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The Gospel of John: Revealing the Invisible God 

A Bible Study by Fred Kenison

 

Chapter 19


 

 

Pilateís dilemma

The crucifixion of Jesus

The burial of Jesus

 

Summary Highlights of Chapter 19

 

 

This book is a verse-by-verse commentary.  To go to the commentary for any particular verse in Chapter 19, please click on a number below.

 

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3

4

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19

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25

26

27

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42

 

 

 

 

 

Pilateís dilemma

 

19:1     Therefore, Pilate then took Jesus and scourged [him].

 

It was standard practice to scourge the one who was released to the Jews on this special occasion. Scourge comes from emastigoosen, which means,

"flogging as a punishment decreed by the synagogue. Of the beating given those condemned to death" (Bauer, p.495).

 

This was a severe beating with whips, which drew blood wherever the lashes landed.

 

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19:2     And the soldiers having platted a crown of thorns, put it on his head, and cast a purple robe around him.

 

These were the soldiers who reported to the governor, Pilate, not those of the Jews. They apparently enjoyed the spectacle of seeing a Jew debased, and thus they "platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head." Thayer (p. 21) says this was,

"a thorn, bramble bush, brier...for the bare thorns might have caused delirium or even death; what species of plant is referred to, is not clear."

 

"They put it on his head."  The Roman soldiers had been sent to control these rebellious Jews, and they did not treat them kindly, especially those accused of a serious crime. If such a crown of thorns were put on his head, the thorns would have pierced his flesh, and would not easily fall off. Regardless of the type of thorn used, this would be excruciatingly painful.

 

Then, in order to ridicule him further, they brought "a purple robe and cast it around him."  Purple was the color worn only by the royalty. Therefore, this was done to mock him because he was said to be the king of the Jews.

 

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19:3     And said, Hail , king of the Jews! And they gave him blows with the palm of the hand.

 

We can only wonder how Jesus could submit himself to the pain and scorn heaped upon him by the Roman soldiers. This was a total commitment of himself to the purpose of the Father. The phrase, "gave him blows" is written in the Greek imperfect which means that this was a continuing action. It was not just one slap, but many. Furthermore, his torture was only beginning.

 

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19:4     Therefore, Pilate went out again, and says to them Behold, I bring him out to you, that you may know that in him I find no fault.

 

Pilate was apparently uneasy about the situation. His admitted that "in him I find no fault."  With this admission, Pilate attempted to escape the responsibility which would accompany the death of Jesus.

 

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19:5     Therefore, Jesus went out, wearing the thorny crown and the purple cloak; and he says to them, behold the man!

 

Therefore, signals another sequential action. Therefore is often used in this manner, especially in the writings of John and Paul. John was prone to this manner of speech, especially in these later chapters describing the killing of Jesus.

 

"And he says to them, behold the man."  Here was Jesus bleeding from the thorns, and perhaps damaged in other ways by all the blows he had endured, wearing a purple cloak. "Behold the man."  Take a good look at Jesus! Pilate was saying he had punished this man, and questioned (tortured) him. Look at him!

 

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19:6     Therefore, when the high priests and the officers saw him, they cried out saying, Crucify, crucify [him]. Pilate says to them, Ye take him and crucify him, for I find not a fault in him.

 

The religious fervor of the high priests and the officers was evident by their remarks when they saw Jesus. They had no sympathy for the man and his sufferings, only a religious anger which can be one of the most devastating kinds of anger known. This kind of anger is still seen today, practiced by religious authorities against any who disagree with their doctrines.

 

"Crucify, crucify him!"  Kill him, so we no longer have to deal with him and his heretical teaching.

 

"Pilate says to them, Ye take him and crucify him, for I find not a fault in him."  Pilate was not above using torture to "question" a subject. However, he was at least honest enough to admit that he found "not a fault in him." Or, was he perhaps convinced that Jesus might actually be who he said he was?

 

Matthew 27:19-26 provides a further description of the cogitations which went through Pilateís mind at this time.

"But as he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife, [Pilateís], sent to him, saying, [Let there be] nothing between thee and that righteous [man]. For many things I suffered today in a dream because of him. But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds that they should beg for Barabbas, and should destroy Jesus. And the governor answering said to them, Which will ye of the two [that] I should release to you? And they said, Barabbas. Pilate says to them, What then shall I do with Jesus, who is called christ? They all say to him, Let [him] be crucified. And the governor said, What evil then did he commit? But the cried out the more, saying, Let [him] be crucified. And Pilate seeing that it availed nothing, but rather a tumult is arising, having taken water he washed [his] hands before the crowd, saying, I am guiltless of the blood of this righteous [man]; ye will see [to it]. And all the people said, His blood [be] on us and on our children. Then he released Barabbas to them; but having scourged Jesus he delivered [him] up that he might be crucified."

 

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19:7     The Jews answered him, We have a law, and according to our law he ought to die, because he made himself son of a god.

 

The law they referred to was Leviticus 24:16, which says,

"He that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the LORD, shall be put to death."

 

Jesus was not blaspheming the name of the lord because he really was "the son of a god."  Whether or not these leaders of the Jewish faith actually believed that Jesus was an imposter, and therefore guilty of blasphemy, remains a question until this day. Perhaps they truly did believe that. Or, perhaps they were only seeking to preserve the status quo in order to retain their offices and power in the Jewish land.

