In the Fulness of Time/Part 153

By: Dr. Thomas O. Figart; ©2012
For the Lord Jesus His final words spoken from the cross were final proof that He was the Son of God, that He had finished the work of salvation, and that now, in the fulness of time He was ready to commit Himself into the hands of the Father.

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3. The Word of Provision. John 19:26-27

John 19: 26-27 “He saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son, then saith he to the disciple, Behold, thy mother.”

Mary, the mother of Jesus, is mentioned at several significant times in the life of Christ. She was, of course, there at His birth, and acted very humbly as “the handmaid of the Lord” (Luke 1:38), and “kept all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). Mary questioned Him for tarrying in the Temple with the elders; she and Joseph did not yet understand His unique relationship with His heavenly Father (2:49-50). She was at the wedding in Cana when Jesus changed the water into wine, and He said unto her: “Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come.” Again, Mary showed her humility and said: “Whatever he saith unto you, do it” (John 2:4-5). On another occasion, His mother and brothers stood outside and sent for Him. Jesus replied: “Who is my mother? And who are my brethren?… For whosoever doeth the will of my Father, who is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Matthew 12:48-50).

Yet none of these statements were a denial of His earthly relationships; rather, they were uttered to show His heavenly mission. This third word from the Cross proves that He loved Mary and made provision for her welfare after His departure. Thus, he said to Mary, “Behold thy son,” referring her to John’s care. Why not commit her to the care of His half-brothers? The sad truth is that they were not saved at the time, according to John 7:5: “For neither did His brethren believe in him.”

What does this Word of Provision mean to us? First, there was never a time when Jesus worshiped Mary, nor should we. But neither should we go to the other extreme and discount the fact that Mary was a precious believer, honored of God to bear Jesus in His humanity, to love Him, to follow His ministry, to be there at His crucifixion, and to be part of the 120 in the Upper Room in Acts 1:14. She was a truly remarkable woman!

4. The Word of Punishment. Matthew 27: 45-46

Mt. 27:45-46 “Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli,lama sabachthani. That is to say, My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me.”

From noon until 3 P.M., darkness was over “all the land.” Whether this was limited to Palestine or included darkness over “all the earth,” as in Luke 23:44, has been debated, since the same Greek word, “ge” is used in both of these verses. The significant thing to note is that past and future occurrences of such darkness in Scripture are always times of judgment. This happened to the land of Egypt for three days (Exodus 10: 21-23), and is predicted to occur five times in the future; once right before the beginning of the Day of the LORD (Joel 2:31), three times during the seven-year Tribulation period (Revelation 6:12-17; 9:2; 16:10-11), and the fifth time immediately after the Tribulation (Matthew 24:29; cf. Joel 3:14-17).

The supernatural darkness at the Crucifixion was a sign of God’s judgment on those who crucified Christ, on the nation Israel for rejection of Christ. It may also have been a sign of God’s judgment on sin, which Christ was then bearing “in His own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24).

What was the meaning and the reason for the cry: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” The meaning is confessedly clothed in mystery, but it can be observed that the cry came from the humanity of our Savior, since deity cannot be separated in essence, for this would mean that the Trinity was severed. Nor can deity die; but in Christ, God became man that He might “Taste death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9). To do this, He “emptied himself” (Philippians 2:7), as He said, “Father, glorify thou me, with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was” (John 17:5), and took upon Himself the form of man, eventually to die on the Cross. Because the LORD (Jehovah) cannot look upon iniquity (Habakkuk 1:13), He turned away from His Son, and in one respect, God the Father forsook the intimate fellowship with God the Son, while the Son was bearing the guilt and penalty of sin.

As in all supernatural acts, the mystery is in the “how of it; the “why” is clear enough. Jesus was not forsaken because of what He did, since He “did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:22), but it was because of what He became for the sin of man. His soul was made “an offering for sin (Isaiah 53:10); “He who knew no sin was made sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21); “The LORD hath laid on him (literally, “caused to fall on him”) the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). He was crucified that we might be justified, as in Isaiah 53:11. Having said all of this, we have only begun to plumb the depths of this utterance from the Cross.

