Jesus’ seven last “words” from the cross follow the pattern of Creation. Why? Because He was making all things new.
To do justice to the seven words in our consideration of them, we must first establish the placement of the crucifixion within the architecture of Covenant history, which is chiastic. The focus moves from all, to many, to one, and back again. The same process can be seen in microcosm in the process of the Day of Atonement, which moves from Israel to the Priesthood to the High Priest and back again (Leviticus 16). In symbol, one man “died” for the people (John 11:50).
In this regard – as a movement, a sacrificial praxis carried out within a sacred architecture – the life, death and resurrection of Jesus are central to Covenant history and thus correspond to the Covenant Ethics.
Adam to Noah: Judgment upon all flesh.
SOCIAL-ETHICAL Cosmos: External Law
Abraham/Moses: Circumcision and the Law.
ETHICAL Cosmos: Law Fulfilled
The cross of Christ: One man dies.
ETHICAL-SOCIAL Cosmos: Internal Law
The Church: The Spirit of God in the Saints.
Restored Creation: The destruction of death.1The same fivefold architecture can be observed in “seed” form in Genesis 1-5.
The primeval order, though threefold in nature, entailed “cosmic” Sanctions. The entire globe was corrupted when Adam sinned, so the entire globe was destroyed when the sin of Adam became full grown.2Proponents of a local flood are ignorant of Covenant architecture. Their erroneous teachings are an attempt to harmonise an unbiblical agenda with the Scriptures, not the outcome of a study of the Scriptures themselves.
Then God established a symbolic “representative Creation” in Abraham (womb) and Moses (Land).3For more discussion, see Microcosmic Abram. At the Last Supper, Jesus linked the Adamic curses to the Abrahamic blessings when He presented bread and wine (the firstfruits of the Land: Adam) as representatives of His own flesh and blood (the firstfruits of the womb: Eve). In doing so, He established a new “Melchizedekian” order of Noahic Priest-Kings (Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 7:13-17). New Covenant baptism is thus the reversal and abolition of the circumcision, which is why it makes both circumcision and uncircumcision redundant (1 Corinthians 7:19). Instead of Melchizedek blessing Abram (Genesis 14:18-20) and delegating priestly authority to him (as eventually expressed fully in the Aaronic priesthood), baptism was the fulfilled ministry of Levi delegated back to an international order as a rite of investiture. This is why the New Covenant witness began with John (the Levite who baptised Jesus) and ended with John the Apostle (the Levite who announced the end of the Old Covenant order). Baptism has everything to do with priestly investiture (authority: circumcision of heart – the “Garden” faith of Noah and Abram) and nothing to do with physical seed (genealogy: circumcision of flesh – the “Land” mission of Abram).4Paedobaptism completely inverts the intended meaning of baptism. Moreover, it is a distortion of sacred architecture. The conflation of Garden and Land, priesthood and kingdom, Oath (submission to heaven) and Sanctions (dominion on the earth), is the blueprint of every grasp at godhood throughout Scripture.
As the culmination of all the promises to Israel, Jesus gave the firstfruits of the Land and the womb back to the Gentiles by becoming the firstborn from the dead (Colossians 1:18) and removing the fear of death (Hebrews 2:14-15). Thus, as a new “Adam,” Jesus’ life and ministry had qualified Him to be the legal representative of all flesh. He became the “Garden Sanctuary” within the concentric circles of the Jewish “Land” and the Gentile “World.” The cross of Christ fulfilled the cruciform Tabernacles and Temples, which in turn represented all Creation.5For more discussion on “microcosmic” sacrificial substitution, see Cosmic Language Part 1 and Part 2. This is why Jesus could say, concerning His personal suffering,
“This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:30-31)
The death and resurrection of Jesus, as pictured in baptism by immersion, was the extinction of all breath, all flesh, upon the globe, by legal representation.6For more discussion on the relationship between the covenants of the Old Testament, see The Myth of Covenant Membership. For discussion on baptism by immersion as a representation of the flood, see Jesus’ Three Ascensions. For discussion on the difference between the typological meanings of sprinkling and immersion, see Waters of Death.
There is one more facet of the sevenfold “Creation” structure that must be kept in mind as we consider the words of Jesus, and that is the glorification of the global “harvest” promises to Noah in Israel’s annual festal calendar (Leviticus 23), lifting them up from cultivation (mere survival) to representation (judicial maturity), from Altar to Table. It was this global promise to Noah which had necessitated the prevention of another deluge through the establishment of circumcision and protection of the Abrahamic promises by the Sanctions of the Law (Galatians 3:19).
Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” (Genesis 9:20-22)
With this Noahic and Abrahamic background in mind, it is fitting that the final words of Jesus before His death recapitulate in some way the first words spoken in the Bible. He speaks these words as the Word who spoke in Genesis 1.
7) It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. (Luke 23:44-46)
These seven words are gathered from three gospels, and this is their traditional arrangement. However, the authority of the arrangement does not rest upon mere tradition since it is clearly the outcome of logical deduction.
Luke gives us the order of 1, 2 and 7 (Luke 23:23, 43 and 46). John gives us the order of 3, 5 and 6 (John 19:26, 28, 30). Note the temporal marker “After this…” in John 19:28 which links 5 and 6 together. The word from the Gospel of Mark finds its place as 4 since it is spoken “at the ninth hour.” The only remaining question is the order of 6 and 7, but Luke links 7 with Jesus’ final breath. As we shall see, the traditional order is greatly supported by patterns established in the Pentateuch.
Glorification: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23:46)
In the following analysis of the seven words, each subheading consists of corresponding steps in the Covenant pattern, the Creation pattern, the Dominion pattern, the Sacrificial pattern, and the Festal pattern.
Transcendence – Light – Genesis – Initiation – Sabbath
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
Jesus speaks as the legal representative, the advocate, of the people, rather than as a satan, an accuser. It was this word which postponed the destruction of the city and sanctuary, as predicted in Daniel 9:24-27, for one generation, that Israel might not be immediately cut off but instead “winnowed” by the Gospel that “all Israel (according to the Spirit) might be saved.”7For more discussion, see Michael Bull, Moses and the Revelation, 117, 176.
In Creation terms, Jesus speaks as the light of the world amidst the moral darkness. In Sacrificial terms, the first step is the choice of a “son of the herd,” an animal without blemish. In Festal terms, He speaks “peace” over Jerusalem. For now.
Hierarchy – Firmament – Exodus – Delegation – Passover
“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
The focus now shifts from Jesus as “Adam,” the original thief, to the two thieves which flanked Him in death. At one level, they are Cain and Abel. At a greater level, they are Jew and Gentile. The offices represented in both cases are Priesthood and Kingdom. It seems that initially they both cursed Him, but one thief comes to bless Him. This pictures the difference between Israel’s being led astray by its leaders (the reason for Jesus’ forgiveness in the first word) and the high handed sin which followed the Day of Pentecost in their slaughter of the Church. It was high handed sin which caused an unrepentant Israelite to be cut off from the people of God. The word to Abraham, that God would bless those who blessed him (Genesis 12:3), is fulfilled here in miniature.
In Creation terms, Jesus is a firmament, His bloodied flesh a veil of protection from exposure to the face of God in the Law. In Sacrificial terms, Israel is cut in two, into Jacobs and Esaus. In Festal terms, the believing thief takes shelter behind the Passover lamb that he might inherit the heavenly country. I trust you are beginning to perceive the depth and beauty of these seven word when understood as steps in a universal sequence, which is the Bible Matrix.
Ethics-Priesthood – Land & Primary Fruit Bearers – Leviticus – Presentation – Firstfruits
“Woman, behold, your son! Behold, your mother!” (John 19:26-27)
At Ascension, Jesus is lifted up as the firstfruits of the Land and the womb. But He also becomes a Lawgiver. For Adam, who was created in the Land but “lifted up” into the Sanctuary in a Levitical fashion, this entailed receiving a single priestly prohibition concerning “kingly” food. For Moses, this was his receiving the tablets of the Law, and the establishment of the Levitical priesthood which included many prohibitions of kingly food. In Revelation, Jesus ascends into heaven as the firstfruits Lamb and breaks the seals on the New Covenant scroll. After Adam was given the Law, he was put into a deep sleep and his bride was not created but “constructed.” This is why Jesus refers to Mary as “Woman,” a literary tradition throughout the Bible employed to mark an allusion to Eve.
At this point in the intended investiture of Adam, the Lord married Adam to Eve. Of the seven elected Judges, the third is Deborah, the warrior-mother. Ascension concerns the lifting up of the Covenant Head to make a house for the Covenant Body.
With this loving act, Christ prefigures the responsibility for the faithful remnant of Old Covenant Israel being transferred from the Levitical priesthood to the ministry of the Apostles. In Revelation 18:7, Israel as the unfaithful bride who has conspired with the serpent/beast against the Church, having rejected and killed her Messiah, says in her heart, “I sit as a queen, I am no widow, and mourning I shall never see.” This is to be contrasted with the things Mary treasured and pondered in her heart concerning Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:19).