 

One thing of note in the teachings of Jesus concerning these matters is that he seldom condemned the ordinary people of little repute. Almost all of his condemnation was addressed to the priests and leaders. They carried the greatest guilt because they were the ones who should have known, and were entrusted to speak truth to the illiterate people.

 

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19:8     Therefore, when Pilate heard this, he was [the] more afraid,

 

Each event that follows another is noted by the word, "therefore," or because of what had previously happened. Because of what the Jews said, Pilate began to reconsider his judgment about Jesus. When the Jews said that Jesus claimed to be "a son of a god,"  Pilate "was the more afraid." The fear that went through Pilate must have been based on the question: What if he really is who the Jews say he is?

 

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19:9     And [Pilate] went again into the praetorium, and says to Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus did not give him an answer.

 

Pilate went back into the judgment room to ask Jesus about where he was from. Was he really sent from some god, to be here on this earth as a heavenly being? Or, were the Jews correct by saying that Jesus was mistaken about his origins?

 

Pilate was in a quandary about this man, Jesus. But, he did not get any further information about the origins of Jesus than he had previously. Jesus had once answered his questions, but now he refused to answer any further.

 

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19:10     Therefore, Pilate says to him, Knowest thou not that I have authority to crucify thee, and I have authority to release thee?

 

Pilate apparently thought that perhaps Jesus did not fully understand who he was dealing with. His question to Jesus was a blunt statement that he held the power of life or death. Pilate did not know that Jesus had already pledged himself to die. He was ready to face his future, and he already knew what it would be.

 

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19:11     Jesus answered, Thou hadst not any authority against me if it were not given to thee from above. On this account he who delivers me up to thee has greater sin.

 

With this remark, Jesus put Pilate in his place, effectively dismissing him as a supreme power. He repudiated Pilateís statement about his authority. The phrase, "not any authority" is written with ouk, the absolute no. This constituted a complete denial that Pilate had any authority of his own.

 

Pilate did not realize that it is The God who raises up kings and puts down kings (Revelation 17:14). All leaders are put in place, and granted only as much authority as may please The God. Jesus said that authority comes from above. This was telling Pilate that he had authority only because some one "from above" had given it to him. Pilate thought he got his authority from Caesar, but Jesus said he got it "from above," or from heaven. As Romans 13:1 says,

"Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of god: the powers that be are ordained of god."

 

"On this account he who delivers me up to thee has greater sin." Jesus could have been referring to either Judas or the Jews, or to both. Judas delivered him up the Jews, and the Jews delivered him up to Pilate. The point here, is that the sin of those who delivered him up was much greater than would be Pilateís sin.

 

Did Jesus make this statement to alleviate Pilateís concern about him? Or, did he say this in order to help Pilate make the decision to have him crucified? His crucifixion was something that must occur, and Jesus did not try to avoid it. How did he manage to be so calm in the face of what was happening to him? Because he had holy spirit without measure, something no other person has ever been granted.

 

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19:12     From this, Pilate sought to release him; but the Jews cried out, saying, If this [man] thou release, thou art not a friend of Caesar. Everyone making himself a king speaks against Caesar.

 

The word from comes from ek, meaning out of. Out of this, or out of the former conversations and questioning of Jesus, "Pilate sought to release him."  Sought is written in the connotative imperfect, which means that Pilate

"made a series of attempts to release Jesus" (Rienecker, p. 258).

 

According to these scriptures, Pilate was one frightened man. He had spoken to his wife who begged him to "have nothing to do with that righteous person."  Then, after talking with Jesus, he seemed to be more confounded than before. But even as he tried to release Jesus, his troubles only deepened.

 

The Jewish leaders were expert at baiting their Roman rulers. They knew that Pilate ruled at the pleasure of Caesar, thus they told him, "If you release this man, you are no friend of Caesar."  This clearly implied that they would tell Caesar. And, what they would tell Caesar was that "everyone making himself a king speaks against Caesar."  For Pilate, this proved to be a convincing point.

 

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19:13     Therefore, Pilate having heard this word, led Jesus out, and sat down upon the judgment-seat, at a place called Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha.

 

Pilate brought Jesus from the praetorium, the judgment hall where testimony was heard, "and sat down upon the judgment-seat (bema)."  This was a public place where any judgments made by Pilate, as governor of Israel, could be heard by the people in attendance.

 

This was "at a place called Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha." Smith (p. 109) defines Gabbatha as,

"Pavement (John XIX, 13). Outside the Praetorium (judgment hall), where Pilate delivered Jesus to death. The bema was an elevated pavement, the usual place of justice."

 

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19:14     And it was the preparation of the passover, and about [the] sixth hour; and he says to the Jews, Behold your king.

 

The crucifixion was to take place on the Passover, when the Jews would place their hands upon the heads of the sheep they had brought to be slain. These slain lambs took the place of the people who brought them, and the sins of the people were forgiven.

 

It was necessary that Jesus die on the Passover as he was "the lamb who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). His death would provide forgiveness for all men in perpetuity. Never again would anyoneís sin ever be judged by The God. All were forgiven, once and for all.

 

"Behold your king."  By this time, Jesus had been dressed in royal purple and a crown of thorns had been crammed down on his head. He was bleeding profusely from both the thorns and the scourging he had undergone.

 

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19:15     But they cried out, Away, away, crucify him. Pilate says to them, Shall I crucify your king? The chief priests answered, We have no king except Caesar.