5. The Word of Passion. John 19:28

John 19:28 “After this Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.”

Basic to the meaning of “passion” is “suffering” since it comes from the Latin word “pati” and is closely related with being “patient.” This is why the extreme thirst of Jesus can well be described as passion. It is estimated that He had nothing to drink for approximately eighteen hours. Added to the other agonies of crucifixion, this lack of moisture would have made His suffering all the more unbearable. The “vinegar” which was given to Him was ochos, or the sour wine of soldiers. It was not the bitter mixture with myrrh which was offered before, but was highly diluted with water and would have quenched His thirst. Matthew, Mark and John all mention that the wine was given in a sponge fastened to a “reed” of “hyssop” which was no more than eighteen inches long, showing that the Cross was not very high off the ground.

There has been some difference of opinion over the translation of John 19:28. Does it infer that Jesus said, “I thirst” in order to fulfill Scripture, or should the verse be taken to mean that because all things were accomplished, Jesus then asked for a drink to quench His physical thirst, enabling Him to cry “with a loud voice” the words, “it is finished,” and then say, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit”?

Wuest translates: “After this, Jesus knowing that all things had now been brought to a consummation and stood finished in order that the scripture might be fulfilled says, I am thirsty” (Wuest, Kenneth, The New Testament: An Expanded Translation. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1961, p. 262). The consummation and finishing are mentioned together, and the request comes as a result, but not based on fulfillment of Scripture. The Berkeley Bible translates: “After this, since Jesus knew that everything was already completed to the fulfillment of Scripture, He said, I am thirsty” (Berkeley Version in Modern English. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1961, p. 118). Again, the emphasis is on the already completed fulfillment of Scripture, after which Jesus requested a drink.

Lenski agrees with this: “We cannot divide the sentence so as to read that Jesus knows all things have been finished, and then He says, ‘I thirst’ in order that the Scripture might be accomplished. This would be a contradiction—the last thing has been done, and yet one more thing needs to be done, one more prophecy needs to be fulfilled” (Lenski, R.C.H. Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel. Columbus, Ohio: Lutheran Book Concern, pp.1303-1304). Interpreted in this fashion, John 19:28 declares that when Jesus knew that everything was accomplished as required by all the Scriptures, He then asked for a drink to be able to shout: “It is finished!” In both verses, 28 and 30, the same Greek word Tetelestai is used: “It is finished and stands completed.”

6. The Word of Perfection. John 19:30

John 19:30 “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished.”

While this has already been alluded to above, the actual words bring to mind questions which should be answered. When did this work begin, why was it necessary, and how was it perfected? The work of Redemption was planned before the foundation of the world to be wrought “through the precious blood of Jesus, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:19-20). Redemption was necessary because “it was not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4); “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Hebrews 9:12). It was perfected: “for by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14). It was a finished work: “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:12).

7. The Word of Presentation. Luke 23:46

Luke 23:46 “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit, and having said this, he gave up the ghost.”

From the account in John 19:28-30, it would seem that the last three sayings from the lips of our Lord came in rapid succession. This final word from the Cross was spoken in power “with a loud voice,” perhaps as a reminder of John 10:18 where He said that He had authority to lay down His life and to take it up again. The fact that He was able to “commend” it (from paratithemi) into the hands of the Father demonstrated both His authority and the restored fellowship with the Father. David used these words in Psalm 31:5, but for a different reason; it was that he might not die, but that he might have the protection of the LORD from his enemies. Stephen used similar words when he was about to die, and addressed them to the resurrected Savior: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:58).

For the Lord Jesus it was the final proof that He was the Son of God, that He had finished the work of salvation, and that now, “in the fulness of time” He was ready to commit Himself into the hands of the Father.

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