Flashback Episode — Prophecy Fulfilled: John 19:28-37

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If you have ever wondered if Jesus tried to force His way into fulfilling prophecy, our passage for this episode sheds light on how unlikely this could be. In our last episode, we looked at how Matthew’s gospel records the time Jesus takes His last breath on the cross, and the amazing things that happened when Jesus gave up His Spirit.

To follow up what we looked at in Matthew’s gospel, John’s gospel records some other interesting details relating to what happened after Jesus had died. From John’s gospel, we discover some very difficult to reconcile prophecies that were fulfilled following Jesus’ death if you believe Jesus tried to force His way into fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies regarding the Messiah. In John’s gospel, we discover just how eerily accurate the Old Testament pointed towards Jesus as the Messiah.

Our passage for this episode is found in John’s gospel, chapter 19, and we will be reading it from the God’s Word translation. Starting in verse 28, John describes the moment Jesus dies by telling us:

28 After this, when Jesus knew that everything had now been finished, he said, “I’m thirsty.” He said this so that Scripture could finally be concluded.

29 A jar filled with vinegar was there. So the soldiers put a sponge soaked in the vinegar on a hyssop stick and held it to his mouth.

30 After Jesus had taken the vinegar, he said, “It is finished!”

Then he bowed his head and died.

31 Since it was Friday and the next day was an especially important day of rest—a holy day, the Jews didn’t want the bodies to stay on the crosses. So they asked Pilate to have the men’s legs broken and their bodies removed. 32 The soldiers broke the legs of the first man and then of the other man who had been crucified with Jesus.

33 When the soldiers came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they didn’t break his legs. 34 However, one of the soldiers stabbed Jesus’ side with his spear, and blood and water immediately came out. 35 The one who saw this is an eyewitness. What he says is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth so that you, too, will believe.

36 This happened so that the Scripture would come true: “None of his bones will be broken.” 37 Another Scripture passage says, “They will look at the person whom they have stabbed.”

In this passage, we discover three prophecies that were fulfilled in Jesus’ time on the cross. Two episodes ago, when we looked at how John’s gospel describes the early portion of Jesus’ time on the cross, we discovered another prophecy that was fulfilled related to how Jesus’ clothing would be divided and gambled for.

Throughout the entire event of the cross, at least four prophecies concerning the Messiah were fulfilled, and only one of these four Jesus had any direct involvement in. It was predicted that He would say He was thirsty while dying and this fulfilled one of the Old Testament predictions. Jesus did step into the role of Messiah willingly.

However, earlier in John’s gospel, we learned that the dividing and gambling of Jesus’ clothing was predicted, and this was not something Jesus had any control over. And then we conclude this passage and learn that Jesus was stabbed instead of having His legs broken. This was not something Jesus could have directed, and the soldiers likely could not have cared less about whether they were fulfilling a Jewish prophecy or not.

Using an unscientific ratio from just this event, if 25% of the prophecies about Jesus were under His control while 75% of the prophecies were not, the amazing reality that Jesus fulfilled so much of the Old Testament predictions regarding the Messiah are overwhelming. This was not something Jesus could force His way into. Even if we were to flip the ratio and say that 75% of the prophecies were within Jesus’ control, the remaining 25% is impressive enough of an amount that we should take note.

Earlier this year, we looked at how Jesus’ betrayal was predicted, the price that was paid for this betrayal was also predicted, and how the money was used after it was returned was also predicted. All this was also outside of Jesus’ direct control, and it was orchestrated by people who should have known better if they wanted to keep Jesus’ life and death from fulfilling prophecy. Their ignorance, or simply ignoring the knowledge they did have, incriminates them because they play into prophecy’s hand.

During Jesus’ crucifixion and death, we discover another group of people who fulfill a section of Old Testament prophecies and we discover that this group wouldn’t know or even care that they were doing so. The Roman soldiers follow a surprisingly specific set of conditions that were prophesied centuries earlier, and any thought that they intentionally orchestrated it is ridiculous when we look at Jewish vs. Roman hostility towards each another.

All this fulfilled prophecy speaks to one simple truth: Jesus is God’s Son and the Messiah God promised to the world! This truth is simple to acknowledge, a little more challenging to accept, and impossible to fully understand.

John writes that he personally witnessed the details that are described here, and that he shares them so that those who follow Jesus and who want to know God better can believe like he believes in Jesus.

Through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, we discover the picture of History. History is God’s story, and the high point of God’s story is displayed at Jesus’ death and resurrection. The entire scriptures point us to pay attention to Jesus.

When we pay attention to Jesus, we discover who He truly is, and we can then put our faith, hope, trust, and belief in Him. Through the record of the cross, we discover how much God loves us and what He was willing to give to restore our relationship with Him. Through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, we have the offer of a new, eternal life with God!

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

Always seek God first and intentionally focus on Jesus in your life. When looking at your life, your history, and your future, intentionally choose to see yourself in the big picture of history – specifically in the picture of God’s story. Our lives only make sense when we begin to see them through the eyes of Jesus’ sacrifice.

Also, always pray and study the Bible for yourself and intentionally study the scriptures with the understanding that Jesus is the focus. Only when we place Jesus as the focal point of scripture will we begin to discover God’s amazing love for His fallen creation. Decide today that you will discover this truth for yourself by praying and studying the Bible for yourself.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or abandon where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Year of the Cross – Episode 48: At the end of Jesus’ life, the gospel of John records how this death fulfills several prophecies in ways that could only be described as God-directed. Learn how Jesus amazingly fulfilled many Old Testament prophecies in ways that He could not directly control.

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