Sermon: Preternatural, Natural, Unnatural, Supernatural (Part Three)
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 21-Apr-18; 71 minutes
This is my fourth and should be the last of the series regarding Christ's death.
We have seen that Christ's sacrifice to pay for our sins was preternatural in that it was indeed planned in advance. His death was among the very first elements of God's creative purpose plan, because They understood that clearly that the propensity in mankind to chase his desires into sin would not be resisted, so a Savior was going to be needed. Therefore, there had to be some means to redeem mankind or the creative purpose would simply come to an end very quickly because the wages of sin is indeed death. Christ's death is that means.
The second reality is that Christ dying was natural. It was natural in that, though He was God in the flesh, He was subject to death because He was human. Therefore, He died from the severe injuries inflicted on Him by the severe beating followed by the crucifixion, as any human would. Therefore, His death was natural.
In a third sermon, I expounded upon a third factor, and that is that His death was in reality, unnatural. This was because every other human has died because of his sins and the wages of sins is death. But unlike all others, He never sinned. And thus death had absolutely no claim whatever on Him. His death was unnatural.
Now here is fourth term connected with natural. Christ's life and death was also supernatural.
At this time of the year, we are concentrating on the death aspects, but without having a life first there would not be a supernatural death. Super adds a dimension the other prefixes do not possess. One characteristic the supernatural term has in common with natural, preternatural, and unnatural is that it too departs from what is normal, thus making Christ's death different from all other deaths that have ever occurred. Thus we have preternatural, natural, unnatural, and supernatural, all playing on the death of Jesus Christ. All four elements are involved in God's creative purpose to provide mankind with life, understanding, wisdom, and character in His image.
What we have been seeing through God's Word is that though Jesus shared humanity with us, even to the point of dying as all humans do because of sin. We want to go back to the book of Luke once again in a series of scriptures we went to in my previous sermon.
Luke 2:29-34 [The speaker is Simeon.] "Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace [I get the impression that he was elderly.], according to Your word [God had given him that promise.]; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel." And Joseph and His mother marveled [His, being in this case, Jesus.] at these things which were spoken of Him. Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, "Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. "
Notice that Simeon referred here to Jesus as a light. He was a light (as it also says in that same section), in this case, prepared to reveal, to give greater understanding where little or even none existed before. To do this, much about Jesus' life and death was intensified beyond what is normal for humans. (We are getting aspects of the word "super" in here.) For example, He had God's Holy Spirit from the get-go and He carried it, as it were, throughout His entire life. And thus intensification of life occurred because He was also God, and because of the purposes that He would carry out in our behalf, that we might share eternal life with Him and the Father in the Kingdom of God.
Now "super" all by itself as the prefix, adds interesting qualities to the term natural. The term "super" indicates qualities and achievements over, above, in addition to on top of, higher than, more than, exceeding a norm, greater than, superior, beyond, and perhaps the best overall synonym is that it indicates one possessing transcendent qualities. A bit more expansive defining for Jesus is this: Supernatural is a term that comes close to almost being synonymous to unnatural. For Him to be so endowed right from the get-go was unnatural in some circumstances.
But in the sermon expounding unnatural elements (one of the previous ones I gave about Jesus), I used unnatural in the sense of abnormal. I did this because nobody else in the history of mankind suffered death as He did, because He was the only sinless person, but He still died. That, brethren, is truly abnormal.
Now we are in Luke, but we are going to go back to chapter 1 and in verse 33. The speaker here is Gabriel. We are going back to what he said to Mary.
Luke 1:33-35 "And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end." Then Mary said to the angel, "How can this be since I do not know a man?" And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God."
That stuff there in those three verses is really supernatural. It is beyond humanity in every way, shape, or form.
In this sermon I am using supernatural in the positive sense that everything about Jesus' life, beginning with His conception in Mary's womb, was touched by extraordinary greatness. And then that supernatural theme was carried through into His birth, His life, and His death.
Some elements about Jesus were different than everybody else even though He shared humanity with us. Virtually every aspect of those characteristics of Jesus' life that He shared with everybody else were intensified. He could read people's minds! Now we can look at somebody and they give a frown or something, and we right away "read" their mind that they are upset about something. But His ability to read minds went a lot further into the person's mind than that. I am not saying that He did it all the time, but He was unusually perceptive. And of course, that was part of the gifts that God gave Him to carry out the responsibility that He had.
