I’ve had this is my drafts folder for a good while. Thought it was time I posted it.
…he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. These remarkable words are from the Gospel of John chapter 19, verse 30. They follow on from three other remarkable words ‘it is finished‘ found in the same verse.
In the annals of history was there ever a more horrific means of death designed to inflict maximum pain and suffering on another human being than Crucifixion? If you have seen the film Spartacus you will remember the defeated slave army suffered the crucifixion of 6000 captured men at the hands of the Romans. The Romans were expert at Crucifixion. In Jesus’s day under Roman occupation this was the ultimate degradation and death. To those sentenced to death by crucifixion there was no going back, it was a one way ticket to the after life.
J C Ryle writes on this:
[And He bowed His head] This is the action of one dying. When the will ceases to exercise power over muscles and nerves, at once those parts of the body which are not rigid like the bones, collapse and fall in any direction to which the centre of gravity inclines them. The head of a crucified person would naturally in death droop forward on the breast, the neck being no longer kept stiff by the will (my emphasis). This is what seems to have happened in the case of our Lord.
May we not gather from this expression, that our Lord up to this moment held up His head erect, firm, steady, and unmoved, even under extreme pain?
Alford remarks how this little incident was evidently recorded by an eye-witness. The miraculous darkness must have now passed away, in order to let this movement of the head be seen.
J. C. Ryle ‘Expository Thoughts on the Gospels’ John: Volume III, James Clarke & Co. Ltd. p. 363-4.
This is extremely powerful. Jesus drank to the dregs the fullness of the wrath of God right up until when He could say those amazing words: It Is Finished. By an act of His loving will He fully purposed to consciously bear in His own body the full weight of God’s wrath – even for my sin! In the Greek ‘it is finished’ is the one word Tetelestai and is always used when something is completed. The root of the word is Telos, end.
From Strongs numbers G5056; to end, that is, complete, execute, conclude, discharge (a debt): – accomplish, make an end, expire, fill up, finish, go over, pay, perform.
There were many words that He could have used but He used this one (Tetelestai ) to proclaim the work of Salvation is done, complete.
What this gloriously means is that there is nothing, nothing at all the sinner need do, but come. There is nothing to add to the work of Christ – all is done. Sinners need bring nothing but their sin. Not only is there no need to bring any good works but it would be an insult to Christ after having done all on the cross and then to contribute our pathetic so-called good deeds. No matter where you find yourself in life, no matter what you have done – you, you, may come to Christ for forgiveness and full Salvation. Now that’s what I call good news!!
Then, and not till then does the work of sanctification begin – not before.