Many Infallible ProofsJohn 19:30b-37 • Dr. Andy Woods • March 22, 2015 • JOHN - The Life and Light Revealed
It Is Finished! Part 2
3-22-15 John 19:30-37 Lesson 117
Good morning everyone; if we could take our Bibles and open them to John 19:30, we’re going to try to look, God willing, today at verses 30-37. I’d like to make it to John 20 by the time we hit Easter, then I won’t have to skip John, I’d just keep right on going.
I had the opportunity on Wednesday, we left very early Wednesday morning to go to California, and we came back yesterday, my family and myself, and the reason we went is because my father, who turns 80 at the end of this month, announced his retirement and for the last 27 years he has been a judge, I guess the technical name would be a justice, on the California Court of Appeal and there you see the cake and there’s a picture of him. And the staff that he’s surrounded by along with fellow judges kind of gave this party in his honor and once we discovered that there was this party going on my wife said we can’t miss it and so we went out to see that. And it was good for Anne and myself to be there, and it was certainly good for my daughter to be there. She said I didn’t know grandpa was famous.
And my father, in his 27 years on the court has written 3,100 opinions. Now if you think my sermons are long, try reading some of those judicial opinions. He was appointed by one of the last conservative governors that we had out there, and he has sort of been a conservative voice in a state that’s moving more and more in a bluish direction, and I’m just very proud of him and what he has stood for. He has written some very influential decisions.
But when the staff and the fellow judges commemorate him what they spoke of was his character; that’s what touched Anne and myself. They spoke about his warmth, his congeniality, and I could tell, as some of them were talking, that they didn’t agree with my father on everything but everybody appreciated who he is in terms of his character. I don’t know what my dad is going to do in retirement, he’s one of those guys that’s always moving, and so we’ll see what he comes up with. He just looked it as an opportunity to leave and do other things. So I just wanted to bring that to your attention.
By the way, my daughter, she got very cozy in his chambers, in his chair there, so maybe God has another Judge Woods on the horizon, I don’t know, we’ll see what happens.
Well, here we are in John’s Gospel, and we are dealing with the events surrounding the death of Jesus Christ. As we go down to John 19:30 we find that Jesus, as we studied it last week, has made His final statement from the cross, as recorded in John’s Gospel, He said “It is finished!” And we explained what that meant.
And then, notice, if you will, the second half of verse 30, it says that “And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” In other words, what has happened here is Jesus has died. Now what does it mean to die, biblically? Death is a separation; it’s a separation of the material from the immaterial. It’s a separation of the body and the spirit. Matthew 27:50 puts it this way: “And Jesus cried out again and with a loud voice, yielded up His spirit.” It, by the way, is the exact same thing that happened with Stephen, the first martyr of Christianity, Acts 7:59 says, “They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!”
I like the way the King James translates John 19:30, it says, “He gave up the ghost!” And so there is a separation between the immaterial and the material. I believe that the way John uses the word “spirit” he is using it as a synonym for the soul. A synonym is a different word, same meaning. In John 12:27 Jesus says this, “Now My soul has become troubled….” And in John 13:21 it says, “When Jesus had said this, He became troubled in spirit….”
Well, which is it? Is it, is He troubled in soul or is He troubled in spirit?’ And the answer is John is using the two as synonyms, different words, same meaning, and John is describing the immaterial part of somebody, the part of them that’s designed to live forever. Jesus, when He died, that immaterial part of Him separated from His body. Now when He will rise from the dead, as John will continue explaining the life of Christ to us, essentially what happens is His immaterial being is reunited with His body. So death is a separation between the material and the immaterial; resurrection is a reunion between the material and the immaterial.
And the reason I bring this up is because all of us, if we’re not the rapture generation, will die. At some point our bodies will fail and the part of us that is designed to live forever will separate from the physical body. At that point our soul will go into the presence of the Lord. What does the Bible say? “Absent from the body is to be” what? “present with the Lord.” [2 Corinthians 5:8, KJV, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”]
But when the day comes when we will be resurrected, because remember, just as Jesus was resurrected we will be resurrected, the part of us that’s designed to live forever will be reunited with our body, except you’re going to look a lot better, and I’m going to look a lot better. The body is subject to a curse, isn’t it? Genesis 3:19 says, “from dust you are” to what? “dust you shall return.” [Genesis 1:19, KJV, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”]
All of us are decaying; if you don’t believe me just take a look at your high school yearbook picture and you’ll see evidence of it as you compare it to a modern picture of yourself.
So all of us will die and the soul will separate from out body but when that glorious time of resurrection comes that soul, which is in the presence of the Lord, will be placed into your body, it will still be you, I will be able to recognize you and you will be able to recognize me, but we’re going to look a lot different. We’re going to look a lot better because the curse that is now in the body, because of original sin, will be removed; it will be your body as it was intended to be.
So Jesus, in this sense, is our first-fruits. What He experienced in terms of death we experience; what He experienced in terms of resurrection we experience as well. And so what John is saying, when the King James translates this, “He gave up the ghost,” is He has died. [John 19:30, “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” KJV] He has made His final statement from the cross, as recorded by John, and now He has died. The ordeal of the crucifixion is behind Him as there has now been official death, separation of the material and the immaterial.