It is in this series of verses that Gabriel, I find this kind of amusing, referred to the fetus of Jesus within Mary as that holy thing. If you get a modern translation, they leave that untranslated. You can see it in the Amplified Bible. He called the fetus that "holy thing." Well, nobody was ever born holy with that degree of purity. Somebody could be born because they were being set apart for something. But they did not have that purity of mind, of character, of everything about Jesus—that Jesus said.
And that, brethren, was different. His life and death exceeded, was beyond greater in the terms of attainment in which He surpassed everybody miles above and greater than anything, anybody else in the history of Planet Earth, that ever even suffered, but He, more extensively and intensely than anybody else had. Even the Bible states that.
Nobody ever accomplished as He accomplished. His entire life was spectacular! Nobody was ever conceived as He was. Nobody was ever born in that manner. Has anybody else ever lived a life without sin? Has anybody else ever healed people instantaneously of tragic diseases? Has anybody else ever raised people from being dead? Has anybody else preached truth and lived a sinless life as He did? Even people who adamantly refused to believe in Him to the point of actually following Him, nonetheless still believed that He was the greatest spiritual Teacher that ever walked on the face of the earth.
But let us look more closely at what Jesus Himself said of His own approaching death and His relationship with God in an intriguing and important reason why Jesus Himself stated as to why He said, God loves Him. I mean, He said this in a way that did not include other people. So turn with me to John the 10th chapter, and we will read first verse 6.
John 10:6 Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them.
John 10:11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep."
John 10:14-17 "I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. Therefore My Father loves Me, because [note this] I lay down My life that I may I may take it again. No one takes it from Me."
Can you imagine anybody—with all of those powers that were encompassed with Him—taking Him captive? We shall see as we go along. His life was spectacular, I kid you not.
John 10:18-19 "No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father." Therefore [people listening to this] there was a division again among the Jews because of these sayings.
Now it is important to properly understanding Jesus better while He is teaching here, using the good shepherd metaphor as His teaching illustration. Good shepherd is certainly a valid teaching vehicle for Him to use because that is exactly what He was for them then, and He is for us now.
Shepherd is a title given to human guides and overseers such as ministers, teachers, politicians, and yes, parents too. On this occasion, Jesus is deliberately setting Himself apart from all other shepherds, most especially ministers. And I specifically mean all other shepherds. Once again, He is transcendent above all others. As this was written by the apostle John, it is Jesus who is doing the speaking, and Jesus stressed the adjective "good." So that is the way John wrote it. Thus, as John wrote this as Jesus was teaching, he too placed the emphasis in the sentence on the adjective "good." So when Jesus spoke, Jesus purposely elevated the term good to beyond His indicating of Himself as being merely somewhat better than other shepherds. Not just generally better, as we shall see. That is, somewhat even better than a normal good shepherd herding sheep.
So He did not elevate Himself just a little bit above a shepherd shepherding sheep. Rather what Jesus did is He raised the adjective good beyond indicating even a mere superlative. Jesus raised good to indicate to those listening then that He, Jesus, was in a class by Himself! That He was in reality the only, only, only, truly good shepherd. He was, and to this day remains, one of a kind. Jesus was not bragging. He was telling the truth regarding His station in what was going on in the world, and here He was right in front of these people.
In order to truly grasp what He is saying, one really has to take into account as part of one's judgment of what Jesus was saying of His claim, the benefit of having experienced some of the power of His preaching, the people He has healed, His general demeanor, and tireless working among the people. In order to correctly judge what John wrote here about what Jesus said, you have to take into account the whole picture.
Of course, the apostles could do that. Others listening to Jesus could not understand the "bragging" position that He took, but He was not bragging. He was telling them the truth! They did not believe who He was—that He was the Son of God, that He was God in the flesh, that He was here as the Savior of mankind, and that He would be able to give these people life when He raised people from the dead or healed the disease. Certainly God gave Him the power, but that He was able to handle that without getting a big head about things. He just did those things as an act of mercy and to demonstrate a little before these people about the powers that He had as the Good Shepherd who could give life—eternal life.
I will tell you, what He did here, He really made a bold statement before the people. That claim can be made for no other shepherd, ever, regardless of whether they are really a herder of animals, whether they are a teacher, a political figure, or a parent. Though they are shepherds, He is the one transcendent Shepherd.
Now other shepherds have indeed laid down their lives for others as martyrs, and they are to be commended for that. But the martyrs, those shepherds who laid down their lives, died in doing so, and that was natural. There is nothing supernatural about that. It was expected that that was probably going to happen. That was natural, not supernatural, because those people were sinners and they earned their death because of the sins that they committed before they gave themselves as martyrs. That may sound on the surface as being cold and bragging, but at the same time, it is also a truth.
