Caiaphas, the high priest that year, must have been fit to be tied.
Well, somewhat so.
As you will hear in this PODCAST, it was Passover. The Holy City, Jerusalem, was teaming with pilgrims. The all-important 3:00 PM Passover sacrifice at the Temple was fast-approaching.
It was arguably the single most financially-flourishing day of the year (second only, perhaps, to the Day of Atonement) as far as the corrupt Temple Industrial Complex over which Caiaphas presided was concerned. There was money to be made this day. Lots and lots of money.
But the heavens seemed to conspire against Caiaphas.
Of all the luck (bad luck indeed), a most-rare, hauntingly-eerie atmospheric anomaly threatened to diminish severely Caiaphas’ shady haul of ill-gotten shekels.
At 12 PM, high noon, a mere three hours before the afternoon sacrifice, the sky turned ominously dark. If it stayed that way, there would be no 3 PM Passover Lamb sacrificed that day.
Well, according to Matthew 27 — Read ’em and weep, Caiaphas “At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until 3 o’clock.”
A darkness that drove everyone away from the cross as they scrambled for shelter from the encroaching gloom of that midday blackness.
Coincidence? No way!
Now there would be no Passover Lamb sacrificed at 3 PM on this day.
Or would there?
Now, over the past couple of weeks, we have been going over the final seven sayings that Jesus uttered before dying on His cross, becoming the singular atoning sacrifice for our sins.
This week, we pick up the story at 3:00. The darkness that was so thick you could feel it had lifted. Once the sky began to clear, the soldiers returned to the cross in order to check on their prisoners. And, it was at 3:00 that Jesus made His final three statements… one right after the other.
Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” (John 19:28)
Imagine it… while Jesus was on earth, He continually and consistently offered proof of His deity. Even Pilate, upon sentencing Jesus, admitted that there was no fault to be found in Him. Jesus healed people, rose people from the dead, calmed storms, walked on water, cast demons out of people, and so much more. In fact, so many things that John put it this way:
There are so many other things Jesus did. If they were all written down, each of them, one by one, I can’t imagine a world big enough to hold such a library of books. (John 21:25)
…and Jesus did all that in a mere 3½ years.
Yet, now… up on that cross… Jesus – the Creator of the Universe – was thirsty. Really?
Because, remember, while Jesus was 100% God, He was also just like us. When He was born, He was a baby who needed to be wrapped in swaddling clothes. As a boy, Scripture tells us that He grew in wisdom and in stature. As a man, He got tired and needed rest. He got hungry. He became emotionally drained. He slept. He wept. He prayed. He rejoiced. He groaned. He sweat. And He bled… oh, did He bleed! And, in John 19:28, we read that Jesus was parched.
Therefore, it was necessary for Him to be made in every respect like us, His brothers and sisters, so that He could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then He could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. (Hebrews 2:17)
Just like any of us would be, Jesus was dehydrated. And, considering His beating, the amount He bled, the march to Golgotha, the parading from trial to trial that all preceded this moment… “thirsty” was an understatement.
Yet, even in expressing His incredible thirst, we see further proof of His selfless love for the world.
It wasn’t until after He prayed for His executioners (Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing); after He saved the soul of the repentant thief on the cross (today you will be with me in paradise); after He had arranged for the care of His earthly mother by John; after He paid the penalty for your sins and mine; after He had completed His redemptive mission… only after all that did Jesus finally say anything in reference to Himself or His own needs.
A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. (John 19:29)
And all of this – even Jesus’ thirst – fulfilled prophesy.
15 My throat is as dry as dust,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.
You have left me for dead in the dust.
16 An evil gang is around me;
like a pack of dogs they close in on me;
they tear at my hands and feet.
17 All my bones can be seen.
My enemies look at me and stare.
18 They gamble for my clothes
and divide them among themselves. (Psalm 22:15-18)
If only one person would show some pity;
if only one would turn and comfort me.
21 But instead, they give me poison for food;
they offer me sour wine for my thirst. (Psalm 69:20-21)
These are just a couple of dozens upon dozens of prophesies about Jesus’ betrayal, trials, and crucifixion that were written more than 400 years before Jesus was even born.
And, after mustering up enough strength to fulfill this final prophesy from the cross:
When Jesus had tasted it, He said, “It is finished!” Then He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. (John 19:30)
And, when Jesus said “It is finished”, it was finished then, afterward, today, and forever!
But, what was finished?
On the surface, Jesus’ physical sufferings were finally finished.
And the same goes for our own suffering.
Since He Himself has gone through suffering and testing, He is able to help us when we are being tested. (Hebrews 2:18)
Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. (1 Peter 5:7)
Additionally, Jesus’ personal, earthly mission was finished.
For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost. (Luke 19:10)
However, now that He has resurrected, thankfully, Jesus continues to seek and save people all over the world, just as He seeks after you and me!
All this to say, there would, in fact, be one Passover Lamb sacrificed that day at 3:00pm.
Unlike those other high priests, Jesus does not need to offer sacrifices every day. They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once for all when He offered himself as the sacrifice for the people’s sins. (Hebrews 7:27)
Once for all… it is finished.
With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—Jesus entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever…
Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:12 & 28)
Once for all time and for all of us… It is finished.
Just as Jesus said.
Just as God, the Father said in Isaiah 44:21-22,
21 “Pay attention, O Jacob,
for you are my servant, O Israel.
I, the Lord, made you,
and I will not forget you.
22 I have swept away your sins like a cloud.
I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist.
Oh, return to me,
for I have paid the price to set you free.”
23 Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done this wondrous thing.
Shout for joy, O depths of the earth!
Break into song,
O mountains and forests and every tree!
For the Lord has redeemed Jacob
and is glorified in Israel.
Likewise, He has redeemed YOU. He has wiped away our sins. When we repent, He does not remember them, nor should we.
It is finished.
Which brings us to Jesus’ final statement from the cross:
“Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)
Now, when Jesus prayed in Gethsemane, He asked that His Father would allow the cup of God’s wrath to pass from Him. Yet, the Father said, “No. You must drink it.” So, don’t take it lightly how God answered Jesus’ final prayer from the cross, asking His Father to take His spirit.
We discover the answer to this question in Acts 7, during the stoning of Stephen – the first of thousands of people throughout Church history to lay their lives down for Jesus.
The Jewish leaders were infuriated by Stephen’s accusation, and they shook their fists at him in rage. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 56 And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!”…
59 As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died. (Acts 7:54-60)
There was Jesus, with His prayer answered, His spirit committed to His Father, standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Stephen saw the same thing that, God willing, you and I will someday see.
All because there was a sacrifice on that day some 2,000 years ago at 3:00 PM. THE sacrifice – One and Once for all. The Sacrifice that Paul would refer to as our Passover Lamb.
Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us. (1 Corinthians 5:7)
It. Is. Finished.