Tuesday, July 21, 2015

“Just as the Scriptures Had Said” (John 19:16-22, select verses through 19:37)

"(16) So he [Pilate] delivered him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, (17) and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. (18) There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. (19) Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” (20) Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. (21) So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’ ” (22) Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” (John 19:16-22, ESV)

The Jews could not tolerate Jesus being crucified under the words which read, “The King of the Jews.” This is the inscription that Pilate wrote and placed on the cross, but the Jews pleaded with asking that the words be changed to reflect that this was not something they felt but something that Jesus had said. Pilate responded to them saying, “What I have written I have written.” It was his words that were placed on the cross and they would not be changed. This is what he had said and this was how it was going to be no matter what anyone else might say or think.

What an interesting contrast is developed in these verses. Jesus was sent to the cross by the Jews because they would not accept the word of the Father given to them, and there before them hung Jesus with the very charge for which He was being crucified posted for all to see. In fact, we read that these words were not only written in one language, but they were written in three languages so that everyone who passed on this busy road would see Him and read those words.

In John’s record of the death and burial of Jesus he stated four times that these things happened to fulfill what had been said in the Scriptures. In verses 23 and 24 we read, “When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be for my clothing they cast lots. So the soldiers did these things.” About 1,000 years earlier King David said, “For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet— I can count all my bones— they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” (Psalm 22:16–18, ESV) As difficult as it might have been to picture His garments being divided and them casting lots for His clothing, this is exactly what we read happened just as the Scriptures had said.

Next in verses 28 through 30 John recorded, “After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. Returning to King David in Psalm 69 we read, “You know my reproach, and my shame and my dishonor; my foes are all known to you. Reproaches have broken my heart, so that I am in despair. I looked for pity, but there was none, and for comforters, but I found none. They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.” (Psalm 69:19–21, ESV) Jesus said “I thirst” and the soldiers (not His disciples to twist prophecy) gave Him sour wine. Having received the sour wine Jesus bowed His head and gave up His spirit having said, “It is finished.”

What the Scriptures had declared about the coming Messiah who would take away the sins of the world was fulfilled in Christ. His reason for coming was completed. He had taken the weight of man’s sins onto Himself and He paid the price that no one else could pay. He was faithful to do exactly what the Father sent Him to do and He did is exactly as God had said. No one could change this. It was God’s plan was written in advance, and no objection of man would change it in any detail.

Later in verses 36 and 37 John made two more statements affirming that these things were done so that Scripture might be fulfilled. “For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”” Of the Passover Lamb, the Lord told Moses and Aaron, “It shall be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the flesh outside the house, and you shall not break any of its bones.” (Exodus 12:46, ESV) This was also restated in Numbers 9:12 when the Passover was celebrated in the wilderness about 1300 years earlier. David wrote in Psalm 23:20, “He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.” (Psalm 34:20, ESV) And about 500 years before Zechariah wrote, “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.” (Zechariah 12:10, ESV)

One of the first resource books I purchased as a new believer was Josh McDowell’s “Evidence that Demands a Verdict.” It was not a sit down and read it book, but one packed with different “historical evidences for the Christian faith.” One of my favorite parts of the book were the ones given to the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. Among those covered was a list of 29 Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in one day—the twenty-four hour period from his betrayal to Him being buried in a rich man’s tomb.

Pilate probably in spite and out of bitterness for having his hand forced to crucify an innocent man had words written on a cross—words which were true whether he or anyone else accepted them or not. But God out of love and wanting us to know that what happened was truly His will spoke through His prophets hundreds of years before, and as sure as His words were written they surely came to pass. Our God who cannot lie proved Himself true, and knowing Him to be true we trust.

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.” (1 Corinthians 15:3–8, ESV) 

(I got back to this post late and will have to return to it tomorrow for typos.)

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