However, Jesus had no sin whatever, and He also had the background of being God in the flesh and gifted in ways no other human ever was and prepared to accomplish that work. And that made a huge difference because it was absolutely pure and righteous in the way that He said it.
Let us ask, at least briefly here, a vital question regarding the sinlessness He had. How important is being sinless to God when Jesus was the only one never to sin and yet He still was going to voluntarily lay down His life, His super-precious life? Again, He was unique, a one of a kind who was on a mission to save mankind. Well, there is a lot more to these verses than meet the eye if one only gives just a quick glance. Here in John 10:14-19 Jesus is making a parallel of what He said earlier in John the second chapter, when He overturned the moneychangers tables in the Temple. He stated then and of course, what He said really confused the people. "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."
This was very early in His ministry. He is already telling them He is going to be resurrected from the dead. He is also telling them then that He is going to be killed. You think He did not know what was going on? We are beginning to see a little bit about why Jesus said that God loves Him because He is going to lay down His life so that He can take it up again.
Now there are people who question the validity of what Jesus said, because in one sense, Jesus was actually only doing what a shepherd, any shepherd, is supposed to do. For example, a shepherd is supposed to lead and guide the sheep so that they follow the leader, that is, and thus become one flock with one shepherd. But let us look again at verse 11,
John 10:11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep."
This verse is in the foreground of what He says in verses 17 and 18. Let me repeat what it says in those verses once again.
John 10:17-18 "Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I might take it again. No one takes it from Me. [Hang on to that because before we get to the end of the sermon, that is going to become important.], but I lay it down of Myself. I have power [This means the authority. I have permission to lay it down.], and I have power [permission] to take it again. This command I have received from My Father."
With verse 10 in the foreground, we begin to get a little bit more of the sense of what Christ is talking about. Here He is not doing things just like any other good shepherd would. Christ's action differs in two ways from a normal good shepherd who risks his life in behalf of the sheep. Christ's sacrifice is a voluntary sacrifice. Here comes an important little phrase, when the proper moment arrives about which Jesus is focused on. I just told you from John 2 at the very beginning of His ministry, He was focused on the sacrifice of His life. The sanctuary that He talked about there was His own body.
Why would He say that? Because later on the apostle Paul shows us in the book of Ephesians that we are part of the body of Jesus Christ, spiritually. He is the sanctuary. That is how far ahead the Father and the Son planned things out. And so He knew what was coming to pass.
So Christ's action differs in two ways from the normal good shepherd who risked his life on behalf of the sheep. Christ's sacrifice is a voluntary sacrifice when the proper moment arrives, about which Jesus is focused on. The timing and the response of the shepherd is critical at this point. Now what Christ is saying is that when the attack truly arrives, He, that is, Christ, will not in any way attempt to cling to life like a normal good shepherd of literal sheep. He said, "I lay My life down."
Understand this reality. Experience had taught the herdsmen that in their struggle when the wolf showed up, the reality is that a normal good shepherd always attempts to save his own life. And they have found that this attempt to save the life is actually what tends to save the sheep by distracting the wolf.
Now this next part is really far more important. Jesus, though, is deliberately forecasting He will lay down His life, making no attempt whatever to preserve it. That is a big, big difference between Him and an ordinary human sacrifice. We humans almost invariably attempt to save our own life. Eventually, in the struggle, the shepherds knew that. That is why Jesus added what He did.
Let us go back to John the second chapter, verses 19-21. This is what I was referring to before.
John 2:19-21 Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." Then the Jews said, "It has taken forty-six years [They completely misinterpreted what He said.] to build this temple, and you will raise it up in three days?" But He was speaking of the temple of His body.
Here is the background that sort of motivated what Jesus was talking about there and in John the 10th chapter. No other shepherd, no matter how good they are, is able to do this. See that? That statement of Jesus' comes in two parts. Even as Jesus' birth is purposeful, so also is His death. If Jesus had not given His life for the sake of His spiritual sheep, He would not even begin to be able to take it back again. That is the second part of what Jesus said, taking His life back again. He is talking about a resurrection.
Now, Jesus purposely gives His life in order to take it back by means of His resurrection from the crucifixion. In the further interest of His brothers and sisters as our High Priest under the New Covenant, what the good shepherd teaching, combined with the cleansing of the Temple teaching episode does prove, is that Christ's sacrifice of Himself is an act of free volition on His part.
