When we pass an accident and a silver sheet covers a body, we know it is a corpse. It sticks in the mind. In ministry, like many other pastors I have been at a death bed and I have been called to identify a deceased. These tasks are never easy although they are necessary. There are some instances where you just cannot get the picture out of your mind. It lingers there for ages … and there are those one or two that remain. Think of the incident or think of a name and that picture is called up for your brain to see most vividly.
I wonder what remained in the minds of those who saw a crucifixion … yet more intense would be … what remained in the minds of Jesus’ mother, of John, Jesus’ other family members and his followers who witnessed most if not all of the gruesome events that took place over the past hours. To see visibly, the Savior of the Soul being put to death–murdered–for me so that my sin might be paid for and me reconciled to God. There must have been extreme sadness and at the same time extreme joy. “I put Him there … He paid for my sin and guilt … now I’m off to heaven for He provided for my escape from hell.”
We still need to complete this phrase of the Apostle’s Creed … “Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, He died and was buried”.
1) Jesus died. Crucifixion was a death penalty meaning its intent was death. It does seem as though no one ever escaped death once being crucified. What the soldiers would do after a certain time of hanging in pain and agony, was to break the legs of the victim so that he could not push upwards to inhale. In other words, such would suffocate to death. In Jesus’ case this was not necessary because when they checked the status of the three being crucified, He was already dead.
(1) Prophecy fulfilled. Every prophecy of Scripture has already been fulfilled apart from Jesus’ return, the Day of Judgment, the end of this world and the heavens as we know it and the future state of both the dead (lost) and living (saved):
Jn 19:31 Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. 32 The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35 The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. 36 These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” 37 and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”
Both the bones and spear prophecies were fulfilled.
Ps 34:20 he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.
Zec 12:10 They will look on me, the one they have pierced.
These are not frivolous. They help us identify The Messiah! Death speaks of reality yet Jesus’ death also speaks of sacrifice. One of the most important verses for us as believers is found in John’s gospel. Remember, the human author, John is our eye witness … he says:
Jn 19:35 The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true.
He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. He is saying under inspiration that what he saw, heard and experienced is “Gospel Truth” and is recorded for the purpose of helping people to believe and be saved.
2) The meaning of Jesus’ death. Most people die and that is that. Few die for a cause, some do but they are few. Steve Biko died for a cause. The cause was the emancipation of the majority who were held captive in what we could call an “Apartheid Bondage”. His cause and his death were noble and sacrificial and one must applaud and appreciate this … but it was not salvific. As much as it was needed, his target was temporal and earthly. Jesus’ death was eternal and heavenly. Apartheid’s atrocities will have eternal consequences, so will Jesus’ judge and executioners … but Jesus’ death has untold eternal benefits for the believing soul. (Should you quote me, quote the complete Daily Note.) Listen to Jesus’ final words as recorded by John:
Jn 19:30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
A motorcar condemned by the insurance assessor is “finished”. The eating plate that falls to the floor and splinters is finished. In both these cases “finished” means unusable or unrepairable. In modern Arabic there is a word “khalas”. The English equivalent is “enough” or “stop”. When our daughter had had enough of her small son’s whining, she would say … khalas. She was saying “I have had enough. Stop it”. While the definition of khalas translates to “done” or “finished,” it has a variety of different uses. In Judaism, as soon as the priest had killed the animal, he would emerge from the place of sacrifice and declare to the waiting crowd “it is finished” in Hebrew. In this sacrifice, all the sins of Israel were symbolically placed on the lamb that was killed and punished in their place. In the Greek, the word tetelestai means “it is completed”. Enough … stop … no more animal sacrifices because God the Son, Messiah died in the place of all believers from Adam to the last born person, for all their sin and guilt. All their sin and guilt was placed on Him and no further sacrifices need to be made. It is finished. The sacrificial system is now completed.
Heb 9:27 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
Once you have believed and repented and been born again (regenerate), Jesus’ penal sacrificial substitutionary death is applied once for all your sin, past, present and future.
What amazing love Father that I should be a beneficiary of Jesus’ death sacrifice for all my sin. Thank You that salvation is completed. No more sacrifices. Praise You Lord. Amen.