One of the things that’s very important to understand is the fact that Jesus was in control of His own death. Did you catch the sentence structure there in verses 30, “He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” We should not think of the death of Christ as something that overwhelmed Jesus by surprise or overwhelmed Jesus against His will. He was in control of all things right down to His very death. And of course the book of John, chapter 10, verse 18, is very clear on this as Jesus made the following prediction about His soon death. He says, “‘No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.”
So when it says here that Jesus bowed His head and gave up His spirit, this was the submission of Jesus Christ, voluntarily, or volitionally, to death. And that’s what makes Jesus so much higher than the animal sacrificial system of the Old Testament era which was a prefigurement of what Christ would do. You see, those Old Testament animals, in essence, were killed against their will. What say did an Old Testament sacrifice, an animal, have in their impending death? They had no choice in the matter. In fact, most of those animals were whisked away into death without even knowing what was coming. And that’s why God, in Psalm 40, through David, looks at that animal sacrificial system and he says I am not pleased with it. God is the one who started the animal sacrificial system, yet God ultimately was not pleased with it because it prefigured something higher that was to come.
All of those animals in the Old Testament system were killed against their own will. They had no choice in the matter. How different the death of Jesus Christ is, who voluntarily gave up His spirit, voluntarily gave up the ghost, voluntarily bowed His head. And how foolish it is, the author of Hebrews tells us, to return to that animal sacrificial system; that animal sacrificial system of the Old Testament was nothing but a prefigurement of greater things to come. It was never intended to be the ultimate reality, it was just a shadow.
Now when you get home this evening, or this afternoon, and you decide to kiss your significant other, I hope you’re not going to kiss their shadow because their shadow is not them. Their shadow is a prefigurement of them but it’s not the ultimate reality. In a similar way the animal sacrificial system was never intended by God to be the ultimate reality. Something higher was always intended to come and that higher prefigurement is Jesus Christ. The things of the Old Testament era, as glorious as they were, were mere shadows of a coming reality, and now Jesus Christ, that ultimate reality, has come.
So Jesus has died, and you’ll notice, we have been covering events leading up to the death of Christ, verses 17-30, and now we move into verses 31-37 where we begin to learn about things that took place shortly after the death of Christ. And here is a brief outline we can follow:
A request is made by some Jews, verse 31. The soldiers respond to this request, verses 32-37. First they do something related to the robbers crucified on Christ’s right and left. And then they do some things related to the Redeemer Himself, His body, verses 33-37. There is an involvement of a spear, verses 33-34. A spectator, verse 35. And then I think as Bruce mentioned earlier, during our singing time, there is a great reference in verses 36-37 to various Old Testament Scriptures that leap off the pages into fulfillment in verses 36 and 37.
But notice, if you will, this request by the Jews now that Jesus has died. Notice, if you will, verse 31, it says, “Then the Jews, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.” You’ll notice that the Jews had to ask Pilate to break the legs of the crucified victims. Why did the Jews have to ask permission? Why couldn’t they have just broken the legs themselves? The answer to that question is related to the fact that the nation of Israel, at this time in history, is what we would call a vassal nation of Rome. “Vassal” means a subject; Rome was the superior, Rome was ruling over the nation of Israel at this particular time in history. Rome had even taken away from the Jews the power to execute their own criminals.
And when they make this request to break the legs of the crucified victims they have to approach Rome with it because the Jews are not sovereignly in control politically. Why are they not in control? They are not in control because they are under what is called the Mosaic Covenant; in the Mosaic Covenant, Deuteronomy 28:49-50, it spells out blessings for obedience, curses for disobedience. Deuteronomy 28:49-50 says at the height of Israel’s disobedience this is what will happen; keep in mind that these things were revealed about 1500 years earlier, by God to Moses on the plains of Moab, prior to Israel’s entrance into the land under Joshua.
This is what Deuteronomy 28:49 says, “The LORD will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as the eagle swoops down, a nation whose language you shall not understand,  a nation of fierce countenance who will have no respect for the old, nor show favor to the young.” At the height of Israel’s disobedience God, through Moses, said you will be subjugated by a foreign power.
And it is very interesting to study this cycle of discipline and how it plays itself out over and over again throughout Israel’s history. You remember the Assyrians came during a time of national disobedience and scattered the ten northern tribes. You’ll recall that the Babylonians came a short time later, during a time of national disobedience and brought the two southern tribes, Benjamin and Judah, into captivity. And now the Jews have returned to the land under the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, they have rebuilt their temple, and they are under Roman subjugation at this time.
And how they had an opportunity to embrace this man, Jesus Christ. Had they embraced this man, Jesus Christ, the nation of Israel in a nanosecond would have become the head rather than the tail. They wouldn’t have asked permission of the Romans to do anything in that glorious state. And yet they specifically said in John 19:15, we will not have this man to reign over us. “We have no king but Caesar.” And because they made that fateful decision the nation of Israel continued on as a vassal state, ultimately being dispersed by the Romans, from their own land, about forty years later, in A.D. 70.
And even today as I speak the nation of Israel continues in that same position, having rejected Jesus Christ. They continue to be largely a vassal state. I personally was extremely happy with the election results on Tuesday; that’s my personal opinion, it “may not reflect the view of this station or its sponsors,” but personal I was very happy about it, for a lot of different reasons.
