BLOOD OF THE CROSS

Jn. 19:34 – But one of the soldiers took a spear and pierced Jesus’ side, and blood and water gushed out.

John was an eyewitness of this event, blood and water flowing out of the side of Jesus. This is a picture of the River of life that flows out from Christ on the throne of God today. There is a crucified, glorified man on the throne of God at this very moment. I often think about seeing Him one day for myself. Inevitably I think about the wounds in His body. How do I know they are still there? He told Thomas to put his finger in the nail-prints in His hand and to thrust his hand into the hole in His side. That event was after the resurrection. The marks of redemption are still in His body. Could the River be flowing from the hole in His side? Here are some thoughts from the Moravian leader Count Zinzendorf.

“God sweated in agony in Gethsemane.  God died on the cross.The story of the salvation is that God took on human form and willingly suffering for the sake of his creation. Humans were enslaved to sin, death, and the devil, but Christ redeemed them from their misery. Christ came to reconcile the world to God, and the crucifixion stands as the assurance of forgiveness and makes it possible for the creature to become the bride of the creator. The blood streaming from the cross impresses the believer with the reality of his or her ransom from sin. We are purchased from wrath, from judgment, from the curse, from the Fall and all ruin, from sin, death, the devil and hell through a true, legal and complete payment, namely, through the blood of the one who tasted death for us all through the grace of God. This is what John meant when he said that Jesus was the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

Think about the wounds of Jesus. The thorns pierced His brow. The life of God flows from His brow declaring the curse of poverty is broken. After all, the thorns that pierced Him were a mark of the curse. The holes in His hand guarantee His help. I am in His hand and nothing can separate me from His love. His back carries the wounds of the whip, by His stripes I am healed. His feet are marked by the nails. He carries and protects all of those who are the blessed feet that carry His gospel. From His wounded side flows the River. This is the River of God’s love for the world. There is a River, this mighty river is flowing out to you and to me today, this River will never run dry.

WITNESS OF THE CROSS

Jn. 19:17-20 – Jesus carried his own cross out of the city to the place called “The Skull,” which in Aramaic is Golgotha. And there they nailed him to the cross. He was crucified, along with two others, one on each side with Jesus in the middle. Pilate had them post a sign over the cross, which was written in three languages—Aramaic, Latin, and Greek. Many of the people of Jerusalem read the sign, for he was crucified near the city. The sign stated: “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”

What I often think about when I think about the cross is the people that saw His death and the impact it had on them. First I think of the criminal who was released in His place, Barabus. After his release I imagine that He had to make His way to Calvary and have a look at the cross that was meant for him. Actually we are all Barabus in a way. The punishment that was meant for me fell on the Lord. Then there was the thief on the cross. While others who were being executed began to curse and ridicule, the thief recognized who he was dying with. His pleas for mercy found the ear of God. No greater words were ever spoken, “Today you will be with me in Paradise”.

Of course there was Mary, the Mother of Jesus. As her Son hung and died she found her thoughts going back to the days of His infancy when He was dedicated in the temple. The voice of Simeon rang in her head as Jesus suffered and died, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

Not far away was Mary of Bethany. She alone had anointed His body for burial. She had dreaded this day but she knew that it was His love for her that took Him to the cross. And of course there was the poor centurion who had been saddled with this horrid job, overseeing the death of the Son of God. He had seen hundreds, if not thousands of other crucifixions; no man had ever died the way this one had. The prayers that Jesus prayed for His executioners penetrated the centurion’s heart; “Father forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing”. The only response this Roman officer could have would have to be the one that anyone who comes to Calvary must have, “Surely this is the Son of God”.

KING OF THE JEWS

Jn. 19:19,20 – Pilate had them post a sign over the cross, which was written in three languages—Aramaic, Latin, and Greek. Many of the people of Jerusalem read the sign, for he was crucified near the city. The sign stated: “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.

There were so many supposed coincidences that day. Jesus just happened to be killed on Mount Moriah, the same mountain that Abraham offered his son Isaac on the altar of sacrifice. Jesus was also executed at the time of the Passover sacrifice fulfilling the prophecies as the Lamb of God. He was also killed the same year that Daniel prophesied that Messiah, the Prince would be cut off.

