“David Greenglass was a World War II traitor. He gave atomic secrets to the Soviet Union and then fled to Mexico after the war. His conspirators arranged to help him by planning a meeting with the secretary of the Soviet ambassador in Mexico City. Proper identification for both parties became vital. Greenglass was to identify himself with six prearranged signs. These instructions had been given to both the secretary and Greenglass so there would be no possibility of making a mistake. The signs were: (1) once in Mexico City, Greenglass was to write a note to the secretary, signing his name as ‘I. Jackson’; (2) after three days he was to go to the Plaza de Colon in Mexico City, and (3) stand before the statue of Columbus, (4) with his middle finger placed in a guide book. In addition, (5) when he was approached, he was to say it was a magnificent statue and that he was from Oklahoma. (6) The secretary was to then give him a passport.
The six prearranged signs worked. Why? With six identifying characteristics, it was impossible for the secretary not to identify Greenglass as the proper contact. How true, then, it must be that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah if he had 456 identifying characteristics well in advance and fulfilled them all.”
John Ankerberg, John Weldon, and Walter Kaiser Jr., "If Specific Prophecies Were Fulfilled by the Messiah, Does the Science of Probability Consider This Proof There Is a God?"; submitted by Aaron Goerner, Utica, New York.
Several months ago I started a Thomas Kinkaid puzzle of DC Comic Superheroes
It took me quite a few evenings to complete it, but there was such excitement and satisfaction when I was done
I took a picture of it and sent it to our boys
I told Judy, “It is finished!”
Every week, as I prepare God’s Word for Sunday, I’m excited when it’s done
Now, I don’t shout, “It is finished!” to Pastor Marc, but I still feel a sense of satisfaction and anticipation to share it on Thursday evening and Sunday morning
Those two were short-term victories for me
Completing my Master’s degree was a long-term victory
It took me several years of late nights, reading, writing, and studying, to complete my degree
I was glad when I could say, “It is finished!”
What short-term things have you completed? (book, puzzle, exercise, laundry, lesson plans, lunch preparation, video game, etc.)
What long-term victories have you completed? (degree, job search, marriage, family, etc.)
Last week we saw Jesus hanging on the cross, but He had not yet died. Today we’ll see Jesus’ last words and deeds and His death on the cross. He was completing a long-term victory – redemption of humanity. There are three more prophecies fulfilled in these ten verses. In fact, there were twenty prophecies fulfilled during Jesus’ trial and crucifixion [Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary, John, 361]. John wants us to understand that . . .
BIG IDEA – We can trust that God will always fulfill His Word.
GOD (John 19:28-37)
Prophecy of the drink (vv. 28-30)
Last week we saw that Jesus completed His first-born male responsibility to make sure His mother would be taken care of, after His death
The NIV translation of “later” makes it sound like an undetermined amount of time passes, from Jesus putting His mother in John’s care, and His statement about being thirsty
Most every other translation says, “after this”
John is simply letting us know that he is transitioning to another memory of Jesus’ crucifixion
Jesus had completed everything that God had given Him to do while on earth
He is obviously not referring to His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension – those were still to come
“Others may unconsciously play their part in the divine plan of redemption (e.g. vv. 23-24; cf. Acts 13:29), but not Jesus . . . Jesus’ knowledge that all was now completed is the awareness that all the steps that had brought him to this point of pain and impending death were in the design of his heavenly Father, and death itself was imminent.” [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 618-19]
What Jesus completed
He had taught crowds of people about the Kingdom of God
He had prepared His disciples to carry on the Gospel mission to both Jews and Gentiles
He had prepared the way for the coming of the Holy Spirit
He had lovingly taken care of His mother’s future
It’s time for Jesus to return to the Father
PRINCIPLE #1 – God is pleased when we obey Him completely.
Jesus modeled for us what it looks like to obey God completely
Jesus told His disciples and the religious leaders on multiple occasions that He was not doing or saying anything that was not from the Father
Philippians 2:8, And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!
Jesus was willing to sacrifice everything in order to obey God completely
Are we willing to sacrifice everything in order to obey God completely?