And yet, is it not interesting that in spirt of that election result what is the first thing the global community is thinking about? Well, if Israel won’t elect the leader we want, then what we will do is we will force them to divide their land by United Nations dictate. And so even with a favorable election result, now Israel is continuing to be bullied by the global community. Israel has always been bullied by Gentile nations. Israel, even as I speak is continuing to be bullied by Gentile nations. Why is that so? Because of the Mosaic Covenant, they are currently, even in their condition as we know it today, under the discipline of God, having rejected their Messiah. And it doesn’t matter how many elections come and go, the basic predicament of the nation of Israel will not change until they acknowledge nationally Jesus Christ as their Messiah.
And so we need to understand the spiritual condition of the nation of Israel today. Israel is where she is today because of spiritual reasons. We, of course, yearn for the day, and long for the day when there will be a great national awakening within the nation of Israel where Jews in massive droves will acknowledge Yeshua (or Jesus Christ) as their Messiah, which will take them out of the bondage of the Mosaic Covenant, spelled out all the way back in the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 28, and bring them into their glorious inheritance.
I am in favor of helping Israel and helping the Jews in any way, shape or form I can, but the fact of the matter is we need to understand that they are under discipline as I speak. They are under discipline because of a rejection of their own King. They are under discipline because of what Moses revealed, God through Moses, revealed all the way back in Deuteronomy 28. And so this discipline nationally continues and so the Jews must ask permission for these crucified victims to have their legs broken.
Now this is a very interesting request here. Why would they want the legs of the crucified victims broken? And the answer is because the Sabbath was approaching, and they want those bodies taken down. This, apparently, was a special time in Israel’s history because the Sabbath fell on Passover week. Now what we have to understand about the Old Testament is the Old Testament says if a man hangs on a tree that is open shame. Deuteronomy 21:23 puts it this way: “his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of god), so that you do not defile your land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance.”
This is why the book of Joshua, chapter 8, verse 29 reads the way it does, it says: “He hanged the king of Ai on a tree until evening; and at sunset Joshua gave command and they took his body down from the tree and threw it at the entrance of the city gate, and raised over it a great heap of stones that stands to this day.” Within Judaism there is this belief that cursed is the man who hangs on a tree and as long as that criminal is hanging on a tree the whole land is defiled. And as long as the whole land is defiled how can we properly celebrate Sabbath and Passover. [Deuteronomy 21:23, “his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of God), so that you do not defile your land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance.”]
So what we need to do is we need to break the legs of these victims that have been crucified, Jesus Christ and the two thieves crucified with Him. Why is that? Because the basic way you died under this horrible death called crucifixion is you suffocated; I guess the technical name for it is asphyxiation. And what the victims on the cross would do is they would push themselves up at great personal pain to themselves, to get their next breath of air and as long as they had this ability to push themselves up they could prolong their death, which was inevitable.
You see, the Romans didn’t want you to die too fast. They wanted it to be a long, excruciating process, and so it was gradual suffocation which was happening. And so a great way to hasten the death of the crucified victims is to simply break their legs. If you break their legs they don’t have the ability to push themselves up and get their next breath of air and consequently they can die even faster.
It’s very interesting to learn this; a skeleton of a crucified body was found in 1968 and it showed that its legs, of this poor person that had been crucified, their legs had been broken. Isn’t it interesting how archeology keeps coming along and vindicating and substantiating what the Bible says? The Bible reveals this horrible form of death and the necessity of breaking the legs of the victims and lo and behold, skeletal remains occur to us now in archeology, that most believe of a crucified victim with their legs broken exactly like the Bible indicates happened.
Now why did they want these people dead faster, these unbelieving Jews? And the answer to that is they wanted to get on with the business of Sabbath and Passover. We’ve got to be concerned about Sabbath and worried about Sabbath and worried about the defilement of the land, not fully grasping or understanding that they had just killed the Lord of the Sabbath. Matthew 12:8 [“For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”]
John, back in John 18:28 it says this, “Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas into the Praetorium, and it was early; and they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium so that they would not be defiled, but might eat the Passover.” We don’t want to get too close to the Gentiles because of ceremonial defilement and that would ruin Passover for us, not understanding that they had just turned over to the authorities Jesus Christ, the ultimate Passover Lamb. We’re worried about the Sabbath so let’s kill the Lord of the Sabbath, not recognizing that He is the Lord of the Sabbath. We’re worried about Passover so let’s kill the Passover Lamb very quickly, not realizing that He is the Passover Lamb.
What is the point I’m trying to get at? The point I’m trying to get at is the pattern that John keeps showing us of the power of religion, the power of tradition, the power of systems of do’s and don’ts to preoccupy our thinking that in the process we literally become blinded to the big picture. That’s the power of religion. That is the power of the blindness that these unbelieving Jews are under. So focused on these tiny details about Sabbath and the Passover that they have become near sighted. They have become myopic. They, in the process of honoring their religion are missing the big picture which is right before their very eyes.
And the reason I bring this up again is because John brings it up again. And we have to continually guard ourselves, do we not, as God’s people, against traditions. Traditions are not bad in and of themselves, but traditions have a certain power in them where the focus becomes the tradition and no longer what the tradition itself is pointing to and this is the power of religion.
So let’s break their legs, let’s hasten this death because we’ve got to get on with our religious activity. I can’t help but thinking about the words of Jesus Christ in Mark 7:13, where He says, “thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition,” that is exactly what is happening here. [Mark 7:13, “thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.”]
