Was the Announcement of the Fall of Jerusalem the Gospel of the Kingdom?
Answering Objection #4 – All things Were fulfilled at the Cross When Jesus Said “It is finished”– John 19:30 — #11
I have and do affirm that the time of the fall of Jerusalem was the time when “all things written” were fulfilled. God’s eschatological and soteriological schema was completed, the unending New Covenant age of Messiah came fully into play.
Over the last three articles #10, #9, #8, I have examined some objections that are offered to counter this claim. This is an examination of the fourth objection to be examined. The objection maintains that when Jesus was still on the cross and he said, “It is finished” that this was indicating that the Old Law, the Law of Moses, was now completed. That is the time, we are told, when the Law of Moses was nailed to the cross. While this is a common belief, and one that I personally espoused for many years, I do not believe it is Biblical.
So, what then did Jesus mean when he cried out, “It is finished”? We need to understand a bit about prolepsis to understand John 19. Prolepsis is speaking of something as if it is finished, when in reality it is so sure to be finished, or is so close to being finished, that it is spoken of as a completed reality.
Consider John 17:4, where Jesus, before the cross, said, “I have finished the work which You have given me to do.” Jesus had clearly not yet finished that work, he had not even died yet!
Was Jesus wrong in John 17? Did he lie? No, patently not. He spoke as if the work was finished knowing that the sacrificial work was about to be finished. And yet, the full out working of the Atonement was not yet completed, as Hebrews 9 shows.
The claim that Jesus’s cry, “It is finished” (John 19:30) meant that he was signifying that the Law itself was now finished is an unfortunate an ill-informed claim. It completely overlooks the place of the fulfillment of Israel’s feast days in God’s scheme. Consider the following:
Passover – which is when Jesus was crucified – was the first of Israel’s feast days (See Exodus 12-14). It initiated the first four feast days, the feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and Pentecost (or First-Fruit). Pentecost was the last of those first four festivals.
Keep in mind that Israel’s New Moons, Feast Days and Sabbaths were shadows of the better things that were to come (Colossians 2:14f). When Paul wrote Colossians, years after the Cross, he was still anticipating the fulfillment of those types and shadows. He set forth Jesus as the “body” i.e. the reality that the Old Covenant shadows pointed to. It is essential to honor the present active indicatives in the text when he says that those Sabbatical feast days “are” (his present tense situation) a shadow of the good things “about to come.” So, for Paul, Israel’s festal calendar was not yet fulfilled. But, one thing is certain, fulfillment had begun!
Paul called attention to the fact that Jesus was the Passover sacrifice (1 Corinthians 5). His death on the Cross was the “reality” to which the original Passover pointed. But, ask yourself the question: Was Israel’s festal calendar finished / consummated / finalized with the completion of the Passover sacrifice – the first of the seven feast days? Patently not. What then is the meaning of, “It is finished”? As we will see momentarily, it meant that just as the High Priest was declaring that the typological Passover ceremony was finished, Jesus, the True High Priest, was declaring that the True Passover sacrifice was completed. With the Passover sacrifice offered, the other feast days were about to be finished. It actually meant that the festal calendar was now underway – not that it was finished! To get a bit of better understanding and appreciation for the Passover, and even its eschatological role, we need to look at history for corroboration and understanding of Jesus’ cry: “It is finished” as it related to the Passover. We can look to both the Passover meal, and to the Temple actions during Passover to appreciate what Jesus said as he was on the Cross. I will share below from an earlier article that I did, with some editing.
In regard to the preliminary Passover meal and its typological significance, Pitre has some insightful comments.
Pitre speaks of the four cups of Passover. The fourth cup was the final cup to conclude the Passover.
Jesus did not initially take the fourth cup. He said, “I will not drink of this fruit of the vine, until I take it in my father’s kingdom. In other words, Jesus did not finish the Passover! However, Pitre then shows how in the Garden, Jesus said “let this cup pass from me.”
Pitre then shows how on the Cross, Jesus initially refused the wine mixed with gall (Matthew 27:31-36), which was given to those about to die to kill the pain, but, he then requested a drink. They gave him sour wine on a sponge, and that is when Jesus said, “It is finished.”
Pitre notes, “When Jesus said, ‘It is finished,’ he was not referring to his life or his messianic mission. For he did not say it until his request for a drink had been answered. He did not say it until ‘he had received the wine.’ Why? What does that mean? Once again, when we remember Jesus’ vow at the Last Supper, and his prayer about drinking the ‘cup’ in Gethsemane, then the meaning of Jesus’ last word becomes clear. It means that Jesus did in fact drink the fourth cup of the Jewish Passover. It means that he did in fact finish the Last Supper. But, he did not do it in the Upper Room. He did it on the cross. He did it at the very moment of his death.” (Brant Pitre, Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist, (New York, Doubleday; 2011), 155f).
An examination of the cups of Passover and how the NT writers utilized the typology of the Supper is helpful and full of meaning.
1. Festival Blessing – Drink from 1st cup of wine.
2. Passover Narrative and Little Hallel (Psalm 113) – Drink from 2nd cup of wine.
3. Main Meal: Eat the roasted lamb, unleavened bread, and the bitter herbs and spices. This third cup was called the Cup of Blessing. Note then 1 Corinthians 11:16f where Paul said, “The Cup of Blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?”
