John: Chapter 19
Let’s begin by reading (John 19:1-11).
(Verse 1) “Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him” (Also see: Mt 27:26)(Mk 15:15)
This was a HORRIFIC ordeal! In fact, it was so bad that Roman law would not allow Roman citizens to undergo it (see: Acts 22:24-29). The victim was first stripped of all clothing, then tied to a post with his hands above his head (to stretch the skin making the wounds worse).
He was then flogged by one or two people with a whip (or flagellum). This whip (often called a cat-o-nine tails) consisted of a handle (about 18″ long) with 9 leather straps about 6 or 7 feet long, and at the end of each strap was small lead balls mixed with pieces of animal bone or metal. These would tear into the body more and more with each successive lashing, with the lead balls ripping into the skin and the jagged pieces of bone or metal tearing it out. As the flogging progressed, muscles, vital organs, and even the spine could often be seen openly. Huge strips of skin would be hanging from the body.
According to Jewish law, this beating had to be stopped after 40 lashes (Deut 25:1-3), however, the Jews made a tradition of 39 lashes just in case a mistake in counting was made: see 2 Cor 11:24). The Romans had no such law though, and may or may not have exceeded this limit. After this flogging, the victim was untied and fell to the ground, often unconscious, sometimes dead never even making it to the crucifixion. Jesus survived it without losing consciousness (partly a testament to His good health I am sure).
(Verses 2-3) “And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe”
This “crown of thorns” was likely made from a date palm. These thorns are extremely sharp, and can be up to 12″ long. They would have punctured his skin and caused bleeding. Adding to this, (Mt 27:30) mentions that they “smote Him on the head” with a reed after placing the crown of thorns on Him, which would have driven the thorns into His head.
Purple was the color of royalty. The “purple robe” was used to “mock” Jesus’ royalty as “king of the Jews.” (Note: This may have been the “gorgeous” robe that Herod placed on Jesus before sending Him back to Pilate – see: Lk 23:11.)
(Mt 27:29) adds that the soldiers also put a “reed in His right hand” as a scepter, and they “bowed down before Him.”
(Verses 4-5) “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!”
If Pilate did not believe Jesus was guilty, why did he allow Jesus to be beaten so badly?
(Verse 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.”
Apparently, the “Ye” and “Him” spoken by Pilate in Greek are “emphatic.” By placing an emphasis on these words, it sounds like Pilate was disturbed with the Jews irrational hatred of Jesus. In other words, Pilate is saying, “If YOU think HE is guilty, then YOU crucify Him.”
(Verse 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.”
This “law” was “blasphemy,” and the penalty God ordered for blasphemy was stoning to death (Lev 24:10-16,23).
As we first discussed in John Chapter 10, Jesus was “directly” accused of “blasphemy” on three different occasions, and “indirectly” accused on two more (they didn’t say Jesus had committed “blasphemy,” but they wanted to kill Him for proclaiming deity). Of course, we know that since Jesus “IS” God (He has never stopped being God), and He was sinless (2 Cor 5:21)(Heb 4:15)(1 Jn 3:5)(1 Pet 2:22), any accusations of blasphemy were false. Following are the five occasions.
#1. (Mt 9:1-8)(Mk 2:1-12)(Lk 5:17-26) Jesus was accused of blasphemy by the scribes for telling the paralytic man that his sins were forgiven.
#2. (Jn 10:30-33) The Jews accused Jesus of blasphemy, and were going to stone Him for “making Himself God.”
#3. (Mt 26:63-66)(Mk 14:61-64)(Lk 22:67-71) The High Priest accused Jesus of blasphemy for claiming to be “the Christ, the Son of God.”
#4. (Jn 5:17-18) (“indirect”) The Jews wanted to “kill” Jesus for saying “that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.”
#5. (Jn 8:58-59) (“indirect”) The Jews were going to stone Jesus for calling Himself the “I AM.”
(Verse 8) “When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid”
The Romans were very superstitious, and believed in many gods. When Pilate heard that the man he had just had beaten could be the “son” of one of these gods, he was terrified. God’s wrath could be poured out on him for what he had done. In addition, at this same time, we see from (Mt 27:19) that Pilate’s wife sent word to him saying, “Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.”
(Verse 9) Pilate immediately went back into the Praetorium (the governor’s headquarters) to ask Jesus, “Where are you from?” He knew Jesus was a Galilean (Lk 23:6-7), but he wanted to know about His origin and nature. Did He have divine origin?
(Verses 9-10) “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?”
Why do you think that Jesus would not answer Pilate here?
(Verse 11) “Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above”
This sentence by Jesus ties into what is said in several other places in the Bible; that all leaders in positions of power, and all governments are only in power because God allows it (See: Rom 13:1-7, Dan 2:21).
(Verse 11) “therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.”
One of my “hot button” issues! Sin is sin, all sin is equal, right? “No!” This verse is one of MANY proofs in the Bible that sins are not viewed equally by God. For more verses showing this, see: (Mt 7:3-5)(1 Cor 6:12-20)(James 3:1)(Ezek 8:6,13,15)(Ezek 16:52)(Lk 12:47-48)(Heb 10:29).
