THE LIFE OF CHRIST
In our last lesson, we examined some more events that happened while Jesus was on the cross. We looked at three more of His saying from the cross. In this lesson we will pick up right where we left off.
Jesus fifth saying comes from,
John 19:28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, "I thirst!" 29 Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth.
Jesus is getting closer to having relief from the severe pain He was enduring. Since death was close, He knew He had accomplished God’s will. At this point in the crucifixion, He would have been suffering from high fever and would be extremely thirsty, so He says, “I thirst!” Once again, Jesus was fulfilling Scripture:
Psalm 22:15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death.
Psalm 69:21 They also gave me gall for my food, And for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
This vessel of sour wine, which was a common drink among the Roman soldiers, was probably there for the soldiers to drink as they watched these men suffer. Based on the original Greek language this was either sour wine or vinegar and water mixed together. Someone ran up to the vessel and filled a sponge and put it on the end of a hyssop.
Hyssop is a species of marjoram and a member of the mint family. Hyssop was an aromatic shrub under one meter (three feet) tall with clusters of yellow flowers. It grew in rocky crevices and was cultivated on terraced walls. … (1 Kin.4:33). Bunches of hyssop were used to sprinkle blood on the doorposts in Egypt (Ex. 12:22), and in purification ceremonies (Lev. 14:4, 6, 51-52). David mentioned it as an instrument of inner cleansing (Ps. 51:7) (Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary p. 1005).
Since the Hyssop grows less than three feet high, it gives us an idea of how high Jesus was on the cross. His mouth could not be reached without the aid of a stick. Both Matthew and Mark call it a reed (Mt. 27:48; Mk. 15:36), but John tells us what kind of reed it was.
Jesus had been through a lot a no doubt his mouth was as dry as a bone. Giving Him this drink was act of mercy. This would give Jesus the moisture He needed to be able to continue His next two sayings. The fact that Jesus was thirsty shows His humanity.
Next is Jesus’ 6th statement from the cross,
John 19:30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.
From the time Jesus was born in Bethlehem until that very moment Jesus had been fulfilling hundreds of prophecies about Him and now He had done everything He could at this point to bring about our salvation and fulfill the prophecies about Him. Jesus had finished His work on the earth and when He was raised from the dead He told His disciples,
Luke 24:44 "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me." 45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. 46 Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 "and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 "And you are witnesses of these things.
Again this shows us how obedient Jesus was to the Father as He accomplished everything He was supposed to do and you I get to benefit from His perfection, and we are supposed do our best to follow in His footsteps.
Our final statement from the cross comes from,
Luke 23: 46 And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, "Father, 'into Your hands I commit My spirit.' " Having said this, He breathed His last.
Jesus knew that the Father could still here Him and trusted in the Father and His plan. So, He committed His spirit into His hands, and then He died physically.
In this final saying of Jesus, we can see that Jesus was in control of His life. As Jesus said,
John 10:17 "Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 "No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father."
Jesus did not have to die. If He wanted to, He could have called on all the angels of heaven to come and rescue Him, but He did not because He wanted to die for us. He even knew when He would die because as soon as He made this last statement His spirit left His body and He put His faith in the Father to take care of His spirit.
This teaches us that when our spirit leaves our body we become physically dead and that our spirit returns back to the Lord (Ecc. 12:7).
Now if our story stopped here and Jesus just died on the cross, His death would just be another death added to millions of others who have been crucified, but we know that on the third day after His death, which was Sunday morning, He was raised from the dead. Not only did He die for us, He showed us that He had power over death and if we follow God’s Word and live faithfully we can have confidence that our bodies will be resurrected and transformed into a glorious body like Jesus’ body, and at the judgment day, we will be taken to heaven itself to spend eternity. As Jesus said,
John 14:1 "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 "In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
While Jesus’ death is on the cross is tragic and sad and worth crying over, at the same time it also something that we can rejoice over and be happy about because it truly shows the love of God and our salvation would not be possible without it. So, I hope you will allow the message of the cross to sink deep into your heart and to always remind yourself what Jesus did for you so that you might be encouraged to live a faithful life until the day you die.
As Jesus was giving up His spirit to God we read:
Matthew 27:51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, 52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54 So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, "Truly this was the Son of God!"
Matthew tells us that the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom and there was a great earthquake that split the rocks and even some of those that had died were raised from the dead after His resurrection. As the earth cried out in response to Jesus’ death, it caused those soldiers to be afraid and they believed that Jesus was the Son of God.
Try to imagine what these people saw that day. It had been dark outside since 12 P.M., and now an earthquake happens and the rocks are split open. In the temple, the veil that separates the holy place from holy of holies, which is where the Ark of the Covenant used to be, was torn from top to bottom (Ex. 26:31-33). If man had torn it, it would have been torn from the bottom to the top. The tearing of this veil symbolized that God had made Himself available to all, and that the old covenant was nailed to the cross (Col. 2:14; Eph 2:14-15). All of these events proved that Jesus death on the cross was not an ordinary one, and it even caused the centurion and his soldiers to agree that He truly was the Son of God. In Luke’s account the centurion also said, “Certainly this was a righteous man!” (Lk. 23:47).