Listen carefully now. Just think for a moment how many other lives hung upon, depended upon, this one life, Jesus' life, being lived perfectly in order to be voluntarily given in death in behalf of the sheep. How many people have been born, lived, and died on Planet Earth? Every single one of those peoples' futures depends upon this one Man, this one extraordinary, transcendental Person living a perfect life, being put to death, and then being resurrected.
The fact that Christ's death is an act of free volition must be stressed in order that when the death occurs—listen carefully—the enemies who have brought His death about have no right to boast that they have somehow won a victory because He gave it! They did not just take it, as we are going to see in a little bit. He gave it. He lived up to what He said. He would not resist those people. And those who follow Jesus, especially the disciples at that time, then have no reason to despair that He had somehow suffered a defeat. He did not. He won! And He won the eternal lives of everyone whose resurrection depends upon Him. That is transcendental, brethren. That is supernatural.
Let us go back to John 10 and we are going to read verses 14-19 again in order to clarify a thought that may come to mind.
John 10:14-19 "I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and I am known by My own. [That is, His own sheep.] As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power [authority, willingness from God, if I can put it that way] to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father." Therefore there was a division again among the Jews because of these sayings.
The thought that I was thinking of that might come to mind is that none of us has the right to commit suicide. It could easily easily be interpreted by people that what He was doing was committing suicide. That is self-murder. But once again, Jesus is the exception. Remember Simeon's prophecy in Luke 2:32-35, that many were going to be upset about Jesus. Well, we are seeing a supernatural element here and that is the abnormal character and purpose of His life and death. Verses 18 and 19 in John 10 clearly say He received permission from the Father. Let me read that to you again. "No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself." That was His own decision. Please understand that. "I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father."
I want you to understand here. God approved of what Jesus decided to do, but God did not command Him that He had to do it this way. But it pleased the Father very greatly when Jesus determined that was what He was going to do. He had permission from the Father. He passed it by Him first before He made that decision.
So, without the voluntary character of His commitment to do this in this manner, Christ's death would not have had any saving value in the Father's eyes. Let me shock you a bit. This is very similar to what God requires of us. Do we not have to be living sacrifices? You see, brethren, we too must voluntarily give ourselves in obedience to God. He does not twist our arms. He just tells us what the costs are. And He tells us to be careful about the decision we make about what we are going to do with our life, and to become a part of Jesus Christ and His group is going to require of us that we, too, like Christ, give our life to God.
The language of what Jesus said is that He had the authority to do as He did. He even had the charge to do it, but it does not say He was commanded to do it. He was free in every respect to make up His own mind and the Father approved of His choice because it gave to the Father a measure of Christ's dedication to Their purpose. He was with it all the way that He was willing to die voluntarily for us. Because you see, death had no claim on Him. But He died anyway because He chose to take on the sins of mankind. And as soon as He did that and the Father laid that on Him, He died, just like any human would. So that is what happened.
Let me go to a familiar scripture and perhaps you have heard it a thousand times. But now you understand what it says.
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
Here is the way it went. The Father gave the Son unto death. The Son gave Himself voluntarily. The Father would then raise the Son back to life. The Son would take back His own life that He had just given three days before.
Here is a brief overview of their plan and its conclusion. Jesus' death, though voluntary, was not merely an assent to be killed. Anybody can do that if they want to. Neither was it an indirect suicide. It was the conclusion of a divine plan to submit to death as the payment for mankind's sins and then emerged from it victoriously alive in a display of divine power.
Now, this is not as far out or as unusual as it might at first seem. It might be helpful to at least look at it this way through a system frequently done in our time. Following a trial in which a person is judged as guilty and a penalty leveled against the guilty party, governments will sometimes allow cash or property payments or public service for a period of time imposed as fines for wrongdoings rather than going to jail. That is an alternate means of redemption. In this world they have alternate means for paying for the crime that you have committed. And this was put by the Father to the Son, and Jesus took Him up on it.
In this case, though, what was driving this entire operation—we are told what it was—from beginning to end was Their love for each other—the Father and the Son—and thrown into this mix and a big part of it, was the purpose of creating mankind in the image of God. In a sense, there was no other way out of this dilemma if Jesus would die without being resurrected. Both of Them desired the very greatest of emotional and intellectual impact on our minds, the called peoples' minds, to be derived from this demonstration of Their love.
