Sermon – December 13, 2020
John 19:16-42 – The Fulfilment of Scripture (Part 2) (mp3)
Last week, we began our look at the passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, and noted some of the ways in which his death and its effects were pictured and prophesied already in Scripture. The suffering and vicarious death of our God in the person of Christ was on display in David’s life, in the Passover, and through the prophets. Today, we continue to look at how the OT is fulfilled in the death of Christ, how all things are summed up in him, and how we can better know the work of our Lord when we understand the pictures given to us in the OT. Today, let us consider the fulfilment of Scripture in the death of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1. The theme of women
John places women at the foot of the cross, and the first to the tomb. It is no accident! Women are thus placed front in center in the work of the church as witnesses to the death and resurrection of our Lord. This is a constant theme in Scripture: Eve, Sarah, Hannah, Ruth, Huldah, Mary. Each of these played important roles in the plan of God to bring salvation to his people. Yes, there are excesses in our culture to critique and fix, but in our zeal to do so, we should never ignore the important place that women have received in Scripture.
2. The theme of provision
Jesus, having his side pierced, has water and blood flow out. The imagery of the blood makes great sense for us – after all, the flowing of his blood cleanses us and gives us forgiveness. But why water? In Exodus 17 God has Moses make water flow out of the rock. Indeed, “rock” is one of the most cherished metaphors for God in the OT. This same rock in Exodus 17 was also identified with Christ by Paul (1 Cor 10). So, just like in the desert, where life was harsh and miraculous means were needed to sustain it by bringing life from a dead body, so now through a dead body we have the provision of life. Water comes from the rock, and we are satisfied!
3. The theme of paradise
It is a superfluous detail that John provides that the cave in which Jesus is buried was in a garden. But, on the other hand, perhaps he means much through the use of this detail! The garden was originally where Adam and Eve were, and where they were removed after the fall, never to return. Yet, throughout the OT, there is a strong indication that God wants his people back in the garden: the promised land, the tabernacle/temple, and even the future Temple pictured in Ezekiel and Revelation all point in this direction. Therefore, let us not mistake the picture: Jesus is laid in a garden, only to arise from the dirt in a garden three days later as a new creation. That new creation is the very paradise that Jesus invites us into, for it is a new creation ushered in through his finished work on the cross.
4. The theme of kingdom
Again, little details carry large implications. Jesus was prepared for death with myrrh and aloes by Nicodemus and Joseph – ~75 pounds worth! That large of an amount implies that Jesus was worthy, in their sight, of great honor. Indeed, the honor of a King. We are reminded, yet again, of the fact that Jesus death was not a typical death, but a coronation of a king. Here, with the echoes of Psalm 45 in the background (which mentions the exact spices listed in John 19) we see that the preparation of death is the great honor that is paid to this King. Jesus is glorified in and through his death! This is the opposite of all kingdoms of the earth, which is precisely what Jesus’ kingdom looks like – the upside down version of earthly kingdoms, based on righteousness and justice and fidelity to God.
5. The theme of victory
Throughout the OT the enemies of God were either predicted to have, or did indeed suffer, massive head injuries. This is something of a partial fulfilment of Genesis 3:15, where God tells the snake that the offspring of the women will indeed crush his head. The other incidents of this are just pictures of the real victory forthcoming; Goliath may have had his head taken off, but Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and Rome were all there to take his place. But Jesus, standing on a cross struck into a skull, destroys forever the real enemy of God’s people. In his death he is victorious over all the powers and principalities of the world!