Matthew also mentions how the graves of the saints were opened by the earthquake that day and how they were raised from the dead. However, they did not come out of their graves until after Jesus’ resurrection, and they went into the city and appeared to many.
John 19:31 Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32 Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. 35 And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe. 36 For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, "Not one of His bones shall be broken." 37 And again another Scripture says, "They shall look on Him whom they pierced."
As I have already shown in this study, the Preparation Day was not the Preparation Day for the Passover, but for the feast of the unleavened bread. Since the feast of unleavened bread would begin on the Sabbath and it included a holy convocation (sacred gathering) (Ex. 12:16), it was considered a high or an important day. While the Jews had no problem breaking the Law of Moses to put Jesus to death, they still wanted to keep part of it because it was against the Law of Moses to keep a person on the cross overnight (Deut. 21:23).
When a person’s legs were broken, they could no longer push themselves up to get air, so it would not take long for them to die by suffocation. Pilate sent some soldiers to break their legs. They broke the two thieves’ legs first, but when they got to Jesus, He was already dead, so they did not break His legs. Just as the Passover lamb’s bones were not to be broken (Num. 9:12), neither was Jesus’ bones broken because He is our Passover (1 Cor. 5:7). Once again, this fulfilled a prophecy about Jesus (Ps. 34:20).
One of the soldiers wanted to make sure that Jesus was dead, so he pierced Him in the side and out came water and blood. This event is only recorded by John, and it also fulfills a prophecy about Jesus (Zech. 12:10). Now we cannot say dogmatically what internal organs the soldier pierced or which side he pierced Him in. However, there are two possibilities that could produce what looked like water and blood.
1. It is possible they pierced His bladder, which would cause urine and blood to flow out. While this would produce the effect of water and blood it seems unlikely he pierced His bladder since he would have to pierce Him with a downward motion, which would have been difficult with Jesus being elevated on the cross.
2. Others believe he pierced Him through the ribs and broke the lining around the wall of the heart.
Mr. Halley notes:
Some medical authorities have said that in the case of heart rupture, and in that case only, the blood collects in the pericardium, the lining around the wall of the heart, and divides into a sort of bloody clot and a watery serum. If this is a fact, then the actual immediate physical cause of Jesus' death was heart rupture. Under intense pain, and the pressure of his wildly raging blood, his heart burst open (Halley's Bible Handbook, p.549).
This watery fluid that would have come out of the wound first could have been a combination of serous pleural which is found in the membrane around the lungs, and pericardial fluid, which is secreted by the serous membrane on the pericardious sac on the outside of the heart (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pericardial_fluid).
This second possibility is the more logical to me because it seems natural that the soldier would thrust upwards into Jesus side. These two possibilities give us a medical explanation of how the flow of blood and water from Jesus’ wound could happen. No matter where the soldier pierced Jesus’ side it proves the Jesus was dead. When Pilate found out that Jesus was already dead is surprised him (Mk. 15:44). John served as an eyewitness for all of this.
John 19:38 After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus.
We can learn more details about this event by examining the four Gospels (Mt. 27:57ff; Mk. 15:42ff; Lk. 23:50ff; Jn. 19:38ff). They teach that Joseph was a rich man, a prominent member of Sanhedrin council, and was considered a good and just man. He secretly became a disciple of Jesus, and he was waiting for the kingdom of God. He did not agree with the council’s decision to put Jesus to death. He was from Arimathea, which was a city of the Jews.
Joseph was scared, but he found the courage to go before Pilate to request Jesus’ body. At first, Pilate was surprised that Jesus was already dead, so he asked a centurion if it was true. Once it was confirmed that Jesus was dead, Pilate gave Joseph permission to take the body. The synoptic Gospels only mention Joseph taking the body from the cross and wrapping the body in a clean fine linen cloth, which was an expensive cloth, but John’s account gives more detail.
39 And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. 40 Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury.
Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a ruler of the Jews who had went to Jesus during the night wanting to know more about Him (Jn. 3). We find him defending Jesus in John 7:50-51, and now he is helping to bury Him. Since he bought almost a hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes, it indicates that he was a wealthy man as well. Jesus burial with all these spices was similar to that of a king (2 Chr. 16:14). Let’s take a closer look at Myrrh:
Myrrh – An extract from a stiff-branched tree with white flowers and plum-like fruit. After myrrh was extracted from the wood, it soon hardened and was valued as an article of trade. It was used … in anointing oil (Ex. 30:23), and was used as perfume (Ps. 45:8; Prov. 7:17; Song 3:6), in purification rites for women (Esth. 2:12), as a gift for the infant Jesus (Matt. 2:11), and in embalming (John 19:39). According to the Gospel of Mark (15:23), the drink offered to Jesus before His crucifixion was “wine mingled with myrrh.” (Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, p. 2006).