At Calvary we have the most unthinkable scene, God the Son, the Creator of all things, being offered as a sacrifice for the sins of all men. The mystery of the incarnation was coming to its peak, God in the form of a man was being offered as a sacrifice for our sins to God our Father. In the note on this verse in the Passion Translation another divine coincidence is explained. Check this out.

“Aramaic was the language of the common people in Israel. Hebrew ceased to be their spoken language after 450 BC, after the Jews returned from Babylon. Aramaic remained the language of Israel for nearly one thousand years. Latin was the official language of the Roman Empire. The inscription was also in Greek, for the Alexandrian Jews who had come to observe the Passover in Jerusalem would be unable to read Aramaic. The words were, “Jesus, the Nazarene, King of the Jews.” The first letters of each of the four words written on the sign in Aramaic (Hebrew) were: Y-H-W-H (Y’shua Hanozri Wumelech a Yehudim). To write these letters, YHWH (also known as the tetragrammaton), was the Hebrew form of writing the sacred name “Yahweh.” No wonder the chief priests were so offended by this sign and insisted that Pilate change it. This was a sign given to Israel, for over Jesus’ head on the cross was written, Y-H-W-H! God, the Savior, bled to death for you.”

So, as we remember the Lord’s death again this Good Friday we are drawn to the power of Christ’s death. Yahweh Himself, in a human body, was being offered for the sins of the world. The part that is most devastating, YHWH was dying for me.

PLEASED TO BRUISE HIM – JN 19:8-12

Is.53:10 – But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

What a strange scripture, it pleased the Father to bruise His Son. This sounds morbid until you catch the Father’s love for redemption and Jesus’s passion for the Father’s glory. The Father paid the unthinkable price of any father, watching the torture and death of His only Son. It would be impossible for a father to stand by and watch this gruesome scene without incredible motivation. What was the source of this incredible restraint? The Father’s love for fallen man. He saw the Son’s death as the price of redemption of His prodigal race. In other words He did it because He loved me and you.

What about Jesus, what caused Him to suffer and die? Jesus has an incredible love for His Father’s glory. For the glory of God to be honored the sinfulness of man had to be judged. Jesus became a man to represent mankind. The Father’s justice was satisfied by the suffering and death of His Son. As a result you and are set free. Here is how John Piper sees it.

“It pleased the Lord to bruise him. Or as Paul said, the sacrifice of Christ was “a fragrant aroma to God”. So the question we may be better able to answer now is, How could the Father delight in the sacrifice of his own Son?

One part of the answer is stressed at the end of verse 10, namely, that God’s pleasure is in what the Son accomplishes in dying. It says, “The pleasure of the LORD will prosper in his hand.” God’s pleasure is not so much in the suffering of the Son, considered in and of itself, but in the great success of what the Son would accomplish in his suffering…This means that by his death Jesus begets, as it were, spiritual offspring, and he goes before them into eternity, prolonging his days forever….The way “God’s pleasure prospers in the hand of the Son is by creating what we might call the “offspring of the cross.” Who are these people?”

You and I are those offspring! God’s unthinkable plan, to take pleasure in the death of His Son is unmistakably the greatest of all stories.

I THIRST

John 19:28 – After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, *said, “I am thirsty.”

Toward the end of the crucifixion Jesus cried out, “I thirst”. He had remained silent through the beating, the mocking, and the crucifixion; why cry out now?

There are two things we can see from those simple words spoken from the lips of the dying Savior. First, He really became a human. He was not an angel or a spirit floating about. He was flesh and blood. He became a real man to redeem fallen man. He suffered beyond imagination as He took our place on the cross. Here is how Bishop Ellicott describes this.

“If he was ever to redeem man, he must become man. He had to become what we are in order to make us what he is. That is why John stresses the fact that Jesus felt thirst; he wished to show that he was really human and really underwent the agony of the Cross. John goes out of his way to stress the real humanity and the real suffering of Jesus.”

