Good Friday: The Prophetic and the Horrific
Day 11 – Good Friday: The Prophetic and the Horrific
Read John 19:17-37; Psalm 22:15, 18; 34:20; 69:21; Zechariah 12:10
John’s account of Jesus’ crucifixion has a particularly interesting focus. John is careful to note at least four messianic prophecies that Jesus fulfilled in just the few short hours that He was hanging on the cross. The fulfillment of these prophecies are no mistake. The fulfillment of these prophecies are no coincidence. John went to great lengths to prove that this Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah whom the prophets said would suffer and die a criminal’s death for the sins of the world.
The first prophetic fulfillment shows up in John 19:24. John describes how the soldiers actually cast lots for the clothes of the Savior. They played games at the foot of the cross, predicted in Psalm 22:18, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” It’s interesting to note that as the soldiers stood by the cross, Mary, the mother of Jesus stood by as well. I can’t help but wonder, as she gazed on those garments, if her mind wandered back thirty-three years earlier to the swaddling clothes in which she wrapped the helpless body of this newborn baby King. Of course, we can’t know that for sure. But John does tell us that in those final moments on the cross, Jesus was thinking about His mother. Verses 26-27 tell us how He entrusted her future into the hands of John–an utterly selfless and loving act in His final moments.
The second prophetic fulfillment is mentioned in verses 28 and 29 when Jesus said, “I thirst.” Again, Jesus quotes Psalm 22 in this moment. In addition, Psalm 69:21 predicted that Jesus would be given sour wine to drink. It’s important to note that by this act, it’s not as if the soldiers were showing compassion. In reality, the bitterness of the wine would “contract the throat muscles” and essentially “prolong pain by extending the life of the victim” (Max Anders, Holman New Testament Commentary, “John,” B&H Publishers, 2000, p. 352).
The third fulfillment is seen in 19:36 when John reminds the reader of Psalm 34:20 that predicted, “Not one of his bones will be broken.” Physicians and scientists tell us that the actual cause of death by crucifixion is asphyxiation, or suffocation. In order to inhale, the victim would have to endure the excruciating pain of pushing up his weight with his feet. Once elevated, a breath was taken and the body would collapse once again, hands and arms tearing under the weight. On and on this would go, all for one breath. In order to speed up the process, the soldiers would break the legs of the person so that coming up for air was impossible. Suffocation would quickly follow. What’s amazing about Jesus’ death is that He didn’t need the assistance of the soldiers. He died with all of His bones intact, fulfilling yet another prophecy.
The fourth fulfillment that John brings to our attention concerns the piercing of Jesus’ side in 19:34 and 37. John quotes Zechariah 12:10 that says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.” John made it very clear that when Jesus was on the cross, He literally died. He physically died. He didn’t just pass out or “swoon” like many liberal scholars and professors will tell you. He died. The soldier who pierced Jesus’ side was a professional executioner. When he speared Jesus, he thrust upward into the chest cavity, piercing the heart and ensuring His death. And without His death, there can be no resurrection. Without His resurrection, our faith is worthless and we are still lost in our sins (1 Corinthians 15:17).
A few weeks ago in a sermon at Journey, Pastor Jimmy explained that the fact of Jesus’ death cannot be separated from the form of His death. Not only did Jesus have to die, He also had to shed His blood. Many people today think that He could have died by any means and the result would have been the same, but the fact is, blood had to be shed. Hebrews 9:22 says, “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” The blood and water that flowed from Jesus’ side was just another indicator of His literal death, a death that paid the price so you and I could be forgiven.
- Why do you think it was important that Jesus suffer a literal death by crucifixion as predicted throughout the Old Testament?
- Why was it so crucial that Jesus’ death involve the shedding of blood?
- Are there any details of Jesus’ death and suffering that are hard for you to believe?
- Spend some time studying the Old Testament Scripture references listed above and thank Jesus for enduring a criminal’s death for you.