 

The chief priests left no question about their feelings. They had finally laid their hands upon this person, Jesus, who had threatened their very way of life, both religiously and financially. They were not about to let him escape crucifixion.

 

Suddenly, these Jews who hated the Romans with a visceral hatred, appeared to be the quintessence of loyalty toward Caesar. No matter how hypocritical their attitude was, they stated, "We have no king but Caesar."

 

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The crucifixion of Jesus

 

19:16     Therefore, then he delivered him up to them that he might be crucified. And they took Jesus and led [him] away.

 

This verse indicates that Jesus was delivered to the Jews to be crucified. However, according to other gospel writers, Jesus was delivered up to the Roman soldiers. For example, Matthew 27:27-31 says,

"Then the soldiers of the governor, having taken Jesus with [them] to the praetorium, gathered all the band against him; and having stripped him, they put round him a scarlet cloak; and having platted a crown of thorns they put [it] on his head, and a reed in his right hand; and bowing the knee before him, they mocked him, saying Hail, king of the Jews! And having spit upon him, they took the reed and struck [him] on his head. And when they had mocked him they took off him the cloak, and they put on him his own garments; and led him away to crucify."

 

John provided only a skeletal account of the crucifixion, in comparison to the other gospel writers. The reason is that John had a higher purpose in mind as he wrote about Jesus, his life, and his crucifixion. Johnís purpose for writing his gospel was to show how the Old Testament word, Jehovah, became the New Testament word, the human Jesus, and how his life glorified his heavenly father. This is the a priori of Johnís writing.

 

"And they took Jesus and led him away." They are the Roman soldiers. Along with many of Johnís descriptions, this statement is quite terse, plain, and simple! They took. They led away. More elaborate accounts of these events were provided by the other gospel writers.

 

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19:17     And bearing his cross, he went out to the place called of a skull, which in Hebrew, is called Golgotha.

 

The other gospel writers elaborated upon the issue of bearing his cross. Jesus bore his cross only part way, when he became so weak from all of his torture and loss of blood that another man was conscripted by the Romans to bear the cross the rest of the way.

 

"Place of a skull, which in Hebrew, is called Golgotha."  Historians have never come to any final conclusion as to where this place really was. There are several sites which different "experts" claim for Golgotha. We do know that it was somewhere outside Jerusalem, and it was called "of a skull" because the topography of the place resembled one (see Thayer, p. 120).

 

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19:18     Where they crucified him, and with him, two others one this side and [one] on that side, and Jesus in the middle.

 

When Jesus was hung on a stake (not a cross), he was further humiliated by being crucified with "two others, one this side and one on that side, with Jesus in the middle."  Thus, Jesus was crucified in between two criminals, which would indicate to those passing by on the nearby thoroughfare that he, too, was a criminal.

 

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19:19     And Pilate also wrote, and put a title on the cross. And it was written, Jesus the Nazaraean, the king of the Jews.

 

The word cross comes from staurou, which Thayer (p. 586) defines as:

"1. an upright stake, especially a pointed one. 2. a cross. The well-known instrument of most cruel and ignominious punuishment, borrowed by the Greeks and Romans from the Phoenicians; to it were affixed among the Romans, down to the time of Constantine the Great, the guiltiest criminals, particularly the basest slaves, robbers, the authors and abetters of insurrections, and occasionally in the provinces, at the arbitrary pleasure of the governors, upright and peaceable men also, and even Roman citizens themselves."

 

Although artists often depict a cross piece attached to the stake, this was not actually the case for Jesus and the two malefactors. This will be explained in later comments.

 

The sign which Pilate hung on the stake said, "Jesus the Nazaraean, the king of the Jews."  Whether Pilate meant this as literal truth, or simply as a way to belittle the Jews is a good question. Perhaps Pilate really did come to the conclusion that Jesus was exactly whom he said he was.

 

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19:20     Therefore, this title was read by many of the Jews, for the city was near the place where Jesus was crucified; and it was written in Hebrew, in Greek, in Latin.

 

Golgotha was situated near one of the main thoroughfares into Jerusalem. Many people traveled this road to conduct their business in the city. Hence, they could easily observe the sign placed above Jesus. Pilate did not want anyone to miss this message, so he wrote it in all three of the languages commonly used in the area.

 

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19:21     Therefore, the chief priest of the Jews said to Pilate, Write not The king of the Jews, but that he said, I am king of the Jews.

 

The chief priests must have been concerned with Pilateís real intent, and they were not pleased. They were used to manipulating rulers, such as Pilate, into doing what they wanted by threatening to cause a riot if they did not get their way. This was seen earlier, when they threatened to report Pilate to Caesar if he let Jesus go free. When they saw what Pilate had written, they immediately demanded that he write it differently. They wanted the sign to say: "He said, I am king of the Jews," rather than saying simply "King of the Jews."

 

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19:22     Pilate answered, What I have written, I have written.

 

Pilate, however, did not relent. He stayed the course, and he told the Jews that he was not going to change what he had already written, whether it pleased them or not.

 

Written is in the perfect tense, which indicates that it is going to stand. Perhaps this use of the perfect tense was Pilateís way of saying that this was a legal decision. No matter what consequences the Jews may have threatened him with did not cause him to recant what he had written. We must wonder, did Pilate come to believe Jesus really was the king of the Jews?

