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 (ESV)
Does the text say or imply that this was a deliberate act and therefore technically suicide?
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In answer to your first question: no, Jesus' giving up His spirit was most definitely not suicide.
Remember that Jesus said
"'No man taketh [my life] from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father'" (John 10:18).
Unlike us mortals, Jesus possessed within Himself the power of an eternal life, both prior to and after His incarnation. The immortal life of God the Son could never die; the life of Jesus as the Son of man, however, could experience physical death, though not the corruption that inevitably follows the death of a mere mortal (see Acts 2:31 and 37).
When Jesus therefore bowed His head and gave up His spirit, He was not committing suicide; rather, He was committing His immortal life to the Father, whose work of redemption He had just accomplished. Notice the order of the apostle John's words,
"When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said , 'It is finished': and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost" (John 19:30 KJV).
"'hote oun elaben to oxos [o] Iesous eipen, Tetelestai; kai klinas ten kephalen paredoken to pneuma.
In other words, Jesus first cried Tetelestai!, "Accomplished"; second, he bowed His sacred head (as Bach put it in his St. Matthew Passion); and third, only then did He release His spirit. Yes, Jesus' release of His spirit was a deliberate act on His part, though the cause of His death was neither suicide nor homicide; rather, it was the last miracle He performed prior to His resurrection. Who but the Son of God could of His own volition dismiss His spirit from His body?
In conclusion, when Jesus finished the work His Father gave Him to do, there was no need for the divine Jesus to remain on the cross. He had suffered enough; His blood, which was the price of our redemption had been shed; He had borne the wrath of God as the sacrificial Lamb of God; and He had taken away the sin of the world. At that point there was nothing left for Him to accomplish in time and space but to allow His body to be buried and then prepare for His glorious resurrection on the third day, according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3,4).
Re-read John 10:18 and then ponder the mystery of what happened at the cross.
Unlike Adam, the first man, Jesus, the second Adam and also a man, had inherently in His flesh the power of an immortal life. Had He NOT voluntarily offered up His life for the forgiveness of our sins; had He NOT experienced the death we all deserved and which He clearly did not deserve, crucifixion would not have killed Him. How can you make someone who is immortal, mortal? You cannot. The
". . . Lord Jesus Christ . . . alone possesses immortality . . ." (1 Timothy 6:14 and 16, excerpts).
Thank God, however, that
". . . Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit . . ." (1 Peter 3:18 KJV).
Moreover, had Jesus not died, we (myself included) would still be in our sins and destined for hell. Jesus was under a divine imperative, which He fulfilled to the letter:
"Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer . . . and to enter into His glory? . . . All things written about Me . . . must be fulfilled"(Lk 24:26,44, my emphasis).
The redemption He secured for us at the cross was planned within the Godhead in the counsels of eternity. We were redeemed
". . . with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of . . . [us]" (1 Peter 1:18-20).
<". . . the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world" (Revelation 13:8 NIV).
In the mind of the Godhead, the death of the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29,36), was a fait accompli before the universe was spoken into existence! Jesus' death in time and space was simply and profoundly the fulfillment of two unchangeable things:
". . . the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms . . ." (Luke 24:44).
I thank God for the miracle of Calvary. I thank God that as a young child I realized Jesus was my Savior who died in my place at the cross. As someone said,
"There is something to believe, and there is someone to receive."
When we believe Jesus died "for me" and mean it, God, who has already imputed our sin to Jesus on the cross, graciously imputes Jesus' righteousness to us. When we then realize we have been forgiven a debt we could not pay, but now by faith we can become the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21), we simply and humbly receive Jesus into our lives. He then, truly, becomes our Lord and our Savior.
If you have not already believed and received, I encourage you to do so today.
"Behold, now is 'THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,' behold now is the 'THE DAY OF SALVATION'" (2 Corinthians 6:2b).
A deliberate act, yes; suicide, no. According to the Greek text, Jesus παρεδωκεν (surrendered) his spirit. Jesus apparently had a supernatural ability (a power seemingly given only to immortal beings) to do that.
Mortal human beings subject to physical death by violence or "natural causes" do not.
No. There is nothing to indicate such. The passage gives no length of time between the drink and dying so you can assume that he died immediately or later. Neither suggests a suicide and the time becomes irrelevant to your question. The text in the Gospels indicates that he knew he was going to die and his words indicate that he was willing. He died for a cause. So his death is a sacrifice and not a suicide. Suicide occurs by one's own hands.
In each of the gospels, the last words of Jesus have theological significance:
In Mark 15:34, Jesus echoes Psalm 22:1, saying "
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" We can tell from the passion chiasm that Jesus felt forsaken because, in his prayer in the Garden, he has asked for this cup to be taken away from him, although he had also said that if it be God's will, he would submit obediently.
The author of Matthew's Gospel recognised that these words were from Psalm 22 and retained them when copying from Mark. Matthew 27:46: "
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
Luke changes Jesus' last words, making them an almost triumphant passing of Jesus from this earth into the hands of his Father (Luke 23:46): "
Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit."
John's Gospel clearly identifies Jesus as divine and pre-existing. There is no reason for Jesus to feel that God has forsaken him, and even Luke's triumphant last words would be out of place. Jesus' last words were consistent with foreknowledge (John 19:30): "
It is finished." These are not the words of despair, nor the words of a suicide, but simply the acknowledgement of a successful mission on earth. Then, in 'giving up the ghost', Jesus was not committing suicide but merely relinquishing control of his fate to the Father.