The tragedy of Calvary: or the minute details of Christ's life from Palm Sunday morning till the resurrection and ascension taken from prophecy, history, revelations and ancient writings by Meagher, Jas. L. (James Luke), 1848-1920
The long lingering death of crucifixion brings on the most terrible thirst, and writers tell us that the sufferings for want of water are the most terrible. One of the soldiers, in place of giving him a drink of water, dipping a sponge in the bitter drink of vinegar and gall, offered it to the Sufferer. But as his hand was not long enough to reach up to his mouth, he put it on a reed and put it to the mouth of Christ, thus fulfilling the words of the prophet " And they gave me gall for my food, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink." (Psalm Ixviii. 22.) The sponge was used by the executioners to wipe away the blood of victims from their armor. The drink they offered him was the bitter spiced beverage used by the executioners. When Jesus had tasted the acid wine, he refused to drink it, for he was a Nazarite, from his birth consecrated to the Lord, for whom the Lord laid down the law to foretell this incident: " They shall not drink vinegar of wine, or of any other drink." (Numb vi. 3.)
This was the last of the wonderful prophecies to be fulfilled. All the time he hung on the cross, he has been re citing the prophecies, which foretold the most minute incidents of his passion, and now they are all fulfilled in him: " When Jesus therefore had taken the vinegar he said: 4 It is consummated.' " (John xix. 30.) A cold death-sweat overspread every limb. His death struggle had commenced. John stood at the foot of the cross, and wiped his bloody feet with the corner of his cloak.
Mary Magdalen crouched at the foot of the cross in a frenzy of grief. The Virgin Mother stood between her Son's cross and that of the good thief, having on one side her sister Salome and on the other Mary of Cleophas. Her eyes streaming with tears were fixed on her dying Son.
Medical men say that the blood the arteries carried to the extremities, could not pass through the lacerated capillaries into the veins, and the engorged blood around the wounds swelled the flesh, which puffed up all around the nails, as we see in sprains and serious wounds of the small bones of the hands and feet. For this reason the great aorta artery leading from the left ventricle of the heart, swelled and forced the blood into the head through the carotids, filling the brain and face, causing an intolerable pain in all these parts. The aorta filled to bursting could receive no more blood. The capillaries of the skin having been all destroyed by the scourging, could not receive the blood. But the blood still flowed to the heart from the lungs, which had not been injured. The heart was still more enlarged with blood and finally burst, letting the blood flow down into the chest. (See Le Camus Vie de N. Seigneur iii. Note 2, Fouard, Life of Christ, V. II., p. 386. Stapfer, In Palestine., II., 4, etc.)
While this is taking place, the dying Lord raised his thorn-crowned head, and in a loud and thrilling voice he spoke words of his father David: "' Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.' And saying this he gave up the ghost." (Psalm xxx. 6 ; Luke xxiii. 46.)
With a loud cry he uttered the words just before his heart broke, showing that he knew the moment the organ burst. " Free among the dead." (Psalm Ixxxvii, 6.) Of his own free will he came into the world and according to his Father's will, thus he died to save his race.
The Virgin Mother, spotless among Eve's daughters, " full of grace," (Luke i, 28.) still her station keeping, with John and the Magdalen and the women weeping, all fell flat on their faces, she alone understanding and adoring the wonders of God in his work of salvation. It was only later when the Holy Ghost came on them in the cloud of fire, the Shekina, that the others understood the mystery.
At the moment that the Saviour of the world gave up his soul into the hands of his heavenly Father, his body trembled and turned a livid white. His countless wounds stood out as black, blue and livid marks. His cheeks sunk. His eyes remained half opened, glassy in death, and his lips partly closed, through which was seen his parched and swollen tongue. His hands and feet, contracted with the pains, relaxed, his knees bent, his whole frame dropped a little, and his sacred body hung in death on the cross.
"It is finished." The wonderful prophecies beginning at Adam's fall, given to mankind through holy men of every age are all fulfilled in him. He waits till the last has been accomplished, then with that loud cry he gave up the ghost. It rang out in triumph over hell. The serpent's head is crushed. He was free to live or die. Death had no dominion over him, for he was not tainted with Adam's sin. But he freely died, as he said: "Therefore doth the Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it up again. No man taketh it from me. But I lay it down of myself, and I have power to lay it down. And I have power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father." (John x. 17, 18.)