 

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19:23     Therefore, the soldiers, when they crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and the tunic: but the tunic was seamless, from the top woven throughout.

 

Again, John gave only the barest facts concerning the crucifixion. The synoptic gospels (Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23 )all provide much more detailed accounts of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. Why did John not do the same? The synoptic gospels were historic details of Jesusí ministry. John's thrust was to relate the ministry and death of Jesus in terms of how it glorified and revealed the invisible god. This point is basic to understanding the gospel of John.

 

The four soldiers who were present at the crucifixion "took his garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part."  Although it is seldom pictured in this manner, this would mean that Jesus was naked, another great humiliation forced upon him.

 

The soldiers could not divide his tunic without ruining it because "it was seamless."  It "was woven from the top throughout."  Exodus 28:31-32 contains a portion of the instructions on how to make the tunic for the high priest, Aaron.

"And thou shall make the robe of the ephod all of blue. And there shall be an hole in the top of it, in the midst thereof: it shall have a binding of woven work round about the hole of it , as it were the hole of an habergeon, that it be not rent."

 

The tunic Jesus wore was made in this same manner, signifying a high priest, the one who would return to the heavens to intercede before The God on behalf of men.

 

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19:24     Therefore, they said to one another, Let us not rend it, but let us cast lots for it whose it shall be; that the scripture might be fulfilled which says, They divided my garments among them, and for my vesture they cast a lot. Therefore, the soldiers did these things.

 

It should not be forgotten, that while Jesus was living here on earth, many of his life events were for the purpose "that the scripture might be fulfilled."  John picked this instance as one of them. It is a quote from Psalms 22:17-18:

"I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture."

 

"Therefore, the soldiers did these things."  The soldiers had no idea that they were fulfilling scripture. When they divided his clothing among themselves, and cast lots for his tunic, they were moved upon to do these things in order to fulfill prophecy.

 

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19:25     And his mother stood by the cross of Jesus, and the sister of his mother, Mary the [wife] of Clopas, and Mary the Magdalene.

 

Three women named Mary were present at the crucifixion. First, there was "Mary, his mother" who "stood by the cross of Jesus."  The others were "Mary, the wife of Cleopas, and Mary, the Magdalene," who were both close to Jesus.

 

The following quotes concerning Mary are from the book, All The Women Of The Bible, by Edith Dean.

"MARY 1. Mother of Jesus. MARY MAGDALENE 2. First to report to the disciples the miracle of the resurrection. MARY 4. Wife of Cleophas, mother of James and Joses (p. 281)."

 

"Today, as in the time of Jesusí birth, Mary is the embodiment of one of the greatest and still unexplained miracles of the bible, the Virgin Birth. Because of this, she is unique in the history of women, as is her son, who brought salvation to mankind. She is great, not only in being the most perfect woman recorded in history but because of her part in the miracle of the Virgin Birth. This has been no better explained in almost 2,000 years than has the origin of the moon, and the stars."

 

"We can imagine that as a young girl in Nazareth, Mary was more serious and pious than other girls of her age and more given to believing in the wonders of God. Even in her early years we can see that she had completely surrendered her whole being to the higher, holier will" (p. 158).

 

To this author, the most meaningful words in the above quote are "we can imagine."  It is only imagination on the part of many theologians, and othersóthose who have been duped by one of the largest religious denominationsóthat enables people to believe all the drivel that has been written about Mary. True, the scriptures say that she was "blessed above all women."  However, she was blessed, not because she was "the most perfect woman recorded in history,"  but because she was chosen to bear the son of The God.

 

It does not necessarily follow, nor is it ever stated in the scriptures, that Mary was any more perfect than a multitude of other Jewish virgins. There is little doubt that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a devout young woman. But she, like all other women, died and was buried. She, too, awaits the resurrection, as do multiple millions of other mothers.

 

The scriptures reveal several times when Mary was rebuked by Jesus, times when she tried to interfere in his godly calling. Yet, today, there are those who want people to believe in the plethora of imaginations being taught without any scriptural basis whatsoever. These are not fact, but are simply the religious dicta of some old men in Rome, the same ones who also believe that they are the pontiff, or bridge, between men and The God. This nonsense actually usurps the place of Jesus, which he bought with his death. Over the centuries, these religious leaders have ordered many people put to death. However, none of these religious leaders has ever been crucified for his faith.

 

Was Mary blessed above all women? Absolutely. She was chosen by The God to bear his blessed son, Jesus. No other woman in history has been so blessed.

 

Mary Magdalene was the second Mary present at the crucifixion (also quoting from the book, All The Women Of The Bible, by Edith Dean.)

MARY MAGDALENE. Christís empty tomb was first seen by Mary Magdalene, and she was the first to report to the disciples the miracle of the Resurrection, the greatest event the Christian world has ever known. Going on ahead, Mary Magdalene saw that the big circular stone had been rolled back along the groove and had left the entrance clear. Hastening to Peter and "the other disciple, whom Jesus Loved," who is thought to be John, she told them, "They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulcher, and we know not where they have laid him." John 20:2. Who was this Mary Magdalene to whom Jesus appeared after His triumph over death? John gives her the leading part in his narrative. Fourteen times Mary Magdalene is mentioned by name. In eight of these passages her name heads the list. In one her name follows the name of the Mother of Jesus and the other Mary. In five it appears alone. These concern the appearance of Christ to her, as narrated by John (p. 200).