So focused on the shadows rather than the ultimate reality they have become nearsighted, they can’t see the big picture, they have lost sight of the forest although they may know the color of the veins on the leaves of a tree. You know, there are people like that, they are so detail oriented, they can tell you all about the veins on the leaves of a tree but they have forgotten what the forest looks like. And God help us to back away at times, through things that we have ritually and rotely and routinely done as believers and ask ourselves, what is the big picture here? What do all of these traditions point to? Let’s not make a god or an idol out of tradition; let’s honor the one that these traditions point towards.
You’ll notice also that John explains what the Sabbath is. You’ll notice there in John 19:31 it has a parenthetical comment after the word “Sabbath” it says, “(for that Sabbath was a high day).” So John here is explaining Sabbath, he is explaining a little bit about Passover and this is something that John does routinely in his writings.
In John 5:2 he explains the Hebrew word Bethesda. [John 52, “Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethseda, having five porticoes.”]
In John 19:13 he does the same thing, “The pavement, but in Hebrew Gabbatha.” In John 19:17 he explains Golgotha, the Hebrew expression Golgotha. [John 19:17, “They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew Golgotha.”]
In John 20:16, after Jesus has risen from the dead, He explains what “Rabboni” means; it means Teacher. [John 20:16, “Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to Him in Hebrew ‘Rabboni!’ (which means, Teacher).”]
This is all evidence of who John is writing to. John is not writing to a sophisticated crowd; Matthew, on the other hand, is writing to a sophisticated, more sophisticated Jewish crowd. John is writing to people with virtually no familiarity with Judaism, virtually no familiarity with these ancient customs and traditions. And this is something that I like to emphasize because John’s Gospel is written to the least spiritual, least believing people on planet earth. In fact, John’s Gospel is written to people that haven’t even been saved yet. How do I know that? Because in John 20:31 He tells them that they need to believe in Jesus so as to be saved and experience the gift of life. [John 20:31, “but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”] That very clearly indicates to me that he is writing to people that have not yet been saved.
Now why bring all of this up? Because you, as a Christian, are called to be an ambassador for Christ. You are called to witness the things of God to people, most of whom have no familiarity with Greco-Roman or Jewish history. And when you’re interacting with people like that I would suggest very strongly that you direct them back to the book of John because the book of John is designed for such people. So many times we direct Bible verses to the wrong crowd. Certainly God will always honor His name but we have to become sensitive as to why different books of the Bible were written. John is written to a very unspiritual, may I just say it this way, uneducated type of audience, a group of people with very little spiritual understanding, the very same people that you have to and have the privilege of interacting with on a daily basis.
So build your evangelistic focus around the Gospel of John, not ignoring of course other passages you’ve seen as we’ve been slowly going through John’s Gospel, all of the other passages that we’ve brought in, but using amongst the unchurched amongst the unsaved, John’s Gospel as sort of the main point, using the other verses more in a supportive manner. I believe that’s the evangelistic pattern that is revealed to us in this Gospel.
So the Jews make this request, we need to break the legs of these victims to hasten their death so we can get about our religious affairs, lest the land remain defiled because cursed is the man who hangs on a tree.
Now what you discover in verses 32-37 is the soldiers respond to this request of the Jews. You see first they respond to the robbers, in terms of breaking their legs first, verse 32, and then to the Redeemer in verses 33-37. Notice the response of the soldiers to the robbers. It says in verse 32, “So the so the robbers came and broke the legs of the first man and of the other who was crucified with Him;” we know earlier in this chapter, John 19:18, that Jesus was crucified between two criminals. John 19:18 says this, “There they crucified Him, and with Him two other men, one on either side, and Jesus in between.” John has revealed that to us in verse 18, because he knows what is coming in verse 32.
What you have to understand is the very fact that Jesus was crucified between two thieves, that in and of itself is the fulfillment of a prophecy, given by the prophet Isaiah, 700 years in advance. Isaiah 53:12 says this, referring to the coming death of Jesus Christ, 700 years in advance; think how long 700 years is. Think about the United States of America and its official birthday and you multiply that by roughly three and you get the date between the prophet Isaiah and Jesus Christ; 700 years is a long time, roughly three times our national existence as Americans. And it says this of this coming man, Jesus, without revealing His name, “…Himself unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors,” Isaiah predicted all of these things, that Jesus would be “numbered with the transgressors,” so literally that He would be crucified between two common criminals.
John’s Gospel does not go into this subject but Luke’s Gospel certainly does, and Luke 23:39-43, how one of those criminals that was crucified alongside Jesus Christ, at the very last moment of his life exercised faith in Jesus Christ. Remember what Jesus said to him? “…today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” [Luke 23:39-43, “One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, ‘Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!’  But the other answered and rebuking him said, ‘Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? ’And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.’  And he was saying, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come in Your kingdom!’  And He said to him, ‘Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”]
One man is cursing Jesus to the very end of his life; the second thief is penitent and believes in Jesus at the very last moment, and goes into an eternity with God while the former man goes into an eternity in conscious torment, separated from God. And we look at a story like that and we say it’s not fair, how can a man at the very end of his life simply reach out to Jesus Christ by way of faith and be saved? How can two men go into totally different locations to spend eternity and yet the only difference between one man and the next is that penitent thief trusted Jesus Christ. It just is not fair to have a deathbed conversion; it just isn’t fair to live your entire life as if God doesn’t exist and at the very last moment trust Christ and be saved. And my answer to that is you’re right, it’s not fair, but did you know that God does not deal with humanity on the basis of fairness? He deals with humanity on the basis of what? Grace! Grace is, by definition, unmerited favor, favor coming to your direction that you did not earn and you did not deserve.
