Hi there — this is Cece from Dallas First Church. I am so excited to share some highlights from our Stepping Stones class. This week’s study of John 19 brings us to the foot of Calvary. As I prepared for the study this week, I was overwhelmed with the unfathomable depth of the chapter before us. And we had such a short amount of time to discuss it all! That said, let’s jump right in!
Chapter 19 ushers in the astounding conclusion to John’s narrative of Jesus’ life. So many of the beautiful symbols we have discussed in John’s Gospel all meet their fulfillment in Christ’s self-sacrificing death. We see Jesus as the “the Lamb of God” who acts as our Passover Lamb and “who takes away the sins of the world” (Jn. 1:29). We see Jesus as the Father’s gift of love to fallen humanity (Jn. 3:16). We see Jesus as the Living Bread which was torn and broken for “the life of the world” (Jn. 6:51). And we see Jesus lifted up “as the serpent in the wilderness” to take into Himself the curse of our sin-sick world. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” In all of these things, Christ was our Substitute for the death we deserved. He took upon Himself the unutterable horror of the world’s guilt and bore the excruciating separation from the Father. Can you even imagine? Christ who had lived in such close communion and fellowship with the Father would now feel the agony of complete separation from his beloved Dad. That’s what killed Him. It broke His heart:
But it was not the spear thrust, it was not the pain of the cross, that caused the death of Jesus. That cry, uttered “with a loud voice” (Matthew 27:50; Luke 23:46), at the moment of death, the stream of blood and water that flowed from His side, declared that He died of a broken heart. His heart was broken by mental anguish. He was slain by the sin of the world. (The Desire of Ages)
As Jesus died in triumph over sin, however, he cried out, “It is finished!” Notice the intriguing correlation with Genesis 2:1-3: “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” Look at the unmistakable link between God’s work of creation and His work of salvation! And, intriguingly enough, both of these concepts are intimately connected with the beautiful Sabbath promise which God has given us! While we completely respect the position of others who may disagree, we believe that the Sabbath is a reminder that we rest in the work that God has performed! “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his” (Heb. 4:9-10, NIV). It is our reminder that we have absolutely nothing to bring to the table; we can only accept what He has done for us – we accept His sacrifice for us! And that’s exactly what John would want us to see.
Friends, as we close, I just want to say how convicted I have been lately that there is absolutely no way that we can get too much of Christ and His sacrifice for us! There’s no way that we can talk too much about it, sing too much about it, think too much about it! I’m telling you, that’s where it’s at! Having said all this, please take some time to prayerfully read the paragraph below:
The spotless Son of God hung upon the cross, His flesh lacerated with stripes; those hands so often reached out in blessing, nailed to the wooden bars; those feet so tireless on ministries of love, spiked to the tree; that royal head pierced by the crown of thorns; those quivering lips shaped to the cry of woe. And all that He endured—the blood drops that flowed from His head, His hands, His feet, the agony that racked His frame, and the unutterable anguish that filled His soul at the hiding of His Father’s face—speaks to each child of humanity, declaring, It is for thee that the Son of God consents to bear this burden of guilt; for thee He spoils the domain of death, and opens the gates of Paradise. He who stilled the angry waves and walked the foam-capped billows, who made devils tremble and disease flee, who opened blind eyes and called forth the dead to life,—offers Himself upon the cross as a sacrifice, and this from love to thee. He, the Sin Bearer, endures the wrath of divine justice, and for thy sake becomes sin itself. (The Desire of Ages, p. 755)