Reading For Wednesday John 19:1-42
The crowd wants blood. Pilate’s weak character is revealed and he hopes to satisfy their bloodlust through an extensive beating. Jesus is taken back into the governor’s palace and handed over to the soldiers so they can torture him. Jesus is brought out for the second time and paraded before the crowd, but they are still not satisfied as the chants for crucifixion begin again. We do not know why Pilate "was even more afraid" when he heard that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. Jesus turns the tables on Pilate, but he capitulates and hands Jesus over for execution. Pilate will not recognize the rule and authority of Jesus, so also the Jewish authorities refuse to acknowledge the authority of Jesus. The bloodthirsty crowd uses political leverage over Pilate to achieve their end. The anger and extreme nature of this crowd lead them to claim Caesar as King before they would acknowledge Jesus. Pilate relents and hands Jesus over to the angry mob.
John does not go into great detail and just records that Jesus was crucified between two others. The cross beam was placed upon Jesus' shoulders and he carried it toward the location of execution, known as "the place of the Skull," which in Aramaic language translates as Golgotha. In an act of resentment against the Jewish authorities Pilate taunted them by publishing the charge, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." He wrote it in three languages: Aramaic, Latin, and Greek. A Roman soldier on execution duty had a right to the clothes of a victim. This execution squad divided his things except for gambling over his tunic because it had been woven in one piece.
This crucifixion, however awful, was not a mistake and John quotes from Psalm 22, adding his own comment that this is precisely what the soldiers did. John also identifies some women who were standing close by to witness the scene. Jesus expresses sympathy for his mother, but why did Jesus call his mother "Dear woman?" Perhaps he did it to protect her from the crowd. If Jesus called her his mother, it would have exposed her to the insults of a hostile mob. Jesus demonstrated his care for her and as her eldest son, he was trying to protect her.
Everything that was happening was precisely what God had planned and Jesus knew it. He had known it all along. Every detail is significant. There was great significance placed on the fact that the crucifixion took place in Passover week. The hyssop plant had a particular link to the Passover because it was the plant that was used to paint Jewish door frames with the blood of the Passover lamb. Jesus declares that it was finished but this wasn’t a cry of defeat and Jesus certainly was not admitting failure. Christ’s cry from the cross was the announcement that it all that was required to rescue sinners had been accomplished. No one took Christ’s life from him, Jesus laid down his life. Jesus' final act of obedience to his heavenly Father was to give his spirit. It was standard practice for the Roman authorities to leave a crucified body hanging on a cross not only until that person had died (which could sometimes take many days) but even after the death occurred. As the body decomposed or was eaten by birds, it served as a gruesome warning for all who would pass by. However, Jewish law would not allow for anyone hanged on a cross to remain there overnight. Pilate gave the order to hasten the deaths of the three by smashing the victims’ legs with an iron mallet, thus preventing them from pushing up with their legs and gasping for another breath. Death by asphyxiation would soon follow. This was done for the two hanging beside Jesus. However, when the soldiers came to Jesus, they noted that he was already dead and one of them thrust a spear into the side of Jesus.
Executed Jewish criminals were normally buried outside the city, but two influential members of the Jewish authorities, Joseph, and Nicodemus, used their positions to ask Pilate to release Christ’s body into their care. These men felt so strongly about the burial of Jesus that they made themselves ceremonially unclean. By handling a dead body, these two were now excluded from Passover celebrations. They obtained the dead body of Jesus, wrapped it in sticky, fragrant spices, and placed it in a new tomb that Joseph had previously prepared for his own burial.
Things To Consider:
- Why is a suffering King so difficult to process?
- Why was this plan necessary?
- How much do the high priests show by claiming Caesar as their king?
- How does Psalm 22 inform what happened to Jesus during his crucifixion?
- What does Jesus care for his mother remind us about his sacrifice?
- Why did Jesus declare that it was finished?
- What was finished?
- How does scripture support what Jesus said?
- Why would Joseph and Nicodemus go to such lengths to secure the body of Jesus?