My reading today was from John 19:23-42.
“After the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they….”
Wow, what a “ho-hum!” Just another day’s work in the life of a Praetorian Roman soldier.
“…They took His clothes and divided them among themselves, four ways, and gambled (cast lots) for his one-piece tunic.”
Their eyes were down, intent on His things, greed in their hearts, lusting with their eyes, jovial in their competitiveness… all the while, the Son of God hung above them, bearing their sins and the wrath of God Almighty for their sake. Unmindful were they of the pain and anguish and the drops of blood silently hitting the dust. It was His life in His blood shed for them, and they didn’t see or understand.
“But standing and watching with pain and sorrow in their hearts were His mother Mary, His aunt Salome, Mary the wife of Clopas, Mary Magdalene… and John, his beloved disciple. ”
Jesus gives the care of His mother (even on the cross, His obedience to the sixth commandment is seen) to John (the disciple who will live the longest; the disciple who will receive the Revelation). And his disciple took responsibility for Mary for the rest of her life. (None of Jesus’ half-siblings believed him Him at this point.)
“Everything else done, Jesus requests liquid for his parched mouth. Sour wine (vinegar, to squeeze out the last bit of saliva from his glands) is given to Him. Then, with a clear loud voice and a last burst of strength, Jesus cries out, “IT IS FINISHED.”
The sin-debt for mankind is PAID IN FULL! The reason for his birth as a man and the suffering He endured is fulfilled. His mission is complete. He has glorified His Father (In three days, the Father will glorify the Son!).
“And Jesus gave up his spirit.” (He handed it over at his own will. No one took it from Him. HE laid it down. John 10:17-18)
The Jews: “Break their legs so they’ll die quicker. All this must be cleaned up by Sabbath’s start.”
Such insensitivity! Such cruelty!
The soldiers, done with their job and the haggle over Jesus’ clothes, picked up the mallets used to pound in the spikes (or perhaps the blunt side of their swords) and slammed them into the shins of the two thieves, shattering bone and causing them to put their full weight on their arms, which crushed their lungs and suffocated them to death. At Jesus’s cross they realized He was already dead. (Hadn’t they heard his last words or seen his body slump as He released His spirit?)
A Soldier: “Let’s make sure. We don’t want to get in trouble for not doing our job.” He thrust his sword up under Jesus’ rib cage and into his heart. Blood and water came out, proving the Creator of the universe, the perfect Son of God, the Giver of all life… was already dead.
It was just as Scripture foretold, John explained. Jesus was lifted up on a tree (crucified) and pierced (with thorns, nails, a sword); and dead by the foreknowledge and will of God.
Pilate: “What? He’s dead already? Hey, Centurion, is this true?”
Centurion: “Yes, Sir, I pierced His heart myself. He is dead.” (I saw Him die, felt the earthquake, saw the sun shrouded. Truly this was the Son of God!!)
Pilate: “Well, okay then. Take the corpse and bury it.”
Joseph and Nicodemus carried Jesus’ dead body to Joseph’s nearby, never-used, garden tomb. They wrapped it in linen cloths, tucking in 75 pounds of myrrh and aloes that Nicodemus had brought. Then rolled a stone across the entrance.
Dead and done.
“But He was wounded for OUR transgressions, he was crushed for OUR iniquities, upon Him was the chastisement (of God) for OUR peace, and with his stripes WE are healed. He has borne OUR griefs and carried OUR sorrows. He was smitten of God, afflicted, stricken… for OUR transgressions. He was killed that WE might have eternal life. (from Isaiah 53)
“But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that HE loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (just payment) for our sins.” John 4:6-10
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
BELIEVE in Him.
Believe the truth – against all understanding – that the sinless Jesus bore your (my) sins on himself, and that the holy, righteous, just Almighty God crushed and killed him for those sins (instead of killing us), that the sacrifice Jesus made was ENOUGH punishment – once and for all time, for all who would believe.
“For God made Jesus, who knew no sin, to BE sin for us, that we might BECOME the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21