“The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then came soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: but one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced. And after this Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.”
“Good morning. Well it was nice for a few hours today to have warm weather. I guess they’re saying it’s going to get cold again. I liked the first winter when my wife and I moved out here from California. I think spring kicked in around February that year, that was a nice winter. John chapter 19, we’re going to pick up where we left off last week, well two weeks ago, with verse 31. We had a blessed time last Sunday with Hainey Floud here, just some of the ways he exhorted us, tasted all that good food from different parts of the world, and considered our missionaries. If you could continue to keep in prayer too March 31st as I go to India with a group of pastors. And of course the money has been spent and we’re ready to go, but of course with the situation in Iraq and all that, who knows what it all means at this point in time [sermon date, 9 March 2003]. It’d be great to go to see what the Lord’s been doing as we’ve been giving to the construction of these orphanages, it’d be great to go with other teams. I know there’ll be a team also this fall, and it will be open to a lot more people. That’s something else we can be in prayer for. But let’s say a word of prayer, and we’ll begin with verse 31 of John chapter 19. ‘Lord, as we gather together this morning we thank you once more, that we can study the Word of God, your Word. I thank you that this is your Word, inspired by you, ultimately written by you through the hands of various men. And I thank you that what we can study together this morning here in the Gospel of John is historical truth, historical fact. And I just ask God that you’d even open our eyes all the more to what is here, and the wonder and beauty of what you’ve done for us. I would also pray for those listening in this morning that do not have Jesus Christ in their heart as Lord and Savior, that you’d speak to them about what you did for them through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and how it is so absolutely vital for them to have Christ in their heart as their Savior. And you make it clear in your Word that there is no other way a man can be saved except by your Son. So I pray you’d speak to our hearts. Holy Spirit we ask that you’d be upon all of us, and even upon myself now as we go through your Word, in Jesus name, Amen.’
The Death of Jesus Christ
Last Sunday after the service I drove Hainey Flawd down to southern Connecticut to the Trumble-Bridgeport area. And Hainey has a friend, his name is Ihmoud, and Ihmoud was a physician in Egypt. And as you might remember, Hainey is from Egypt, and Ihmoud was a physician, born-again believer that lived in Egypt, and years ago, I think in the 70’s it was, Ihmoud discipled Hainey, Hainey and a group of men came to Christ, and Ihmoud discipled them. And all these men today are in full-time ministry, and I think that’s a pretty cool statement about discipleship. But I had heard about Ihmoud before, he was on staff for nine years at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, and was asked by Chuck Smith, he was Arabic from Egypt, a Christian, but was asked by Chuck Smith to study Islam and just the religion of Muslims, and to really become an expert in that. And he spent years, and he can read Arabic, so he read all the original material of the Islamic religion, and really has become somewhat of an expert on it. So he goes around and has seminars. In fact, he’ll be here, he appears anyway with us in May to share a seminar with us. And here’s a guy who can actually go, he’s written books, we have some of the books now available in our bookstore, but right from the original Arabic texts we can see evidently, some of the texts that have been translated about the Koran, some of the other Muslim texts and things, when they’ve been translated into English they’ve dropped out some of the key phrases. So we as English-speaking people aren’t able to really go in and really see the heart of Islam. But this man is able to read Arabic and goes through and tells you a little bit more about what Islam is all about. Well anyway we talked about that, we talked, you know, I went to his house and sat down in the living room and Hainey and I and Ihmoud of course, we talked about the situation in Iraq, really interesting to learn from them and their perspective, how today there’s a million Christians in Iraq [as of this date 9th March 2003 when this sermon was given. Many as of 2009 have been fleeing Iraq due to increased Muslim persecution]. In fact, according to them, Iraq today is one of the best countries as far as that part of the world is concerned to be a Christian in. Believe it or not there’s more freedom in Iraq than there is in the other countries around it. I did not know that. But it takes somebody from that part of the world that’s lived there to tell you. That even Saddam Hussein, even though he’s a real tyrant of a leader, yet he has a kindness toward the Christian population in Iraq. You never get that through the media. [Now in 2009, Saddam has been overthrown and executed. Iraq, even though somewhat of a fledgling democracy now, has been embroiled in a kind of civil war that flairs up, and then dies down, and then flares up again, and the various Muslim factions have made it harder on Iraqi Christians than it ever was under Saddam. Who can guess what’s next for this now troubled country, struggling to establish the only known Arabic democracy amongst all the other Arabic countries.] Something interesting, something for us to keep in prayer in these next few weeks, a million Christians live in Iraq, more than any of the other countries around in that area. Well as we talked about that, we talked also of course about Islam and the Muslim beliefs. Then we got onto the subject of Jesus as far as the Muslim view and belief of Jesus. And I’m going to just make a few points to you about that as we get started, and I will confess that I’m not an expert on Islam, so if I misstate anything or have misunderstood anything, be gracious with me. But this is what I understood, and this is what I’ve heard before, and I believe it’s true. But we talked about Jesus, and the Muslim view of Jesus. Now you may already know that Jesus is in the Koran. According to Islam Jesus is a Prophet. In fact, according to Islam, Jesus was a Miracle-worker. They believed he performed miracles, which is interesting, because they believed Mohammed didn’t perform miracles, but yet Jesus did. And there’s various writings about Jesus, and not all of them I agree with that are in the Koran. But there is this subject of the cross. And this is interesting in Islam. They accept Jesus as a Prophet, as a Miracle-worker, as a Teacher, but they do not believe in the cross, at least in the sense that they do not believe that Jesus went to the cross and died on the