DayBreaks for 5/23/17: The Face of Everyman
John 19:33-37 (NIV) – But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”
And so the soldiers and the on-lookers witnessed the piercing of Jesus with the spear. It is true that they did not break Jesus’ legs. The Passover lamb from the OT had to be perfect – without any flaw. In the preparation of the lamb for the sacrifice, the lamb was not to be mutilated any more than was absolutely necessary for the sacrifice. It was offered to God and was to be protected from any unnecessary mutilation. Of course, that was a foreshadowing of Christ – and the ancient passages that had been prophecies about the sacrifice of the Messiah included one that said not a bone of his would be broken. What’s the point? Simply this: we must remember that God in heaven, the eternal Father and lover of His only begotten Son, could apparently tolerate only so much…he would not permit his Son to be unnecessarily mutilated – nothing more than was necessary. We might argue and think that Christ was horribly mutilated by the scourging, the beating, by bearing his cross from the city to the hill of Calvary, by the nails and crown of thorns, and by the spear in his side. In fact, the great prophet Isaiah had written in Isaiah 52:14 (NLT) – “Many were amazed when they saw him—beaten and bloodied, so disfigured one would scarcely know he was a person.”
This, too, was a prophecy about the suffering the Messiah would endure. So how can we look at this passage from Isaiah which says Jesus was so badly mauled in his suffering and crucifixion that he was hardly recognizable as a man and how can we reconcile that with the words that say that the lamb was not to be mutilated any more than was absolutely necessary? There’s only one way that I can think of, and it horrifies me: ALL that Jesus suffered on the cross and leading up to it was ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. It wasn’t necessary because Jesus deserved it – but because we deserved it. It wasn’t his own beating that he endured – Isaiah chapter 53 makes it clear that it was our punishment he bore: Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Every lash of the whip, every blow of the fist, every moment of pain, every fall of the hammer – every last one of them were absolutely necessary, for God would permit no more. A couple more thoughts on this passage:
- Why was it necessary that Christ should be so beaten and disfigured that he was barely recognizable as a human being? I’m not sure, I can only speculate. But in his death, if he had been recognizable as himself, with his own distinct features still clearly visible, his face would not be that of every man…he would still be someone distinct. But by having his features nearly wiped off his face, he bore the image of degraded, disfigured Everyman.
- The soldiers and lookie-loo’s saw Jesus, the one they had pierced, but we, too shall see him – and when we do, we shall realize that we, too, pierced him. We pierced him on the cross by the sin of our hatred and rebellion to God, we pierce his heart of love every day when we sin against the love of God and His will. And the day will come when we, too, shall lift up our eyes and see the One we pierced. What we see in return will depend on what we’ve done with Jesus in this life – if we’ve confessed our sinfulness and asked His forgiveness – letting him be the Lord of our life, or on the other hand, if we proudly refuse to bow the knee and ask his forgiveness, we will not be happy to see him.
May I always be reminded that my eyes, too, shall look upon the one that they, and I, have pierced, and that he looks upon me.
PRAYER: Forgive us, Jesus. We know not what we do. Thank you for such love, grace and mercy! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.