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Sep 12th, 2022
By: Matthew Sink
The Gospel of John-Day 71

John 19:16-37 So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” So the soldiers did these things, but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”

John is an excellent writer who knows how to capture the essence of any moment. He was standing at the foot of the cross during what must have been one of the most horrific moments of his entire life. I wouldn’t want to witness the brutality of anyone being executed in such a painful way – even when justice was being done. John watched his Lord and Master, someone he loved, suffer like no one has ever suffered. (Remember, in addition to the physical agony, Jesus was also carrying the burden of our sin!).

All that to say, John glosses over the entire crucifixion in just a handful of verses, most of which depict NOT Jesus’ death and suffering, but how His suffering fulfilled Scripture. Perhaps John writes this way because the memory is too painful. Maybe he simply doesn’t’ want to relive it. Or maybe he has a bigger point in mind.

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. “It is finished.” John wants us to see that Jesus came on a mission. He arrived in Bethlehem for this moment. Paul explained it like this: “Though he was in the form of God, (He) did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Jesus emptied Himself and came to earth to rescue us. His entire life was moving in the direction of the cross. He could have stopped it. He could have climbed off the cross, judged the evil men who put him there, and climbed on the throne. He could have used His power for Himself – the very thing Satan tempted Him to do in the wilderness. But instead, He completed His mission. He took our sins to the cross, and as His suffering reached a crescendo and cried out, “It is finished.”

For everything John saw during that wonderful, horrible day, that moment must have been the most memorable.