Of course it is not fair; I will concur on that point, but thank God He does not deal with people on the basis of what is fair because if He dealt with all of us on the basis of fairness I’m not sure we would really like the result. I hear people say God give me justice and give it to me right now. And when I hear that I usually like to step out of the way because I think a lightening bolt is going to zap them right there on the spot. But how glorious it is that God doesn’t deal with us on the basis of what is fair. If I demanded my rights and what is fair I’d have nothing in God, and yet the glorious grace of God is available to all of us because not of fairness nor justice but on the basis of grace.
And so there, according to verse 32 they went to these two men and they broke their legs first so that they might die faster. And now they move on to the Redeemer, Jesus Christ Himself, verses 33-37, and notice what happens there down in verse 33, “but coming to Jesus, when they saw that he was already dead, they did not break His legs.” He was already dead so there’s no reason to break His legs. So Jesus’ legs, unlike the other two, remain unbroken. Now when we get down to verse 36 you’re going to see why John brings this up. This is a big deal. God is controlling what these people do and what they don’t do. They are making decisions constantly, what we will do and what we won’t do, and as they are making their decisions they are fulfilling an ancient script called Messianic prophecy. A little bit more on that later.
Notice, if you will, verse 34, “But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.” Well, we can’t break His legs; He’s already dead, so let’s just make sure He’s dead by forcing the spear into His side. He was “pierced,” they made a decision to pierce His corpse, in the prior verse they made a decision not to break His legs but in this verse they made a decision to pierce His corpse. That too, verse 37, as I’ll show you, is a fulfillment of prophecy. That’s why I have entitled this message, I’m not sure if I gave the title, Many Infallible Proofs. “Infallible” means proofs which cannot fail, which cannot be foiled, which cannot be curtailed. You are seeing, as I believe we are moving into this section of Scripture, specifically moving into a few Sunday’s down the road John 20, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, you are seeing things happen which simply cannot be explained through the natural mind.
But this business here about Jesus having a corpse as a dead human being having a spear thrust into His side and out of His side, John is very clear, verse 34, “blood and water” comes forth. This verse in and of itself is very important to understand because the great proof that Jesus Christ is who He claimed to be is His bodily resurrection from the dead. I believe we’re going to be celebrating that April 5th coming up. Jesus can say whatever he wants to say about Himself; He can make all sorts of Messianic claims He wants, certainly there are many people in the history of the world that made self-messianic claims. But you see what makes Jesus different is He made those claims and He backed those claims up through His bodily resurrection from the dead. The bodily resurrection from the dead of this man, Jesus Christ, is the great proof to the world that this man, Jesus Christ, is unique.
There has never been anyone like Him in history; certainly there’s never been anyone that has claimed to be God and said I will prove I am God through resurrection, and then actually pulling it off. This makes Jesus Christ a man of history. It makes Him different than any other religious leader or world leader who has ever lived. And consequently there are people out there who are determined not to believe it. We’ve called this, in prior sermons, the power of unbelief; the unbelieving mind that does not want to accept the things of God at this point goes into overdrive and it begins to develop naturalistic theories to explain the empty tomb.
If you watch Mysteries of the Bible, The History Channel, A & E, no doubt this time of the year these theories will start to arise, your kids, your grandkids, your friends, your family, are going to be hit by these types of things. Peter Jennings, I think it was a few years back, did an Easter special trying to dismiss the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And what I want you to understand is these speculative theories are nothing new; they are simply dressed up a little bit differently for a new generation, but it is the same old stuff.
One theory is the tomb was empty because the disciples stole the body. Another theory is the disciples went to the wrong tomb, that’s why they thought the tomb was empty, not because of a bodily resurrection. Others speculated that what the disciples all saw was a giant hallucination. And these theories go on and on and on and one of the ones you’ll hear about is something called the swoon theory. The swoon theory is essentially this idea that Jesus Christ never actually died, He was thought to be dead. He was taken off the cross in sort of a weakened condition, He was put into the tomb, yet in the middle of the night He crawled His way out of that tomb in His weakened condition because he was not completely dead. This is called the swoon theory.
What you have to understand when you hear this is this theory is about 200 years old. A man named [Karl] Benturini pproposed a couple of centuries ago invented this theory; it has been revived by a heterodox group of Muslims in recent years. Just another attempt by the unbelieving naturalistic mind to explain away the empty tomb.
And when you really start thinking about this theory critically you begin to see how ridiculous the whole thing is. In fact, it would take more faith to believe a theory like that than it would to simply embrace or accept or believe in the straightforward accounts of the Gospels. One of the reasons it’s ridiculous is because Matthew 27:60 says a giant stone was placed over the tomb. How could a man in his weakened state, having gone through the ordeal of crucifixion, coming within a millimeter of his life move that stone in the middle of the night? Matthew 27:60 calls it a “a large stone,” and that was put there to debunk the idea that possibly the disciples would steal the body in the middle of the night and fake the resurrection. [Matthew 26:60, “….rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away.”]
