So that Scripture Would be Fulfilled

Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said,  “I am thirsty.”  A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips.  when He had received the drink, Jesus said,  “It is finished.”  With that, He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.  John 19:28-30.

The Scripture John is referring to is found in Psalm 69:21They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst. Jesus knew the Scriptures, they were His guide on the journey.  There’s this sense I get when I read Jesus’ desire to “fulfill” Scripture which gives me pause to think.  Was Jesus simply interpreting prophetic language to fit His circumstances or was He following a guideline laid out for Him through their experiences.  Each of God’s servants felt the sting of sin in various ways.  Some were wealthy, comfortable and powerful, others suffered greatly.  In both cases God brought them through some tough times by demonstrating His power.

I’ve heard many reasons why the soldiers gave vinegar to Jesus.  In one of the other gospels the vinegar is mixed with myrrh, which some interpret to be a pain killer or suppressant for those on the crosses.  What’s interesting to me about how this went down is that Jesus didn’t ask for vinegar but water.  He said He was thirsty and they gave Him vinegar.  I drink ale and wine at times so I can tell anyone with authority that they absolutely don’t quench anyone’s thirst.  Vinegar is like wine in that it is fermented to its usable state, but it definitely isn’t thirst quenching.

Here’s what I believe about this “fulfillment” issue:  Jesus knew human nature and the Scriptures guided Him in that knowledge.  He knew what the result would be if He called out for water, which means He wasn’t programming the situation itself, just following protocol to prove the point of the cross.  He died for sinful men that they might be reconciled to God—even though that meant being aware that to His dying breath they would abuse Him, break His heart with their callousness and demonstrate cruelty beyond the pale when they felt they had power over Him.  This is the true nature of sin as well as a succinct illustration of how far it will go.

The Master didn’t even have to nudge those who gave Him His “drink” in order to fulfill prophecy, for the practice was well established long before they put Him on the cross.  No, we demonstrated our collective heart toward God when we served a beaten, bleeding, dying, innocent man by answering His last request with bitterness rather than mercy.  Instead of grace and water mankind fed God bitterness and cruelty.

This is what the final analysis of the nature of sin reveals.  This is the outcome of those who reject God.  This, in my estimation, is the best reason for following Jesus.

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