This is highly suggestive. The third cup, in Jewish thought, signified salvation through suffering: “The third cup was drunk in connection with Exod 6.6c: “I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.” Thus, it symbolized redemption by judgment.” (Daniel Wallace, http://endtimepilgrim.org/fourthcup.htm).
So, when Paul spoke of the Supper and the “Cup of Blessing” in direct connection with the suffering of Christ, does this not suggest that the fourth cup – like Jesus did- would be taken with the filling up of the measure of suffering? Just as Jesus drank the fourth cup on the cross, i.e. through finishing his sacrifice, the early church had to drink the fourth cup by filling up the measure of suffering that Jesus foretold in Matthew 23:29f.
Thus, in 1 Corinthians 11:26 when Paul spoke of, “shewing forth the Lord’s death until he comes” he was referring to their participation in Christ’s suffering and the consequent impending consummation of the last days, eschatological suffering of the early church as the participated in “the sufferings of Christ” (Cf. Romans 8:17) and anticipated “the glory” about to be revealed (2 Thessalonians 1:10f; 1 Peter 5:1f, etc.).
4. The Passover is completed with the singing of the Great Hallel (PSALMS 114-118), the drinking of the 4th cup of wine, and closed when the presiding priest or host says the phrase, “TEL TELESTE” which is interpreted as “IT IS FINISHED” or “IT IS CONSUMMATED”. (http://passoversedermeal.com/bible-verses.html).
Failure to integrate the typology of the Passover meal and the cups into our interpretation of several NT passages surely leads to a failure to fully appreciate what the writers were saying. The richness of this kind of study can hardly be over-emphasized. Unfortunately, the significance of Israel’s festal calendar for understanding the NT is greatly ignored or overlooked.
In regard to the Temple practice of the Passover, it is incredible to consider what was taking place in the Temple at the very moment Jesus – the True Passover – was on the Cross.
“IT IS FINISHED” (John 19:30)
At Passover, the lamb that the high priest chose was staked at the temple mount for the public to inspect. All could inspect it for four days before it was offered up for sacrifice. The thousands of lambs would then be sacrificed, starting at around 9:00am. The shofar would sound to announce to the surrounding areas that the last lamb of about 250,000 (over 40,000 per hour) had been slaughtered. This would be about 3:00pm. The blood from the slaughter was in such volume that it shone in the brazen pans as the sunlight reflected on it. This red glow (shine) was evident from the hills a long distance away. The High Priest who had closely inspected the lamb, satisfied it was unblemished (perfect), would say: ”I find no fault in him” (John 18:38, 19:4, 6). The main lamb offering at the temple mount during Passover was made by the High Priest after all the others had been made, about 3:00pm. Starting at about 9:00am the High priest was required (by tradition) to stand there for about six hours and supervise until all the lambs were sacrificed. It was exactly six hours that Yeshua hung on the stake before He died. After the High Priest offered up the last lamb the High priest would say “I thirst”. He would then wet his lips with water and proclaim that “it is finished”, meaning the slaughtering of all the lambs for Passover. It was exactly 3:00pm when Yeshua gave up His Spirit and said His last words; “It is finished.” If you recall, as part of the Jewish wedding tradition the father of the groom to be would declare to his son “it is finished”, when the groom’s house was complete. He was then able to go get his bride. Does this sound familiar?
Yeshua too was the last lamb sacrificed and He would have heard the sound of the shofar blasting as He gave up His life for us. Yeshua wasn’t killed for us, He died for us” (Luke 23:44-45). “It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour, because the sun was obscured; and the veil of the temple was torn in two.”
Just so you can get a good idea of how strong the Temple veil was, keep this in mind. When testing the second veil in front of the Holy of Holies in the Temple, two pair of oxen were attached to either end of the veil. If the oxen could split the veil, it was not made strong enough. Luke 23 was the fulfillment of Isa. 50:3 “I clothe the heavens with blackness And make sackcloth their covering.”
John 19:30 Therefore when Yeshua had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” The analogy is so beautiful. The more we learn about the Feasts, the more analogies we see between Yeshua and everything associated with Him in the Scriptures. (see also Ps. 22:31). Found at: http://messianicgentiles.blogspot.com/2009/11/it-is-finished-john-1930.html
The point of all of this is to show – very powerfully – that when Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” that he was by no means declaring that the Law of Moses was finished. He was declaring that his suffering as the Passover Lamb was finished. But, when viewed through the prism of the Jewish Festal Calendar, what that meant was that God was now in the process of bringing the types and shadows of the entire calendar to fulfillment. And we see that in the resurrection of Jesus and in the events of Pentecost, (the last of the first four feast days). Now, would anyone deny that the fulfillment of the first four feast days was “the gospel of the kingdom” since it meant that God was keeping His promises to bring salvation?
In light of all of this, there is no justification whatsoever for claiming that the Law of Moses would pass away with the fulfillment of only one – the first one – of God’s feast days – all of which were types and shadows. Jesus’ words “It is finished” simply conveyed the idea that Passover – his sacrificial suffering – was now finished.
So, John 19:30 does not prove that all things necessary were fulfilled. Essentially, that text shows us that the initial festal calendar was fulfilled. But, that meant that the countdown to the end, the fulfillment of the final three feast days, was not far off. And it would be then– at the fulfillment of Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur and Succot that all things written would finally be fulfilled. And in the fulfillment of those final feast days, is to be found the greatest news of all!
More to come.