Today: [John 19:] The Suffering of the Cross: In John 19 Jesus is brutalized by Pilate while the mob cries out for His death by crucifixion. Jesus is led to the place of the skull, and His body hangs on the cross to die. Usually, these passages are only read on Easter morning; they are so uncomfortable to consider. A price is being paid for you and I as we look on with Jesus’ mother and the few faithful followers who stare aghast at the unthinkable scene before them.
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[Jhn 19:1-22 KJV] 1 Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged [him]. 2 And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put [it] on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, 3 And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands. 4 Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. 5 Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And [Pilate] saith unto them, Behold the man! 6 When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify [him], crucify [him]. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify [him]: for I find no fault in him. 7 The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. 8 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid; 9 And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer. 10 Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? 11 Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power [at all] against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin. 12 And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar. 13 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. 14 And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! 15 But they cried out, Away with [him], away with [him], crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. 16 Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led [him] away. 17 And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called [the place] of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: 18 Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst. 19 And Pilate wrote a title, and put [it] on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. 20 This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, [and] Greek, [and] Latin. 21 Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. 22 Pilate answered, What I have written I have written.
In the previous chapter, Pilate offers Jesus or Barrabas to the mob, yet they insist at the prodding of the high priest that Jesus of Nazareth be the one put to death. Seemingly disappointed, yet nonetheless determined, Pilate instructs the soldiers on hand to scourge Jesus. The soldiers were sadistically inventive, forcibly beating a crown of thorns upon Jesus’ brow with a rod. Putting a beautiful robe upon him, they mocked his suffering, crying hail king of the Jews. Pilate displayed Jesus again before the crowd, and their merciless hearts would accept no clemency as they cried crucify him, crucify him. Pilate would have preferred not to involve himself in this and was frustrated the Jesus would not aid in his own defense. He reminds Jesus he could indeed have him killed to which Jesus responded that Pilate had no power other than what his father had given him.
Pilate then tells the Jews to see to this themselves, knowing that only a Roman authority had the power of capital punishment. Intolerant of Pilate’s gamesmanship the Jews threatened to complain to Ceasar. With that exchange, Pilate then orders the soldiers to commence with the brutal process of Jesus execution.
Regardless of the beating inflicted on Him already, Jesus is compelled to carry his cross to the place of the skull the way being lined with those mocking and scuffing who just earlier had hailed him with palm fronds and hosannas. Jesus arrives at Golgatha and is crucified between two thieves. As He hangs suspended between heaven and earth, Pilate’s final indignity is to command a sign to be affixed above his battered gasping body “Jesus king of the Jews.” The chief priesthood object to this but Pilate turns a deaf ear to their complaint.
[Jhn 19:23-42 KJV]
23 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also [his] coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. 24 They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did. 25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the [wife] of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! 27 Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own [home]. 28 After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. 29 Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put [it] upon hyssop, and put [it] to his mouth. 30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. 31 The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and [that] they might be taken away. 32 Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. 33 But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: 34 But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. 35 And he that saw [it] bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. 36 For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. 37 And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced. 38 And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave [him] leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. 39 And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound [weight]. 40 Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. 41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. 42 There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation [day]; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.
As the lengthy process of crucifixion stretches on, the hours pass and the soldiers bore of their gruesome task and begin gambling for Jesus robe. They did not care to sully it because of its value and quality. All of this was in fulfillment of scripture regarding the events and actions surrounding Jesus trial crucifixion burial and resurrection.
As all of this is taking place, Jesus’ mother along with the two Mary’s are present, witnessing Jesus torture and eventual death. Although John had initially fled along with the other disciples, he now returns to watch over Mary. Jesus makes a note of this from the cross and commits Mary to John’s care. This was no small thing because without a grown son to care for her; Mary would have stood in great jeopardy.
In verse 28 Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished cries out in thirst. The soldiers fill a sponge with sour wine and press it to His mouth. Jesus accepts it this time being just moments before death. This was the second time He was offered this, but He rejected it at first because it was mingled with a pain killing agent, which would have dulled His senses. The gospel of Mark suggests that this second offering was given to keep Jesus conscious because the crowd wanted to see if Jesus would talk to Elijah whom they erroneously thought Jesus expected to come and rescue Him. After receiving the vinegar, Jesus cries out “It is finished” and gives up the ghost. The Jews see that their goal is accomplished and petition that the legs of the three men be broken to assure they were, in fact, dead, so that they might take the bodies down before the Sabbath. In preparing to do so, it is seen that Jesus has already expired; therefore Jesus’ legs were not thus broken in fulfillment of scripture that not a bone of His body would be fractured.
In verse 38, Joseph of Arimathaea is granted Jesus body along with, and they take it and prepare it for burial. He is put in a new tomb, in fact, a borrowed tomb after hasty and incomplete funereal preparations are carried out. Thus ends the natural life of the most remarkable man to ever walk the earth. All of human history will be reckoned either to the past or distant future as AD or BC in recognition of Jesus’ earthly sojourn. His body lies in the tomb, the fate of all humankind rests on a razor’s edge as Jesus descends into the lower parts of the earth to fulfill the work of redemption.
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