Summary: Second in a series of three describing the day the earth really did stand still
And Gave Up His Spirit
Last week I strove to bring attention to the first of several miraculous workings performed by Jehovah God on the day of Jesus’ crucifixion, namely the great darkness that enveloped the entire universe during the final three hours that the man given the title “King of the Jews” hanged upon the cross. Today, I want to examine more of the miracles we read of occurring specifically at the time of His death. Turn with me to the Gospel of John, chapter 19, starting with verse 28. I will interject Luke 23:46 at the place where I believe to be the proper time:
“After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, 'I am thirsty.' A jar full of vinegar was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth. Therefore when Jesus had received the vinegar, He said, 'It is finished!' And Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, 'Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.' and having said this, He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” (Joh 19:28-30)
Now in the real world Jesus' command over the course of this ordeal was something that simply could not have been done. Crucifixion was the most agonizing form of execution ever devised by the mind of ancient man. Roman law even forbade its use upon a Roman citizen. Its cruelty lay in the fact that it took the victim’s most basic innate desire for self-preservation, and turned it against himself in a most hideous fashion. In addition to the excruciating pain, and the slow, inevitable physical breakdown of the body’s ability to sustain life, the victim’s mind also became a battleground between its instinctive will to live, and the growing, insatiable, frustrated longing for death, if for no other reason, then simply as a release from the indescribable anguish of the moment. Its effect upon the living was also undeniable, because at this time no one would willingly risk the wrath of Roman rule if doing so meant suffering such a fate. Historical accounts attest to the fact that death by crucifixion took up to three days to run its course. Yet here was a man who defied everything by actually hastening His own demise while nailed to a cross.
Throughout the time of His ministry Jesus was called by many 'the Son of David,' and was looked upon by them as being the promised king destined to lead His people Israel to a position of renewed glory among the nations. To the Jews David was their ideal. Through the inspiration of the Spirit we know of the range of emotions that ancient king experienced in his life; confidence and courage, happiness and hatred, guilt and regret, remorse and despair, obedience, gratitude, hope, trust, and joy. All these and more made up the fiber of the man that through it all could claim victory through his faithfulness. In like manner, in these last minutes, David became Jesus' most intimate companion, and the Jews primary indicter.
In last week's sermon, I pointed out that when, from the Cross, Jesus quoted the start of the 22nd Psalm, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani,” the entire text of David's prophecy would have flashed upon the conscious minds of all those there witnessing the event. They simply could not stop themselves. In the exact same fashion John records in Verse 28:
“...Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture...”
What accomplishment? It was God's eternal purpose to pay the ultimate price to redeem mankind. Jesus was certainly cognizant of that fact, and said:
“...'the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.'” (Matt 20:28)
Now that time was truly at-hand. It is mind boggling to think that He was actually counting-down His final heartbeats. Only seconds remained.
...'I am thirsty.'
In both that simple request to receive that one small respite from the overwhelming physical agony wracking Jesus’ body, and in the response those tending to this grizzly scene provided, those present were brought to the indelible reference of David's 69th Psalm, verse 21. Let’s go to that particular entry, and read more fully the prophesy of David, beginning with verse 16. We first hear the call of the righteous for help from on High:
“Answer me, O Lord, for Your lovingkindness is good According to the greatness of Your compassion, turn to me, And do not hide Your face from Your servant, For I am in distress; answer me quickly. Oh draw near to my soul and redeem it; Ransom me because of my enemies! You know my reproach and my shame and my dishonor; All my adversaries are before You. Reproach has broken my heart and I am so sick. And I looked for sympathy, but there was none, And for comforters, but I found none. They also gave me gall for my food And for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” (69 Psa:16-21)