Secondly, maybe Jesus was expressing a different kind of thirst, maybe He was crying out for the kingdom of God and the redemption of fallen man. I believe He was and we can see a clue to this in the scripture. When they offered Him the vinegar to drink He turned His head. He didn’t try to quench His thirst or relieve the suffering, He was drinking the Father’s cup, He was crying out for fallen man. Here is how Matthew Henry describes this.

“But the reason of his complaining of it is somewhat surprising; it is the only word he spoke that looked like complaint of his outward sufferings. When they scourged him, and crowned him with thorns, he did not cry, O my head! or, My back! But now he cried, I thirst. He would thus express the travail of his soul. He thirsted after the glorifying of God, and the accomplishment of the work of our redemption, and the happy issue of his undertaking.”

God displayed His love for us through His Son’s death on the cross. He bore the full cup of God’s wrath against our sins, He literally suffered from the ramifications of my sin when He suffered and died on the cross. What incredible love! What an incredible Savior.

THERE IS A RIVER

John 19:34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.

Several years ago on one of my trips to Africa we went to a place in Uganda called the source of the Nile. It was near a small town just north of Lake Victoria. Actually, the search for the source of the Nile holds a special historic position in the evangelization of Africa. It was the search for the source of the Nile that brought Dr. Livingston to central Africa in the Nineteenth Century. He fell in love with the people there and actually died ministering to the precious people in Central Africa. There is a River that flows from heaven. What is it’s source? It flows from the very heart of God, it flows from the wounds of Calvary on the side of Jesus. Here are some thoughts about the source of the River from F. E. Marsh.

“The water of life comes from the broken humanity of the Christ of Calvary and the glorified Lord of ascension glory. The waters that satisfied Israel in the wilderness came from the smitten rock of Horeb (Exod. 17:6); the waters of ezekiel’s prophetic vision flow ‘from under the threshold of the house… at the south side of the altar’ (Ezekiel 47:1); and with Divine intent water of the river of life’s said not only to proceed from the throne of God, but also from the Lamb. From the glorified Man of Calvary, Who is the giver the Spirit because of what He gave Himself to on the cross, comes the streams of the Spirit’s floods. Only through Him does the Spirit come. Those who will not come by the channel bed of the cross, will never obtain the floods of the Spirit’s power and ministry. They will only find a dry bed of of stony discomforting the reptiles of unbelief. The riven side is the channel from whence comes the water of life.”

Just as the water gushed from the rock broken by Moses’ staff, the water of life flows from the side of our Lord. When he was pierced at the cross, water and blood flowed like a river, a river that washes and renews fallen man. Have you been to the River lately?  Look for the source, look to the crucified, glorified Savior. There is a River proceeding from the throne of God.

IT IS FINISHED

John 19:30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Those words of Jesus marked the end of the work of redemption but for the redeemed, it was the beginning. The work of Christ on the cross marked the end of death and the beginning of life. You see, many people have bought into the lie that being spiritual takes away from our life now; nothing could be more wrong. Knowing Christ, loving Him and living for Him is where life begins. This life spills over and completes every other part of our everyday life. Christ enhances and multiplies the enjoyment of the most simple things in our lives. Our marriages, our families, our work, even our play becomes enhanced with the life of God. Here are some thoughts about what began at ‘It is finished” by F.E. Marsh.

“One of the last sayings of saintly Robert Chapman of Barnstaple, was, ‘I often think the thought: the members of Christ will never come to and end of ‘It is finished’. We shall be learning from day to day more and more, but what we shall come to will be the unsearchableness of the work’. Is this not suggested by ‘the rivers’ ? The word is floods, and is so rendered in Matt. 7:25,27, hence all He has to give is beyond human expression and definition. Think only of the following inexpressible things. His peace ‘passeth understanding’ Phil.4:7; His love is unquenchable (SOS 8:7); His ways are untrackable (Rom.11:33); His riches unsearchable (Eph.3:8); His gift unspeakable (2 Cor.9:15); His words unutterable (2 Cor.12:4); His love is unknowable (Eph.3:19); He is undefinable (SOS 5:16); and He cannot be numbered (Ps 147:5).”