cross. They don’t believe that. They do however believe, as we’re going to look today and study about this historical event, they do believe that this crucifixion took place. They do believe that somebody actually died at this point in time on the cross. But what is interesting, the way I understand it anyway, I believe it’s true, is they believe somebody else died on the cross [a form of Adoptionism, but not really] not Jesus, somebody else. And their belief is, is this is a case of mistaken identity. They believe that somebody evidently who looked like Jesus, was somebody maybe in the group of disciples, somebody that went to the cross and died and that everybody in this story that we’re going to study and of course in the other Gospels mistook it to be Jesus. We have in the Book of Acts and at the end of the Gospels especially, the appearances of Jesus as far as after his resurrection. And what the Muslims believe, is that again of mistaken identity, that somebody did go to the cross on this particular day, and this individual that did, evidently, lived through the ordeal, he didn’t die but he lived, and then he went and appeared to the disciples, and the disciples thought it was Jesus. Now that’s a bit strange. It’s a bit strange to me anyway. And with that the question needs to be asked, ‘Why would Islam accept Jesus as a Prophet, as a Miracle-worker, but when it comes to the crucifixion, his death on the cross, why do they suddenly come up with this strange rendering of…that to me would be even harder to accept and to believe, that somebody else did it, and all these people mistook it as Jesus. [i.e. the 12 disciples lived intimately close to Jesus for three and half years, traveling, camping out with him. Mistaken identity? I don’t think so.] Why would they come to the cross and have such a problem where Mohammed when he writes about Jesus six hundred years after the life of Jesus, and includes him in his teachings and his writings, he just drops off this bit about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. What about the death of Jesus on the cross, what about his death is such an issue with them that they have to come up with a different rendering? Well, I believe the issue, and I believe the way you answer this question is Islam doesn’t want to accept the death of Jesus Christ because of the weight that his death carries, the significance that his death carries. In fact, you cannot adhere to the teaching of Mohammed and all that goes in the Koran and all the teaching of Mohammed, you cannot adhere to that and accept the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. You can’t do it. In fact, if you accept the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it completely abolishes the foundation of the religion of Islam. And we understand the weight of what it carries, it completely abolishes it. In fact, not only that, it abolishes every other religion of man. I got an email recently, and as we get started I’ll quote to you this email. I didn’t have time to get on the computer and send and try to do these little researches and find out “Is this indeed a true”…you know, some of the emails you get, sometimes we start talking about them, we find they’re just made up, you know [i.e. urban legends]. And I don’t know if this one is true, but evidently it is supposedly from an interview between Cal Thomas and John Ashcroft, and this is a quote evidently of John Ashcroft. Now if this isn’t true, either way, I like the comment. And that’s why I read it to you, even if it isn’t true, I’d say this is a great comment. This is it: “Islam is a religion in which God requires you to send your son to die for him. Christianity is a faith in which God sent his Son to die for you.” That statement says there is an infinite difference between the two. One says ‘Go die for God’, requires that actually. If you want to be sure that you’re going to go to heaven as a Muslim, the only way you can be sure is if you actually die a martyr’s death. That’s the only way. Christianity says ‘God sent his Son to die for me.’ The two are worlds apart. I’d like to also quote to you from Henry Thiessen and his book “Lectures in Systematic Theology” in which he says about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, “Other religions base their claim to recognition on the teaching of their founders. Christianity is distinguished from all of them by the importance it assigns to the death of it’s founder. Take away the death of Christ as interpreted by the Scriptures and you reduce Christianity to the level of the ethnic religions. Though we would still have a higher system of ethics, were we to take away the cross of Christ, we would have no more salvation than these other religions. Take away the cross and the heart of Christianity is gone.” So, the death of Jesus Christ, the significance of his death on the cross. Thiessen continues, “The subject of apostolic preaching was Christ and him crucified.” And that’s exactly the words of Paul in 1st Corinthians chapter 2, “For I determine not to know anything among you, except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Well as you might remember from two weeks ago as we were studying through John chapter 19, we left off with verse 30. And that is the point where Jesus dies on the cross. Now it was my intention to go through the entire chapter, but running out of time, I didn’t want to just rush to the end, and I thought, ‘Well, that’s going to be an unusual place to start.’ But that’s where we start this morning. [I think God works it out that way, it was a perfect place to start.] Jesus is dead on the cross, hanging there dead on the cross. And as I thought about that, I actually got excited about that, I said ‘You know, that’s just a great study, just to consider for a moment, for a Sunday [or Saturday] morning, the death of Jesus Christ.’ Now as a side point you might remember two weeks ago the outline, I sometimes use little points, I was going through and I think I had four or five points [originally there were 7 points, and it became 5 points due to timing], and I had two more to go that I was alluding to. The problem is, when you don’t finish a study like that, when you pick up, you’re tempted to drop those points and come up with a whole new study. And that’s what I’m doing this morning…So I got a new outline this morning. We focused on the cross in a general way, but this morning I want to just look at the death of Jesus Christ, his death, the significance. And I have three points. These are the three points, 1) first, the proof of his death. Man, the way John writes about it here, he makes it clear to his audience, here’s the proof, this man, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, died on a cross, died on a cross. 2), Secondly, the purpose of his death. That is a subject we could go on forever, and I’m going to try to just simply focus on a few points, but the purpose of his death. We have the proof, we have the purpose, 3), and then thirdly, we’ll look at the people effected by his death…
