Read John 19:28–37.
It’s all been leading up to this. Ever since John announced Jesus was the Lamb of God, every sign has been directing us to this moment—when Jesus willingly lays down His life for the sake of the world. However, the picture John paints is nothing like the scene we find in the other gospels. The sky doesn’t turn black, the earth doesn’t quake, and the veil in the temple doesn’t tear in two as if by the invisible hand of God. That’s not to say those things didn’t happen. Rather, John’s decision not to mention those events tells us that his focus in writing is elsewhere.
John is once again mining the Old Testament for images of Jesus on the cross. He connects David’s taste of vinegar in his suffering to the bitter wine vinegar offered to Jesus on the cross (John 19:29; Psalm 69:21). He sees the Passover in the hyssop branch used to bring the sponge to His lips, the same type of branch used to display the blood of the lamb on the doorframes of those being saved (John 19:29; Exodus 12:22). He sees Jesus as the perfect Lamb of God whose bones remain unbroken despite His sacrifice (John 19:33, 36; Exodus 12:46). He recalls God’s words in the book of Zechariah: “They will look on me, the one they have pierced” (Zechariah 12:10; see also John 19:34, 37). Jesus is God in the flesh, pierced by and for the people He came to rescue.
John doesn’t want His readers to miss what’s happening. He wants them to recall these snapshots from the Scriptures so they will know this is not some terrible tragedy that’s befallen the Son of God unawares. God has been talking about it since the very beginning.
Jesus has obediently followed the Father’s voice to the place where all of redemption history has been headed ever since Adam and Eve first fell away in the garden. Back then, animal skins were needed to cover their nakedness and shame (Genesis 3:21). Those skins no doubt came through a sacrifice. Now, Jesus is the sacrifice. Hanging from the cross, His nakedness is exposed to the world, and He bears the shame that belongs to all of us.
If ever there was a low point to human depravity and sinfulness, this is it: the murder of God’s Son. And yet, despite the darkness of the moment, Jesus’ final words tell us Good Friday is indeed good: “It is finished” (John 19:30). What is finished exactly? The long and winding trek from the mountain of Eden to the hill of Calvary. God has made a way of salvation just as He promised He would (Genesis 3:15). The price has been paid (1 Corinthians 16:20). The debt for sin has been canceled (Colossians 2:14). Because Jesus died in our place, there is now a way home to the Father. The long exile from paradise is over.
Blood and water flow from Jesus’ side when His lifeless body is struck by the soldier’s spear. His blood is poured out for us so that His life might be ours. His water is spilled so that we might be cleansed and made new. Though onlookers only see the conclusion of a crucifixion similar to thousands of others Rome had conducted, in the violent quiet of that moment, the world is forever changed.