John 19

Chapter nineteen continues the morning’s events, skipping Jesus’ short appearance before Herod (Luke 23:6-12). The fifth event in John’s record, then, was Pilate’s second interview with Jesus (John 19:1-16). Still unable to find any reason to execute him, Pilate had him beaten and humiliated instead, hoping that would satisfy the crowd, but it did not. It seems that he tried multiple times and methods to find a way by which he could release Jesus, but he could not. Finally, the religious leaders threatened Pilate’s political career by pitting him against Caesar if he released Jesus. At this Pilate gave them permission to crucify him.

The sixth event was the crucifixion itself (John 19:17-27). This lasted for several hours, though John did not record the exact length or the period of darkness as found in the Synoptics. Jesus’ opponents had one more run-in with Pilate, who wrote Jesus’ criminal charge to be “Jesus the Nazarene, the king of the Jews” (John 19:19). They naturally took offense at this, but Pilate was done being pushed around by them, and probably took some pleasure at their indignation and the fact that they could do nothing about it. While Jesus was on the cross, the prophecy was fulfilled about his robe being gambled away (Psalm 22:18). At the foot of the cross were some of the faithful women who had followed and supported Jesus, and John himself. Jesus charged John with taking care of Mary.

The final event of the day was Jesus’ death (John 19:28-37). John recorded only two of Jesus’ final statements – “I am thirsty!” and “It is completed!” – before noting that Jesus gave up his own spirit. There is great irony in the religious leaders’ insistence that the rituals of Passover and Sabbath be observed while they violated several of them in their campaign against Jesus. However, because of their rush to get the bodies off the crosses into their graves, the soldiers discovered that Jesus was already dead and did not break his legs, fulfilling another prophecy (Psalm 34:20). Instead they punctured his side.

Joseph of Arimathea received permission from Pilate to bury Jesus’ body, and he was accompanied by Nicodemus (his third appearance in John). They were able to perform a quick burial and place him into Joseph’s tomb before the beginning of the Sabbath at sunset (John 19:38-42).

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Daniel Goepfrich

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