Here is why. The overall purpose of creating us in Their image involves our willing cooperation in faith and understanding in order for it to produce the right quality product. I mean, we see so many strange things anymore in the movies, we begin to think that it is all fake. It was not in the case of Jesus, He really was sinless and He really did lay down His life for us. Now, if that does not impress us, there is something wrong with our hard heart. This just was not anybody. This was our Creator! Not very many people die for their creation, especially when those creations are living and have minds and hopes and dreams. This was one that only a transcendental Person could bring to pass. Now, do not forget, this was all done partly because we need the inspiration of what They did to get us moving, especially this end time generation. We have seen it all, we think.
Stay in the book of John and we are going to go to chapter 17.
John 17:1 Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven and said, "Father, the hour has come."
We will notice, as we continue to go on here, that Jesus was conscious of what was going on through every part of the final act of the drama of His death that, despite the pains that He endured, He was conscious of every act that was unfolding before Him. Nothing happened to Him personally except that which He permitted them to do.
Now what He did, brethren, is that He laid His life down step-by-step. While this whole drama was going on, He was fully aware of what was going on and He was starting and stopping things to allow all Scripture pertaining to His death to be fulfilled. Not one thing got past Him that pertained to His death. You see pictures of Him in movies (and I have) with His head hanging down. It was not that way. I do not mean that He was not in pain. He was in tremendous pain, but He was also in control of everything that was going on! Nobody did a thing until He permitted it. He laid it down step-by-step to make sure that He suffered as the Father had demanded that He suffer for us, that we really be impressed about what He did.
So we will go through this. First of all, we are going to look at a number of scriptures just to give you a little overview, a little bit of insight about how many times He had to escape for His life in order to remain alive for three and one-half years. Some of them we are well aware of. I think there are seven or eight times that He had to escape. But we are only going to look at four of them pretty fast.
This one here we are all aware of. It is in the book of Luke in chapter 4. Here He is, as far as we know, the first sermon He preached. It says,
Luke 4:28-30 So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath [here He is in His hometown!], and rose up and they thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff. Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way.
Did God make Him invisible? I do not know. But somehow or another, He escaped that.
John 10:31-32 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, "Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of these works do you do you stone Me?"
John 10:39 Therefore, they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hands.
John 8:59 Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
I just wanted you to see a couple of them to show that there were times when He had to escape crowds that were angry at Him for one thing and another, usually accusing Him of blasphemy from the things that He said, but also to see that He used abilities that He had, and the help of God as well, to escape each and every one of those occasions. That is why I read John 17:1, where Jesus finally stated, "The time has come." It was time for Him to die. Until then, He was in command regarding escaping the persecutors.
Let us go back to John the 18th chapter and a little bit of background there.
John 18:1-4 When Jesus had spoken these words, He went out with His disciples over the Brook Kidron, where there was a garden which He and His disciples entered. And Judas, who betrayed Him, also knew the place; for Jesus often met there with His disciples. Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him [notice knowing all things that would come upon Him], went forward and said to them, "Whom are you seeking?"
The other times when people came after Him, He disappeared. But this time it does not say that. It says, "knowing all things that would come upon Him." This was after He said in John 17, "The time has come." You can begin to see already that He is conducting the way His death is going to take place.
John 18:5-11 And they answered Him, "Jesus of Nazareth." Jesus said to them, "I am He." And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. Now when He said to them, "I am He," they drew back and fell to the ground. Then He asked them again, "Whom are you seeking?" And they said, "Jesus of Nazareth." Jesus answered, "I have told you I that I am He. Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way," that the saying might be fulfilled which He spoke, "Of those whom you gave Me, I have lost none." Then Simon Peter [of course], having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus. So Jesus said to Peter, "Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?"
Nobody knows for sure how large the detachment that arrived to capture Jesus was. But the term that John used here was a cohort which could have been as high as 600 men. These are army people. In addition to those 600, we will say Romans, there is also Jewish Temple guards, and many chief priests sent by the Sanhedrin. Now here is what is important at this point in the drama. Jesus made no move whatever to escape but clearly identified Himself. And when He said, "I am," the effect of His power and the use of His name in that circumstance literally caused these battle-hardened men to lurch backward and fall on the ground on their butts. They were in the presence of the incarnate God, which they in no way understood. One of the things interesting to me here is that Jesus did not seem surprised at all with that display of power.
Notice as you read, He then allowed them to lead Him into captivity to the Jewish authorities. He was neither dragged, He was neither driven. He simply followed them.