You can read about that in Matthew 27:62-66. [Matthew 27:62, “Now on the next day, the day after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate,  and said, ‘Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I am to rise again.’  ‘Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal Him away and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.  Pilate said to them, ‘You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how.’  And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone.”]
In fact, this stone was so large that according to Matthew 28:2 an angel, do we all know that angels are far stronger than we are? Did you know that one angel of the Lord, according to Isaiah 37, around verse 36; one angel of the Lord killed 185,000 Assyrians one evening. [Isaiah 37:36, “Then the angel of the LORD went out and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians; and when men arose early in the morning, behold, all of these were dead.”]
So angels in the Scripture have far greater strength than we have and according to Matthew 28:2 this stone was so large that an angel of the Lord had to roll it away. And even beyond that there were guards stationed outside of Christ’s tomb because of this fear that the Jews had that the disciples would come and take the body out of the tomb and fake the resurrection and fake the empty tomb. There were guards posted outside of that tomb. There is a reference to them in Matthew 26:66. It says, “”And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard,” here it mentions one guard, “the guard they set a seal on the stone.”
And what you have to understand is you have to understand Roman law. According to Roman law if a prisoner escaped on your watch you were subject to death. In fact, remember Acts 16:27, when a giant earthquake happened and everybody got out of jail; remember what the jailor was doing there in Philippi? Acts 16:27 says, “When the jailor awoke and saw the prisons doors opened, he drew out his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped.” Why was he willing and about ready to kill himself? Because he knew the penalty that was coming to him under Roman law for the fact that prisoners escaped during his watch.
Since all of this is true, how plausible is it that Jesus Christ, in a weakened state, could get by the guard stationed in front of the tomb. And beyond that, how could Jesus in a weakened state, having never fully died, how could He convince the disciples that He was the resurrected Messiah? Tired, bloody, panting, how could He convince them that He had overcome the world through resurrection?
And beyond that how could these disciples take the message of Jesus Christ to the four corners of the earth and die for what they had believed? How could Jesus convince them that Christianity is true in this condition of being weakened but never died?
You see the whole theory starts to disintegrate the moment you apply any level of scrutiny to it. And even beyond that, there is very little doubt that Jesus died. First of all, we know that he died because He gave up His spirit, Matthew 27:50 [“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.”]
But going back to verse 34, did you notice what came out of His side when the Roman soldier thrust this spear into His corpse? It says, “…and immediately blood and water came out.” “Blood and water” coming out of someone’s side is symptomatic medically of death. I am not a medical doctor so let me read one to you, a quote. The title of this article is: A Physician Analyzes The Crucifixion. A medical explanation of what Jesus endured on the day He died. This person’s name is Dr. C. Truman Davis; Davis is a graduate of The University of Tennessee College of Medicine, he is a practicing ophthalmologist, a pastor, and author of a book about medicine and the Bible.
Here’s his quote as he comments on John 19:34. “Apparently, to make doubly sure of death, the guard drove his lance between the ribs, upward through the…” and here’s some medical word I can’t even pronounce, “pericardium” I think is how you pronounce that, “and into the heart. John 19:34 states, “‘And immediately there came out blood and water.”’ Thus there was an escape of watery fluid from the sac surrounding the heart and the blood of the interior of the heart. That is rather conclusive post-mortem evidence that Jesus died, not the usual crucifixion death by suffocation, but of heart failure due to shock and constriction of the heart by fluid in the pericardium.
How interesting it is that Jesus did die of a broken heart; emotionally no doubt for the sins of the world and the unbelief of his own nation, but physically of a broken heart as well, and that medically, as far as I understand it, drawing upon others that understand medicine a lot better is what is being described here as “blood and water” separated as coming forth from His side after the centurion places this spear into Christ’s side. In other words, translation, Jesus was “deader than a doornail.” He was dead! No question about it.
And for people long after the fact to come along and pontificate that maybe He didn’t die is just to ignore what the Bible says and it is to develop a theory that is so silly that it takes more faith to believe this silly theory than it does to simply believe what the Bible has said. And yet why are people this way? Why do they gravitate towards theories like this? The answer is very simple: Jesus demands accountability. He talks about morals, He talks about heaven, He talks about hell, He talks about right, He talks about wrong, He talks about angels, He talks about demons, he talks about God the Father, He talks about Lucifer, He talks about sheep, He talks about goats, He talks about wheat, He talks about tares.
He says so many things that are politically incorrect that people just don’t want to believe what He has to say because my goodness, if I get too close to this man, Jesus Christ, He might reshuffle the deck in my life; He might alter the way I think. He might alter the way I behave. And so it is far better for people who are comfortable in their sins simply to develop some concocted theory to cavalierly dismiss Jesus Christ because they do not like the idea of accountability.
And when you hear these theories from people you need to call people out on this. You can sit and get into some long-winded defense about facts and data, as I just sort of gave you, or you can get right to the heart of the matter and ask them why is it that Jesus bothers you so much? Why would you believe something like this when you can receive the gift of life? Because the smoke screen that people throw up is intellectual but the fact of the matter is it has more to do with a sickened, depraved, sinful, self-centered heart condition than it does any other single thing.