1. The proof of Jesus Christ’s death
Verses 31-37, “Therefore because it was the preparation day, that the body should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and the other who was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with his spear, and immediately blood and water came out. And he who has seen this testified, and his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe. For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, ‘Not one of his bones shall be broken.’ And again, another Scripture says, ‘They shall look on him whom they’ve pierced.’” So here, we have Jesus, hanging on a cross. He is dead on the cross. Hard to comprehend that the Son of God would be dead on a cross, that God would send his Son into the world, to become a man, and that he would be here at this moment, as we’re studying, about an event two thousand years ago, but that he would be dead, hanging on a cross. Now as we see in our text, John writes, and it’s clear as you get the sense, his desire is to make this point very clear to his audience, that Jesus is assuredly, without any doubt, dead. He’s making it clear, he is dead. He is not breathing, his heart is not beating, his brain-function has ceased. I’m sure that by now, his skin is cold and the color of his body is taking on that look of death. John is making it clear that he is dead. We could take our modern-day hospital equipment and monitors and connect it to him, as we’ve got the technology to monitor brain-waves and things like that, and we would see that Jesus is dead. Now my kids like to play dead, you know, they’re young, and as kids they like to do that. Sometimes they like to pretend they’re sleeping, and sometimes they like to play that they’re dead, and we have a little game. And I like to play with them, but sometimes, you know, I’ve got three of those little buggers, we get home late on a Sunday night, and I’d just as soon walk into the house, but here we got two of them, they’re acting like they’re sleeping, and in some cases I think they’re trying to act like they’re dead so that I’ll carry them in. And they just won’t move. But I have this little technique, as you do with kids, I know just where to tickle my kids, and I’ll grab my son’s leg right there, and he’ll try to fake that he’s dead, but he can only do it so long. And my daughter, she’s easy, she’s as ticklish as can be, I can just get her. And so they play dead. And Jesus here is not playing dead, as some would even try to teach, that he’s faking his death. John gives the evidence that he is without a doubt dead. This discredits a number of fables that have been circulated throughout history since this time. As some would teach, Jesus has not swooned into some sort of comatose state here. There is a teaching, this swoon theory, where he’s come into a comatose state, where he’s in a coma, but yet he’s alive. A state, later, when they put him into the tomb, that he’ll actually revive from. That’s not true, that’s just fable. It’s not like the woman that evidently in Canton, Ohio, Mrs. Corday, this is a number of years ago, I think it was in the early 70’s, a widow 68 years old, had been at a treatment for Parkinson’s disease and was declared dead and her body was sent to a funeral home. And you’ve probably heard stories like this, and you know where I’m going. But a funeral home employee began making preparations for embalming this particular lady, when he thought he saw her tongue move. Got his attention. And then a moment later, what he thought was a cadaver took a breath. Well as the story goes on with this lady, she completely recovered from the whole ordeal, and spent the remaining years of her life in an extended care facility, and evidently died in a hospital in 1975. But they thought she was dead, dead enough to ship her off and get ready to embalm her. And she was in some kind of state where she was near death, very little sign of life. But yet she was alive, she wasn’t dead. That’s not true of Jesus, and there’s a theory out there that says he was in a state like that, near death, but able to revive later. But as you note there, and we’ll get to it, the evidence that John gives here makes it clear that he’s not in a state like that. And there’s also other fables, like the fable ‘Jesus the Divine,’ the Gnostic teaching that ‘Jesus the Divine’ before this time of the crucifixion left “Jesus the man”, so that only Jesus the man is dead on the cross. That he was the only one affected by God’s wrath, he was the only one that undertook the sin of the world, had the sin of the world placed upon him. But that is Gnostic teaching that John and other Gospel writers of the Epistles try to deal with, and it just is not true. [See http://www.unityinchrist.com/misc/whyorthodoxy.html for a complete study of the early heresies like this that got going during the time of Paul and John.] It is Jesus the Son of God here hanging on the cross, and whatever all that means, Jesus the Son of God paid the penalty, God himself [Yahweh-shua] paid the penalty for our sin. And this is certainly not the case of mistaken identity. I can’t buy that at all. That’s to me hard to believe. I guess though Saddam Hussein’s, sometimes when we watch TV, maybe seen it on the news, I guess sometimes you can get pretty creative, they say he has six or seven guys who look just like him, and sometimes when we’re watching a little clip of Saddam Hussein, I’ve heard it said anyways, I’ve heard clips on the news that ‘We don’t know, is that really Saddam Hussein, you know, will the real Saddam stand up? We’ve got these other guys, and he’s pretty good, he’s got guys who look just like him. And you can do a good job faking out somebody with somebody who looks like him. But this is not that case at all, assuredly, this is Jesus of Nazareth. The religious leaders, man, they wanted to put Jesus to the cross. And they’re at the cross, as you remember in the last study we did, they’re mocking him, they know that this is Jesus of Nazareth, they haven’t been doped into thinking it’s somebody else. It is Jesus. The Roman soldiers who were there with Pilate and with Jesus carrying him from one place to another, they know that this is Jesus of Nazareth that they’ve taken to the cross. And of course the disciples, followers of Jesus, know without a doubt, as John is certain here that this is indeed the Prophet, Miracle-worker, the Teacher from Galilee, this is without a doubt Jesus. Well let’s consider for a moment some of the proof that Jesus died here, some of the proof that John gives. In verse 31 John notes that this is “preparation day” [for the 1st Holy Day which begins the Feast of Unleavened Bread]. What exactly is preparation day? Some of our translations render that a little bit differently. But because it’s preparation day, it’s noted there, the Jews ask Pilate to break the legs of those on the crosses to insure that those who are on the cross, three crosses, to insure that their death is hastened so that their bodies will not remain on the crosses until evening. That