Being televised one morning in 2016 was an internationally well known Christian pastor, whose ministry broadcasts his Scripture-based messages numerous times each day on a variety of Christian faith-based networks around the world. I really enjoy hearing this pastor’s messages because of the greater understanding of the Truth and a more accurate perspective of life that they offer me.
On this day, though, the pastor used a method of teaching to get the lesson across to his viewing audience that day that differed from his usual way of teaching. As his program began that morning, he took a moment to explain the difference. He said that the information that he was about to present was going to be presented that morning in the same way that it had come to him at home when he too had first uncovered it.
The pastor used two New Testament Scripture verses that day to get the lesson started. He showed that though those two verses each included the use of the same Greek verb from the Greek language in which the New Testament was originally written, He then proceeded to show the audience that the word in English appeared to have come from two different words in the Greek, they actually were from the same word and, therefore, had the same meaning.
As the pastor finished his lesson that morning, I decided to run my own investigation, which is what the pastor had said that he was hoping that we would then do. Doing so would, first of all, affirm the Truth in those two verses as the pastor had taught it. Not that he or his words were ever in doubt, but it is always preferable (best for all) to be able to verify what others have said about the Truth of God before we decide to either own it ourselves or share it with others. Secondly, the additional information that I gained from my own personal study expanded my understanding by building upon the foundation that the pastor had laid with his words to specifically give additional understanding to anyone who would be willing to hear his message. Realize that process is important to attaining that goal.
Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Interestingly, I learned from the televised pastor that the words lay and bowed in these two verses are translations of the same Greek word. I then heard it said that, literally, the word encapsulates the concept of rest. In researching the word for myself, I was able to read the word’s meaning, as it is so defined by a number of well-respected sources.
One of the sources, Thayer’s lexicon, notes both verses’ use of the Greek verb as being transitive.
A transitive verb has two characteristics. First, it is an action verb, expressing a doable activity like kick, want, paint, write, eat, clean, etc. Second, it must have a direct object: something or someone who receives the action of the verb. (Grammar Bytes)
Both Luke 9:58 & John 19:30 contain the same verb (lay, bow, rest) and the same direct object: Jesus’ head. Head in both verses is translated from a Greek word that is defined below by Strong’s Concordance.
(a) the head, (b) met: a corner stone, uniting two walls;
head, ruler, lord
Taken together, the definitions form quite a word image relating to Jesus. Picture this:
As Jesus rested/bowed His head upon the Cross, He—the Head (ruler, Lord) of the Body (the Church)—rested in the only place where the two sides (God & mankind) could meet (in Him, via the Cross), making Him the actual physical, as well as spiritual, cornerstone, holding together the two that, without Him, would remain disconnected.
First Peter 2:4 refers to Jesus as the “living Stone” — the One who was “rejected by men, but chosen by God.” As the metaphor then continues through verse eight, Psalm 118:22 is quoted to note that Jesus is indeed no less than the cornerstone.
The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,
(1 Peter 2:7b)
Cornerstone in this verse is a translation of two Greek words, sometimes translated as “the very corner [stone],” that more literally means “head of the corner.” The word head here is translated as such from the same Greek word that is also translated as head in Luke 9:58 and John 19:30.
The combined imagery of these words poses a thought: Were Jesus’ words in Luke 9:58 (“…no place to lay his head”) possibly spoken by Jesus with an intended deeper meaning that alludes to His coming Cross (His finished work upon it)? The Cross of Jesus—the place that provides mankind with everlasting rest, was not yet a manifested reality in this world at the time when the words were spoken by Jesus, despite the fact that it has always been eternally existent in His eternal life.
The Cross that awaited Jesus upon Calvary, outside of Jerusalem, was the one and only journey destination for Jesus on earth by which He had God-given means of offering the world the everlasting rest in Him that it so desperately needs. But for that potential rest to one day be realized in this world by anyone other than Jesus, Jesus Himself first had to abide (rest, trust) in His knowledge of the Truth of God, having full expectation that the rest in Him would later manifest in others through Him.
In John 19:30, the last recorded words that Jesus spoke from the Cross before He bowed/rested His head are the words “It is finished.” Though it was indeed finished, the manifested outcome of Jesus’ work is still yet unfolding today, as it will continue to do into an everlasting future, as God so designed from before the beginning of time for it to do.
Each and every transformative work that is accomplished by God in us through Christ Jesus is a manifestation of the reality of Jesus having first walked out the process of sanctification for us. Jesus did so within parameters set by the period of time that He was given by God to dwell among us, as one of us, here on this earth. Though the finished work of the Cross that God accomplished in Jesus has always been eternal reality, the Cross that God accomplished on the Cross laying down by Jesus of life for the well-being of the world has always been an eternal reality, it only realized in the physical realm over the period of time that was specified by God for that purpose. Likewise, we too have each been given a specific time period by God, in which we too have the opportunity while living in this world to choose to come to a place of rest in Jesus to lay down our lives at the foot of the Cross or not. In choosing to do so, we give our lives to Jesus, serving Him with gratitude in a transformation process that continually better realigns our thoughts and actions to those of Jesus.
Consider that process in light of an interesting fact about the transformation of caterpillars into butterflies that is stated at the end of the following excerpt from Cocooning, an analogical piece previously posted on this website.
Unable to transform itself, the caterpillar can only prepare to be changed by responding to a leading that was placed within it before it was ever born. So the caterpillar does what it is led to do: it sticks itself to the underneath side of a leaf or structure, where it feels secure. There it releases (sheds) its outer protective covering (its skin) to reveal a chrysalis (“cocoon”) that was already a part of it. This act of giving up its former life in order to be positioned to receive a new one is purposeful. Until the caterpillar does so, it cannot be transformed. Surprising in one way, but not in another, is the additional fact that this act only takes place with the caterpillar hanging upside down, making its head the last part of its body to be encased (given up for transformation).
The last part of a caterpillar’s body to be “given up” —surrendered to the death of its former way of living— is its head, the place where life or death decisions are made.
Now, with that fact in mind, return to John 19:30 to look again at the last two acts of Jesus on the Cross just prior to His death. Jesus “bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” Together these actions complete the total surrender of Jesus of His entire physical and spiritual Being in this world to the Father’s eternal good and perfect will. The totality of the surrender, though an ending in and of itself, is seen in the greater perspective as being the necessary step forward to the world’s new beginning. In the specific time that God had ordained for that purpose, Jesus continually promoted life by moving ahead into burial to give resurrection its due place in time.
Though I doubt that any caterpillar ever dies in its original untransformed state simply because it somehow receives an ability to deny its God-given instinct to cocoon, people do have a free will within their thinking that allows them to make such life and death decisions for themselves. The distinguishing factor between those people who choose to experience godly transformation and those who do not is this: their personal acceptance or rejection of the Truth that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…” (John 3:16).
Personal acceptance of the Truth makes every God-given possibility with God a potentially manifested reality in Christ Jesus. The more of our God-given lives that we willingly give back (bow, lay down) to Jesus right here and now, today, the greater becomes our present manifested reality of rest in Him. Bowing our heads along with every thought they contain, submitting to the Lordship of Christ Jesus is the only way to move ahead into never-ending new beginnings, transformed to the fullest in the One who is God’s forever ordained Head of all.
Jesus is the one and only journey destination giving unqualified rest, for He alone among men has eternal, perfect peace to give.
“Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;
for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.”