Matthew 27:50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
I hadn’t thought about the fact that, because Greek uses the same word for spirit and breath, this verse uses a standard Japanese expression for death: “His breath was taken.” In Japanese there is actually a pun between breath and life, though not to the degree of the Greek identity of spirit and breath. In any case, the point here is that Jesus gave His life, rather than anyone taking it from Him. That is exactly what Jesus Himself had said previously. “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” (John 10:17-18) This is of course the ultimate gift, as came out in the discussion of the Last Supper two days ago. Jesus had said clearly what the motive was for this gift: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) There is medical confirmation that Jesus’ death was a deliberate gift on His part, because of the sequence expressed in this verse. Death by crucifixion is actually by asphyxiation, because the body becomes too exhausted to draw another breath. Here, however, Jesus cried out just before dying, which doesn’t fit that pattern at all. The Roman soldiers, well used to crucifixions, were surprised that He had died so quickly. (John 19:33-34) Some have said that was because He essentially “bled out,” having been scourged just before being crucified, but there too, crying out just before death would be an impossibility. We are faced with the inescapable conclusion that Jesus gave His life, rather than having it taken. If that fact doesn’t generate humility and gratitude in your heart, you haven’t understood it yet.
This is just as true for me as it is for anyone else. Any time I get to complaining, even within myself, about what I am going through, that means I have forgotten that Jesus gave His life for me. Any time I look down on someone or despise them for any reason, I have forgotten that Jesus gave His life for them. Any time I doubt God’s love in any way, I have forgotten that Jesus gave His life. John 3:16 is justly famous, but it is a prime example of the phenomenon of familiarity breeding contempt. As Jesus said in John 10, He did take His life back up again, but first He had to lay it down. I need to let that truth “dwell in me richly,” as Paul said, (Colossians 3:16) meditating on it so that it shapes my every thought and action. I have grown spiritually over the years, but I still have plenty of room to grow in this area. When I truly grasp the love of God in Christ, Christ will be formed in me, for His glory. (Galatians 4:19)
Father, thank You for Your incredible love in sending Your Son. Lord Jesus, thank You for Your incredible love in giving Your life for me, and for all mankind. Help me both grasp that love more and more and communicate it more and more effectively, so that there may be a massive increase in Your family, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!