 

The third Mary present was Mary, the wife of Clopas, or Cleophas (also quoting from the book, All The Women Of The Bible, by Edith Dean.)

She is also named as the wife of Cleophas, apparently to be identified as Alphaeus (Matt. 10:3). The two names are variant forms of the same Aramaic original. Cleophas and this Mary were parents of the apostle James the less, who had a brother Joses, the latter being the Greek form of Joseph." This was not the Mary who was the mother of John, the beloved disciple. She was the wife of Zebedee, and was the mother of both John, and James, the author of the book of James. James and John were designated the sons of thunder because of their forward way of preaching. James, who was noted for the great amount of time he spent in prayer upon his knees, was called the man with "the camel knees" because of the great calluses formed upon them (p. 209).

 

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19:26     Therefore, Jesus seeing [his] mother, and the disciple standing by whom he loved, says to his mother, Woman, behold thy son.

 

Jesus, upon "seeing his mother," expanded the energy to speak to her in spite of his suffering. He wanted to make sure that her physical needs would be met after his death. He saw "the disciple standing by whom he loved."  Although this disciple was not named here, he is commonly believed to be his cousin, John.

 

Jesus used agape, instead of the more personal phileo. Agape means wishing the best for someone, while phileo indicates a more emotional love attachment. Perhaps Jesus used agape because being chosen to care for Mary, the mother of Jesus, would be a great blessing to him.

 

Then he "says to his mother, Woman, behold thy son."  Woman is capitalized in the Greek, which makes it a proper noun. Why did Jesus address her in this manner? Jesus had always been careful in keeping his mother separate from his ministry. Here, at the very end of his ministry, he still maintained that stance. He addressed her as "Woman," which means out of man, to forestall all the false doctrines that later were fostered by some religions attempting to lionize her as someone greater than any other woman.

 

Mary, the mother of Jesus, was blessed above all other women because she was chosen to bear the son of The God. But, to state that this made her someone to be revered as an equal to Jesus, or even sometimes set above him, seems to be the ultimate miscarriage of scripture. Jesus sought to avoid this. Unfortunately, the false teachers thus far have succeeded in doing the opposite of what Jesus intended.

 

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19:27     Then he says to the disciple, Behold thy mother. And from that hour the disciple took her to his own [home].

 

With these words, Jesus made arrangements for his motherís provision after his death. "The disciple," to whom Jesus entrusted his motherís care, was equal to the occasion. "From that hour he took her to his own home." Mary, living in Johnís home, became the agape, the blessing, that Jesus wished for John.

 

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19:28     After this, Jesus knowing that all things now have been finished, that might be fulfilled the scripture he says, I thirst.

 

Jesus knew that all things were now finished. While he hung on the cross, Jesus recognized that this was the end of his obedient ministry to his father, the invisible god of heaven. But, he was also cognizant of his need to fulfill the scriptures. Therefore, he said, "I thirst." This was to fulfill the words of Psalms 69:21:

"They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink."

 

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19:29     Therefore, a vessel full of vinegar was set, and they having filled a sponge with vinegar, and having put hyssop on [it] they brought it to [his] mouth.

 

Vinegar was a type of wine which was the usual drink of soldiers and laborers of that day. Some say that it was offered to Jesus to alleviate the pain of the crucifixion. Whether or not this is a valid assumption is really not known. However, the Roman soldiers were not known for their kindness to felons, which Jesus was assumed to be.

 

"They having filled a sponge with vinegar, and having put hyssop on it, they brought it to his mouth."  It was not stated how they lifted the sponge to his mouth. The hyssop they added came from a plant which was used as food, taken with drink. It grew on a stem without branches, ending in a cluster. The Jews also used hyssop in some of their rites by sprinkling it.

 

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19:30     Therefore, when Jesus took the vinegar, he said, It has been finished; and having bowed the head he yielded up [his] spirit.

 

The fulfillment of this scripture was the last that Jesus accomplished in his life on earth. Remember, that Jesus was living under the aegis of holy spirit, which was upon him in full measure. This holy spirit was constantly bringing him knowledge of his heavenly fatherís will. Thus, he was aware of all the scriptures which the Father wanted him to fulfill before his death. Jesus, who was totally obedient to his heavenly father, obeyed right up to the moment of his death.

 

"It has been finished."  Oh, how very much this small pronoun includes! In this case, "it" includes the entire ministry of Jesus. Preachers, in their pride, often claim that this statement meant only that the salvation of mankind was finished. However, there was much more to the ministry of Jesus than the salvation of humanity. He died for the whole of The Godís creation, not just for humanity. By his death, there would also be a cleansing of this earth, something needed because of the sins of mankind. When Adam sinned, he soiled all of creation. Restoration of the earth to its original condition was also accomplished by the death of Jesus upon the cross.

 

It [the whole of salvation] has been finished. What a glorious moment this must have been for Jesus, to know that he had been faithful even unto death, so that his father might be glorified. We, too, should yield our lives to The God that we, through holy spirit, might also glorify The God, our father.

 

"And having bowed the head, he gave up the spirit."  Again, it might be noted that John was sparing in his treatment of the details concerning the crucifixion. It was an amazing testimony to the fortitude of Jesus that "he bowed his head."  Just before the time of his death, Jesus must have appeared unbowed to the Roman soldiers and the Jews who were witnessing his death.