The other accounts say that Jesus was wrapped in fine linen sidon (Mt. 27:59; Mk. 15:46; Lk. 23:53), but John says His body was bound in strips of linen othonion with the spices. Some might view this as a contradiction, but it is not because both things happened. The synoptic Gospels tell us that Joseph wrapped Jesus’ body in a clean fine linen cloth when He was taken down from the cross. John’s account tells us that they took the body, which means they left that place. We know that they took Jesus to the tomb, but how they took Him we do not know. Most likely they carried His body on a bier. When or where they prepared His body per the custom of the Jews is unknown, but as some point they started wrapping His body with strips of linen. We do not know if they already had some premade strips of linen or if they made these strips out of the linen cloth they initial wrapped Him in. In either case, they would wrap His body from His toes to His neck with His arms secured to the side of his body. As they wrapped Him, they would pour the mixture of spices in the fold of the bandages, which would become hard and cause the bandages to stick together.
Mr. Gower states:
Exceptionally, a body was covered in spices and in paste, and these were tied to the body by layers of white “roller bandage.” The paste hardened and impregnated the bandages until a hard preservative mound or cocoon was formed about the body (The New Manners & Customs of Bible Times, p.73).
After the body was wrapped up, they would cover the face with a cloth handkerchief. Lazarus was buried in a similar way (Jn. 11:44). If the original linen cloth that wrapped Jesus’ body was not torn into strips, then it was probably discarded, but what happened to it is unknown. If it was used as an additional covering over the strips of linen, the Bible does not mention it. It only mentions the strips of linen othonion and the cloth handkerchief being His grave clothes (Lk. 24:12; Jn. 20:5-7).
41 Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42 So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews' Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby.
They did not have much time to prepare and bury Jesus because the Sabbath was about to start around 6 P.M. So, they took Jesus to a garden that was close by where Joseph had a new tomb (Mt. 27:59). This event fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, “And they made His grave with the wicked -- But with the rich at His death” (Isa. 53:9). Now, that might a little bit confusing when you read this, but the NET version makes this verse easy to understand.
Isaiah 53:9 They intended to bury him with criminals,25 but he ended up in a rich man's tomb
If Joseph had not requested the body of Jesus, He would have been buried with the two thieves, which is what is meant by “they made His grave with the wicked.” It was unusual that Pilate let someone other than a family member take Jesus’ body, but he did, and in doing so, the second part of Isaiah’s prophecy came to pass “But with the rich at His death.”
Since they were rushed with the preparation of Jesus’ body, we learn that the women who followed Him from Galilee planned to come back the next day to add more spices and fragrant oils (Lk. 23:55). Matthew gives us some additional information:
Matthew 27:59 When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed. 61And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the tomb.
While there were other women there (Lk. 23:55), including a woman named Joanna (Lk. 24:10), Matthew only mentions two women named Mary. Not only did they see where the tomb was, they saw how Jesus’ body was laid (Mk. 15:47; Lk. 23:55). Our verse says that Joseph rolled the stone over the entrance of the tomb. Since Nicodemus was with him, it is possible that he helped him with the stone because these stones were heavy and hard to move. The stone itself was usually round and it would be pushed into a dug out slot in front of the tomb. So, it would be easier to push into place because once it was in place, it would be more difficult to move it back out of the way, which is why the women wondered who would roll the very large stone out of the way for them on Sunday morning (Mk. 16:1-4).
Matthew 27:62 On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, 63 saying, "Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise.' 64 "Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, 'He has risen from the dead.' So the last deception will be worse than the first." 65 Pilate said to them, "You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how." 66 So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard.
We are not told when on the next day they made their request to Pilate, but it was probably early because they would not want Jesus’ disciples to have a chance to steal His body and fool the people, so Pilate granted them a guard. A guard was a group of Roman soldiers, and they secured the tomb and sealed it.
Mr. Leeper writes:
The sealing would have been accomplished by placing a large piece of clay at the joint of the stone and the wall. An official insignia of some type would have been pressed into the soft clay leaving an imprint which could not be duplicated. The clay would then have hardened, providing a seal that would be broken if the stone were moved.
Sealing the tomb would serve a threefold purpose. First, there would be evidence if anyone moved the stone. This would prevent someone from removing the body and then claiming he had been raised. Second, it would provide a guard of Roman soldiers to ensure no one could tamper with the tomb. Third, because it was a criminal offense to break a Roman seal, it would serve as an effective deterrent to anyone inclined to steal the body. Getting caught in the attempt would mean time in prison if not worse (Wayne D. Leeper, Prelude to Glory, p. 171).
Even though these were trained Roman soldiers that knew they would be severely punished or put to death if they failed their post, but they would not be able to stop Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.
Lk. 23:56 Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.
This is talking about those women who has seen where Jesus was laid. They returned and used what little time they had left before the Sabbath began and they prepared spices and fragrant oil for Jesus. They intended to go back on the Sunday morning and anoint his body with these things. Of course, as we will see in our next lesson, they did not get to do this because Jesus was raised from the dead, but you will have to wait until our next lesson to hear about this.
I hope these lessons we have been looking regarding Jesus’ death on the cross have really opened your eyes to details of what He went through for you and I. We can never pay back or earn our salvation, but we can certainly honor Jesus by following the Word of God and doing what we can to share His great love to others so they might see how much God loves them as well.