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John 19:28-30

28. After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. 29. And a vessel full of vinegar was placed there; and, filling a sponge with vinegar, they fixed it on hyssop, and put it to his mouth. 30. When, therefore, Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished; and, bowing his head, he yielded up his breath.

 

28. Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished. John purposely passes by many things which are related by the other three Evangelists. He now describes the last act, which was an event of the greatest importance.When John says that a vessel was placed there, he speaks of it as a thing that was customary. There has been much controversy on this subject; but I agree with those who think (and, indeed, the custom is proved by histories) that it was a kind of beverage usually administered for the purpose of accelerating the death of wretched malefactors, when they had undergone sufficient torture 176176     “On dispute diversement de ceci; mais je m’accorde a l’opinion de ceux qui disent (comme aussi I’llsage enest approuvee par les histoires) que e’estoit une sorte de bruvage, duquel coustumierement on usoit pour avaneer la mort des poures malfaiteurs, apres qu’ils avoyent este assez tormentez.” Now, it ought to be remarked, that Christ does not ask any thing to drink till all things have been accomplished; and thus he testified his infinite love towards us, and the inconceivable earnestness of his desire to promote our salvation. No words can fully express the bitterness of the sorrows which he endured; and yet he does not desire to be freed from them, till the justice of God has been satisfied, and till he has made a perfect atonement. 177177     The French copy gives an additional clause to this sentence: — “Comme s’il s’estoit oublid jusqu’k ce qu’ayant satisfait au payement de nos offenses, il declare qu’il n’est pas insensible, mais que l’amour qu’il nous portoit a surmontd toutes les angoisses;” — “As if he had forgotten his own concerns till he had given full satisfaction for our sins, he declares that he is not incapable of feeling, but that the love which he bore to us rose superior to all the pains which he endured.”

But how does he say, that all things were accomplished, while the most important part still remained to be performed, that is, his death? Besides, does not his resurrection contribute to the accomplishment of our salvation? I answer, John includes those things which were immediately to follow. Christ had not yet died: and had not yet risen again; but he saw that nothing now remained to hinder him from going forward to death and resurrection. In this manner he instructs us, by his own example, to render perfect obedience, that we may not think it hard to live according to his good pleasure, even though we must languish in the midst of the most excruciating pains.

That the Scripture might be fulfilled. From what is stated by the other Evangelists, (Matthew 27:48; Mark 15:23, 36; Luke 23:36,) it may readily be concluded that the passage referred to is Psalm 69:21,

They gave me gall for my food, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

It is, undoubtedly, a metaphorical expression, and David means by it, not only that they refused to him the assistance which he needed, but that they cruelly aggravated his distresses. But there is no inconsistency in saying that what had been dimly shadowed out in David was more clearly exhibited in Christ: for thus we are enabled more fully to perceive the difference between truth and figures, when those things which David suffered, only in a figurative manner, are distinctly and perfectly manifested in Christ. To show that he was the person whom David represented, Christ chose to drink vinegar; and he did so for the purpose of strengthening our faith.

I thirst. Those who contrive a metaphorical meaning for the word thirst, as if he meant that, instead of a pleasant and agreeable beverage, they gave him bitterness, as if they intended to flay his throat, 178178     “Comme s’il vouloit dire qu’au lieu de bruvage doux et aimable, on luy a donna de l’amertume, cornroe pour lug escorcher le gosicr.” are more desirous to be thought ingenious than to promote true edification; and, indeed, they are expressly refuted by the Evangelist, who says that Christ asked for vinegar when he was near death; from which it is evident that he did not desire any luxuries. 179179     “En quoy fi’ appert qu’il n’estoit question de nulles, delices.”

29. And, having filled a sponge with vinegar, they fixed it on hyssop. When he says that they fixed the sponge on hyssop, the meaning is, that they fastened it to the end of a bunch of hyssop, that it might be raised to Christ’s mouth; for, in that country, hyssops grow as large as small shrubs, 180180     “Car l’a les hyssopes sont grans comme petits arbnsseaux.”