 

When he did bow his head, "he gave up his spirit."  Please note that Jesus gave up his spirit, pneuma, not his soul, psyche. His spirit returned to The God who gave it, as do all men (see Eccelesiastes 12:7). There is a lot of confusion today between soul and spirit. Jesus gave up to death his soul for the salvation of The Godís creation, not his spirit. His spirit never died; it only changed location. But, his soul, his psyche, did die.

 

This distinction is stated over and over in the scriptures when it speaks of shedding his blood. When people shed their blood, they experience a physical death, as the life (or soul) is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11). Life comes from nephesh, the Hebrew word for soul. Thus, on the cross, Jesus gave up his bodily life, but he only transferred his spiritual life from here to The God, and received in return a body fitted for the spirit, not the soul. This will also be the case for the few, the overcomers, at the resurrection, when they are "born again."

 

When Jesus bowed his head, and gave up his spirit, a completely new episode of history was begun. While only a few characteristics of this new episode will be listed here, they should enable one to understand the immensity of this moment.

His death proved the infinite love of The God (John 3:16,

     Romans 5:8).

The church of the son was formed, and he is the divine head

     (Colossians 1:18).

He gathered together all the children of The God ( John 11:52).

He became the leader of men to glory (Hebrews 2:10).

He destroyed him that had the power of death (Hebrews 2:14).

Those who believe, belong to a new world:

His life is their life (Philippians 1:21).

Their victory is his grace (I Corinthians 15:10).

Their glory is his cross (Galatians 6:14).

 

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19:31     Therefore, the Jews, that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath, because it was the preparation,   (for that day was a great sabbath), requested Pilate that their legs might be broken, and taken away.

 

These religious leaders, who could gleefully watch Jesus suffer while he died on the cross, were very careful about their traditions. Their religion provided no sympathy for a dying Jesus. They were much more concerned that their participation in a holy day not be compromised. How clearly this defines even some religions of our own day, where tradition replaces any semblance of humanity if it interferes with religious doctrines.

 

"They requested Pilate that their legs may be broken and taken away." This implies that Pilate was also present at the crucifixion. Why would the Jews request that the legs of the three on the crosses be broken? The reason was that while they hung on the stake with their arms pinned, as well as their feet, they could support the weight of their bodies enough that they could still breathe. If their legs were broken, they could no longer lift the weight of their bodies, and they would slowly suffocate. By breaking their legs, their deaths would be hurried.

 

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19:32     Therefore, the soldiers came, and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who was crucified with him.

 

Because "the soldiers came," Pilate must have consented to the request that the legs be broken. Perhaps he was only too happy to see this sad ordeal come to an end. He had not wanted this to happen, but because he feared that the Jews would report him to Caesar, he had given in to their demands that Jesus be crucified.

 

The soldiers broke the legs of the other two felons who were crucified with Jesus. Since Jesus was in the middle, the soldiers must have begun with the two who were on either side of him.

 

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19:33     But, having come to Jesus, when they saw he was already dead, they did not break his legs.

 

When Jesus bowed his head, his body relaxed, and the result was the same as if his legs had been broken. Therefore, there was no need to break his legs. This fulfilled his earlier words:

"On this account the father loves me, because I lay down my life, that again I may take it. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself" (John 10:17-18).

 

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19:34     But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and immediately came out blood and water.

 

Much has been written about the significance of the words, "came out blood and water."  Some say this was a mixture of the two because of the great suffering endured by Jesus. One thing may be said with certainty: Jesus shed his blood, which indicates that he gave his soul, his pysche, for mankind. Jesus died. His soul died. His spirit went to be with his heavenly father.

 

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19:35     And he who has seen has borne witness, and his witness is true, and he knows that he says true, that ye may believe.

 

With these words, John summarized all that he had said about the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. He "has borne witness."  John had seen all that he wrote about. He had experienced all of this by remaining a true disciple of Jesus, even through the terrible times of his conviction and his crucifixion. John, in his humility, wrote in the third person so as not to claim more credit than he must. He did, however, want all who read to know that he could verify what he had said.

 

The purpose that John wrote about his witness was so that those who read his words "may believe."  John wanted to create believing, dedicated disciples to Jesus, the Christ, the son of The God. Why? Because John knew that all of mankind was put here for the single purpose of bringing glory to the Father by their lives and deeds, even as Jesus did.

 

This dedication to the cause of glory, by dedicating oneself to the Father, is too seldom a part of many sermons. Today, a sense of "easy-believism" has taken the place of real dedication. People are told that if they believe, and if they accept Jesus as their personal savior, they will certainly go to heaven. Therefore, many are led to believe that this is all that is necessary to be a "christian."  According to the scriptures, there is a lot more to it than this.

 

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19:36     For these things took place that the scripture might be fulfilled, Not a bone shall be broken of him.

 

This is a reference to Psalms 34:20 :

"He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken."

 

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19:37     And again, another scripture says, And they shall look on him whom they pierced.

 

This verse sounds as though it refers to those present at the crucifixion. However, other scriptures modify this assumption, and indicate that this was a prophecy which was to be fulfilled. Zechariah 12:10 says,

"And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn."

 

This refers to the time when Jesus returns again to this earth, and the Jewish people realize that Jesus, the man, really was the christ of The God.

 

Revelation 1:7 says,

"Behold, he comes with the clouds, and every eye shall see him, and they which pierced him, and all the tribes of the earth shall wail on account of him. Yea, Amen."

