July 20, 2015
From the desk of Dr. A.J. Higgins
“This is your hour and the power of darkness.”
The Lord Controlling
The Lord Jesus told His captors, “This is your hour and the power of darkness” (Luke 22:53). Men and Satan were given a free hand to do with Christ as they pleased. Yet, even in these darkest of all hours, God was still in control. The Sovereign hand of God was controlling:
The Time of His death
The “counsel of the ungodly” was that He could not be taken on the Feast day for fear of an uprising amongst the many visitors to Jerusalem. But divine purposes intended it be on the Passover. God used the worship of a devoted woman to instigate Judas at the right moment. His willingness to betray the Lord meant that the leaders had to compromise their one condition as to the time (Matt 26:1-16).
The Type of death He would die
Stoning would have been the normal means of execution for the Jewish nation when dealing with a blasphemer. Yet, the Lord Jesus spoke of being “lifted up” signifying the type of death He would die (John 12:32, 33). The prophetic Psalm had spoken as well of His hands and feet being pierced (Ps 22). Crucifixion, a death on a tree, was the divine plan; yet stoning was the Jewish method.
In His sovereign manner, God moved nations and kingdoms, raising up one and bringing down another, to accomplish His purposes. The mighty Grecian empire will fragment to make way for the Romans who would hone crucifixion to an art-form in cruelty. God in His wisdom would assure the fulfillment of the Scriptures.
The Throw of Dice
“For My vesture, they did cast lots” (Psalm 22:18). The normal practice at a crucifixion was for the attending soldiers to divide whatever was taken from the prisoners for themselves. Accordingly, they divided the Lord’s garments among themselves, “to each soldier a part.” But the tunic! It was woven all of one piece; a seamless garment from top to bottom. What a tragedy to rip this apart. So the soldiers resorted to what was their way of deciding matters – a roll of the dice. The words of the wise man spring to mind, “The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD” (Prov 16:33). Some devoted woman, possibly even Mary herself, had labored to make Him a seamless garment. That devotion led to the Word of God being fulfilled.
The Thrust of the Spear
The order had come down from Pilate and the centurion that the legs of all three men were to be broken. After carrying out the deed on the two thieves, a soldier, noting that Christ was dead already, contravened a Roman order (no small misdeed), and in frustration and in a final act of barbarous cruelty, took his spear and pierced His side. Cruelty, anger, malice – yes, but God allowed it to fulfill His Word.
In John 19, the Sovereign Lord fulfilled three Scriptures: one from the law, one from the Psalms, and one from the prophets. It is as though He is saying that not one word of any of My Scriptures will fail.