John 19:28-30 (NIV) 28 Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
On verses 28-30: Once I heard a pastor share that when people used public toilets in the Roman empire, since they did not have toilet paper, they would take the stalk of a hyssop plant, place a sponge on top of it, dip it in wine vinegar as a disinfectant, and use it to wipe human waste off their bodies. Could this be the stick they used to serve Jesus his final drink in verse 29? If so, that would mean that Jesus’ final drink was the most foul and humiliating drink you could imagine drinking, and that Jesus died with the stench of human waste on his lips and in his nose.
What unfathomable rejection, humiliation and suffering Jesus went through for us, at the end of which Jesus could finally say, “It is finished”. What was finished? Not just the physical, spiritual and emotional torture that Jesus went through, but even more Jesus’ work of paying for our sins was finished. Jesus’ finished work on the cross means that we can be fully forgiven and brought back to God.
John 19:31-37 (NIV) 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.”
On verses 31-37: It was customary for Roman executioners to break the legs of the person being crucified. That way it would become that much more difficult for the crucified person to lift himself up to take a breath of air. Thus people who were crucified usually died of asphyxiation. In Jesus’ case, however, before the Roman soldiers could break Jesus’ legs, Jesus was already found dead. To confirm his death, the Roman soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, which likely went through his ribcage and into his heart, exploding his heart and thereby bringing a flow of blood and water (possibly serum from his heart). Jesus had died. This flies in the face of any conspiracy theory that would suggest that Jesus didn’t really die but rather only “swooned”.
The fact that none of Jesus’ bones were broken is significant. First, it fulfilled the Messianic prophecy in Psalm 34:20 that says “Not one of his bones will be broken”. Second and amazingly, it also aligns with the ceremonial requirement concerning the Passover lamb that was eaten during the Passover festival. The Old Testament law requirement that when the Passover lamb was sacrificed in place of every firstborn Israelite child, none of its bones were to be broken (see, for example Exodus 12:46 and Numbers 9:12).
John 19:38-42 (NIV) 38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. 40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
On verses 38-42: I am touched by the way Joseph of Arimathea sacrificially loved and cared for the body of Christ. Like Joseph of Arimathea, let’s sacrificially love and care for our church, which is called Christ’s body. Unlike Joseph of Arimathea who only followed Jesus in secret “because he feared the Jews” (v38), let’s not be so secretive or ashamed about our faith in Jesus. Rather, let’s live out loud and courageously for Jesus, the one who suffered it all for us.
Jesus, I worship You as the Saviour who did everything necessary to pay for our sins, whose work of making salvation and forgiveness possible for us was finished at the cross where You died. I praise You also for being the Passover lamb who was sacrificed for us but whose bones were not broken. Like Joseph of Arimathea, may I treat Your body, the church, with sacrificial love, because that’s the way You gave Yourself for me. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!