by Ralph Bouma
When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost (John 19:30).
As our lovely Lord came to the finish line of all that His Father gave Him to do He was careful to fulfill all that was written of Him as the Messiah. Any challenges to Jesus being the Son of God are put to silence by the prophecies He fulfilled. We read in John 19:28: "After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst." Even this fulfilled Scripture.
What He did and what His enemies did to Him was prophesied in Scripture as we see in John 19:24: "They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did."
Prophecy was also fulfilled in what we read in verse 25: "Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene." All His disciples had forsaken Him as had been prophesied, but His mother did not forsake Him, fulfilling what was spoken in Luke 2:34-35: "And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."
This demonstrates the parental love she had for her Son. His disciples forsook Him. His chosen nation despised Him. However, His mother was near Him as she was in His birth. She did not flee for her own life. Who can fully appreciate parental love? We must understand parental love to understand the love of the Father in giving His Son, and the Father's love for us as children.
The crowds were mocking. The thieves crucified with Him were taunting. The soldiers were callously casting lots for His garments as Jesus hung naked before the world. The Saviour was bleeding and dying on a felon's cross. Yet not one word was recorded by any of the four evangelists to indicate that the mother of Jesus ever once broke the silence with a single word. In John 19:26 we read how Jesus broke the silence: "When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!" A woman is a type of the church. Jesus is saying to the church, "Behold, the Son of God." We see how much He suffered, and we see the grievousness and consequences of sin.
Jesus was occupied with drinking the cup His Father had given Him to the last dregs - sustaining Satan's most vicious attacks - yet even in such an hour natural ties were unworthy of His concern. First our Lord prayed for His enemies. Then He spoke the Word of salvation to the thief on the cross, and now He provides for the care of His mother as we see in John 19:27: "Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home."
Our Lord addressed His mother as "woman." All natural ties are ended on the cross as we read in 2 Corinthians 5:15-16: "And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more."
From now on all believers shall be united unto Christ by a greater tie. Now there is a spiritual relationship. We become brothers and sisters in Christ. The mother of Jesus is not mentioned at His resurrection. The only other time she is mentioned afterward is where we see her taking her place among believers at a prayer meeting as we see in Acts 1:13-14: "And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren."
Even though all fleshly ties with His Mother were severed on the cross, yet our Lord left us the example of how we are to honor our father and mother unto our dying hour. Even after our fathers and mothers are dead we must not speak of them disrespectively despite the fact that they are not perfect.
Prophecies also reveal why the Apostle John was instructed to be the provider for the mother of Jesus rather than her own other children as we see in Psalm 69:7-8: "Because for thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath covered my face. I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother's children."
These things were done by our Lord that Scripture might be fulfilled. Why when He was the Creator of heaven and earth must Christ confess before His enemies, "I thirst" (verse 28)? Because He came to bear what you and I deserved as we see in Luke 16:23-24: "And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame." You and I deserve to thirst eternally in hell.
In His humiliation our Lord suffered everything we deserved in His human nature. He was "wearied" in body (John 4:6). He was "an hungered" (Matthew 4:2). He became tired and slept (Mark 4:38). He "marveled" (Mark 6:6). He "rejoiced" (Luke 10:31). He "groaned" (John 11:23). Here on the cross He said, "I thirst."
As our Saviour hung naked on the cross, bearing the eternal wrath of God that His own dear bride deserved, the prophecies were again fulfilled as we see in Psalm 32:4: "For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah."
The very fact that the fountain of all living waters (who thirsted on the cross) of whom it is written, "And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ" (1 Corinthians 10:4), evidences His perfect surrender to His Father's will even as we read in Matthew 26:53-54: "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?"
Our Saviour did not make His thirst known that it might be relieved, but that it might be recorded that "the Scriptures might be fulfilled." Psalm 69:21 says: "They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink."
Knowing that now there was no prophetic Scripture unaccomplished, our Saviour said, "I thirst." In John 19:29-30 we read: "Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost." This was the final act of fulfilling all that was written of Him.
This act of accepting the vinegar must be carefully distinguished from Matthew 27:34: "They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink." This vinegar mingled with gall was commonly given to criminals to deaden their pain, but of this our Lord "would not drink." He was there to suffer the full vengeance of God on sin.
This phrase "it is finished" (verse 30) is the single word teleo in the Greek. Eternity will not be sufficient to exclaim the full meaning of that blessed declaration. Justice was satisfied. The law was honored. Prophecy was fulfilled. The Father was glorified. Now the Father would obtain His ultimate glory by rewarding His Son for such humble obedience as we see in Philippians 2:8-11: "And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
"It is finished" was not the despairing cry of a helpless martyr. It was the declaration of a victorious Divine Redeemer and the request that His Father may be glorified in granting His reward. We read in John 17:4-5: "I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was."
We need to notice the several ways in which the Greek word teleo is translated to gain some sense of what our Saviour meant when He said, "It is finished."
Matthew 11:1: "And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities."
Matthew 17:24: "And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?"
Luke 2:39: "And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth."
Luke 18:31: "Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished."
Putting together a little fuller meaning of this word teleo we gain some insight into the fullness of the word Our Saviour uttered from the cross!
"It is finished" meant He "made an end of" the curse of the broken law for His bride. We read in Galatians 3:13-14: "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."
"It is finished" meant He "paid the price" of redemption for His bride as we see in Titus 2:11-14: "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." He purchased our redemption from the tyranny of sin.
"It is finished" meant He "performed" the utmost commands of His Father for His bride as we see in John 10:17-18: "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father."
"It is finished" meant He "accomplished" all that He came to do for His bride as we see in John 19:28-30: "After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished -teleo-, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost."
He did not expire from a loss of blood or fatigue. He did not die a felon's death. He gave His life. In that we read, "He bowed His head," tells us He did not die of exhaustion, but He consciously, calmly, reverently, bowed His head and lay down His life in humble obedience to His Father as He said in John 10:17-18: "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father."
Even as He "gave up the Ghost" in such a majestic manner upon the cross, His enemies were touched as we see in Matthew 27:51-54: "And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God."
He died majestically. He died victoriously. And His enemies had to confess that He was the Son of God.
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