Sermon – December 6, 2020

John 19:16-42 – The Fulfillment of Scripture (Part 1) (mp3)

Post Thanksgiving, we have entered into our Advent season, where we celebrate the coming of our Lord Jesus as a humble child in a manger. Yet, as we work through John, we seem to be at the opposite end of the spectrum, reading and thinking through his trial, crucifixion, and death. However, in God’s providence, these two realities are not random separate events, but all part of a long plan to save sinners by the work of the Son. Today, even as we read how Jesus’ birth fulfilled God’s plan through Scripture, let us consider the multitudinous ways in which his death does precisely the same. Jesus is the culmination of all of God’s revelation to us!

1. Jesus’ obvious fulfilment of Scripture
We call these “obvious” because John literally tells us that these events are the fulfillment of Scripture.

  • John 19:24
    Here, Jesus is the fulfillment of Scripture as the soldiers cast lots for his clothing as is spoken of in Psalm 22. This Psalm, dedicated to the suffering and ultimate hope of David, is applied to Jesus. But let us not be mistaken, it is not just to note that Jesus is mistreated, but to note the grave and deep pain and abandonment that Jesus feels.
  • John 19:28
    The second fulfillment is like the first. Although not taken from Psalm 22, but rather more likely from Psalm 69. It again focuses on teh anguish and pain that Jesus suffered on the cross. It is not meant to simply be a checkbox to note that Scripture is fulfilled, but to help us see the great cost of our redemption.
  • John 19:36-37
    Here, there are multiple Scriptures being fulfilled. First, as Jesus’ legs are not broken, we are reminded that the Passover lamb was not to have its legs broken in Exodus 12:46 and Numbers 9:12. Jesus is indeed our Passover lamb who brings us unscathed through the curse and frees us from our oppression. Secondly, his being pierced in teh side is a fulfillment of a straightforward prophecy from Zechariah 12:10. This last, importantly, demonstrates the nature of Jesus’ divinity, as God foretells that Isael will look upon him whom they have pierced – who is none other than Yahweh himself.

    All told, we are shown the immense suffering and pain of Jesus, his isolation, his sacrificial death for us, and the fact that God himself enters into our trouble and takes on our suffering in the person of Jesus Christ. These are all facts, likely assumed by many of us, but are strangely not found in the plain text of Scripture in John. But, they are there, buried for all who want to find them!

2. Jesus’ allusional fulfilment of Scripture
Allusions are not cited formally in the text – so we are less sure if John wanted to point them out to us or not; yet, we have good reason to think that John may have had these things in mind when he wrote. Even if he didn’t, we are right to hear certain resonances with the rest of Scripture.

  • John 19:17
    Jesus, like Isaac (Genesis 22) carries his own wood to the sacrifice. Isaac, the chosen only son of promise, was spared for his death would not provide the requisite rest from suffering that God’s people needed. But Jesus would indeed die on that wood.
  • John 19:17
    Jesus hangs on a tree and dies, being cursed. Deuteronomy 21:22-23 reminds us:

And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance.

Jesus is accursed and cut off for our sins, all so that we might gain the promised blessing to Abraham.

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us– for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”– so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

Galatians 3:13
  • John 19:18
    Jesus is crucified with two criminals. These men are indeed guilty, and know so (Luke 23:41). Isaiah 53:12 reminds us that the promised servant, who would suffer for the sins of the people, would be “numbered with the transgressors.” Christ is numbered with the transgressor, and is considered one himself, so that we might be considered righteous in God’s eyes.

    This is the first time that we have mentioned Isaiah 53, but the entire chapter seems to be a prophetic look at the nature of Jesus’ crucifixion.
  • John 9:22
    Pilate, through spite, nevertheless proclaims Jesus as King to the nations, as was foretold in Psalm 96:10. No doubt, the church’s great mission is to make sure that this prophecy is carried forth more fully; but Pilate unwittingly does so here.
  • John 19:26-27
    The last allusion considered today, Jesus fulfills the 5th commandment by taking care of his mother. It is both touching and important to see Jesus do this. At no point, not even during his crucifixion, did he consider that he was above doing the will of God.

All in all, these allusions and fulfillments show us that Jesus was indeed the culmination and fulfillment of God’s revelation to us. All of the incidents of the OT: the sufferings of David, the warnings of the Pentateuch, the image of the Passover lamb; all of these were given to show us something of what Jesus would do and accomplish. And we are not even halfway through the passage yet! We will pick up here next week…