30. It is finished. He repeats the same word which he had lately employed, 181181     The repetition of the word is concealed by the circumstance, that it is rendered, in the 28th verse, by impleta, Accomplished, and, in the 30th verse, by consummatum, Finished Οτι πάντα ἤδη τετέλεσται (verse 28,) that all things were now Accomplished Τετέλεσται, (verse 30) It is Finished or, it is Accomplished. — Ed. Now this word, which Christ employs, well deserves our attention; for it shows that the whole accomplishment of our salvation, and all the parts of it, are contained in his death. We have already stated that his resurrection is not separated from his death, but Christ only intends to keep our faith fixed on himself alone, and not to allow it to turn aside in any direction whatever. The meaning, therefore, is, that every thing which contributes to the salvation of men is to be found in Christ, and ought not to be sought anywhere else; or — which amounts to the same thing — that the perfection of salvation is contained in him.

There is also an implied contrast; for Christ contrasts his death with the ancient sacrifices and with all the figures; as if he had said,” Of all that was practiced under the Law, there was nothing that had any power in itself to make atonement for sins, to appease the wrath of God, and to obtain justification; but now the true salvation is exhibited and manifested to the world.” On this doctrine depends the abolition of all the ceremonies of the Law; for it would be absurd to follow shadows, since we have the body in Christ.

If we give our assent to this word which Christ pronounced, we ought to be satisfied with his death alone for salvation, and we are not at liberty to apply for assistance in any other quarter; for he who was sent by the Heavenly Father to obtain for us a full acquittal, and to accomplish our redemption, knew well what belonged to his office, and did not fail in what he knew to be demanded of him. It was chiefly for the purpose of giving peace and tranquillity to our consciences that he pronounced this word, It is finished. Let us stop here, therefore, if we do not choose to be deprived of the salvation which he has procured for us. 182182     The last few sentences — commencing with “for he who was sent by the Heavenly Father“ — are not contained in the Latin original, but have been taken from the Author’s French Version. “Car celuy qnt estoit envoye du Pete celeste pour nous acquitter pleinement, et achever nostre redemption, seavoit bien son office, et n’est pus esparg.n en ce qu’il scavoit estre requis. Or notamment pour appaiser nos consciences, et nous Faire contenter, il a pronone ce mot, Quc c’cstoit fait. Arrestons-nous-y done, si nons ne voulons estre frustrez du saint qu’il nous a acqnis.”

But the whole religion of Popery tends to lead men to contrive for themselves innumerable methods of seeking salvation; and hence we infer, that it is full to overflowing with abominable sacrileges. More especially, this word of Christ condemns the abomination of the Mass. All the sacrifices of the Law must have ceased, for the salvation of men has been completed by the one sacrifice of the death of Christ. What right, then, have the Papists, or what plausible excuse can they assign for saying, that they are authorised to prepare a new sacrifice, to reconcile God to men? They reply that it is not a new sacrifice, but the very sacrifice which Christ offered. But this is easily refuted; for, in the first place, they have no command to offer it; and, secondly, Christ, having once accomplished, by a single oblation, all that was necessary to be done, declares, from the cross, that all is finished. They are worse than forgers, therefore, for they wickedly corrupt and falsify the testament sealed by the precious blood of the Son of God.

He yielded up his breath. All the Evangelists take great care to mention the death of Christ, and most properly; for we obtain from it our confident hope of life, and we likewise obtain from it a fearless triumph over death, because the Son of God has endured it in our room, and, in his contest with it, has been victorious. But we must attend to the phraseology which John employs, and which teaches us, that all believers, who die with Christ, peacefully commit their souls to the guardianship of God, who is faithful, and will not suffer to perish what he hath undertaken to preserve. The children of God, as well as the reprobate, die; but there is this difference between them, that the reprobate give up the soul, without knowing where it goes, or what becomes of it; 183183     “Ne scachant ou il va, ne qu’il devient.” while the children of God commit it, as a precious trust, to the protection of God, who will faithfully guard it till the day of the resurrection. The word breath is manifestly used here to denote the immortal soul.


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