The Gospel Of John, Chapter 19- Part 2
Picking up again at verse 23, we witness the first of several prophecies regarding the Messiah being fulfilled. The scripture mentioned here as being "fulfilled" comes from Psalm 22. Like several psalms, #22 was considered by the Jewish people to apply both to king David, its author, and the future messianic king.
We see evidence of this understanding of psalm 22 in the Bible itself, in the book of Hebrews. The author of Hebrews is writing to Jewish Christians who are considering a return to Judaism, but psalm 22 is quoted along with two verses from a messianic portion of "Isaiah", representing the words of Jesus. Since the author of Hebrews used these Old Testament verses as part of an argument to a Jewish audience, it seems clear that the Jewish culture of the day, whether they believed Jesus was the Messiah or not, understood the 22nd psalm to refer to the Messiah. (If they did NOT view psalm 22 as messianic, it would seem to be a pretty lame and meaningless point made from an otherwise intelligent and well-versed author.)
The fulfillment of scripture regarding the messiah's thirst and the vinegar/sour wine in his suffering comes from Psalm 22:15 and Psalm 69:21. (Psalm 69 was indicated to be a messianic prophecy during this time period in John 2:17)
Just before his death, Jesus utters words now famous: "It is finished!"
The Greek word used here for "finished" means not only that something has been "done" or "completed", but that it has been done perfectly in fulfillment of Scripture or the plan of God. Jesus knew, in this moment, that he had just completed perfect payment for the sins of humanity. For all who did and would ever choose to trust in him, Jesus made perfect payment for sins in the past, present and future.
Then, as John observes in his acount of this event, Jesus willingly, still in full control of his situation, "gave up" his spirit and entered into death.
John is also careful to state that when Jesus was stabbed with the spear by the Roman soldier, both blood and water came out. He emphasizes the truth of this, but why? The reason is that if both blood and a watery substance came out when Jesus was stabbed in the side, this would indicate that the pericardium (the sac surround the heart) had been ruptured, along with the heart itself. John wanted to make the point clear that Jesus was most certainly dead. No one lives through a wound like this.
The significance of not a bone being broken (v. 33,36) comes from Exodus 12:46, where the passover lamb sacrificed should not have any of its bones broken during the process. The fact that none of Jesus' bones were broken draws further comparison to his place as the new and ultimate "passover lamb". The reference to looking "on him whom they pierced" comes from a messianic prophecy in Zechariah 12:10.
And here's one more. This one's a freebee, since John doesn't actually point this one out, but it's another one we think is cool:
In Isaiah 53:9 (this chapter in Isaiah being another clearly messianic prophecy) it's said that the messiah's "grave was assigned to be with wicked men, yet with a rich man in his death..." Though Joseph of Arimathea is mentioned here in John, the interesting details are spelled out in Matthew 27:57-60. Here, Joseph is referred to as a "rich man" and the passage also specifies that the nearby tomb Jesus was placed in belonged to Joseph.
Centuries after these words were written down, those living in the time Jesus watched them come to life and be fulfilled in one man.
What's even more exciting is that this small handful of prophecy fulfillment is just the tip of the iceberg! For more on this mind-blowing topic, we'd recommend the book "Evidence That Demands A Verdict", by Josh McDowell. A great resource that gives detailed references for all of it's biblical, archaeological and historical findings. (There are many more out there as well, but this one's a good place to start.)
Here's a link to find it at Amazon:
Coffee House Question:
If you could be given knowledge of one event in the future, what would you want to know?
Next week: After at least 36 hours of death, Jesus demonstrates his identity in a way that will transform the lives of everyone that knew him.