1 Samuel 15:1-35 (The Lord Rejects Saul as King)
Samuel gives Saul a message from the Lord about completely destroying the Amalekites and all their possessions
Saul attacked the Amalekites and completely destroyed all the people, except Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs – everything that was good (1 Sam. 15:9)
When Samuel confronted Saul, he joyfully greeted him and told him he had carried out the Lord’s instructions
Samuel was confused, because he heard the bleating of sheep, and lowing of cattle
Saul had not completely destroyed the Amalekites and all their possessions
He did not completely obey the Lord, so the Lord rejected him as king of Israel
Mark 10:17-28 (The Rich Young Man)
The rich young man comes to Jesus and asks what he must do to inherit eternal life
Jesus reminds him of the ten commandments, which he says he has kept since his youth
Jesus then says this, “One thing you lack,” he said, “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21)
The young man went away sad, because he had great wealth
In our western culture, we struggle to sacrifice everything in order to be completely obedient to God
Many times we want to hang on to a little of our past, instead of completely sacrificing it to the Lord, and then we wonder why God is not blessing us or answering our prayers
Sometimes we only obey the parts of the Bible we feel are easy to do and we ignore the other parts that are more difficult to do
We determine that we can’t afford to tithe, even though God has commanded us to give from the firstfruits of our labor
We are commanded not to gossip, but we “share” a prayer request about another person
We know we should forgive others and work towards reconciliation, but it’s so much easier to just leave and find another group of friends, another job, or another church
We know that looking at a woman with lust is just like committing adultery with her in our heart, but we justify it in our minds, because we haven’t actually done the physical act (Matt. 5:27-28)
We know that being angry with someone is just like murdering them in our heart, but we still allow ourselves to justify being angry with them (Matt. 5:21-22)
We know that we are supposed to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, but we don’t (Matt. 5:43-44)
The list could go on and on
#1 – My Next Step Today Is To: Admit that I am not obeying God completely and ask Him to help me obey Him completely, each day.
Luke 9:23-25, Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?”
We can trust that when we completely obey God, He will always fulfill His Word and keep His promises
We see the fulfillment of God’s Word in Jesus’ next statement
“I am thirsty”
We have already seen in verse 24 the connection to Psalm 22
Psalm 22:15, My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.
Every one of us knows what it’s like to be really thirsty and to have a dry mouth, where our tongue sticks to the roof of our mouths
David, in Psalm 69, again references thirst and what was offered to quench thirst
Psalm 69:3, I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched.
Psalm 69:21, They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.
Jesus was certainly physically thirsty at this point
The beatings He’d endured, and having to carry His own cross to Golgotha resulted in dehydration
Jesus already knew what was coming next, so I believe He was preparing for His triumphant announcement – but let’s not get ahead of ourselves
Many scholars believe there is also a spiritual side to Jesus’ statement about being thirsty
Jesus knew that His departure from this world would usher in, the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, on all His disciples
He was ready to return to heaven and see the ongoing fulfillment of the redemption story
Psalm 42:1-2, As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
Paul understood this desire to be with the Lord
2 Corinthians 5:6-9, Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.
We see then what the soldiers do in response to Jesus’ thirst
Relieving Jesus’ thirst
The soldiers would have had a jar of wine vinegar right there to keep themselves hydrated during the crucifixion
In most cases, it took days for the crucifixion to be completed
The wine vinegar was a cheap sour wine
It was different than the wine mixed with myrrh
John doesn’t mention this wine, but the Gospel writer, Mark, does
Mark 15:23, Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.
As Jesus is being led through the city streets, there would have been charitable people, who had mixed this wine, to help those being crucified
It was considered a sedative and helped to dull the pain and agony of crucifixion [Carson, 620]
The wine vinegar would have helped to hydrate the individual, prolonging life, pain, and agony [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 550]
The soldier uses a sponge and a hyssop stalk to offer the wine vinegar to Jesus
Sponge and stalk of hyssop
Some people try to claim that Scripture is false, because of this reference to the use of a stalk of hyssop
Hyssop was a bush that could grow just about anywhere [show picture of hyssop]
It could grow from the crack in a stone wall
Its stalks/branches were very thin and flexible
So, how could a wine vinegar-soaked sponge be supported by a stalk of hyssop?
Two things to consider:
Many of us think about the images we’ve seen in movies about the crucifixion [show first crucifixion picture] where the feet of the person being crucified is at head level with those on the ground
More realistically, the individual’s feet were probably between 2-4 feet off the ground [show second crucifixion picture]
The hyssop stalk would probably have been strong enough for the soldier to lift it just above his head to Jesus’ mouth
We weren’t there, so we don’t know exactly how it happened, but we can trust God’s Word – it is accurate and true
After Jesus has His thirst quenched, He makes a powerful proclamation
“It is finished”
Matthew, Mark, and Luke all say that after Jesus received the drink, He cried out in a loud voice
John is the only one who mentions that Jesus said, “It is finished!”
