Friday, December 25, 2015

Jesus’ Death and Burial

John 19:23-42

“Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout.  They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did.” (John 19:23-24)

After they had placed Jesus on the cross, the soldiers took his clothing apart at the seams civing each one a part.  In today’s society we would not even consider such an action, but in those days eachi piece of material started with a stalk of flax or a sheep.  Tthe flax h had to be beaten out to for the linen fibers or the sheep had to be sheared and the wool prepared, the linen or wool was then spun into thread by hand, then woven into cloth.  It took two or three months to make enough material for a man’s shirt, so cloth was a very valuable item and was not wasted.  They would carefully cut thing apart at the seams to keep from wasting any.  Jesus’ coat was woven using a special technique and had no seams, making it especially valuable.  They decided not to take it apart but to gamble for it.  In doing so they fulfilled the prophecy in Psalm 22:18.

“Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.  When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!  Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.” (John 19:25-27)

Every year, Jesus’ parents had made the journey to Jerusalem for the Passover, and this was no exception.   Mary was there when Jesus was crucified, accompanied by her sister, also named Mary, and Mary Magdalene.    When Jesus saw her, He directed John treat her as his mother.  At that point John took her to his home.  Despite his own suffering, Jesus was concerned that his mother not suffer more than necessary.    

“After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.  Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.  When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” (John 19:28-30)

Knowing every other prophecy about his death to this point had been fulfilled. Jesus said he was thirsty, and they gave him a little vinegar mixed with gall to suck from a sponge.  Contrary to a popular teaching, people who were crucified did not die of suffocation because of the way their weight was supported by their arms, as was demonstrated by American POW’s who were tortured in Vietnam, often living for weeks as long as they were given water periodically.  Instead they died of dehydration and exposure.  The vinegar and gall mixture was intended to intensify their thirst, not to alleviate the suffering.    Giving it to Him fulfilled the prophecy in Psalm 69:21.    

When he tasted the vinegar and gall, Jesus announced, “It is finished,” and died.  In doing so he fulfilled his prophecy in John 10:18.  “No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again...”

“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.” (John 19:31)

According to Roman records, Most of those who were crucified lived two to three days before dying of dehydration.  When their legs were broken they usually succumbed within twelve to sixteen hours due to a combination of dehydration, shock, and internal bleeding.  The Jews requested that the prisoner’s legs be broken so they would die and could be removed before the Sabbath started.  Since the Sabbath officially started at sundown, such a request makes no sense if Jesus was crucified on Friday, as tradition claims, but makes perfect sense if he were executed on Thursday as the preparation for the Sabbath began at sundown Thursday. 

“Then came the 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 out blood and water.” (John 19:32-34)

The Soldiers broke the legs of the two thieves, but since Jesus was already dead they didn’t bother.  Instead one of them ran his spear up through his side into the heart.  When he did, water and blood flowed out.  This does not indicate a broken heart as some have said, but that the blood had stopped circulating and the blood cells and plasma were beginning to separate in veins.   It is incontrovertible evidence Jesus was already dead before they pushed the spear into his side.  There is no possibility he just passed out and recovered consciousness after being placed in the tomb. 

“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.” (John 19:35-37)

John states that he personally witnessed these things and knows them to be true.  He is not writing what others had told him.  Jesus is the Passover, and as John observed they did not break Jesus bones, fulfilling the command about the Passover lamb in Exodus 12:46, “…neither shall ye break a bone thereof…”  They also partially fulfilled the prophecy in Zechariah 12:10.

 “And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, 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.” (John 19:38-40)

Matthew 27:57 tells us it was already sundown when Joseph went to Pilate for the Body of Jesus.  “When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea…”  Assisted by Nicodemus, they wrapped the body with a large volume of spices to mask the odor of decays, following the Jewish custom.    It would have been illegal for them to do this if Jesus was crucified on Friday as it would have been after the start of the Sabbath.  The next two verses emphasize that when they buried him it was the preparation for the Sabbath.  By laying Jesus in a ready-made sepulchre thye would be free to spend the following day preparing for the Sabbath. 

“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.” (John 19:41-42)

Why does it matter whether Jesus was crucified on Thursday or Friday? Matthew 12:39-40 tells us, Jesus “…answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”  In other words , the only special sign that was given in that day was that Je4sus would be dead three days and three nights.  It there are not three days and three nights between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning, no matter how you count, so if Jesus was crucified on Friday the prophecy has never been fulfilled and Jesus cannot be the Messiah.  As an atheistic professor said in one of my college classes, If God couldn’t even tell the difference between two days and nights and three, how can you believe anything else he says?  Satan has used the tradition to cause many to doubt the accuracy of God’s word.  By ignoring the scriptures and teaching the tradition, we help Satan deceive the unsaved world.  

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