In Creation terms, the four-cornered cross is the dry land and Jesus is the first life upon the world. In Sacrificial terms, He is the flesh placed upon the four-horned Bronze Altar. In Festal terms, Jesus is lifted up as the firstfruits of the harvest.
Ethics-Kingdom – Governing Lights – Numbers – Purification – Pentecost
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34)
At the centre or thesis of the sevenfold pattern, Jesus is Israel in the wilderness. An evil king (Balak) and a false prophet (Balaam) have caused Israel to sin. For idolatry and adultery, the Egyptian generation would be completely cut off. The pivotal event in this judgment is the faith of Phinehas, son of Aaron, thrusting a spear through the private parts of a couple engaged in the very act.
But here, Christ is the one judged as the idolater and adulterer, the victim of Herod and the Pharisees (the target of the slurs “Nicolaitan” and “Balaamite” in Revelation). He cries out not because the Father is distant, but because He has been lifted up as qorban, a “nearbringing” sacrifice8For a discussion of nearbringings, see James B. Jordan, Leviticus 1:2, Biblical Horizons No. 143., and although “drawing near,” the Father, whose anger is but for a moment (Psalm 30:5), rejects Him as if He were a kingly Cainite offering. The darkness, I believe, was the same cloud which gave light to Israel but brought confusion upon the armies of Pharaoh. Jesus was right at the centre of the court of God. Of course, He would be lifted up into that same cloud of glory at His Ascension.9For more discussion, see Darkness Under His Feet.
In Creation terms, the sun, moon and stars are the wicked rulers of the oikoumene (translated “kings of the earth” in Revelation in English Bibles). In Sacrificial terms, Jesus is passed through the holy fire of legal judgment. He was condemned by the rulers of the Garden (by the High Priest), of the Land (by the reigning Herod) and of the World (by Pontius Pilate), and now He is condemned by the council of heaven itself. In Festal terms, Jesus cut down with a sickle, threshed and winnowed, and cast to the four winds like chaff. But after Pentecost, it would be Jesus with the winnowing fan in His hand (Matthew 3:12).
Ethics-Prophecy – Swarms/Hosts/Clouds – Deuteronomy – Transformation – Trumpets
“I thirst.” (John 19:28)
The fifth step in the pattern is usually the most difficult to decipher. The reason is that we generally fail to think visually. The basic concept is a “many” that is “one” in mind and purpose, a body that is the result of the faithfulness or unfaithfulness of the head. For instance, in Egypt this was represented negatively in the plagues upon the Egyptians and positively in the plunder received by the Hebrews. This is seen again in the plagues and rats fashioned in gold by the Philistines who stole the Ark. The other theme is legal witness, which combines the image of the “host” as a military body with the theme of the mustering of Israel. With all of this in mind, it seems that the sour wine given to Jesus (Psalm 69:21) is the rejection of His prophetic testimony in favour of lies. Like Joseph, and the Psalmist, He is surrounded by those who hate Him, a “cloud of witnesses” as an unholy host, devouring locusts from a pit of sulfur. Instead of being given water (life) the prophet is given wormwood (death). The fact that the drink was made from grapes might also indicate that Jesus’ “vow unto death” as the ultimate Nazarite was now complete. He was surrounded by His enemies, but like Joseph He was the truly holy warrior. As the “bridal man” He willingly drinks the cup (Luke 22:42) under a jealous inspection, the One tasting death for the Many (Numbers 5:19). But He refused to drink it to the dregs (Matthew 27:34; Numbers 5:19; Psalms 75:8; Isaiah 51:17, 22; Jeremiah 25:15-17; Revelation 14:10; 16:19). Even in death, He prefigured the coming new wine of the resurrection (Matthew 26:29).
In Creation terms, Jesus is surrounded by the birds of the air (the hosts of heaven) and the fish of the sea (the hosts of the nations). In Sacrificial terms, He is fragrant smoke while the whole Land reeks of sulfur. In Festal terms, Jesus is the only one mourning for sin during the “ten days of awe” before the Day of Atonement. He is the tribute for every Israelite of fighting age. Just as the trumpet-voices sounded from Sinai, and as Moses summoned a new generation of Israel, so Jesus would soon be the voice speaking from heaven (Acts 9:3-4; Hebrews 12:25-26).
Oath/Sanctions – Animals and Man – Joshua – Vindication – Atonement
“It is finished.” (John 19:30)
Just as Trumpets was linked with the Day of Atonement, so the bitter drink was linked to Jesus’ “oath” as the perfect sacrifice. The Greek word means “ended, accomplished, fulfilled, paid,” which corresponds to the idea of Conquest as “overcoming.”