***Note: Sin “is” equal in one way, a lie will keep you out of heaven just as much as murder will. No sinner can get to Heaven; not a liar, not a murderer, not a thief. We are all sinners, and this is why we need Jesus’ payment for our sins. But, God views murder as a worse sin than stealing (see OT punishments for these sins).
(Verse 12) “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.”
Notice the shift in tactics by the Jews; when they could not get Pilate to crucify Jesus because He broke Jewish law, they tried to have Jesus crucified for breaking Roman law.
I will quote from the John MacArthur Study Bible here regarding “not Caesar’s friend:” “This statement by the Jews was loaded with irony, for the Jews’ hatred of Rome certainly indicated that they too were no friends of Caesar. But they knew that Pilate feared Tiberius Caesar (the Roman emperor at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion) since he had a highly suspicious personality and exacted ruthless punishment. Pilate had already created upheaval in Palestine by several foolish acts that had infuriated the Jews, and so was under the scrutiny of Rome to see if his ineptness continued. The Jews were intimidating him by threatening another upheaval that could spell the end of his power in Palestine, if he did not execute Jesus.”
(Verse 13) “Pilate…sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement (Gr: “lithostroton“), but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha.”
This “judgment seat” was an elevated place where an official verdict would be rendered against a person.
(Verses 14-16) From the “judgment seat,” Pilate finally gives into the Jews demand, and delivers Jesus to them to be crucified.
(Verse 17) “And He bearing His cross”
As part of their punishment, the person to be crucified was forced to carry their “cross” to the place of crucifixion. However, most scholars believe that this was likely not a whole “cross,” but rather, a horizontal beam, onto which the victims wrists were nailed once they arrived at the crucifixion site, and then raised by rope up to an already fixed vertical beam.
The synoptic Gospels tell us that Jesus was only able to carry this beam for a very short time (certainly due to all of the torture He had gone through). Because of this, a man named “Simon of Cyrene” was forced by the Romans to carry it the rest of the way (Mt 27:32)(Mk 15:21)(Lk 23:26).
(Verse 17) “went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha” (Lk 23:33 calls this place “Calvary,” which is the Latin word for “skull.”)
We do not know why the place where Jesus was crucified was called “the place of the skull,” but most likely it was because its appearance looked like a skull.
***Note: We do not know precisely where this location was, but from (Heb 13:11-13) we know that it was outside the gate of the city. (Verse 20 says it was “nigh to the city.”)
(Verse 18) “There they crucified Him, and with Him two other men, one on either side, and Jesus in between.”
We learn more about these “two other men” in the synoptics. (Mt 27:38) tells us that they were “thieves,” and (Lk 23:39-43) tells us that one of them got saved while on the cross!
(Mk 15:28) tells us that Jesus being “numbered with the transgressors” (being crucified with two thieves) was the fulfillment of a prophecy made in (Isa 53:12).
(Verses 19-22) “And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
(Verse 20) tells us that this sign was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. In writing this, Pilate appears to be mocking the Jews to upset them, making fun of their “King.” We see in (Verse 21) that Pilate accomplished his goal, with the Jews asking Pilate to change the sign to say, “He said, I am the king of the Jews.” Pilate refused to change it: Verse 22.
Apparently, in most cases, the crime of the accused was written on a piece of wood, and then placed around his neck for all to see as he walked to his place of execution. At the place of crucifixion, this sign was then taken off of his neck, and placed above his head on the cross. In the case of Jesus, since He had committed no crime (not-guilty), something else had to be written.
(Verses 23-24) After crucifying Jesus, the soldiers divided Jesus’ garments into four parts (“to each soldier a part”), showing that 4 soldiers were responsible for carrying out Jesus’ crucifixion. However, since the “tunic” (the undergarment that was next to the skin) was “without seam, one piece” (which was more valuable), the soldier decided not to “divide” it (tear it), but instead “cast lots” to determine who should get it. This fulfilled a prophecy found in (Ps 22:18) which said, “They divided My outer garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.”
(Verses 25-27) (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.”
In one of the last acts of His life, Jesus made sure that His mother Mary would be cared for. He turned the care for her over to His disciple John (“the disciple whom Jesus loved”). Tradition tells us that John cared for her for the rest of her life.
Why was her husband Joseph, or Jesus’ brothers (Mt 13:55-56)(Mk 6:3) not going to be responsible for her care?
(Verses 28-29) “I thirst” (29) “Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.”
Jesus saying, “I thirst” was the fulfillment of prophecy regarding Him that was made in (Ps 69:21)(Ps 22:15). The Greek word for “vinegar” here is “oxos,” which is a “sour wine” that was a drink for laborers and common soldiers. Soldiers would sometimes drink this while waiting for the death of the one being crucified.
As we see with Jesus, they might also share this drink with the victim. While this seems compassionate at first glance, apparently, most times, the more sinister motive was that it would help to deaden the pain of the victim, thereby increasing their time alive on the cross.
***Interesting notes: #1. According to my JFB Commentary, “the stalk of a hyssop plant does not exceed 18″ in length.” This points to a cross that was not raised very high off of the ground. #2. “Hyssop” was also used to put Lamb’s blood “on the lintel and the two doorposts” during the Passover (Ex 12:22).
