The theme of prophetic fulfilment is threaded through this nineteenth chapter. God has His ways of showing us that He is still ‘on the Throne’ when it appears otherwise (28). When Jesus died, He was in total control: ”…he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” In fact, it looks like Jesus died sooner than anyone expected (33). It reminds me of words He spoke earlier: ”…I lay down my life – only to take it up again. No-one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father” (John 10:17b, 18). At the time Jesus said this, there were those who thought He was ”raving mad” (John 10:20). But He did it, as today’s passage shows. When Jesus said, ”It is finished” (30), it was not a statement of resignation. It was a triumphant announcement that everything He came to do was now completed. The single word used here in the original has been translated, ”It’s all done!” (Tom Wright). It’s the word people would write on a bill once it had been paid.
It is wonderful to be able to face our ‘crucifixion’ experiences in life with the conviction that God is in control, and to be sure that there are no accidents with Him (Romans 8:28). We will be able to do this more readily if we are immersed in the Bible , as our Lord was; if we ‘hide’ His Word in our hearts (see Psalm 69:21).
Jesus had also said on another occasion: ”If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink” (John 7:37b). I can’t help but think that Jesus knew intense thirst on the cross for the satisfaction of our thirst. ”How marvellous, how wonderful, and my song shall ever be. How marvellous, how wonderful, is my Saviour’s love for me.” It truly is. I remember one preacher saying that in crucifixion a person literally became ”dessicated” – they dried out. The thirst Jesus must have experienced is unimaginable. In fact the same preacher pointed out that this shows that, on the cross, Jesus went to Hell on our behalf. He pointed out that In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), the rich man, in Hell, cried out, ”…send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in the water and cool my tongue because I am in agony in this fire.” Tom Wright observes that Jesus, who earlier made the finest quality wine from water (John 2:10), was offered, in His hour of need, a most inferior kind of wine. ”He gave others the best wine, so good that people remarked on it. He himself, at this moment of agony, has the cheap stuff that the lower ranks in the army drank when on duty.” Tom Wright: ‘John for everyone, part 2’, p.130. But He is able to turn our ‘water’ into the finest quality vintage, because of His suffering on the cross. That ‘sign’ back in John 2, points to Jesus’ power to transform, according to Professor Leon Morriss. This water to wine transformation comes from what Jesus achieved at the cross. May we never lose the wonder. May we never grow overly familiar with sacred Calvary. May we never forget the price at which our salvation was bought.