is because in the Jewish calendar, when it became evening [sundown], that was the next day. The day ended at the evening [at sundown] and the next day started. And the next day, as it’s noted there in verse 31, is a Sabbath Day, and especially it’s a High Day, it’s a sacred Sabbath, there’s something special about this Sabbath. [Little lesson in God’s Holy Day’s of Leviticus 23: Passover, Exodus 12, and Leviticus 23, started on the 14th Nissan (at sundown at the end of the 13th Nissan). Jesus died on the daylight portion of the Passover, on the 14 Nissan. The very next day, the 15th of Nissan was the 1st Day of Unleavened Bread, and was a Holy Day, or High Sabbath Day, High Day. As it was late in the afternoon of the 14th, Passover day, when Jesus died, the high priest wanted to make sure they were all dead so they could be taken down, before the “High Day” the Holy Day that occurred on the 15th came upon them. This High Day is confused with Passover Day by Gentile Christians, but Sabbatarian Church of God believers and Messianic Jewish believers know the difference.] So the Jews want to make sure that those three on the crosses are dead, and that their bodies are removed and they’re not left on the crossses. Now when the Romans carried out crucifixion, they generally left their victims to die on the cross, and that would take as many as four to six days. So they would hang there during the night, the cold of the night, during the heat of the day they would hang there. The flies and the insects would buzz around them and get into their sores and wounds. Over time, their thirst would grow, there would be an excruciating thirst they would have. And of course they would struggle with breathing, and just all the pain as you can only imagine. In fact the pain and suffering would be so great, it was often that crucified victims would actually die raving mad. They would go mad [British word for crazy] from the suffering. And that’s the state they would die in. So, the Romans would let them stay on the cross, but the Jews of course for certain reasons are concerned about that because of this Sabbath [Holy Day, the First Day of Unleavened Bread] follows. [Read Leviticus 23:4-8.] Now the Romans also when they took down the bodies after they died, after several days, they also wouldn’t bury the bodies, they would just let the bodies be discarded there, maybe by the crosses, in that area, and let the dogs come and the vultures come and various scavengers would come and actually just devour the bodies. But the Jewish law was different. As stated in Deuteronomy chapter 21, the Jewish law [why does he call it Jewish law, it was God’s law given to the Jews by Moses] stated explicitly that if somebody was hung on a tree, if somebody was crucified, punished in one way or another on a tree, their bodies were not to remain into the night. I’ll just quote to you, Deuteronomy chapter 21, verse 22, “If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he’s put to death and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance. For he who is hanged is accursed of God.” Deuteronomy, the law made it clear, do not let their bodies hang into the evening, remove their bodies. So here was this law making it clear. So these religious leaders do not want the bodies left on the cross because of the law, but also again because it’s the preparation day. The preparation day is the day before the High Day, this High Sabbath day, the first day of the Passover Feast [which are called the Days of Unleavened Break, which lasts seven days, the first and last days being High Holy Days. The Passover was not a Holy Day, but was the day before this first High Day, High Sabbath. The Passover day was also the preparation day before this High Sabbath day.] So in order to hasten their death the Jews, as you see there in verse 31, come and ask Pilate that the legs of these victims be broken. And that would normally be done with a mallet, and they would come up with this mallet, and they would swing the mallet in such a way that it would actually crush the bones in the victim’s legs, so that now their legs are broken, and they’re not able to hold their upper body up. And if you were crucified, you would struggle to do that, you couldn’t breathe otherwise. If you just hung it would put pressure on your diaphragm and it would restrict your breathing and you could suffocate. So the whole time the victims were on the cross, they would push up with their legs so that they could breathe. So this would hasten the death, they’d come with this mallet and they would swing it and break the legs, crush the bones. And I don’t know about you, like Ron Downy, he could give us a demonstration. But when I was young and broke some bones in my foot, I remember when I did that in Idaho as we were playing in the snow and going down on some inner tubes on the hill, and we were hours from our house, I knew I heard it, so my parents knew I did, so we climbed in our station wagon and took the three-hour drive. We had just gotten there, we had driven for hours, and here goes Steve breaking his leg. So three hours drive to go back home, and I get in the wagon and we drive for a couple hours, and I think we stopped for lunch or something, and as we stopped I had just been sitting there with Ben-gay on my foot and I’m thinking, ‘You know, it feels OK now.’ I’m thinking it’s OK. So I got out took a step, and it was not OK very clearly, if you’ve ever had a broken bone, it really hurts. So they broke the legs of two of the victims on either side of Jesus. And you could only imagine the excruciating cries that would come out, and then just the gasping noises as these men sought to try to breathe, but in a very short time, this would really hasten the death, they would essentially suffocate. They would die by asphyxiation. So, John again, wants to make the point very clear, that the death of these three victims on this particular day was extremely important to the Jews. There were men that really wanted to make sure that these guys were dead. He makes that point clear here. Now again the fact that the next day is a High Day, so it’s the first day of the Unleavened Feast, Leviticus chapter 23, verse 7, it was a sacred day, and there was to be no work, indeed there wouldn’t be anybody on the cross on that day. This was a very special day as declared by God in Leviticus chapter 23, verse 7. And we could go on and do little study, I won’t do it, but it’s possible, and you use this verse here, the next day was this High Day, a special Sabbath [God’s Holy Days were considered High or Special Sabbaths, which didn’t necessarily fall on an ordinary Saturday, but could be on any day of the week.] It’s possible that this day was actually Friday, this following day would be a Friday. [That’s going by the theory that Jesus’ death occurred on 30 AD. Some other scholars believe that Jesus’ death occurred on 31 AD, so this High Day would have been on a Thursday, Thursday-Friday-Saturday, 3 days and three nights, having Jesus’ resurrection occurring late Saturday afternoon. As we know, Jesus was already resurrected and gone from the tomb early Sunday morning. I lean toward the 31 AD crucifixion date for this reason. A Friday High Day wouldn’t give you three days and three nights in the tomb no matter how you count it, as was required to fulfill prophecies about Jesus.] And then the Saturday, a regular Sabbath would follow that, so that Thursday was when Jesus was crucified. And I won’t go into that, but there’s a possible way here to come up with the three days and three nights [not without stretching Einstein’s relativity theory waaaay out of proportion!]