28 After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfil the scripture), "I thirst." 29 A bowl full of vinegar stood there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, "It is finished"; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Meditation: John tells us that when Jesus cried from thirst on the cross he was fulfilling the words of scripture from Psalm 69:21: "They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink." Jesus' death was no mere accident of fate but a direct fulfillment of the will of his Father. He came to lay down his life as the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world. John's mention of the hyssop (19:29) would remind the Jews of the first Passover feast when God instructed the people to sprinkle the blood of the Passover lamb with hyssop over the lintels of their doors that they might be spared from death (Exodus 12:22). Jesus is the true Passover Lamb whose blood sprinkles us clean from sin and saves us from eternal death.
As Jesus expired he cried out a "loud shout". Both Matthew and Luke mention this shout (Matt. 27:50 and Luke 23:46). John tells us that Jesus died with these words on his lips, "It is finished" (John 19:30). These parting words express triumph rather than defeat. Jesus bowed his head and gave up his spirit knowing that the strife was now over and the battle was won. Even on the cross Jesus knew the joy of victory. What the Father sent him into the world to do has now been accomplished. Christ offered himself without blemish to God and he put away sin by the sacrifice of himself (see Hebrews 9:24-26). We can find no greater proof of God's love for us than the willing sacrifice of his Son on the cross. "O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Cor. 15:55-57)
In the cross of Christ we see the triumph of Jesus over his enemies -- sin, Satan, and death. Christian writers down through the centuries have sung the praises of the Cross of Christ. Paul the Apostle exclaimed, "But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Galatians 6:14). "A few drops of blood renew the whole world!" Hear what Gregory Nazianzen, a 6th century church father, has to say: "Many indeed are the wondrous happenings of that time: God hanging from a cross, the sun made dark and again flaming out; for it was fitting that creation should mourn with its creator. The temple veil rent, blood and water flowing from his side: the one as from a man, the other as from what was above man; the earth shaken, the rocks shattered because of the rock; the dead risen to bear witness to the final and universal resurrection of the dead. The happenings at the sepulcher and after the sepulcher, who can fittingly recount them? Yet no one of them can be compared to the miracle of my salvation. A few drops of blood renew the whole world, and do for all men what the rennet does for the milk: joining us and binding us together. [On the Holy Pasch, Oration 45.1]
Abbot Rupert of Deutz, wrote in the early 12th century: "The cross of Christ is the door to heaven, the key to paradise, the downfall of the devil, the uplifting of mankind, the consolation of our imprisonment, the prize for our freedom." The Cross of Christ is the safeguard of our faith, the assurance of our hope, and the throne of love. It is also the sign of God's mercy and the proof of forgiveness. By his cross Jesus has redeemed our sin and atoned for our punishment. The way to peace, joy, and righteousness in the kingdom of God and the way to victory over sin, despair, and death is through the cross of Jesus Christ. Do you willingly follow Jesus in his way of the cross with joy, hope, and confidence?
"Lord Jesus Christ, by your death on the cross you have won pardon for
us and freedom from the tyranny of sin and death. May I live in the joy
and freedom of your victory over sin and death."