The drink enabled Him to loudly announce victory
“This confirms the sense we have seen throughout the Passion story that here Jesus is accomplishing what he intends. He is not a victim, but a servant doing God’s bidding. This is not a cry of desolation (‘At last it is over!’) but an announcement of triumph (‘It is accomplished!’).” [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 529]
“The verb ‘handed over’ comes as the last in a chain of occurrences of this verb. The devil through Judas Iscariot (13:2), ‘handed over’ Jesus to Caiaphas and the Jewish authorities (18:2), who ‘handed him over’ to Pilate (18:30), who ‘handed him over’ again to the Jews again for crucifixion (19:16). Now, Jesus himself ‘hands over’ himself – that is, his ‘Spirit’ – to someone, but to whom? . . . Quite clearly, Jesus ‘handed over the Spirit’ to the Father, just as in the other Gospels.” [Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of John, 965]
Jesus was not a victim, because He willingly laid down His life
God had given him the authority to do it
John 10:17-18, “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
PRINCIPLE #2 – Jesus’ death is our victory!
Because of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice on the cross and His triumphant announcement, “It is finished!”, we are able to be saved from our sins
Isaiah 53:6, We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 53:5, But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
We can be healed from the scars of sin through Jesus Christ
We can be at peace with God, instead of rebellion against Him, through Jesus Christ
#2 – My Next Step Today Is To: Admit that I have turned to my own way, accept Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, and be at peace with God.
Jesus’ death on the cross brings us victory over sin and death
God has promised us peace with him and healing from our sins when we turn to Jesus Christ
We can trust that God will always fulfill His Word.
The second fulfillment of prophecy is found in verses 31-33 and 36
Prophecy of the bones (vv. 31-33, 36)
The day of Preparation was just that, the Jews were preparing for the Sabbath
This is one positive aspect of the Jews, mixed in with their betrayal and rejection of Jesus
They were preparing for the Sabbath
Sabbath was on Saturday and actually began Friday evening at sunset
We should pay attention to this important practice of preparing for the Sabbath
Our preparation for Sunday worship should begin Saturday evening
For many years we practiced this with our boys and taught them about the importance of preparing for Sunday
We usually didn’t have friends over on Saturday evenings to spend the night, unless they were going to church with us on Sunday
We rarely scheduled parties or other activities on Saturday evenings, so that we could prepare for Sunday
We would go to bed at a reasonable hour, so we would be able to get up and go to church on Sunday
If you aren’t preparing the night before for Sunday worship, I want to encourage you to consider making it a priority in your life
It can make all the difference!
#3 – My Next Step Today Is To: Commit to preparing on Saturday evening for church on Sunday.
This was a special Sabbath because it fell during Passover and they had the special sheath offering during this time
Request of Pilate
It most instances, death by crucifixion took days
The impact was greater when criminals were left on the cross for multiple days
In fact, many times wild animals and carrion birds would come and feed on the rotting bodies still hanging on the cross
If the Romans needed to speed up the dying process, they would smash the legs of the individual with an iron mallet, so they would not be able to push themselves up and take a breath (they would die from suffocation)
The Jews were asking Pilate to speed up the dying process, because they didn’t want the bodies hanging on the crosses during the Sabbath
Their desire for this comes from their own laws
Deuteronomy 21:22-23, If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and his body is hung on a tree, you must not leave his body on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse. You must not desecrate the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.
The Jews obviously didn’t want the land to be desecrated, especially on this special Passover Sabbath
The Jews were aware of the Roman practice of breaking the criminal’s legs to speed up death, so they request that it be done and the bodies be taken down before sunset
Pilate agrees to their request and informs the soldiers
They begin with the two criminals on either side of Jesus
Why did they work from the outside in and not in a row?
We don’t know why they did it in this order, other than the sovereignty of God
No broken bones
When they came to Jesus, they recognized that He was already dead
We know that He had bowed His head
His body would have been still and He would not have been making any noise, at this point
Perhaps the other two men were still moving around on the cross and crying out in pain
John tells us in verse 36 that the soldiers didn’t break Jesus’ legs, because it was a fulfillment of Scripture
It is the sovereignty of God at work once again
We can trust that God will always fulfill His Word.
Jesus was fulfilling and completing the sacrificial system that the Jews had lived under from the beginning
They were required to bring a perfect lamb, without blemish, as a sin offering (this only covered over their sins)
This lamb was not to have any broken bones and while they ate the sacrificial lamb, before the exodus, they were not to break any of its bones
Exodus 12:46, “It must be eaten inside one house; take none of the meat outside the house. Do not break any of the bones.”
Numbers 9:12, They must not leave any of it till morning or break any of its bones. When they celebrate the Passover, they must follow all the regulations.
Jesus is identified as the Passover Lamb by Paul and Peter, so it’s appropriate that none of His bones were broken
1 Corinthians 5:7, Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast – as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
1 Peter 1:19, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
Jesus was the perfect lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29)
His sacrifice was once for all and it didn’t just cover over our sin, it took it away
We also see the fulfillment of Psalm 34:19-20
David is writing and explains that the Lord will protect the bones of a righteous man
Psalm 34:19-20, A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones.