(Verse 30) “It is finished”
The primary meaning of this phrase is that Jesus’ payment or atonement for the sins of man was completed. (The need for sacrifices was finished: Heb 10:1-18.) A secondary meaning is that Jesus had accomplished all that the Father had given Him to do, and had fulfilled all Old Testament prophecies.
One Greek word is used for this phrase: “tetelestai.” According to MacArthur, this Greek word “has been found in the papyri being placed on receipts for taxes meaning “paid in full.”
(Verse 30) “He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost (His spirit)”
Jesus had the power to end His life at the exact moment He desired. This ability to “give up” or dismiss His spirit at any time points to Jesus’ deity.
Remember these verses from (Jn 10:17-18), “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. (18) No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.”
(Verse 31) “that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day”
The Sabbath (Saturday) was soon approaching. Under Mosaic law, when a body was hung, God required that it was not to be left hanging overnight (Deut 21:22-23). (Note: Bodies that were “hung” in the Old Testament, were usually hung as a sign of disrespect “after” they were dead: i.e. Saul: 1 Sam 31:8-13, Five kings: Josh 10:26-27.) The Jews wanted Jesus (and the criminals) dead before the next day (the Sabbath), so that they could obey this law, plus it needed to be done “before” the Sabbath because taking Jesus’ body down on the Sabbath would be “work,” and Jews could not work on the Sabbath.
***Note: A “high day” Sabbath meant that it was not an ordinary Sabbath, but one on which the Feast of Unleavened Bread fell as well.
(Verses 31-33,36) “The Jews… besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.”
The way the Jews sought to assure that Jesus (and the criminals) would be dead before the Sabbath was to have Pilate issue an order to break His legs. Death on a cross was usually by asphyxiation. A victim would have to push up with his legs, and pull up with arms in order to breathe. When a victim could no longer do this, they would die. By breaking a victim’s legs, he would no longer be able to push up, and death would quickly follow.
The Roman soldiers broke the legs of the two criminals first, but when they came to Jesus, He was already dead, so “they did not break His legs.” This is a KEY thing. Without going into great detail, Jesus’ death and resurrection paralleled the Jewish feasts and celebrations that were set up in the Old Testament. Passover was a part of this celebration, and one of God’s requirements in relation to this was that a lamb be killed, and eaten, making sure that none of its bones was broken in the process (Ex 12:46)(Num 9:12). This lamb paralleled Jesus, who is called the Lamb (Jn 1:29,36)(Rev 5:6,8,12-13) (and the Passover: 1 Cor 5:7), and because Jesus did not have His legs broken, this parallel in “Scripture was fulfilled” – Verse 36.
(Verses 34 & 37) “But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.”
In order to make sure that Jesus was dead, one of the soldiers “pierced Jesus’ side” with a spear. In doing so, “blood and water” came out. There is some debate as to the significance of this, but a majority believe that the spear penetrated the water membrane which surrounds the heart (which may have been enlarged because of Jesus’ suffering), as well the heart itself, producing a combination of water (piercing the membrane) and blood (piercing the heart).
We see in (verse 37) that this act by the soldier also fulfilled prophetic Scripture which said, “They shall look on Him whom they pierced” (see: Zech 12:10).
(Verse 38) “And after this Joseph of Arimathea, 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.”
All 4 of the Gospels mention Joseph of Arimathea at this time, and it is only from the few verses in these Gospels that we know anything about him. In (Mt 27:57), we learn that he was a “rich man, who had become a disciple of Jesus (secretly).” He is called a “good and righteous man” in (Lk 23:50). After Pilate gave him the body, he “wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away” (Mt 27:58-59). (Lk 23:53)(Mk 15:45) tell us that he personally took the body of Jesus off of the cross.
In (Mk 15:43)(NASB), we learn that he was, “a prominent member of the council,” who had “not consented to their plan and action” (Lk 23:51). From these words, it seems very likely that he was a member of the Sanhedrin.
(Verse 39) “And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night”
We first came across Nicodemus in (John 3:1-10), then again in (John 7:45-52). Therefore, this is his 3rd appearance in John. Do you remember what we learned about Nicodemus?
(Verses 39-40) (Nicodemus) “also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. (40) So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.
This “mixture of myrrh and aloes” (spices) was used by the Jews to help neutralize the stench of a decaying body. However, it did not totally eliminate the smell as we saw in (Jn 11:39), when Martha told Jesus that there would be a “stench” (after 4 days) if Jesus removed the stone covering Lazarus’ tomb.
“One hundred pounds weight” was actually about 65-75 pounds.
(Verses 41-42)(NASB) “Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. (42)(NKJV) So there they laid Jesus…”
As we just stated, this “new tomb in which no one had yet been laid” belonged to Joseph of Arimathea. It was in a “garden,” and it was “nearby” the place where Jesus was crucified. (Mt 27:61) tells us that “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary” were also present when Jesus’ was laid in the tomb. That Jesus would be buried “with the rich at His death” fulfilled a prophecy made in (Isa 53:9).