 

But the Jesus they will see when he comes the second time will be a glorified man. For a description of what he will look like at that time, read further in Chapter 1 of Revelation.

 

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The burial of Jesus

 

19:38     And after these things, Joseph (from Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but concealed through fear of the Jews), asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave leave. Therefore, he came and took away the body of Jesus.

 

When everything was over, Joseph (from Arimathaea) asked Pilate for permission to take away the body of Jesus. This Joseph was a secret "disciple of Jesus, but concealed [it] through fear of the Jews."  Lockyear (p. 204), says the following about this Joseph.

"This wealthy and devout Israelite, a member of the Sanhedrin, lived in a city of Jews (Luke 23:51). It is to the provision he made for the body of christ that Isaiah had reference when he said, Ďhe made his grave with the richí (Isa. 53:9). Because of his adherence to the law and integrity of life he was a member of the governing body known as the Sanhedrin. He looked for the kingdom of god. Immersed in Old Testament scriptures, he anticipated the reign of the promised messiah. He was a secret disciple (John 19:38). Joseph of Arimathaea was similar to Nicodemus in his respect for our lord as a man, admiration for him as a teacher, belief in him as the christ, and yet, till now, his lack of confessing him before men. Dreading the hostility of his colleagues on the Sanhedrin, he kept his faith secret. ...It was common for friends of the crucified to purchase their bodies, which would otherwise have been cast out as refuse, and give them decent burial (Mark 15:45). He gave his grave to christ (Matt. 27:59)."

 

In other words, the body of Jesus would have been cast into the valley of Gehenna, and burned with the body of the beggars and other poor ones, along with the dead animals and other garbage of the city. This valley, named Gehenna, is often spoken of as hell.

 

This Joseph approached Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus, and Pilate agreed. Therefore, Joseph "came and took away the body of Jesus."

 

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19:39     And Nicodemus also came, who at first came to Jesus at night, bearing a mixture of myrrh and aloes about a hundred pounds.

 

Nicodemus was another secret disciple of Jesus who did not wish to lose his position on the Sanhedrin. Also, he would have risked ridicule if he had acknowledged his faith that Jesus was the christ. Did his actions now acknowledge his guilt and grief over his former decision to remain a secret disciple? Or, did he finally have the courage to acknowledge his convictions about who Jesus was now that he had witnessed his horrible death?

 

We do know that Nicodemus brought burial material for Jesus. He brought "a mixture of myrrh and aloes about a hundred pounds."  This mixture was poured over the dead body to thwart some of the odor of a decaying corpse, and possibly to slow the decaying process. The hundred pounds would have been based upon a 12-ounce pound, not on our present 16-ounce pound.

 

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19:40     Therefore they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen cloths with the aromatics, as a custom is among the Jews to prepare for burial.

 

It does not state that the aromatics were put next to the corpse of Jesus, but it would be assumed that their purpose would require such a placement. The "body of Jesus was bound in linen cloths as a custom is among the Jews to prepare for burial."  After preparation, the body would have weighed 75 more pounds than it would have otherwise. This was much more than the small amount previously used to anoint the feet of Jesus prior to his death.

 

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19:41     Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one was ever laid.

 

It was not stated whether or not this new tomb belonged to Joseph of Arimathaea, or to some other wealthy person. This was "a new tomb in which no one was ever laid."  A burial site, such as this tomb, was often used for many members of the same family. After the body decomposed, the bare bones were put in an ossuary, which was usually within the tomb. After the bones were removed, then there was room for the next person on the slab provided for the body.

 

The Old Testament scriptures spoke of gathering the bones with the bones of other family members. For example, "David was gathered to his fathers."  In other words, his bones had joined those of his ancestors in the ossuary. However, no such thing had ever happened in this tomb. It was "a new tomb."

 

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19:42     Therefore, on account of the preparation of the Jews, because the tomb was near, they laid Jesus.

 

Haste was needed. The big, important Sabbath, or celebration day, was rapidly approaching, and something needed to be done quickly with the dead body of Jesus. Otherwise, it would defile those who had anything to do with handling his body. The grave was nearby in the garden, and Jesusí body was hurriedly prepared and carried to this tomb.

 

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Summary Highlights of Chapter 19

 

# We can only wonder how Jesus could submit himself to the pain and

     scorn heaped upon him by the Roman soldiers. This was a total

     commitment of himself to the purpose of the Father.

 

# The religious fervor of the high priests and the officers was evident by

     their remarks when they saw Jesus. They had no sympathy for the

     man and his sufferings, only a religious anger which can be one of the

     most devastating kinds of anger known. This kind of anger is still seen

     today, practiced by religious authorities against any who disagree with

     their doctrines.

 

#  Jesus was not blaspheming the name of the lord because he really was

     "the son of a god."  Whether or not these leaders of the Jewish faith

     actually believed that Jesus was an imposter, and therefore guilty of

     blasphemy, remains a question until this day. Perhaps they truly did

     believe that. Or, perhaps they were only seeking to preserve the status

     quo in order to retain their offices and power in the Jewish land.

 

# One thing of note in the teachings of Jesus concerning these matters is

     that he seldom condemned the ordinary people of little repute. Almost

     all of his condemnation was addressed to the priests and leaders. They

     carried the greatest guilt because they were the ones who should have

     known, and were entrusted to speak truth to the illiterate people.

