Summary: We are going to divide this passage into 8 events to get a better understanding of what is happening. This is not an unfamiliar story to most Christians but maybe we can learn yet a little more about it.
The most significant event in history is the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. We are saved by His death. Because He died, we live. But there IS a condition. We have to believe, and it’s the necessity for belief that John stressed throughout his gospel. He was an eyewitness of the crucifixion, and he closed his account of the crucifixion by saying “the man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true…that you also may believe.”
Tonight we are going to divide this passage into 8 events to get a better understanding of what is happening. This is not an unfamiliar story to most Christians but maybe we can learn yet a little more about it.
EVENT 1: READ 16-17. Last week we saw how Pilate was so undecided about his decision. He went back and forth from the people to Jesus, back to the people, back to Jesus. Eight times he went back and forth. The first event of tonight’s passage was that of Jesus’ bearing His cross. Verse 17 shows us that Jesus willingly went forth. Pilate delivered Him to the people. The soldiers took and led Him. But it was Jesus who bore the cross and went forth. This gives us a picture of Jesus being the majestic victor, not the victim. He was bearing the cross and going forth for a specific purpose—to save man.
John said earlier in his gospel, (Jn. 3:14-15) – “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”
(Jn. 10:11) – “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
(Jn. 10:15) - “Just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
EVENT 2: READ 18. The second event is Jesus being crucified between two sinners, two unjust thieves. This gives a picture of two things.
1. It’s a picture of the preeminence of His sacrifice. He was surrounded by a world of unjust men, yet He was dying for them.
2. It’s a picture of preeminent guilt. Jesus Christ was being counted as the King of Sinners.
EVENT 3: READ 19-22. The 3rd event of the cross was the title on the cross.
The people read the title but were indifferent to it. It had no effect on them. There was no mass movement of sorrow and repentance, no final acceptance of Him. The religionists objected to the title. But they didn’t ask that it be removed. They asked that the wording be changed to read “This man CLAIMED to be the King of the Jews.” Theirs was an obstinate unbelief.
Jesus DID claim to be the King of the Jews, the promised Messiah. Notice that the title “King of the Jews” was written in three great languages of the world—Aramaic, Latin, and Greek. This providentially symbolized His rightful rule as King of the universe.
EVENT 4: READ 23-24. The 4th event of the cross was the soldiers’ gambling for Jesus’ clothes. Did you notice the insensitivity of these worldly-minded men? They had no compassion for Jesus, that’s for sure. But also they had no compassion for Jesus’ mother who was standing by the cross.
It mentions the seamless coat or outer garment and that it was one piece of cloth, woven from the top to the bottoms. The garment or robe was identical to the robe of the High Priest. It symbolized Christ, the Mediator, the Pontifex, which in Latin means the bridge builder between God and man.
The event fulfilled Scripture. Ps. 22:18 says, “They divide my garments among them, And for my clothing they cast lots.” God was in charge of the cross because it was the fulfillment of His great plan of salvation for man.
EVENT 5: READ 25-27. The 5th event of the cross was Jesus’ great love for His mother. There are two touching scenes here.
1. The women at the cross. There were there at great risk. Jesus was a revolutionary in the eyes of Rome. He was a heretic in the eyes of the religionists. Any supporter of Jesus who stood at the cross ran the risk of ridicule and arrest. Nevertheless, the women stood there because they loved Him. He had done so much for them that they were willing to stand by Him no matter the cost.
2. The other scene we see is Jesus’ care of His mother. His thoughts were on others, not Himself. Every fiber of His being existed for others. Even in death, His mind and being were set on taking care of others.
He was touched with the feelings of Mary’s hurt and pain. In the last moments of His life on earth, He made arrangements for her care. He is touched with the feeling of our hurt and pain, so He takes care of us.