Him Who They Pierced: John 19:31-37

In our journey through the Gospel of John we completed our examination of the seven statements Jesus made from the cross. Jesus last statement, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” has been uttered and Jesus has breathed his last. (see previous post The 7 Statements of Jesus from the Cross: Statement 7 “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!”)

Today we’ll examine John 19:31-37.

God’s Passover Lamb Prophecy Fulfilled

It was the Sabbath, and not just any Sabbath, but the Sabbath that was part of the Passover week. Crucifixion victims sometimes stayed alive for days while hanging on a cross. So the religious leaders were very concerned about having dying men hanging about during their religious celebration. They asked Pilate to break the legs of the three sentenced to death by crucifixion because if their legs were intact, they could push up in a way that helped them breath. Asphyxiation is what caused the death of those who were crucified. Breaking their legs would speed the process and they could rid themselves of the unsightly distraction. And, not only that, but Deuteronomy 21:23 required that the bodies not remain overnight. The Pharisees were punctilious in their following the letter of the law.

But here again we see how the religious leaders were obsessed with their traditions at the expense of what matters to God. They hated God’s own Son. They envied Him. And they insisted on crucifying him although he was utterly innocent. They steered their ship straight into the Rock and as it drifts down into the depths they desire a tidy arrangement of the deck furniture. Straining a gnat and swallowing a camel once again.

But they unwittingly fulfill God’s prophecy.

The soldiers bring their iron clubs and break the legs of the first criminal, and then the second on the other side. But when they come to Jesus, they see he’s already dead so they don’t break his legs. Instead a soldier takes his pilum (a small lance about three and one half feet long) and plunges it into Jesus’ side, probably piercing Jesus’ heart in the process. The pericardial sac is penetrated. Blood and water come out.

Speaking of how he remained with Jesus to see what happened for himself, John tells us, “He who saw it has borne witness . . .” that we may believe. He goes on to say the way it all played out fulfills Scripture:

He keeps all his bones;
    not one of them is broken. Psalm 34:20

Speaking of His Passover Lamb, God tells us: “It shall be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the flesh outside the house, and you shall not break any of its bones.” Exodus 12:46

Again, speaking of the Passover Lamb, God says, “They shall leave none of it until the morning, nor break any of its bones; according to all the statute for the Passover they shall keep it.” Numbers 9:12

“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn. Zechariah 12:10

The Birth and the Bride

Paul tells us that Jesus is the last Adam. “Thus it is written,” Paul says, “‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.”

And out of the side of the first Adam came his bride. Turns out it’s a prophetic picture of what would happen to the last Adam. Jesus’ side is pierced, his heart is literally broken as he hangs there on the cross, and the fluids of birth, blood and water, come out of him. And even as the first Adam’s bride came from his side, the last Adam’s bride was born from His side. The last Adam’s bride, the Church, was born when the blood and the water came out. (1 Corinthians 15:45)

Let us rejoice and exult
    and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
    and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
    with fine linen, bright and pure”—

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”

Revelation 19:7-9

Notes:

Cropped image of Longinus piercing Christ’s side with a spear by Gerard de la Vallee via Wikimedia Commons — Public Domain

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