Jesus was perfect, without sin (a righteous man) and the Lord protected His bones during the crucifixion
While two of the criminals had their legs broken, Jesus’ legs were not broken, which fulfilled Old Testament Scripture
Instead of breaking Jesus’ legs, one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear
Prophecy of the piercing (vv. 34, 37)
When they pierced Jesus’ side blood and water came out
There are all kinds of speculation about the meaning of blood and water flowing from the spear wound
What did the spear actually pierce? (heart, lungs, etc.)
We know that it did not break any of the bones in His chest or side
Most scholars agree that John’s intention in mentioning blood and water flowing out, is to remove any doubt that Jesus was dead – He died a human death
Had He still been alive, only blood would have flowed out [Gangel, 354]
Fulfillment of Scripture
We see again that this act of piercing Jesus’ side happened to fulfill Scripture
God was in control of every circumstance surrounding Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection
We can trust that God will always fulfill His Word.
Past: Zechariah 12:10, “And 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.”
Future: Revelation 1:7, Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.
Jesus’ body being pierced instead of breaking His legs was a fulfillment of Scripture
John’s statement in verse 35 is really a fulfillment of Scripture too
Prophecy of the Gospel (v. 35)
Most scholars agree that John is the one who is being referred to here as the testimony giver
We already know that John was at the foot of the cross and had watched Jesus’ crucifixion and death
He was an eyewitness to the trial, flogging, crucifixion, and eventually resurrection and ascension
He would be the best person to give a testimony, as a first-hand observer/witness
John gives his testimony, so that those he is writing to will believe
The “you” in the Greek is plural
John is writing to us also – he is sharing his testimony of what he saw, so that we will believe in Jesus
PRINCIPLE #3 – God’s desire is that we testify about Jesus, so others may believe.
This is His Great Command and Commission for His disciples (that’s includes us!)
Mark 16:15-16, He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
Matthew 28:18-20, Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
John was obediently fulfilling this command and commission and through that he was fulfilling the prophecy of the Gospel
#4 – My Next Step Today Is To: Testify about Jesus to my family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers, so they may believe and be saved.
Are you obeying God completely?
Will you prepare on Saturday evening for Sunday morning?
Are we making disciples?
“Frieda van Hessen was one of Holland’s foremost opera singers, but during the Nazi invasion she, as a Jew, was forced into hiding. In the providence of God, her life was spared. After the war someone told her she should convert from Judaism to Christianity, just in case something else was to happen. This suggestion nagged at her until she finally gave in and spoke to a minister. He set up a meeting for her with a Christian lady named Elizabeth who had converted from Judaism. Their Bible study turned into an argument. Frieda just couldn’t believe what she was reading from the Gospels. She accused Elizabeth of believing in fairy tales. After six weeks of fruitless arguments, they decided the next week would be their last meeting. Elizabeth asked Frieda to read two chapters from the Old Testament before their last meeting – Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53. Frieda writes about that week:
Six days went by, and I could no longer procrastinate. I went to a small room in the house, closed the door, and opened up the Bible. . . . God, in His wisdom, had said to Elizabeth, ‘Tell her to read Psalm 22.’ . . . I found it, and what did I see: ‘My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?’ I . . . remembered that in Bach’s ‘St. Matthew’s Passion,’ the basso, portraying the Lord, sings, ‘My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?’ Still in my rebellion, I said, ‘What do you know, they stole this from Bach!’
Oh, God is so wise! This finally got my attention. Now I wanted to continue reading to see what else had been ‘stolen’ from Bach! Then I came to verse 16, and read, ‘They pierced my hands and my feet.’ Almost in shock, I literally yelled out ‘That’s Jesus!’
I knew that Jesus died in that devastating way. The Jews stoned people to death but did not crucify them. Crucifixion was a Roman death penalty. Yet David wrote Psalm 22, prophesying this form of death hundreds of years before crucifixion was ever invented and practiced by the Romans.
Then I reread Isaiah 53, and clearly understood that it described the whole crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Instantly, God had taken the blinders off my eyes and Satan was defeated! I called Elizabeth, who came over immediately, and together we read Isaiah 53. Then, all of it became very clear to me: how ‘He was despised and rejected of men,’ how He was a ‘man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,’ how ‘we hid our faces from Him,’ how ‘He had been afflicted and wounded for our transgressions,’ and how ‘with His stripes we are healed.’
I realized how ‘all of us, like sheep, have gone astray,’ and how ‘He died for our iniquities.’ Yes, for my sins too.
I reasoned that if David . . . and Isaiah . . . both knew Him, and Paul, a Pharisee, saw Him and knew Him, then I needed no further proof. I accepted Him too, as my Lord and Savior. (Roos-Van Hessen, Life, 190-92).
[Carter & Wredberg, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in John, 374-75].