And we move down to the spectator, moving from the spear to the spectator. Notice verse 35,
It says, “And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth; so that you also may believe.” Who was the spectator? It’s John. Isn’t it true that John, throughout this Gospel keeps referring to himself anonymously as “the disciple whom Jesus loved?” John 13:23, John 19:26, John 20:2; John 21:7; John 21:20.
[John 3:23, “There was one reclining on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples whom Jesus loved.”
John 19:26, “When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby….” John 20:2, “So she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them…. John 21:7, “Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord.’” John 21:20, “Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them….”
John, you get this idea, does not like the spotlight on himself. He wants the spotlight on Jesus Christ. And so I believe John is making a reference to himself there as one of the eyewitnesses. And notice this claim of John,  “And he who has seen has testified.” Who wrote this book? Some ivory tower university professor pontificating about these events 2,000 years after they happened? Hardly! The man who penned these pages under the direction of the Holy Spirit was none other than John the Apostle. John, in essence, is an eyewitness. John 1:14, remember what John said all the way back at the beginning of the book? “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory.”
I John 1:1-3, John says, “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of
Life— and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—  what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us….”
See how john keeps saying “we touched, we saw, we heard,” the New Testament record is backed up, therefore by eyewitness testimony. Let me ask you a question—in a court of law what is the most powerful evidence you can introduce? It is eyewitness testimony. And that is what is being proclaimed here.
And what does John say in verse 35, he says, “…and his testimony” referring to himself, “is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth.” John says not only was an eyewitness to the things that happened but I am telling you exactly the truth. John is going to say the exact same thing at the very end of his book, in John 21:24, it says, “This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true.” As an attorney the question you ask is John’s eyewitness testimony credible? Is it believable or can it be impeached? Can it be attacked under cross examination?
I think John’s testimony is probably the best eyewitness you could have trying to make a case in a court of law. Why do I think that? Well, number 1, John was Jewish and don’t the Jews have a command? Exodus 20:16, “You shall not bear false witness.” Didn’t these apostles that saw these things go to their graves tortured, maimed, in John’s case they tried, according to one tradition, boil him to death. Why would all of these individuals go to their graves speaking of Jesus Christ crucified, buried, resurrected if the whole thing is a lie? I mean, it’s one thing to tell a lie, it’s another thing to pay a price of your own life by holding to a lie.
I think John is very credible. I believe everything John says here in verse 35; his testimony, he is true and he knows that he is telling the truth, and I am not the only one that thinks it. We are certainly not the first people that have wrestled with this concept of the credibility or impeachability of the eyewitness testimonies, called the Gospel writers.
Here’s an individual you may know, or may not know from history, his name is Simon Greenleaf, he was a professor of law at Harvard University; he was goaded by his students to try to disprove the resurrection, disprove what the New Testament says concerning the resurrected Christ. And they told him, or asked him to take his learning in the field of evidence and apply the legal rules of evidence to the Scripture and disprove the whole thing. And so he took the bait and set out to do just that. And what does the man discover in the process? He’s written a book about it, called The Testimony of the Evangelists. The subtitle is, Examined by the Rules of Evidence Administered in Courts of Justice. He’s a fairly famous apologist or defender of the faith in church history; his name is Simon Greenleaf.
What did he discover? He discovered that the evidence for the resurrected Christ is more powerful than any case he had ever won in a judicial setting. He found that these witnesses, this evidence was credible, that it could be backed up, that it was believable. Now he didn’t start off his intellectual journey in that vein, but because he took this intellectual challenge from his students, the testimony of Simon Greenleaf is a movement from skeptic to believer.
You do not have to feel intellectually inferior because of your Christian faith. I fully understand the intellectual attacks that go on against the Bible, over and over and over again. But if we just knew a little bit of history we would see that we come out in this whole thing smelling like a rose. You cannot intellectualize people into heaven, but you can present them with a credible case that they can exercise faith in. This is not some kind of leap into a dark chasm. Christianity is not that way. God requires faith but it is faith founded upon factual evidence and credibility. He does not ask us to commit intellectual suicide to believe in this man, Jesus Christ.
And why is all of this evidence given to us. You’ll notice in the second part of verse 35, “So that you also may…” what? “believe.” What is the purpose statement of John’s Gospel? Jesus did many other things which are not written in this book, “but these are written so that you might believe and have life in His name.” [John 21:25, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.” John 20:31, “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”]
In fact, as we have mentioned, that word “believe” is used around, just a little over 100 times in John’s Gospel. That’s why all of this data is compiled for us.
And so there are signs that Jesus did to prove that he is the Messiah. And one of the greatest signs is the fulfillment of Old Testament Scripture.
Notice the Scriptures there, verses 36-37. [John 19:36-37, “For these things came to pass to fulfill the Scripture, ‘NOT A BONE OF HIM SHALL BE BROKEN.’  And again another Scripture says, ‘THEY SHALL LOOK ON HIM WHOM THEY PIERCED.”]
Prophecies were being fulfilled about what the Romans decided not to do (break Christ’s bones, verse 36) and prophecies were being fulfilled related to what the Roman soldiers decided to do, (pierce His corpse with a spear).
Notice, very quickly verse 36, John tells us this: “For these things came to pass to fulfill the Scripture, ‘NOT A BONE OF HIM SHALL BE BROKEN.’” We know that these things are happening on Passover. We know that part of the Passover tradition was a lamb; the lamb that was unblemished was killed, the blood of this lamb was applied to the doorposts of the Jewish homes and so when God came in Egypt, in plague number 10, and he saw the blood applied to the doorpost His judgment in plague 10 which killed all of the firstborn throughout Egypt, I might add, passed right over the Jewish homes where God saw the blood applied to the doorposts..