. You know, Jesus said he’d be dead three days and three nights. But as generally accepted that he died on Friday, you don’t get the three nights that way or the three days…[this pastor unwittingly disproved a Thursday crucifixion. And this denomination blindly follows along with his reasoning, sadly, like they’ve just stumbled on a Biblical truth, picked themselves up and go on their way. We must always be careful to divide the Word of truth very carefully, and not necessary believe even what our own denomination teaches if it can be proven to be wrong. But gladly, all the errors in our various belief systems between denominations will evaporate rapidly at Jesus’ 2nd coming. We as we enter God’s Millennium as co-rulers with Christ will be able to teach the whole truth of God’s Word without error. We, no matter how sincere and honest we are, just can’t do that completely yet.]…Well, John tells us they break the other two criminals legs, and as the scene transpires, as we see there in verse 33, they come to Jesus, and to their surprise he is already dead. And it’s astonishing to them. They’re surprised that he’s already dead. In fact, with the other Gospels, word gets to Pilate, and it says that Pilate is astounded. That’s because Jesus has only been on the cross about six hours. Again it would take four to six days for somebody crucified to die. But in six hours, in six hours he dies. And it’s very clear that he’s dead, very clear to these soldiers so that they don’t break his legs. They know he’s dead, they don’t need to break his legs, he dead, he’s just hanging there dead. There’s no way he could be breathing the way he’s hanging. This man is dead, so they don’t even go through the process, he’s dead. It’s clear to them. And then to give further proof of his death, as John records in verse 34, one of the soldiers takes his spear, and then pierces Jesus side with it. And that’s very key here, and that’s why John makes the comment he does in verse 35. As John explained when that spear goes into his side, out comes blood and water, a mixture of blood and water. And that’s unusual for that to happen. According to various medical authorities though, such as Dr. Samuel Houten of Dublin, University of Dublin in Ireland, or Dr. W. Stroud who wrote a book “The Physical Cause of the Death of Christ”, “That type of situation is unusual and it only happens when the heart of the victim is ruptured. When the heart of the victim is ruptured, what happens is the blood in the heart collects in the pericardium, that sac around the heart, it collects there, so that lining around the heart divides into sort of a bloody serum that’s mixed with water.” That’s the only time you get that state when the heart has ruptured. So evidently under the intense pain of the crucifixion [compounded with the prior scourging he went through], and just his blood pressure going all over the place, Jesus’ heart actually burst open, and that’s what caused his death, his heart ruptured. And then when the soldier, when he takes his spear and drives it into the side of Jesus, it goes into his side and actually punctures the lining of the heart, so what comes out is that mixture of blood and water. And according to doctors that’s the only way you get that mixture. So he died of a ruptured heart. Now considering that scenario, other’s have conjectured that what he died of was a broken heart. And that would actually fulfill a Messianic prophecy, Psalm chapter 69, verse 20, that his heart was broken over the sin of the world. It says about the Messiah, “Reproach has broken my heart.” So it is possible that when Jesus hung on the cross, just the suffering, just the intensity of the sin of the world being upon him, his heart was broken over the sin of the world, and it actually ruptured. So in just six hours, what actually killed him was that, a ruptured heart, rather than just the slow agonizing death of crucifixion. So, John with that, when he observes these events, and it’s important, that’s why he says this, he says, ‘This is undeniable evidence, and I stood there, and here’s the evidence, I saw it, Jesus of Nazareth, crucified on a cross, he died, God the Son. He died, these are the simple facts. Here’s the details. They can’t be explained away. Here’s the proof.’ These other fables, the Gnostic fables, the Islam tradition, all this is just not true. [And John was living through the beginning of the spread of so-called “Christian Gnosticism” when he wrote this Gospel in the late 90’s AD.] And of course this also disproves the Gnostic, the esthetic Gnostic teaching that Jesus when he was actually on the earth was a phantom, he wasn’t ever a physical real body. [Again, see http://www.unityinchrist.com/misc/whyorthodoxy.html.] If you followed Jesus, according to the esthetic Gnostic teaching, you’d never find foot-prints, he was a phantom. This clearly says that’s just a lie, which it was. It was a lie…
2. The Purpose of Jesus’ death
Verses 36-37, “For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled. A bone of him shall not be broken. And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.”
a. Fulfillment: I’m going to keep it pretty simple this morning, summarizing the purpose of his death in this manner, and that is basically fulfillment, forgiveness, fellowship, and freedom. Why did Jesus die, what was the purpose of his death?---we have fulfillment, forgiveness, fellowship and freedom. First of all, fulfillment, that’s what John notes there. Jesus in his death fulfilled the Scriptures. And we could quote a lot of Old Testament Scriptures, Isaiah 53, we could go on and on and on, Zechariah I believe it’s chapter 13, we could hit a lot of them, even the imagery with Abraham and Isaac. [To read a more comprehensive study of all the prophecies about Jesus’ 1st coming, log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophecies/1stcoming.htm.] Jesus’ death clearly was prophecied, predicted, the death of the Messiah in the Old Testament, and Jesus therefore fulfilled, or his death fulfilled those Scriptures. John notes a couple of them, he notes in verse 36 that the death of Jesus fulfilled the whole imagery and picture and purpose of the Passover lamb, that Jesus was the Lamb of God. And he quotes Exodus chapter 12, verse 46 that the Passover lamb, its bones where not to be broken. And Jesus is the Lamb of God as the fulfillment of that. His bones where not broken, which also fulfills Psalm 34, verse 20. So it fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies, which is also what you see in verse 37, Zechariah chapter 12, verse 10. He says this fulfills the Scriptures “they shall look upon him whom they have pierced”, meaning pierced with a spear. It comes up in Revelation chapter 1, when Jesus returns, there on the clouds when he comes back to reign as the Messiah on the earth, John notes that they will look again upon him whom they have pierced. [Revelation 1:7, “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him…” This along with Zechariah 12:10 is also referring to the Jews recognizing him whom they had pierced, i.e. they’re recognizing Jesus of Nazareth for the first time as their Messiah, and as you read further into Zechariah 12, you see they mourn deeply for their lack of recognition of him in the past.] So it fulfills the Old Testament Scriptures. It also fulfills the New Testament Scriptures. Of course, Jesus’ words, repeatedly he said that ‘he was going to go to the cross and die.’ So his death fulfills the Scriptures. But not only does it fulfill the Scriptures, very importantly, if fulfills the just demands of God. God is a just God, God is a righteous God, and God has said that the wages of sin is death. And his death therefore fulfilled the Scriptures, fulfilled the law, but also fulfilled the just demands of a perfectly righteous God. I’ll quote to you from Ihmoud, from one of his little books, and again, he’s going to be with us in May. But I’ll quote to you what he says to Muslims. “Some people will ask this question, saying, ‘Why should Jesus die for us to be forgiven? Isn’t repentance and asking God’s forgiveness enough?’ The answer, of course God is loving and merciful to forgive us if we repent, but he’s also just, and somebody, someone must pay the penalty which we should pay for our sins. Someone must die. The penalty is unlimited because we disobeyed God. The wages of sin is death, and eternal separation from God, unless someone dies as a substitute for us, to satisfy the justice of God.” So, Jesus has fulfilled the Scriptures, his death did, but also it fulfilled the just requirements of God. The wages of sin is death [cf. Romans 6:23]. You know I shared this on Wednesday night with the folks that were there, but I was listening to the radio on the way home from being at the office here at the church, and was going to prepare for my study in Deuteronomy, and as I turned on the radio on the way home, Chuck Smith was teaching through that very text. So I tuned right in, it was very interesting, ‘He’s teaching on what I’m going to be teaching on, I better make sure I listen here, because if anybody else is listening I don’t want to disagree with Chuck, you know.’ So I’m listening, and I’m driving, and as I’m driving I kind of space out a little bit, and this has happened to me a number of times, I guess it prepared me for the moment, but you know when you come to an intersection there’s a light, and you know when they turn to yellow, you guys have had this experience, sometimes when it changes to yellow, based on where you are at that time, it’s real hard to know what to do. Do I continue to go through the light? Or do I try to really brake quickly, you know, it’s awkward. And I’ve had that happen to me a few times lately, green light turns to yellow, and I’m like ‘What do I do?’. And I’m like ‘whew!, just made it’, or ‘I don’t know if I made it.’ Those kind of experiences. You have those experiences. Well I had one of those when I was listening to Chuck on the way home, except that I really had messed up on the timing, I wasn’t really paying close attention, and I looked up, ‘Yellow, I got plenty of time’, and there was a lot more distance than I thought, that light was very red when I looked up the next time, but I was cruising right through that intersection. And don’t you know [laughter], I immediately looked through my rear-view mirror. Whose behind me? And an instant later, blue lights coming out of the grill of the car behind me. Here we go. Right? So, I pull over, there’s a little hill after that, I pull over. And I had to wait for a couple minutes, I’m not sure what took the police officer so long, but I guess he was surprised when he finally came over the hill. He must have stopped at that intersection to let somebody go by and then followed me. But here I was just waiting for him, I wasn’t trying to hide anywhere, I was just waiting for him. And he pulled over, I mean, I was guilty, right. So he came walking up to my jeep and I even had my license out and I was holding it out the window. I know the routine. And I’m not going to even debate this deal. And he comes walking up to me and I said “I’m guilty, here’s my license, I ran a red light.” And he goes, “You know, people usually give me excuses and try to debate this thing, they try to, I mean, you’re just admitting to it?” He thought that was a little strange. I said, “Hey, I ran a red light, I know I did, you know, I’m guilty.” And he said “Are you from around here?” [laughter] I said, “Yeah, I lived in Lunenburg two years, and while we’re talking I’m getting out my registration, I was going to give him this stuff, not even going to debate this thing. Hey, he has his job, and I am guilty. I ran that red light. Well I guess I caught him off-guard, and he didn’t even grab my license or anything, he kind of looks amazed at me. He says, “Well I guess I’ve gotten your attention, why don’t you just keep going.” And I think I just surprised him. I guess most of us debate, I’ve done that once or twice, it doesn’t work, I’ll tell you that. The two times I’ve debated with an officer I left with that little piece of paper, you know, I’ve learned to be nice to them, it’s their job. So, but anyway, he let me go, he was merciful, he was gracious. And God is also very merciful and gracious. But God is still perfectly just. And the wages of sin is death, I’ve broken the Law, we all have, we’ve done wrong. We’ve broken the Law and there’s the penalty. And God is loving and merciful as we teach, but yet he’s just. He’s perfect, he has to be just. So somebody has to pay that ticket. If God was that officer and let me go, somebody would have to go and pay that thing. It would have to be paid. And that’s what Jesus’ death has accomplished. We’re guilty man, we’re guilty, we’re sinners, we have done wrong, and somebody’s got to pay the penalty. And if it was us without Jesus Christ, we would pay the penalty. But amazingly, God came and he sent his Son to this world, and he died on the cross, and he paid the penalty, he paid for the ticket, man. So Jesus’ death fulfilled the Scriptures, it fulfilled the just requirements of God, it also fulfilled the requirements of the Law. I mean, the Law made it very clear, and Paul in Romans says that God sent his Son, and in sending his Son he condemned sin, as he died on the cross he condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirements of the Law might be fulfilled. So he fulfilled the righteous requirements of the Law.