Matthew 27:46-50 About the ninth hour, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama, sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" Some of those who stood there, when they heard that, said, "This man is calling for Elijah!" Immediately one of them ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink. The rest said, "Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to save Him." and Jesus cried out again [He repeated it] with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.
By the time this incident took place, the trial, the beating, the carrying of His cross through a portion of the city and being nailed to it, is behind Him in those portions of His ordeal. Why was Matthew inspired to write that Jesus twice said with a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani"? I will tell you. The simple reason is because that is exactly what Jesus did. He cried out, He did not scream, He clearly said so that they were able to hear what He said. Well, I believe that the reason it is noted is because God wants to continue showing us that Jesus had reserves of strength and that He was not totally exhausted by His ordeal, as He is normally shown. He gave up His life in the broadest sense. Nobody, at any time, in any sense, was taking His life from Him.
From the time that that ordeal began, though He was the one who was captured, He was also the one who was God incarnate and He was in charge of what was going on.
I shall show you more of this. We find in Psalm 89, you wonder, here is an obscure statement from the Bible from the biggest book of the Bible, and yet Jesus picks up something that had not yet been fulfilled. Do you understand? I did not understand that.
Psalm 89:19 Then You spoke in a vision to Your holy one [Guess who the holy One was.], and said: "I have given help to one who is mighty; I have exalted the chosen one from the people."
In the foreground is David, but over and beyond that is Jesus. And while He was conducting things on earth, God was watching what was going on, and Jesus remembered.
This next example is, I think, truly interesting. We are going to go back to the book of John once again. Remember I told you this was not the way it is usually pictured in movies.
John 19:28-30 After this [notice the way this is worded], knowing that all things were now accomplished, . . .
Every scripture that had to be fulfilled regarding His death. He was going through it in His mind to see if anything at all was missed. Nothing had been missed, and He made sure that He brought that to the attention of the apostles. You would think somebody that took that kind of a beating that He took would have His mind on His pains. He was thinking about scriptures with a clear mind, laying down His life.
John 19:28-30 . . . that the scripture might be fulfilled, He said, "I thirst!" Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.
What I want to bring to our attention here He is, first of all, in the beginning of verse 28, He was going through scriptures as He was there. That takes a clear mind, brethren! There is no indication given by Jesus that He was not in possession of Himself. There is no delirium shown in the Word of God. Jesus knew what was going on. He stated clearly that one obscure scripture, if they might be fulfilled, way back in Psalm 89, a little thing, you might say, that God said to His holy One. And while these painful experiences are going on, He is recalling scriptures that pertain to His being put to death.
Now, the scripture that He remembered on this occasion, John 19, was in Psalm 69:21. It was another one besides Psalm 89. He desired, even at the time of extreme duress for Him, it was critical to Him that it be fulfilled, that He be given a drink of wine. He was in control, and nothing could be overlooked as too minor to do.
I want you to notice in verse 30 how distinctly this is written. It is noted here for the very first time that He bowed His head. Do you realize that all the while this was going on, He was alert and aware as to what was going on and His head was not even bowed while this was going on. He was in full possession of Himself and He had held His head erect. His head during this time was not helplessly rolling around on His chest, because this was no impotent sufferer whose head hung in a swoon.
Notice something else that this the scripture states. It was not that His head fell as a result of loss of life. The scripture clearly says He exercised mental control, and He deliberately bowed it. It does not say His head simply fell. He consciously and calmly bowed it in reverence to His Father.
Now observing this whole drama unfolding, the Roman soldier was greatly impressed at His majestic bearing under such duress. They were not taking His life from Him. He had no power to do that. This was God in the flesh. He was laying His life down, as the scripture clearly says. And what the Scriptures actually say on countless occasions, if we believe them, is far different than normally believed and therefore shown as people believe, on movie screens and paintings.
Even the fact that His legs did not have to be broken because He was already dead is further evidence that He gave His life. They did not merely take it from Him while He helplessly hung there. But the very moment He gave up His spirit, the Temple veil tore from top to bottom, from heaven to earth, and the earth shook. I will tell you what I think. Maybe we are underestimating that statement, "The earth shook." I think there is a strong possibility it did not just shake in Jerusalem. This was God and the entire earth shook!
The Captain of our salvation is indeed worthy to be followed. He has already set the sterling example of understanding, determined dedication to His cause, and unwavering courage in the face of many threats to its complete, successful completion.