The Passion Part 5: The Death and Burial of Jesus 19:28-42
Posted on January 8th 2012 in St. John's Gospel
The death of Jesus demonstrates the life giving quality of His love that He showed in the Washing of the Feet, the beginning of the Passion Narrative. He did love the Apostles to the end, and therefore St John’s account of the death has a conscious, almost serene quality about it. The fulfilment of the Scriptures (the Old Testament) with regard to the death of Jesus takes place both in the general and in the particular sense. The general fulfilment of the Passion predictions, death according to the Scriptures, is completed with details such as ‘I am thirsty’, (from Ps 69:21) about the giving of vinegar for thirst. This divine thirst also intimates the imminent completion of His mission. This is the cup that, whilst in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus declares that He must drink. This action, along with the words, ‘It is accomplished’, immediately precedes His death. The hyssop used to give vinegar to Jesus points back to the sticks used by the Israelites on the night of their departure across the Red Sea to mark the lintels of their houses. Jesus is the Lamb of God who dies on the same day that the lambs are sacrificed for the Passover.
The giving up of the Spirit is the third, according to the tradition of the Church, of three symbolic actions that mark the beginning of the Church in St John’s Gospel. The first, failing to tear the seamless robe, the giving of His Mother to the Beloved Disciple, and the third symbolic action, the handing-over of the Spirit, all point to essential features of the newly founded Church, is unity, its catholicity, its sanctity.
The reception of the Holy Spirit will become tangible in the sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist, symbolised by the blood and water flowing from the pierced side of Jesus. The quick death of Jesus meant that the soldiers did not break His legs as they did to the other two thieves. Instead, they pierced His side and unconsciously fulfilled two prophecies that ‘no bone would be broken’ (of the Paschal Lambs, Exodus 12:46) and ‘they will look upon the one they have pierced’ (19:37; Zechariah 12:10). The emphasis on eye-witness accounts points to the necessary connection between the death of Jesus, and the gift of the Holy Spirit and. with that gift, the sacraments of the Church. The love that lasted till the end has become the source of life for every Christian. The Cross is the source of new life.