The instructions regarding the Passover lamb are crystal clear; Exodus 12:46 says this: “It is to be eaten in a single house; you are not to bring forth any of the flesh outside of the house, nor are you to break any bone of it.” Is not Jesus the Passover lamb? Doesn’t Passover point to Jesus? 1 Corinthians 5:7, 1 Peter 1:19. Did not John the Baptist say, “Behold, the” what? “the lamb of God, that takes away the sin of the world,” therefore it would be fitting, would it not, that Jesus’ legs would not be broken so that that rich Passover typology can come to fruition and to fulfillment. [1 Corinthians 5:7, “For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did not receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?
1 Peter 1:19, “but with the precious blood, s of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.”]
The fact that Jesus had died before they had a chance to break His legs is the fulfillment of the divine script. Numbers 9:12 puts it this way of the Passover lamb, “They shall leave none of it until morning, nor break a bone of it….” David, in the Psalms, about 400 years later, had prophecies about this as well. Psalm 22:17 says this of Jesus, “I count all my bones.” Psalm 34:20 says, ‘He keeps all his bones, not one of them is broken.”
The fact that Christ was guiltless is a fulfillment of Exodus 12:5, that the Passover lamb would be unblemished. [Exodus 12:5, “Your lamb shall be an unblemished male….”] the fact that hyssop, a branch, was extended to Christ made of hyssop is a fulfillment of the Passover typology as well, Exodus 12:22, [“You shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in blood which is in the basin, and apply some of the blood that is in the basin to the lintel and to the two doorposts….”]
And now we are learning that the fact that His bones were not broken, despite the fact that they were broken of the two criminals crucified on His right and left, that in and of itself is a fulfillment of typology.
I know of no book in history that does such a thing, that reveals the end from the beginning and the beginning from the end.
And there’s just one more Scripture that was fulfilled here in verse 37, and it says this: “And again another Scripture says, ‘They shall look on Him whom they pierced.” The moment the Roman soldiers said no, we won’t break His legs they fulfilled prophecy. The moment they said now that He’s dead let’s make sure that He’s dead, let’s thrust a spear into His side, that’s the moment they also fulfilled prophecy. Likely a quotation from Zechariah 12:10, that says “…they will look on Me whom they have pierced….” Or maybe a citation from Isaiah 53:5, that “He was pierced through for our transgressions….” Do you know the way Jews killed people? They stoned them to death, Numbers 15:32-35. They tried to stone Jesus to death before it was His time to die, John 8:59. They stoned Stephen to death, Acts 7:58-59. And had the Jews gotten their way and killed Christ the way they wanted, which was through stoning, the piercing prophetic information could have never come to pass.
[Numbers 15:32-35, “Now while the sons of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering wood on the sabbath day.  Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation;  and they put him in custody because it had not been declared what should be done to him.  Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘The man shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.” John 8:59, “Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.” Acts 7:58-59, “When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul.  They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the LORD and said, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!’”]
And so God, through the cycles of discipline, was so sovereign, and He was so in control of human history that he allowed at a specific time in history for the Romans to come to power and to make Israel a vassal state, and consequently, according to John 18:31, take away from the Jews the power of capital punishment forcing the Jews to ask permission of Pilate to have Jesus killed. [John 18:31, “So Pilate said to them, ‘Take Him yourselves, and judge Him according to your law.’ The Jews said to him, ‘We are not permitted to put anyone to death.’”]
Had God nor orchestrated these events the Jews would have killed Him their own way, they would have stoned Him to death and the details of God’s prophetic word would have never been fulfilled. Are you getting a sense that God is in control of the events of human history? Even through rebellion and decisions that are made regarding what to do and what not to do prophecies written hundreds and hundreds, in some cases thousands of years in advance are leaping off the Old Testament and coming into fulfillment. Many infallible proofs, and yet I’ll go back to John 19:35, [“And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe.”] These things are written not as an exercise in intellect but to get folks to believe. And our question for you at Sugar Land Bible Church is have you believed in this man, Jesus Christ.
You can hear all of the evidence, you can hear all of the facts, you can hear all of the details, but it is of no value to you until you embrace what Jesus has done. A present does not become valuable until you receive it and take it and open it. And in the mind of God there’s only one way to receive a free gift, which is to believe. To believe is another way of saying rely upon, to depend upon, to have confidence in. Don’t let this be the type of thing where you hear information but never make a decision for Jesus by trusting in His Son. Our exhortation to you as the Holy Spirit places you under conviction is to trust in what Jesus has done; it’s something you can do as I am speaking. It’s not something you have to walk an aisle to do, raise a hand to do, join a church to do, give money to do, but it’s a personal moment between you and the Lord where you respond by way of faith to the finished work of Jesus Christ. Our hope and prayer is that you do that right now if you haven’t, and if it’s something that you want more information on I’m available after the service to talk.
Shall we pray. Father, we remain grateful for these infallible unalterable proofs; help this not to be for us this week information in the mind but things we live out as we continually trust You, not only for our salvation but for our current walk in difficulties, whatever they may be, and we will be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. And God’s people said….