The Planning and the Purpose of the Cross

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The Crucifixion is a fulfillment of prophecy, and it actually accomplished a real purpose: salvation


Open: The protest at the Capitol Building on January 6, 2021. Approximately one million people gathered in Washington D.C. to protest the results of the recent election and to call for Congress to look into some of their concerns.

The portrayal of this event by the mainstream media was characterized by terms such as insurrection; the storming of the capitol, and domestic terrorism. Talking with some friends who were actually in attendance and listening to podcasts from others who were there, a vastly different picture emerges.
I do not bring this up for the purpose of examining evidences for or against voter fraud or rigged elections. I bring it up as a means of contrast. Consider that this event was indeed planned - hundreds of thousands of people do not show up from various states, some of whom drove for days, to randomly arrive at the same place at the same time. It was a planned event. That brings up the idea of purpose. What was the purpose of this event? Was it to peacefully protest the decisions being made by Congress as were so many planned marches on Washington in the past? or was the plan to overthrow the government and to start an insurrection as a form of domestic terrorism?
According to a March 19, 2021 NPR article the “rioters” did indeed have weapons for their “storming of the capitol building.” They were armed with a “variety of weapons: stun guns, pepper spray, baseball bats and flagpoles wielded as clubs.” Hmmm . . . a planned insurrection to overthrow the seat of power of the leading superpower only involves a handful of weapons for a crowd that approached a million. I leave it to you to draw your own conclusions
Transition: I want to contrast whatever took place on Jan 6, 2021 with the event that took place in the year 33 (approximately). I want to examine the crucifixion with the twin focuses of planning and purpose. Specifically, what does the planning of the Crucifixion reveal?, and then ask what did the Cross accomplish?
READ the TEXT: John 19:23 - 42

The details of the Crucifixion reveal that the Cross event was planned in minute detail

The fact that the Roman soldiers divided Jesus’ garments and cast lots for His coat was in accordance with prophecy (John 19:23-24)

Explanation: This action by the soldiers was predicted almost one thousand years in advance. “They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture” (Ps 22:18). There was no way these soldiers would have know about this prophecy; they were just doing what they normally did - looting the already dead.
An objector could bring this out - soldiers routinely divided the loot and this time it “just happened” in accordance with this statement, including the division and the lot casting.
That objection disappears when the whole of Ps 22 is read. This Psalm, which is the most quoted Psalm in the NT, contains several other things that were fulfilled during the crucifixion
22:1 - My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
22:7 - the mocking by the crowds
22:14-15 the physical description of Crucifixion
22:16 - the piercing of the hands and feet
Argument: An objective person would have to admit that this goes beyond the random chance of fulfillment, especially as this psalm was written before Crucifixion was an established means of execution.

That fact that Jesus cried out “I thirst” was in accordance with prophecy (John 19:28)

Explanation: Jesus said these words as He hung on the Cross. According to some commentators, “This most likely represents an allusion to Ps 69:21 … and constitutes the final instance of Jesus’ active, self-conscious fulfillment of Scripture in this Gospel (Beale & Carson, p. 502)
Argument: Jesus would have definitely known this reference, but the fact that it is only one action among many does not take away from the collective power of fulfillment.

The fact that the Jews came and asked Pilate to have Jesus’ legs broken was in accordance with the OT Law (John 19:31)

Explanation: At this point in the Crucifixion event Jesus is dead so He cannot actively contribute to the fulfillment of prophecy. The Jewish leaders were not consciously acting to fulfill prophecy either - they did not accept Jesus as their Messiah, so they certainly would not have knowingly did something that pointed to His true identity
Argument: The Jews were simply finishing up a piece of nasty business. The dead Jesus was in some sense their responsibility - after all they clamored for his execution. They were just trying to be good Jews and follow the Law which stated that if a man is hanged on a tree, his body was not to remain on the tree overnight, but that it should be buried (Deut 22:22-23)
Pilate simply gave permission for the soldiers to do what was necessary. He probably wanted the whole thing over and done with as well.