That pretty much sums it up; passeth understanding, unquenchable, untrackable, unsearchable, unspeakable, unutterable, unknowable, undefinable, and cannot be numbered. That incredible proclamation, IT IS FINISHED, opened the floodgates of God’s love for us. If today finds you depressed or disillusioned with your life start over with “it is finished”. Let this be the end of looking for fulfillment in only your hopes and dreams here in this life, they will always let you down. Now comes the beginning part; step into unending river of His love. The dam was burst at His death. His death is finished, His endless love was released and your life is just beginning.

Crucifixion

CRUCIFIXION

So Pilate delivered him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews”.
Jn.19:16-19

What an amazing God! He is sovereign, ruling all things to fulfill His pleasure, and He steps back to allow His Son such incredible mistreatment. When you think of the unjust beating, the whipping, the cursing, the spitting upon this innocent man, it all seems so unjust. Actually, His death is all about justice. Crimes had been committed against God, man had horribly offended His maker. We were hopelessly wandering in the results of our sinful behavior until the kindness of God appeared in the person of Jesus Christ. Actually the wrath of God was upon all of us, at least until this incredible display of justice and mercy at the cross. John says it best in John 3:36, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”
The wrath of God? Nobody in this day and age talks about the wrath of God. God has been reinvented by modern man. He is so inclusive and never judgmental, or is He? Actually God is just and holy as well as merciful. The sins of all of mankind have to be dealt with, never overlooked. The options are only twofold, accept His offer of His sacrificial death or reject Him. If you reject Him the consequences are unspeakable, as John said, the wrath of God abides on you.
Many of us were deeply effected several years ago as we watched the suffering of Christ portrayed in the movie, “The Passion of the Christ”. I will never forget the feelings I felt as Jesus was being beaten beyond recognition by the Roman soldiers, I wanted to stop them. I was so angry at their unthinkable treatment of our Lord, and then I remembered, it was God who bruised His Son, these wicked men were just pawns, fulfilling the plans of God. Actually, it was you and it was me that crucified Christ. My sins were the nails that were driven into His hands. God was displaying His love for me in the death of His Son. This Easter, take another trip to the hill called Golgotha. As you look again at His death on the cross, remember these words, “No greater love can a man have than this, that he would lay down his life for his friends”.

CRUCIFIXION

So Pilate delivered him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews”.
Jn.19:16-19

What an amazing God! He is sovereign, ruling all things to fulfill His pleasure, and He steps back to allow His Son such incredible mistreatment. When you think of the unjust beating, the whipping, the cursing, the spitting upon this innocent man, it all seems so unjust. Actually, His death is all about justice. Crimes had been committed against God, man had horribly offended His maker. We were hopelessly wandering in the results of our sinful behavior until the kindness of God appeared in the person of Jesus Christ. Actually the wrath of God was upon all of us, at least until this incredible display of justice and mercy at the cross. John says it best in John 3:36, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”
The wrath of God? Nobody in this day and age talks about the wrath of God. God has been reinvented by modern man. He is so inclusive and never judgmental, or is He? Actually God is just and holy as well as merciful. The sins of all of mankind have to be dealt with, never overlooked. The options are only twofold, accept His offer of His sacrificial death or reject Him. If you reject Him the consequences are unspeakable, as John said, the wrath of God abides on you.
Many of us were deeply effected several years ago as we watched the suffering of Christ portrayed in the movie, “The Passion of the Christ”. I will never forget the feelings I felt as Jesus was being beaten beyond recognition by the Roman soldiers, I wanted to stop them. I was so angry at their unthinkable treatment of our Lord, and then I remembered, it was God who bruised His Son, these wicked men were just pawns, fulfilling the plans of God. Actually, it was you and it was me that crucified Christ. My sins were the nails that were driven into His hands. God was displaying His love for me in the death of His Son. This Easter, take another trip to the hill called Golgotha. As you look again at His death on the cross, remember these words, “No greater love can a man have than this, that he would lay down his life for his friends”.