b. Forgiveness: So we have this fulfillment, but the next point, secondly, his death, the purpose of his death, also was that of forgiveness. A great subject. Forgiveness. That is, through his death, he became the substitutionary offering for our sin, and thereby provided the means for you and I to be forgiven of our sin, and therefore pave the way for our salvation. As Paul writes in Colossians, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.” Without the death and shed blood of Jesus Christ, there is no possibility for forgiveness of sin. There’s no possibility for any of us. The only hope we would have is judgment. But he died, and because he died, now there’s the means for you and I to be forgiven. And I tell you, forgiveness is great. I heard from Ihmoud and Hainey, if I understood them correctly, talking about the religion of Islam, that the father of Mohammed, a very much religious man as far as in the new world of Islam, very much a follower of Mohammed in the teaching and part of that whole deal, when he died, people around him, here’s a real holy man in this new religion of Islam, and when he was dying, somebody asked him, ‘Sure, this guy has a pretty good chance’, and they asked him “Do you believe you’re going to go to heaven?” And he responded, and I don’t know the exact words, but the heart of it was this, he responded, he said ‘I do not know if I’m going to go to heaven. How can any man know if you’ re going to go to heaven. I do not know.’ So Mohammed’s father at his death was unsure of his forgiveness. It’s because they’ve taken the death of Jesus Christ and taken it out. But it’s through the death of Jesus Christ that I know that I’m forgiven. I’ve done a lot of lousy things. I’ve done a lot of lousy things in my life that I definitely deserve to be punished for. But God is merciful and loving, but he’s just, but he’s also forgiving. And he’s provided the means for me to be forgiven. And to be forgiven is great, man, to know that I’m forgiven, I’m forgiven, it’s been cleansed, it’s been forgotten. And forgiveness with God is to separate my sin from me as far as the East is from the West. Amazingly, you’ve got to be careful in this world we’re living in, because this is where we’re going, but amazingly, now I’ll just say this delicately, because I know you can easily offend people, but this just a point and it’s true, but recently the pope made a declaration that for Christians, it is not right for Christians to evangelize Jews. [Now here is an interesting point. For the past 38 years, from 1970 onward, God himself via the Holy Spirit has called an estimated 500,000 racial Jews to belief in Jesus Christ, Yeshua haMeshiach, as their Messiah, Savior. So I guess God doesn’t agree with the pope, since he’s restored the Jewish branch of the body of Christ. Also, the early Christian Church was Judeo-Christian, nearly racially Jewish for the first 200 years of its existence, and those percentages didn’t even out to 50/50 until around 300AD. See http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/index3.htm. See also the Messianic section of this website at: http://www.unityinchrist.com/messianicmovement/messianicmovement.htm.] Maybe you’ve read about that. He says ‘It’s not right for Christians to evangelize Jews.’ And the point is, is the pope’s said ‘That Jews are already going to heaven. So we don’t need to evangelize Jews. But the Bible teaches otherwise. And to say that a man does not need the cross, is to belittle and to make mockery of what Jesus Christ did on the cross. He died on the cross as the Son of God, God himself, so that I could be forgiven of my sin. And there’s no other way, for anybody, doesn’t matter, Jew nor Greek, the New Testament teaches. Paul made it clear, there’s neither Jew or Greek, there is no other way to be forgiven of our sin. The only way is through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. You need to be careful about the world we’re heading into. There are people, there are religious leaders, that are losing sight of the cross and the death of Jesus Christ, and coming up with these thoughts that ‘Well, there’s other people that can get there and get forgiven other ways.’ There’s no chance without the death of Jesus Christ, and somebody then accepting the power of the death of the shed blood of Jesus Christ into their life, through faith. There is no other way to be forgiven of our sin. So, fulfillment, forgiveness.
c. Fellowship. The purpose of his death was also fellowship, that is fellowship with God, Jesus provided by his death. The Bible says we were alienated from God because of our sin. That means that in the Garden of Eden Adam, Eve and God were together, but through the sin you see the picture, there was alienation, separation. But his death now has provided the means for me to be reconciled back to God. It kind of in a sense goes back to that time of the Garden of Eden where man walked with God. The thought is something like this. “At first God”, this is Thiessen in his book, “and man stood face to face with each other in perfect harmony. But in sinning Adam turned his back upon God. Then God turned his back upon Adam. Christ’s death now has satisfied the demands of God, and now God has turned his face toward man again. And then it remains for man to turn around and face God.” That’s what it means by fellowship, reconciliation. God is reconciled by the death of his Son, he’s been reconciled to man, and now man is entreated to be reconciled to God. So his death, so key. You know, when Adam sinned, it’s kind of like that Fifth Street Bridge, it’s never been a usable bridge since I’ve been in the community, but that bridge was torn down, something was wrong with it, they tore it down. And without that bridge you couldn’t easily make that connection with your car from whatever the street is there to the other street [there was a gorge inbetween Water Street and Summer Street], you guys know the names of the streets around here. And without that bridge you couldn’t drive across anymore. But now they’re building this beautiful bridge, it is just really pretty, and it’s a neat thing for our town there. And when it’s done you’ll want to do it, just to drive over that bridge. But you’ll be able to go over in your car [or walk over. Btw, the bridge is finished now, and it is beautiful, connecting two main streets, Water and Summer together across a gorge 75 to 100 feet below]. And that’s sort of what Jesus did for us. My sin, man, it destroyed the connection, the bridge, put an infinite chasm there. I had no way of being near God. But now the cross stands there as that bridge, and now I have fellowship with him through Jesus Christ. That’s what his death means, it’s so critical it can’t be debated or ignored.
d. Freedom. And the last point about the purpose of his death is freedom, freedom. His death paid the price so that we could be set free from the Law, Galatians, [I would say we’ve been set free the penalty of the Law. This gets us into the huge discussion about Law and Grace. God nowhere condemns his Law or negates us from observing the Law, as he states in both Hebrews 6:6-13 and Jeremiah 31:31-34. God states here in these two sets of verses very plainly that he intends to write his Law into our hearts and minds. These statements, given in both the New and Old Testament prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Law is not done away. But he has given us a new and better way to observe his royal law, and that is by way of the Holy Spirit he will write his Law into our hearts and minds. He will heal us of sin. Try as we might, our own efforts at repentance fall way short, until he actually heals us of the sin we may be struggling against. And the Bible, from Old Testament to New Testament tells believers to not sin, and John defines sin in 1st John 3:4 this way, “Sin is the transgression of the law.” See http://www.unityinchrist.com/whatisgrace/whatisgraceintro.htm for a larger discussion of Law & Grace]. We’ve also been set free from the power of sin, Romans, from Satan himself, and from all evil. His death means freedom for you and I, freedom. And freedom is a good thing. I read recently about an organization, I don’t know if it’s a Christian organization, but this organization has raised a lot of money, to go into countries in this world today where Islamic rule has permeated he culture. And when you have the full Islam ruling a culture, what you have also then is slavery, because slavery is allowed in Islam. So if you go to Sudan today, the Islamic people of northern Sudan have taken the Christian population and other types of pagan religious parts of the population, people in southern Sudan, and made slaves out of them. They’re slaves. So there is a worldwide organization, and I’m not sure if it’s Christian, but they raise money and they go into countries like Sudan and they purchase the freedom of these slaves. You can read about it, it’s a real institution. And that’s what Jesus has done. I was a slave, the Bible says, slave to my sin, slave to the Law, I was a slave man, in bondage. But Jesus came and he paid the debt. He paid for me to be released. He redeemed me. So now I’ve been set free. Well the purpose of Jesus’ death, we have the proof, the purpose (which means fulfillment, forgiveness, fellowship and freedom), and as we come to the end of our time, we’ll make one easy point here.