The fact that the soldiers DID NOT break Jesus’ legs was in accordance with prophecy (John 19:33)

Explanation: When the soldiers approached Jesus with the intent to break his legs to speed up his death they found that there was no need - Jesus was already dead. The soldiers did brake the legs of the other two because they were still alive.
Argument: The fact that the dead body of Jesus suffered no breaks was not only a fulfillment of prophecy, but it also has very clear associations with the purpose of His death. “Two sets of Scripture converge: (1) Ps 34:20, depicting God’s care for the righteous man: “He protects all his bones; not one of them shall be broken; (2) Exodus 12:46 & Numbers 9:12, specifying that no bone of the Passover lamb may be broken (cf. 1 Cor 5:7; 1 Peter 1:19) [Beale & Carson, p. 503]
Even though many of the Jews of that time rejected Jesus as their Messiah, He consistently showed them the truth - even in His sacrificial death. As Beale and Carson state, “This authenticates Jesus’ claim of his messianic identity. In the present instance a powerful link is established between Jesus’ sacrificial death and the Jewish Passover, which commemorated the deliverance of the Israelites from their bondage in Egypt … This marks Jesus as the “lamb of God” who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29) [Beale and Carson, p. 503]

The fact that one of the soldiers pierced Jesus in the side to prove that He was really dead was in accordance with prophecy (John 19:34-37)

Explanation: The Roman soldiers broke the legs of the other two men because they were obviously still alive. When they approached Jesus they did not see any visible signs of life: no moaning or movement. One of the soldiers, probably just wanting to make sure He was dead, took his spear and pierced Him with it. He had probably done it before on other bodies - if they weren’t dead, it got a reaction; if the body was dead the piercing produced an undeniable result.
Argument; The piercing of the Messiah was no accident. This event had also been predicted long before it happened. The prophet Zechariah foretold of this event when he said, “they shall look upon me whom they have pierced” (Zech 12:10) The prophecy of Zechariah, especially in the context of that prediction deals with the reign of the Messiah. While the Jews had a very difficult time imaging a Crucified Messiah, all of the fulfillments, including Isaiah’s prophecy of the Suffering Servant (Isa 53) point directly to Jesus.

Summary of the Events

The incredible display of humans making individual or group decisions during the Crucifixion of Jesus would be considered to be fairly random. Yet these actions reveal the Divine Hand of God in the planning of the event. Short of supernatural knowledge, there is absolutely no chance for these decisions to work out according to a predetermined plan
The power of fulfilled prophecy is just one of the features of the Bible that display its supernatural origin and unique place in literature. Yes, the Bible is a collection of Ancient Near Eastern documents, but it is so much more. It is the Divine Revelation - the Bible is God’s Word to man, and it is entirely true in its teachings and in its history.
The 100% fulfillment of predictive prophecy is a powerful indicator for the reality of a Transcendent God. He is Eternal and outside the box of all Creation; He is the One who created the Box! The element of fulfilled prophecy also fuels our hope as modern believers because some of the prophecies are still future. The fulfillment rate of 100% gives us confidence that the others will be fulfilled in like manner.

The Crucifixion of Jesus accomplished the purpose for which it was designed (John 19:30)

Explanation: The events of the Crucifixion definitely reveal that is was a planned event. The sum of all the prophecies and their exact fulfillment dismiss the possibility of random happenings.
Given that it took place according to the predetermined plan, one can still ask the question, did it achieve its purpose?
Illustrate: The events of January 6, 2021 were planned in some fashion to be sure, but it is difficult to determine what was really accomplished.
If the purpose was to convince Congress to suspend the certification of the Electoral College results, the Rally / protest failed.
If the purpose was to overthrow the seat of government in an insurrection it totally and stupendously failed.
Argument: The Crucifixion of Jesus not only went off as planned, but it did accomplish the purpose for which it was designed. One of the final statements Jesus made was “It is finished!” It is one word in the Greek, tetelestai which has the meaning of completion or fulfillment of the designed end.
The death of Jesus did not just make salvation a possibility - the death of Christ as our penal substitution made salvation a reality.
Conclusion: The Crucifixion was a planned and predetermined event that accomplished its purpose. The events display the complete trustworthiness of the Bible through the power of fulfilled prophecy. The death of the Messiah as the Suffering Servant also reveals the extent of the Love of God for fallen rebels. For those with eyes to see, the Crucifixion is THE display of God’s love, par excellence!
It is vitally important that we not only see the Crucifixion for what happened in terms of history, but that we also interact with the finished work of Christ on the Cross in a personal way. The mention of people looking upon the One whom they had pierced from Zech 12:10 does not just apply to the Jews who were physically present to witness the death of Jesus. There is another mention of this viewing of the Pierced One and it is found in Revelation and deals with the Return of Christ. “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen (Rev 1:7)
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