John 19:28, 29
"28After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, "I thirst!" 29Now 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."1
Jesus dramatic words and the response of the Roman guards fulfil several Old Testament prophecies. Specifically Psalm 69:21:
21 They also gave me gall for my food,
And for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
(Sour wine was cheap wine vinegar consumed by Roman soldiers.) And Psalm 22:15:
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And My tongue clings to My jaws;
You have brought Me to the dust of death.
Jesusí reference to these verses points to two great principles. First is the fulfillment of prophecy. Jesus Christ himself fulfilled, in detail, 333 specific Scriptural prophecies. Our Bible stands alone among religious texts in the almost 2000 prophecies fulfilled in history. Prophecy is the perhaps the single greatest evidence of the inspiration of the Scriptures. Here at the cross, God even uses the pagan Romans to fulfill His awesome plan for our salvation. He truly rules and guides history in His sovereign way, and for His glory. And why was God come in the flesh, fully God and fully man, thirsty? He who is source of the living water freely offered to the woman at the well at Sychar (John 4) so that she would never thirst? Because of our universal state of sin. God tells us in Romans 3:23 that all have sinned, there is none righteous. God through Isaiah 64:6 teaches us that even what we call our "good works" are as filthy rags. Clearly, we cannot save ourselves. Not a pretty picture, but thatís not the final word.
Second, Jesus highlights the unity of the Old and New Testaments. Throughout His life, and even from the cross, under unbelievable suffering for our sins, Jesus preached the unity of His Word. The central theme in Scripture is salvation by grace through faith. From Genesis 3:15, where God first promises a Savior, through Genesis 15:6 where Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness, to Habakkuk 2:4 where the just shall live by faith, God teaches salvation by grace through faith. Jesusí reference to Psalm 22 here particularly emphasizes this message, as Psalm 22 is often called the fifth gospel. It clearly describes the suffering of the Messiah, and His triumph. And this salvation, wrought by God and freely provided, not because of who we are, but in spite of who we are, is the good news of the gospel.
Friends, Jesus suffered mightily on the cross unto death, bearing all our sins upon himself, and paying the price we could never pay for our transgressions, in full, once and for all time. He suffered death that we may have eternal life. He offers salvation freely to any that will trust Christ as their personal Savior. You are so invited. Perhaps the most familiar verse of Scripture is 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."
But reading on to John 3:18 sharpens the contrast with the only alternative to Godís offer:
"He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
May I remind you that in Revelation 20, those so condemned and their master Satan are cast into the lake of fire, and are tormented for eternity. The contrast couldnít be cleareróeternal life with God, or eternal torment and separation from God.
The Old Testament saints looked forward in faith to Godís promised Messiah. The just shall live by faith. We look back, and clearly see Godís promised salvation fulfilled in Jesusí substitutionary death on the cross for our sins. Believe the good news of the gospelóby Godís grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, we are forgiven. Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. What about you?
1All Scriptures are from the New King James Version, Nelson, 1982