Such Wondrous Love (By Lynne McCarthy)
John 19-21 (Ps. 111)
Jesus moves, prophecy by prophecy, toward Calvary.
Isaiah 50:6: “I offered my back to those who beat me and my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard. I did not hide my face from mockery and spitting.” Pilate has Jesus flogged (19:1); an iron-tipped whip lacerates His back. The soldiers spit on Him, slap His face, strike His head (bleeding from the thorn ‘crown’) with a reed, humiliating Him (2).
Psalm 22:16: “My enemies surround me like a pack of dogs; an evil gang closes in on me. They have pierced my hands and feet.” Brutal Roman soldiers nail wrists and feet to rough wood. (23)
Psalm 22:15: “ My strength has dried up like sun-baked clay, My tongue sticks to the roof of My mouth.” Psalm 69:21b: “They offer me sour wine for my thirst.” Despite His thirst, He refuses the offered sour wine. He is very near the end. (28,29)
Psalm 22:18: “They divide my garments among themselves and throw dice for my clothing.” Daniel 9:26: “The Anointed One will be put to death and have nothing.” His seamless garment is the prize for hardened soldiers gambling at the foot of a cross that bears the suffering servant-King, their Saviour. The magnitude of this death is meaningless to such hearts. (23-24)
Psalm 31:5a: “I entrust my Spirit into Your Hand.” A shout of triumph over death and sin, and Jesus’ sacrifice is complete. (30)
Exodus 12:46: “Do not break any of the bones". The Passover Lamb must be whole. Psalm 34:20: “He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.” Soldiers break crucified criminals’ legs. Unable to push themselves up to breathe, asphyxiation hastens death. The Lamb of God, already dead, is left whole. (31-36)
Isaiah 53: 9c: “He was put in a rich man’s grave.” Pilate permits Joseph of Arimathea to bury Jesus as it is the eve of Passover Sabbath. He and Nicodemus carry His body to a new tomb and lay Him there. (38-42)
John records the awesome mystery of Jesus’ Resurrection. As at the Transfiguration, He is changed. Mary eventually recognizes His voice (20:16). He is bodily present but until He ascends to His Father, earth cannot contain Him. His Resurrection body is real. He doesn’t walk through locked doors like a phantom; they open for Him to enter a room. He breathes the Holy Spirit into His disciples and commissions them. Thomas, not present, is skeptical until he sees Him for himself.
Chapter 21 reconciles Peter’s three denials by his threefold declaration of love for Jesus; he receives his commission (15-19). The final sentence declares Jesus’ numberless unrecorded acts. God with us -- then, now, forever – awesome beyond words. Redemption is no small feat.
Apply “…the Holy Spirit uses all of God’s reliable and life-applicable words to transform us and affirm that His story will end well for believers in Jesus.” (Our Daily Bread 8/28/21)
The world is in thrall to godless powers and principalities. Let’s not be surprised as fiery darts come at us by forces opposed to Christ. By faith and faithfulness, prayer and worship in Christ-centred community, we stand firm in His powerful name, wearing His armour against increasing hatred for His church; then, having done all, [we] stand.(Eph 6:13). His story ends well, and His story is ours.
Ask Jesus, how do I live out of You? Am I indifferent to the magnitude of Your death and rising? Should I not praise You every minute of my life for Your sacrifice that frees me from sin, Your Resurrection that gives me life? Holy Spirit, would You help me grasp the immensity of Jesus’ sacrifice, then in Your grace, resolutely keep on His Way?
Pray Lord Jesus, may we worship You in a way that is worthy of all You are, knowing You suffered and died for us and on the third day gained the victory of the resurrection…Thank you for Your love for us even when we do not understand completely. Lead us in Your way to be a witness to the world. In Jesus’ name. Amen. (Closing prayer, E Jerusalem International Church service, 8/10/21)
Sing What wondrous love is this -- Fernando Ortega His Cross is Still There -- Ian White
Ps 111: Praise Him -- Scottish Psalmist
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In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.