This morning was one of those times when I felt more nostalgia than revelation, yet seemed encouraged to write. As I continued my read through the Gospel of John, now in chapter 19, I was amazed by the detail surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus. John seemed purposeful in his attempts to chronical the Old Testament passages that foretold just how this would unfold.
Of course I am writing somewhat tongue in cheek, for the New Testament scriptures are laden with clarity around the “types and shadows” of the Old Testament. The Tabernacle, necessary to provide focus during the Exodus years, would set up a need for a permanent Temple once the Israelites settled into Jerusalem. That temple, would then serve to platform the ministry of Jesus, which its rituals had for centuries foretold.
With its elaborate metaphorical furnishings, the temple declared a day coming when the People of God would become the Temple of God. The separation from the Holy of Holies, the four inch thick veil that Josephus wrote could withstand the pull of two teams of horses, would eventually be torn in twain, as Jesus the sacrificial lamb gave up his last breath on the tree. That tree, upon which the serpent was lifted in Moses day, would again be selected as an unavoidable and eternal symbol of the place where God would bare the guilt for our sin and shame.
The sacrifice for our sins, Christ himself, down to the distribution of his very garments, would model the requirements of the Law, even among those involved who knew little of the Law. Example being the Roman soldiers, who divided his outer garments, souvenirs of that fateful day, yet would cast lots for the inner garment, woven from one thread top to bottom. They chose not to tear this one, a drama long hidden in the words of the Psalmist (22:18).
Yes, and just as Exodus 12:46 required that the Passover Lamb have no bones broken, the soldiers made a risky “field decision” though ordered otherwise, not to break the bones of the Messiah, before releasing his body for burial. Those hanging either side Him, still alive, both received the brutal blow that would break their legs, preventing the victim means of lifting the body, as each gasped their final breaths. Jesus, the Lamb crucified during this Passover feast, would be spared their last cruel act, while fulfilling the scriptures once more. Still yet, Jesus would receive a mocking stab to the side, forever sealing the words from Zechariah 12:10, but affirming a promise that the very ones who had killed the long awaited Messiah, would again “look on him whom they had pierced.”
Finally, just as Isaiah had prophesied in chapter 53:9, he would find his burial among the wealthy, though highly improbable given his origin. Of course we know the story, of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin, taking significant political risk in asking for his body, even providing the spices for his preparation.
Sometimes I just find a simple journey back to the basics somewhat refreshing.