A Real Death

Day 43 – John 19:16-42

The prerequisite of a real resurrection is a real death. John asserts the real death of the Lord Jesus. He mentions several times that Jesus is crucified by Roman soldiers, who presumably are experienced executioners (vv. 16, 23-24). Pilate hands Jesus over, and the soldiers take charge of Him (v. 16). When they start breaking the legs of the crucified prisoners to hasten their deaths (the Jews don’t want to leave corpses up overnight during a Passover Sabbath), the soldiers leave Jesus alone because they recognize that He is already dead. Instead, they spear His side to make doubly sure (v. 34).

Yet Jesus isn’t really in the power of His executioners. The soldiers, without knowing it, are acting according to a higher purpose-God’s predetermined plan (see Acts 2:23; 4:28). Scripture is being fulfilled. The division and casting of lots for the clothing (v. 24; Psalm 22:18); Jesus’ last words (v. 28; Psalm 69:21); no breaking of His bones (v. 36; Psalm 34:20); and the spear in His side (vv. 34, 37; Zechariah 12:10) are all in fulfilment of Scripture.

Jesus is certainly dead: the soldiers recognize it (v. 33); the flow of water and blood indicate it (v. 34); Joseph and Nicodemus act on it by preparing Jesus’ body for burial (vv. 40-42); John also adds his own eyewitness testimony to verify the account (v. 35). According to the plan of God, Jesus is certainly dead.

The gospel writers record seven different words of Jesus from the cross. John includes three: ″Woman, here is your son″; and to the disciple, ″Here is your mother″ (vv. 26-27); ″I am thirsty″ (v. 28); and ″It is finished″ (v. 30). In His hour of death, Jesus thus makes provision for His mother.

The third saying in verse 30 reminds us that Jesus is not a victim of circumstances, but is in complete control. He speaks to fulfil the Scripture: His last words in verse 30 are words of Scripture, and then He dies; He chooses the moment and the words with which He will die. He does not die as we do, as the inevitable end of all humanity. He dies when He says so and His words in verse 30 remind us that His work is now ended. Even the words John uses, ″he bowed his head and gave up his spirit″ (v. 30), indicate an element of voluntariness on the part of Jesus.

Jesus fulfils the Father’s plan and offers to God a perfect, voluntary, loving, and rational sacrifice. The work is complete-the gap between God and humanity has been bridged.

Think Through:

Meditate upon the following verses:

Upon a life I did not live;
Upon a death I did not die;
Upon another’s life, another’s death
-I stake my whole eternity.
-Horatius Bonar

Taken from Journey Through John: 50 Devotional Insights by David Cook.