We were studying John in our Sunday morning Bible study class recently, and something stuck out that I had never caught before. Of course, I've heard the story of Jesus and read the book of John many times, but I never understood this part before, and now that I do, I'm amazed!
To begin, one must have an understanding of how crucifixion works. The position of the arms when someone is being crucified makes it very difficult to breathe. The person had to push up on their nailed feet to draw a partial breath, and the strain caused the lungs to fill with fluid, until finally, death comes by suffocation, sometimes many days later, which is why they broke the legs of the thieves to speed up the process. I had heard this before too, but still missed the important point.
When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. - John 19:30
From this verse, it's easier to think that Jesus may have been killed by crucifixion. That's what I used to think, that Jesus had allowed the cross to take His life. But for further detail, look at the verses about His death in Mark:
If Jesus was about to die as the result of crucifixion, He would not have been able to cry out "with a loud voice" or "utter a loud cry" right before He breathed His last. As our study leader explained, when someone died by crucifixion, the last sound was usually a gurgling as the lungs completely filled with fluid. That is why the centurion, who watched Him die, was convinced the He was the Son of God, the centurion knew He could have lived much longer if He still had breath enough to cry out so loudly.
"For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father." - John 10:17-18
These verses from John make it clear, that He was given the power by God the Father to die at exactly the moment He chose. He allowed Himself to be spit upon, tortured, mocked, beaten, scourged and crucified, but ultimately, "NO ONE" took His life from Him. The cross didn't kill Him, humans didn't murder Him (although they tried), He voluntarily sacrificed His life for us. What amazing power! Truly, He is the Son of God. He laid down His life at exactly the right time to be our eternal Passover Lamb.
Greater than that, though, is that He rose from the dead. He was given power to lay down His life, AND to take it up again! We have been given new life through His resurrection. Because He died, we are dead to sin, and because He lives, we are alive with Him!
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. - Colossians 2:13-15
Hallelujah, He is risen! Have a wonderful Resurrection weekend, everyone!