 

#  The fear that went through Pilate must have been based on the

     question: What if Jesus really is who the Jews say he is?

 

#  Pilate did not know that Jesus had already pledged himself to die. Jesus

     was ready to face his future, and he already knew what it would be.

 

#  Pilate did not realize that it is The God who raises up kings and puts

     down kings (Revelation 17:14). All leaders are put in place, and granted

     only as much authority as may please The God. Jesus said that

     authority comes from above. This was telling Pilate that he had

     authority only because some one "from above" had given it to him.

     Pilate thought he got his authority from Caesar, but Jesus said he got it

     "from above," or from heaven.

 

# The point here, is that the sin of those who delivered Jesus up was much

     greater than would be Pilateís sin.

 

# His crucifixion was something that must occur, and Jesus did not try to

     avoid it. How did he manage to be so calm in the face of what was

     happening to him? Because he had holy spirit without measure,

     something no other person has ever been granted.

 

# The crucifixion was to take place on the Passover, when the Jews would

     place their hands upon the heads of the sheep they had brought to be

     slain. These slain lambs took the place of the people who brought them,

     and the sins of the people were forgiven. It was necessary that Jesus die

     on the Passover as he was "the lamb who takes away the sin of the

     world."  His death would provide forgiveness for all men in perpetuity.

     Never again would anyoneís sin ever be judged by The God. All were

     forgiven, once and for all.

 

#  John provided only a skeletal account of the crucifixion, in comparison

     to the other gospel writers. The reason is that John had a higher

     purpose in mind as he wrote about Jesus, his life, and his crucifixion.

     Johnís purpose for writing his gospel was to show how the Old

     Testament word, Jehovah, became the New Testament word, the

     human Jesus, and how his life glorified his heavenly father. This is the a

     priori of Johnís writing.

 

# The synoptic gospels were historic details of Jesusí ministry. John's

     thrust was to relate the ministry and death of Jesus in terms of how it

     glorified and revealed the invisible god. This point is basic to

     understanding the gospel of John.

 

# The tunic Jesus wore was made in this same manner, signifying a high

     priest, the one who would return to the heavens to intercede before The

     God on behalf of men.

 

#  It should not be forgotten, that while Jesus was living here on earth,

     many of his life events were for the purpose "that the scripture might

     be fulfilled." 

 

# The scriptures say that Mary was "blessed above all women."  However,

     she was blessed, not because she was "the most perfect woman

     recorded in history,"  but because she was chosen to bear the son of The

     God.  It does not necessarily follow, nor is it ever stated in the scriptures,

     that Mary was any more perfect than a multitude of other Jewish

     virgins. There is little doubt that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a

     devout young woman. But she, like all other women, died and was

     buried. She, too, awaits the resurrection, as do multiple millions of

     other mothers.

 

#  Jesus had always been careful in keeping his mother separate from his

     ministry. Here, at the very end of his ministry, he still maintained that

     stance. He addressed her as "Woman," which means out of man, to

     forestall all the false doctrines that later were fostered by some religions

     attempting to lionize her as someone greater than any other woman.

 

# Mary, the mother of Jesus, was blessed above all other women because

     she was chosen to bear the son of The God. But, to state that this made

     her someone to be revered as an equal to Jesus, or even sometimes set

     above him, seems to be the ultimate miscarriage of scripture. Jesus

     sought to avoid this. Unfortunately, the false teachers thus far have

     succeeded in doing the opposite of what Jesus intended.

 

# "It has been finished."  In this case, "it" includes the entire ministry of

     Jesus. Preachers, in their pride, often claim that this statement meant

     only that the salvation of mankind was finished. However, there was

     much more to the ministry of Jesus than the salvation of humanity. He

     died for the whole of The Godís creation, not just for humanity. By his

     death, there would also be a cleansing of this earth, something needed

     because of the sins of mankind. When Adam sinned, he soiled all of

     creation. Restoration of the earth to its original condition was also

     accomplished by the death of Jesus upon the cross.

 

#  It [the whole of salvation] has been finished. What a glorious moment

     this must have been for Jesus, to know that he had been faithful even

     unto death so that his father might be glorified. We, too, should yield

     our lives to The God so that we, through holy spirit, might also glorify

     The God, our father.

 

#  Please note that Jesus gave up his spirit, pneuma, not his soul, psyche.

     His spirit returned to The God who gave it, as do all men (see

     Eccelesiastes 12:7). There is a lot of confusion today between soul and

     spirit. Jesus gave up to death his soul for the salvation of The Godís

     creation, not his spirit. His spirit never died; it only changed location.

     But, his soul, his psyche, did die.

 

# Thus, on the cross, Jesus gave up his bodily life, but he only transferred

     his spiritual life from here to The God, and received in return a body

     fitted for the spirit, not the soul. This will also be the case for the few,

     the overcomers, at the resurrection, when they are "born again."  When

     Jesus bowed his head, and gave up his spirit, a completely new episode

     of history was begun.

 

# One thing may be said with certainty: Jesus shed his blood, which

     indicates that he gave his soul, his pysche, for mankind. Jesus died. His

     soul died. His spirit went to be with his heavenly father.

 

#  John wanted to create believing, dedicated disciples to Jesus, the Christ,

     the son of The God. Why? Because John knew that all of mankind was

     put here for the single purpose of bringing glory to the Father by their

     lives and deeds, even as Jesus did.

 

 

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October 2009