“Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When He received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.”
Every year when we come to celebrate Holy Week I find myself wrestling with the tremendous mystery of the events that took place around the cross and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospel writers present these events as being the fulfillment of many prophesies. It seems as if one of John’s favourite expressions is, “so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.” This is surely more meaningful than that Jesus did certain things in order to fulfill the Scripture. Instead John and all of the other Gospel writers go out of their way to point out that all of these events, affecting numerous people, as well as the flow of history itself, were being worked out in a way that conformed them to Word of God. The words that John uses here point out that all of these things fulfilled God’s Word completely. What a wonderful aide to our faith. God revealed these things through His prophets, had them write them down for our benefit, and then brought all of history together in a grand accomplishment of all that He said.
The point here is much bigger than just the fulfillment of some promises, as important as that is in building our faith. God revealed these things so that we would understand just what He was doing in Christ. Here we discover God’s plan, decided on before the foundation of the world, and accomplished in Christ. John tells us what is in the heart of the Lord Jesus Christ as He hung upon the cross. “It is finished.” Literally John tells us that Jesus was crying out to His Father that the purpose for which He had come into this world was completed. This was to set us free from sin and death through His atoning death upon the cross. The Living Word had become flesh and dwelt among us in order to go to the cross and lay His life down as a ransom for us. In Him we can now be reconciled to God. God revealed it to us through His Word, and He accomplished it in the Lord Jesus Christ. What amazing love we are shown, to use Charles Wesley’s phrase.
These events which form the heart of our Christian faith are a call from God to us so that we will come to have real faith in God. It is this to which Jesus calls His disciple in Mark 11. It is at the heart of the Gospel invitation. Zechariah 4:6-7 speaks to us about this, “So he said to me, “This is the Word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty. What are you, O mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of God bless it! God bless it!’” It is a call to believe God. He is at work carrying out His Sovereign purposes in the Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing can overturn that purpose.
The anonymous author of The Kneeling Christian puts it this way in calling the church to prayerful faith, “The secret of failure is that we see men rather than God. ….. Is it not time that we get a new vision of God – of God in all His glory? Who can say what will happen when the Church sees God? But let us not wait for others. Let us, each one for himself, with unveiled face and unsullied heart, get this vision of the glory of the Lord.”