Read John 19:16-42
If you think my previous post regarding Pilate’s problem exonerated his actions, make sure you read the first part of this passage carefully.
19Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 20Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 21The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.” 22Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.” John 19:19-22
Pilate gave orders to have the sign posted and translated to make sure everyone could read it, “What I have written, I have written.” He was not an innocent political puppet. He twisted the knife himself.
I’m not gloating in the least; I’m actually very sad for his words and actions. The soldiers follow orders. Just another day at their post in Jerusalem. I wonder if this was one of “those” assignments you get in the military, one of the despised places where you have to deal with super religious people.
John records very few words from Jesus during His crucifixion. I think it’s because he is overcome with emotion as he watches his friend, his master, his savior brutally tortured as a public spectacle. He recalls the moment when Jesus somehow had the strength to speak to His earthly mother Mary:
When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” John 19:26-27a
John, the disciple whom He loved, was not far away, not hidden or in the shadows. He was there within eyesight of Jesus. He heard Jesus pass the baton to him, to take care of His mother. Obviously, Joseph is no longer with us. He must have died some time ago as he is not mentioned at all during Jesus’ years of ministry. As the eldest son in their family, Jesus assumed the role of patriarch. This made good sense, but it’s interesting that Jesus picked John to take His role. We know that James, the brother of Jesus, was somewhere and based on words John recorded earlier, he wasn’t the only sibling. So why pass the mantle to John?
John’s response is definitive. He will do as his master asked.
From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. John 19:27b
The Death of Jesus
As I mentioned earlier, John provided few words, perhaps the least required, to document the agonizing event.
28Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:28-30
Let there be no doubt, Virginia, the body of Jesus was no longer alive, He was fully dead. Once again, Pilate enters the scene to expedite the savage spectacle by having the soldiers remove the carcasses from the wooden structures. I know that sounds crass, but I think that’s how they viewed their jobs. These weren’t people, these were less than humans that deserved to be brutally beaten in an effort to teach the public a lesson. Beyond sad.
The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. John 19:35
The man who saw it. I’m pretty sure this is John, once again diverting attention from himself to that which is more important.
he testifies so that you also may believe.
Later, as Luke records, when Jesus “opens their minds to the Scriptures“ they will understand the precise reason for each action that happened on this day. John will add his notes to highlight the most significant points.
The Burial of Jesus
We’re not quite done with Pilate. Once again, there is interaction with the governor. This time a wealthy Jew who hid his relationship with Jesus somehow approached Pilate:
Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. John 19:38
Joseph came with Nicodemus. Remember his interaction with Jesus back in chapter 3? Make sure you look at the additional comment I added to this post based on a video I watched by Rich Mullins.
Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. John 19:40
It was certainly Jewish customs that motivated them to wrap the body of Jesus, but it’s odd that these two prominent men would do the work. They would certainly be declared unclean by touching a dead body and thus be self-eliminated from any of the Passover feasts.
I don’t think they even gave that one thought. They took care of the one they loved without regard to rules or regulations. They stepped across the line of comfort and tradition and did what was right. There was no show, no spectacle or scene for those to see. John comforted Mary as best he knew how while their friends, Joseph and Nicodemus, took care of the difficult business of laying Jesus’s body in a tomb.
The end. So they thought.