A jar full of sour wine was sitting there; so they fixed a sponge full of sour wine on hyssop and held it up to His mouth.
When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” Then bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.
It’s easy to overlook the connection of this passage to that of the sacrifice of the Passover lamb in Exodus 12. Hyssop was a small plant that was used to sprinkle the blood of the Passover lamb on the doorposts of the Hebrews (Exodus 12:22). John’s Gospel related that it was the Day of Preparation, the day before the actual Sabbath Passover, that Jesus was sentenced to death (John 19:14) and sacrificed on the cross (John 19:31). John continues:
When they came to Jesus, they did not break His legs since they saw that He was already dead. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out.
This passage recalls the instruction in Exodus 12:46 concerning the Passover lamb, that none of its bones were to be broken. Jesus also died at the ninth hour (three o’ clock in the afternoon), about the same time as the Passover lambs were slaughtered in the Temple. Christ became the Passover Lamb, as noted by Paul in his letter to the Corinthians:
Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch. You are indeed unleavened, for Christ our Passover has been sacrificed.
1 Corinthians 5:7
The innocent Lamb was slain for our sines, so that we might be forgiven. The sixth word is Jesus’ recognition that His suffering is over and that His task is completed. Jesus was obedient to the Father and showed His love for mankind by redeeming us with His death on the cross.
All of the Gospels capture the horror of this event – the agony in the garden, the abandonment by His Apostles, the trial before the Sanhedrin, the intense mockery and torture that Jesus endured, His suffering all alone, the darkness over the land, and His death.
But in contrast, the Gospel of John expresses Jesus’ kingship. John presents Jesus as directing the action the entire way. The phrase “It is finished” carries a sense of accomplishment. In John, there is no trial before the Sanhedrin, but rather Jesus is introduced at the Roman trial as “Behold your King!” (John 19:14). Jesus is not stumbling or falling as in the first three Gospels, but the way of the cross is presented with majesty and dignity, as “Jesus went out bearing His own cross” (John 19:7). And in John, the inscription at the head of the cross is pointedly written “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” (John 19:19). When Jesus died, He “handed over” the Spirit. Jesus remained in control to the end, and it is He who handed over His Spirit.
The loved ones of Jesus are with Him. John is the only Gospel writer to have His mother Mary at the foot of the cross, along with his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, Mary Magdalene, as well as the beloved disciple. Jesus decisively gives His mother Mary to the disciple who loved Him.
The Gospel of John gradually reveals the Holy Spirit. Jesus mentions “living water” in John 4:10 and during the Feast of the Tabernacles refers to living water as the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39). At the Last Supper, Christ announces that He would ask the Father to send “another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of Truth” (John 14:16-17). The word Advocate here can also be translated as Comforter, Helper, or Counselor.
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit – the Father will send Him in My name – will teach you all the things and remind you of everything I have told you.
The symbolism of water for the Holy Spirit becomes more evident in John 19:34, as the soldiers pierce Jesus’ side, and immediately blood and water came out. The piercing of His side fulfilled the prophecy in Zechariah 12:10, where it says, “Then I will pour out a spirit of grace and prayer on the house of David and the residents of Jerusalem, and they will look at Me whom they pierced.” The spilt blood is commemorated through the fruit of the vine during Communion, and the water in the baptism of the believer.
And Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into Your hands I entrust My spirit.” Saying this, He breathed His last.
The seventh saying of Jesus from the cross is from the Gospel of Luke, and is directed to the Father in Heaven, just before He dies. Jesus recalls a passage in Psalms:
Into Your hand I entrust my spirit;
You redeem me, LORD, God of truth.
Luke repeatedly pleads Jesus’ innocence: with Pilate (Luke 23:4, 14-15, 22), through the criminal crucified at His side (Luke 23:41), and immediately after His death with the centurion:
When the centurion saw what happened, he began to glorify God, saying, “This man really was righteous!”
Jesus was obedient to His Father to the end, and His final word before His death on the cross was a prayer to His Father. The relationship of Jesus to the Father is revealed in the Gospel of John, as He said, “The Father and I are one” (John 10:30), and again at the Last Supper:
“Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words I speak to you I do not speak on My own. The Father who lives in Me does His works.”
Jesus fulfills His own mission and that of His Father on the cross. And, as we’ll see following the resurrection, Jesus will once again return to the Father:
“I came from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”