first one we’ve already seen in verse 28. Jesus said, “I thirst.” But there are 28 more. Let me cover them quickly and briefly before highlighting the five others listed in our passage today and don’t forget, these are all on the handout:
1. Betrayed by a Friend: Prophecy: Psalm 41:9 Fulfillment: Matthew 10:4
2. Sold for 30 pieces of silver: Prophecy: Zechariah 11:12 Fulfillment: Matthew 26:15
3. Betrayal money to be thrown into God's House: Prophecy: Zechariah 11:13 Fulfillment: Matthew 27:5 & 27:3
4. Price Given for Potter's field: Prophecy: Zechariah 11:13 Fulfillment: Matthew 27:5
5. Forsaken by His Disciples: Prophecy: Zechariah 13:7 Fulfillment: Mark 14:50 (See also Matthew. 26:31; Mark 14:27)
6. Accused by false witnesses: Prophecy: Psalm 35:11 Fulfillment: Matthew 26:59, 60
7. Silent before his accusers: Prophecy: Isaiah 53:7 Fulfillment: Matthew 27:12
8. Wounded and Bruised: Prophecy: Isaiah 53:5 Fulfillment: Matthew 27:26 (See also Zechariah 13:6)
9. Smitten and spit upon: Prophecy: Isaiah 50:6 Fulfillment: Matt. 26:67 (See also Micah 5:1 and Luke 22:63)
10. Mocked: Prophecy: Psalm 22:7, 8 Fulfillment: Matt. 27:29 (see also Matthew 27:41-43)
11. Fell under the burden of the Cross He was carrying: Prophecy: Psalm 109:24, 25 Fulfillment: John 19:17 (See also Luke 23:26-27 and Matthew 27:31, 32)
12. His hands and feet were pierced: Prophecy: Psalm 22:16 Fulfillment: Luke 23:33 (See also Zechariah 12:10 and John 20:25)
13. Crucified with thieves: Prophecy: Isaiah 53:12 Fulfillment: Matthew 27:38 (See also Mark 15:27, 28)
14. Made intercession for His persecutors: Prophecy: Isaiah 53:12 Fulfillment: Luke 23:34
15. Rejected by His own people: Prophecy: Isaiah 53:3 Fulfillment: John 7:5; 48 (See also Psalm 69:8; 118:22 and Matthew 21:42, 43; John 1:11)
16. Hated without a cause: Prophecy: Psalm 69:4 Fulfillment: John 15:25 (See also Isaiah 49:7)
17. Friends stood afar off: Prophecy: Psalm 38:11 Fulfillment: Luke 23:49 (See also Matthew 27:55, 56; Mark 15:40)
18. People shook their heads: Prophecy: Psalm 109:25 Fulfillment: Matthew 27:39 (See also Psalm 22:7)
19. Stared upon: Prophecy: Psalm 22:17 Fulfillment: Luke 23:35
20. Garments parted and lots cast: Prophecy: Psalm 22:18 Fulfillment: John 19:23-24
And now is where we see the prophecies in our passage we’re studying today fulfilled. Psalm 69:21 said Jesus would suffer thirst as John 19:28 attests. Psalm 69:21 also says they, “They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.” And in John 19:28-29 Jesus fulfilled that prophecy. Matthew 17:34 also says gall and vinegar was offered to him. But since he promised his disciples in Matthew 26:29 that he would not drink from the fruit of the vine until the day he drinks it anew in his father’s Kingdom, I think he refused it. While it’s true, as Philip Yancey points out in his book The Jesus I Never Knew that every Jewish victim of crucifixion probably cried out the words of Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46 records Jesus’ forsaken cry. Psalm 31:5 said Messiah would commit himself to God. And 19:30 says Jesus bowed his head and gave up his spirit. Matthew 27:46 adds that he repeated those prophetic words from Psalm 31:5, “Into your hands I commit my spirit.”
As if the reader needed further proof that Jesus was making a way for all who believe to be saved, Jesus even fulfills what Exodus 12:46 required of the Passover Lamb’s bones. Exodus 12:46 said the Passover Lamb, “Must be eaten inside one house; take none of the meat outside the house. Do not break any of the bones.” And Psalm 34:20 predicted that God would “Protect all the bones of the righteous man. “Not one of them will be broken.” Which was no small feat since the legs of both thieves were broken according to John 19:32. They did this not because they were worried about breaking Deuteronomy 21:22-23. Which prohibited bodies from being hung on a tree over night. They routinely broke that rule. People dying of crucifixion were often on the cross for several days. They used that rule as an excuse because John 19:31 says it was the day of Preparation and the Sabbath was a special or high Sabbath with lots of pilgrims and guests.
Christians see in Psalm 22:14 a fulfillment of Christ’s broken heart. It said, “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me.” Which doesn’t specifically “broken heart”, but poetically it does right? And while some still doubt that Jesus could have any blood left to pour out after the soldiers in John 19:34 thrust a sword inside Jesus’ side and blood and water poured out, that too was something prophesied.
Zecharaiah 12:10 states, “10And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.” When Christian pioneer John Calvin found this prophecy, he called it a “duplex gratia” or double grace. One for the blood and one for the water that flowed. We can’t be sure that’s what John the Bible writer was referring to when in 1 John 5:6 he writes, “This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood.” But personally, I think it is. Because later in that same letter he penned these words in 1 John 5:11-13, “ 11And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
But I’m not the only one who sees the fulfillment and significance of both the water and the blood. A British hymn writer guy named Augustus M. Toplady wrote it this way: “Let the water and the blood / From thy riven side which flowed / Be of sin the double cure / Cleanse me from its guilt and power.” Anybody recognize the lyrics to that song?
Yes, Jesus is our Rock of Ages. Even on the cross, Jesus put others first. He thirsted for our salvation to be complete and he finished it. But not before his death fulfilled many prophecies. He is our bridge. To salvation and holiness. May we this week, like the people who followed Jesus from afar, come closer to Him each day so we too can be responsive to his needs and the needs of those around us [Matthew 25:40].