3. The people effected by Jesus’ death
Verses 38-42, “After this Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, which at first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen with spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.” Now Joseph of Arimathea, if you remember, he is a Pharisee, he is a religious leader. He is a prominent counsel member. We’re told in Mark he’s “Waiting for the kingdom of God”. Luke says he was a good and just man. Luke says that when they decided about Jesus, the Sanhedrin, the council, Joseph of Arimathea did not go with their decision. He did not consent to it. But he was a believer in Jesus (Yeshua). He saw Jesus, he believed in him. But as noted there, he was a secret disciple for fear of the Jews. This is a significant man in the religious world at that time. A believer in Jesus, a wealthy man, secret but not any more. Something has happened to him. Because now at a critical time, the rest of the disciples have scattered, this man who was a secret disciple, a significant figure in the culture, steps forward and says to Pilate “I want his body.” And he does something very beautiful, he takes the body of Jesus as we see there. He is not a secret believer at all now, he asks of Pilate for the body of Jesus, and he takes it and goes and prepares it. And Nicodemus also joins in. Nicodemus, another significant religious leader. You remember, this guy was a Pharisee, he could have been one of the most significant teachers in the world of the Pharisees by some of the words that describe him. He was a significant teacher in Israel. As you remember, he came to Jesus at night there in John chapter 3. This man also, two religious leaders, significant men, come at this point. They’ve been tremendously effected. Now Nicodemus comes with some major stuff, stuff that would be very expensive. In fact, he brings myrrh and aloes, it says 100 pounds. That actually, when it says pounds isn’t pounds in our English weight system, it’s actually 12 ounces per pound which converts to 75 pounds, and that’s what the NIV says. But he has so much, it’s what you’d give a king. So this man’s been so effected that he gives this man Jesus of Nazareth the preparation, the burial of a king, greatly effected by the death, by the cross of Jesus Christ. And that is the point. When we understand and we look at the death of Jesus Christ, when we understand what it means, it has a profound, radical transforming effect upon our lives. So we see people effected here, two religious leaders. One writer put it this way, “The way to motivate people to serve Christ is not to make them feel guilty, not to put pressure on them, not to try to manipulate their emotions, but simply to allow them, like Nicodemus and Joseph, to see what Jesus did for them.” And we see what he did, he died, he died on the cross for me. Man, who cares about what other people think anymore. These guys come out, and they really put their lifestyle at stake this time. And they do this very deed. Now when they touch his body, another thing that’s interesting, they come and prepare his body. When they touch his body, they actually defile themselves [according to the Old Testament Law of God], so Passover, they could not partake in the Passover feast and the Feast of Unleavened Bread because they’ve been defiled. [They probably could have kept the Last Day of Unleavened Bread, the other Holy Day. To become undefiled, they had to wash their bodies in water, and then at sundown they were ceremonially clean again. But if they didn’t have time to bathe after preparing Jesus and putting him in the tomb before sundown came, they’d at least have been defiled for the first Holy Day, which was approaching fast with that coming sundown.] But whupteedoo, right? This is the Lamb of God. It’s been fulfilled, that’s their attitude. Whupteedoo. Well they take him and they lay him in a tomb, Matthew tells us in chapter 27 that this tomb is actually Joseph of Arimathea’ s tomb. So it’s actually his own tomb. Matthew then tells us that they roll a large stone in front of the tomb. They prepare Jesus’ body in the way they would, and they know he’s dead too, you know, you’ve got a body, you’re in a sense almost embalming the body, they know he’s dead. Then we’re told in Matthew also, which we don’t have here, and I’ll just note it because we pick up with chapter 20 next week, that is that the religious leaders are still in fear of Jesus. So they go and they ask for a Roman guard, which was a good group of Roman soldiers  that were highly trained, who would be posted in front of this tomb. And these Roman soldiers, if anybody came and touched that body, if that body somehow was not in their possession, when it came to be taken by Pilate or a Roman official, they would be executed. Their job was to guard that tomb, and if they failed they would be executed. [Also, a seal was placed on the tomb, and if anybody (say other than the guards) touched that seal, they would be crucified)]. So Matthew tells us this Roman guard is placed, a seal of Pilate is then put on the tomb. This thing is locked shut. And that prepares us for what is amazing in our next study. Well, we see the people effected. But it isn’t just special people, religious leaders that are effected by his death, because the Bible then makes it very clear to us, that anybody who is willing to turn to Jesus and look at what he’s done and accept what he’s done, will also be effected by what he’s done, by his death on the cross. John chapter 3, verse 16 and 17, “For God so love the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.” The Bible says Jesus’ death effected these religious leaders, but it also will effect anybody at any time whose willing to turn. Jesus died for the world, another significant thing about his death. Let’s close in prayer…[This is a transcript of an expository sermon of John 19:31-42, given somewhere in New England.]
On the subject of Law & Grace, Israel Today’s Ludvig Schneider got it right, and adds some needed perspective to the subject. Jesus heals us of our sin, one of the major “powers of the cross and his death on it.”