Summary: Most of us know the crucifixion story and what it means. But have you ever considered what Jesus was thinking and feeling on the cross? It may surprise and comfort you.
Chapter 19 of John is the culmination of Jesus’ life. It is the high point in the story of the universe. Everything before leads up to this event and everything after points back to it.
Much of the debate here seems to revolve around whether Jesus is a king and of what? That’s a question each of us must answer today too.
The flogging was an attempt by Pilate to punish Jesus and then release him. If the Chief Priests got their “pound of flesh” maybe they’d be mollified. They were not.
2 – 3
Purple is the color of royalty. Much of the treatment by the Romans was to mock Jesus as King and the Jews as weak (“this is your king”).
Isn’t it interesting that when left completely to ourselves we want to strike out at the very One who is pure and ready to give it all for us?
4 – 7
Pilate dared the Jews to usurp Roman law but they then reveal their true hatred for Jesus and why: because he claimed to be the Son of God. Leviticus 24:16 says, “Whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death.” The only problem was that Jesus wasn’t blaspheming because what He claimed was indeed true!
The Jews didn’t want Jesus to be God. They were very happy being their own god and having Yahweh as their seal of approval and their mascot.
8 – 11
Why was Pilate afraid? The Romans believed gods walked among humans. Perhaps Jesus was a god (note the little “g”). Matthew’s gospel tells us that Pilate’s wife had suffered in dreams because of Jesus, and third, perhaps he worried that this intense hatred was about to spark a riot, something the Romans feared, especially during this very crowded time in Jerusalem.
God’s authority supersedes all human authority.
“He who delivered me over to you” refers to Caiaphas, not to Judas, who delivered Jesus to the Jews. Caiaphas’ sin is greater than Pilates’, for he should have known better. Pilate was but a pawn. Even still, he is responsible for his actions too.
12 – 16
The Jews were so anxious to get rid of Jesus they would speak blaspheme by declaring that anyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar. Historical records show that the Jews had already threatened to lodge a complaint with Rome over Pilate’s treatment of them. Later they did just that and got Pilate kicked out so this threat is very real.
When it came down to it, Pilate’s self-interest overcame his fear of the gods.
The Jews final cry “we have no king but Caesar” shows the lengths they would go to distance themselves from Jesus.
17 – 22
John is scant on details on the crucifixion itself. The detail that he does note is the sign Pilate has made and puts above Jesus. It’s another slam at the Jews saying, “This is your king, a crucified man.” Isn’t it odd that Pilate wrote truth even though he didn’t mean to?
23 – 24
Why did the soldiers do this? Clothing was not cheap like it is today so this was part of their “pay” as executioners. Psalms 22:18 is the quotation here.
Now this next part is very significant to our study this morning.
25 - 27
This is both interesting and impacting. John identifies four women: Mary, Jesus’ mother, Mary’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdelene. None of these last three appears before in John’s gospel. However, if we hook together two other gospels we get some interesting results.
Matthew 27:55-56 There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, 56 among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.
Mark 15:40-41 There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41 When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.
So Mary, wife of Clopas is the mother of James and Joses (or Joseph). That leaves the other woman as the mother of James and John (the writer of the gospel). Mark identifies her as Salome, John identifies her as Mary’s sister. If that’s the case then John the Apostle and Jesus were cousins.
While that’s interesting I think there are two very significant things in this paragraph that are more impacting than interesting.
The first is this: of all the people who hung around Jesus only five stick with him to the end, and four of them are women! Luke 8 tells us that some prominent women supported Jesus financially in his ministry. They become loyal even to the cross. I think they are also there to support Mary who has to be absolutely beside herself with grief and torment.