In Creation terms, Jesus is Adam having conquered the serpent. In Sacrificial terms, He is the savour accepted by God in heaven. In Festal terms, He is the High Priest offering His own blood. Fulfilling the Oath of a faithful life and bearing the Sanctions due to an unfaithful world, Jesus would come again against Jerusalem and the kings of the Land with a sword in His mouth (Revelation 19:15). Humility and sacrificial silence before God always lead to exaltation and thunderous testimony before Man.
Succession – Rest and Rule – Judges – Representation – Booths
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23:46)
The word “spirit” also means breath or wind. Instead of Adam entering into God’s rest, or the Shekinah filling the completed Tabernacle, the picture here is “Ichabod,” the glory departing from Israel (1 Samuel 4:21-22; 14:3). In this case, it carried with it Jesus’ grace and truth (John 1:14). The Spirit which had rested upon the threshold of the Temple now departed and rested upon the chariot of God (Ezekiel 9:3; 10:19).
Drinking blood was prohibited because in it was life, the carrying of oxygen a symbolic marriage of heaven and earth, a physiological “Shekinah.” This is why the heart and lungs of the animal were never separated under Levitical Law, but offered with the head of the sacrifice.10For more discussion, see “Inner Parts” in Michael Bull, Inquiétude: Essays for a People without Eyes. In giving up His breath, Jesus not only identifies with “everything which has breath,” but also gives the Father His natural or earthly breath that He might send the supernatural or heavenly breath upon the saints.11For more discussion, see “The Spirit of Adam” in Michael Bull, Inquiétude: Essays for a People without Eyes. The irony here is that all of the “cruciform” Tabernacles, beginning with Adam, were laid out upon the ground. Jesus was the first truly “upright” Temple.
In Creation terms, Jesus is Adam eating the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil at God’s hand, having resisted the offer of all the kingdoms of the world at the hand of the serpent. In Sacrificial terms, He is the reunion of heaven and earth through faithful mediation, and in this case also the reunion of Jew and Gentile. In Festal terms, He is the Feast of Booths (“clouds”), a celebration hosted by Israel for all nations. This final feast of the year was also known as Ingathering, the harvest of olives and grapes. Like all the faithful saints before Him, Jesus was “gathered” to His people. But that gathering would lead to the scattering of every one of God’s enemies, as far as the curse is found.
Finally, the Bible Matrix icons are included in rainbow colours because by Jesus’ stripes we are healed. The entire world is now covered with a Noahic promise, the “bridal” robe of Joseph, and the tachash coloured beadwork of the Tabernacle of Moses.12For a discussion of the identification of the mysterious outer covering of the Tabernacle as ancient beadwork, see “Robed in the Sea” in Michael Bull, Inquiétude: Essays for a People without Eyes.
If you are new to this method of interpretation, please visit the Welcome page for some help to get you up to speed.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||The same fivefold architecture can be observed in “seed” form in Genesis 1-5.|
|2.||↑||Proponents of a local flood are ignorant of Covenant architecture. Their erroneous teachings are an attempt to harmonise an unbiblical agenda with the Scriptures, not the outcome of a study of the Scriptures themselves.|
|3.||↑||For more discussion, see Microcosmic Abram.|
|4.||↑||Paedobaptism completely inverts the intended meaning of baptism. Moreover, it is a distortion of sacred architecture. The conflation of Garden and Land, priesthood and kingdom, Oath (submission to heaven) and Sanctions (dominion on the earth), is the blueprint of every grasp at godhood throughout Scripture.|
|5.||↑||For more discussion on “microcosmic” sacrificial substitution, see Cosmic Language Part 1 and Part 2.|
|6.||↑||For more discussion on the relationship between the covenants of the Old Testament, see The Myth of Covenant Membership. For discussion on baptism by immersion as a representation of the flood, see Jesus’ Three Ascensions. For discussion on the difference between the typological meanings of sprinkling and immersion, see Waters of Death.|
|7.||↑||For more discussion, see Michael Bull, Moses and the Revelation, 117, 176.|
|8.||↑||For a discussion of nearbringings, see James B. Jordan, Leviticus 1:2, Biblical Horizons No. 143.|
|9.||↑||For more discussion, see Darkness Under His Feet.|
|10.||↑||For more discussion, see “Inner Parts” in Michael Bull, Inquiétude: Essays for a People without Eyes.|
|11.||↑||For more discussion, see “The Spirit of Adam” in Michael Bull, Inquiétude: Essays for a People without Eyes.|
|12.||↑||For a discussion of the identification of the mysterious outer covering of the Tabernacle as ancient beadwork, see “Robed in the Sea” in Michael Bull, Inquiétude: Essays for a People without Eyes.|