About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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    The Death Of Jesus  (ch. 19:28-37)


In verses 28 to 30 we see the last moments of Jesusí life. 


Verse 28 begins with the word ďlaterĒ.  Later means, after Jesus spoke to John and Mary and most likely after the three hours of darkness that came over the earth.  In these three hours Jesus bore the sins of the world.  There was more than physical darkness on earth, but a great spiritual darkness that permeated the spiritual universe as well.  


It is interesting to note that the hour in which Jesus died was the hour in which the sacrificial lambs would have been killed for Passover.  


In verse 28 John tells us that Jesus now knew that everything was finished, that is, all His work to bring salvation for us was over.  All of the Old Testament prophecies predicting the death of Jesus had been fulfilled.   

John also says that to fulfill Scripture Jesus told the soldiers that He was thirsty.  The Scripture referred to here by John might be Psalm 69:21 where it says in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.     


In response to Jesus and the prophetic word the soldiers dipped a sponge into a jar of old wine that had turned to vinegar, put it on a stick and shoved it into Jesusí mouth.  Iím sure that didnít quench Jesusí thirst.  It is most likely that Jesus had nothing to eat or drink since the night before when He ate with His disciples.  Just the moisture would have given a bit of relief to His dry parched lips. 


Note the mention of hyssop in verse 29.  It was a small bush like plant that grew about two feet tall.  Many think it to be Origamm.  The branches had many small flowers that were often used to bad liquid substances on things like it was used here.  


After the vinegar touched Jesusí lips He spoke His last three words before He died.  In verse 30 He said, "It is finished."  There three words are three of the most important words in human history.  Atoning for the sins of all mankind was now accomplished.  John then tells us that Jesus bowed His head and gave up His spirit. Simply put, Jesus died.


Verse 31 says that it was the day of preparation, meaning preparation for the next day, the Sabbath, that would actually begin at dusk.  The Jews did not want the bodies of Jesus and the two criminals to remain on the cross on the Sabbath.  They wanted the bodies disposed of right away, thus they asked Pilate to have the soldiers break the legs of the three men which would cause them to die quicker.  The Romans normally left the bodies on the cross to rot for days.    


John speaks of a special Sabbath.  This particular Sabbath was special because I believe this was the Sabbath that began the seven day Feast of Unleavened Bread.  As a side note, the events of the last week of Jesus' earthly life has been well debated over the years for many reasons.  Part of the difficulty here is the so-called discrepancies between John's account and the accounts of the other three gospel writers.   

In verse 32 the soldiers complied with the Jews request and broke the legs of the two criminals but when they came to Jesus they noticed that He was dead already and therefore didnít break His legs.  At this point one of the soldiers pierced Jesusí side with his sword.  John notes that blood and water came spewing out from Jesus.  This would have been the fulfillment of Isaiah 53:5.   


When people were executed on the cross they didn't die from being hanged.  They died from not being able to breathe properly.  Their legs would actually hold the person up on the cross that would make it hard for him to breathe.  When the legs were broken, the legs could no longer hold the person up and thus the weight of the body would push downward, putting more stress on the lungs.  This would take away the normal breathing pattern and cause asphyxiation.  In other words, the person would die by asphyxiation.      


Verse 35 says that the man who saw this gives testimony of this and it is true.  Of course the man that John is speaking about is himself.  This is one of those many verses that John speaks of himself, but not directly. 


John goes on to state that the testimony is true and that this man relates these things to the reader so the reader can believe as he believes.  This is the reason why John wrote his account so that many others after him would believe as a result.  His writings have always been one of the first books that are suggested for a new Christian to read.


All the way through his account John tells us that certain things happened to fulfill Scripture.  He states two more examples here in verses 36 and 37.  Not having Jesusí bones broken fulfilled Exodus 12:46, Numbers 9:12, Psalms 34:20 and those looking on Him who they pierced fulfills Zechariah 12:10.  


It is very interesting to me how John interprets Zechariah 12:10.  He suggests that when Jesus' side was pierced it was the fulfillment of this Old Testament prophet verse.  Clearly, if you read Zechariah 12:10 in its context you will see that it refers to the very end of this present age when the remnant of Israel will be saved when a spirit of grace is poured out on those who survive the Great Tribulation.  At that time they will remember the one they have pierced and mourn over their actions.  I can't see into John's mind and understand why he used this end time prophecy in relation to his present day other than that the verse does refer to Jesus' body being pierced.    


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