John Chapter 19: Jesus’ Trial and Crucifixion

Dec 14th, 2009 | By | Category: John, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

John Chapter 19: Jesus’ Trial and Crucifixion

John 19:1 Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him.

Being reluctant to crucify Jesus, Pilate thought the scourging might satisfy the bloodthirsty cravings and he would be able to release Jesus. In other words, the scourging was a ploy, or stratagem, on Pilate’s part to pacify the multitude.

The Prophet Isaiah (50:6) wrote prophetically of Jesus, “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.” Although Pilate tried to avert the Crucifixion by means of the scourging, he unknowingly was fulfilling prophecy.

John 19:2 And the soldiers plaited a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe,

Notice how Jesus was decorated. A circular crown of thorns, woven in and out, was pressed down hard onto his head, and a purple robe was put on him. Matthew 27:28 describes the robe as scarlet. Probably the robe was both scarlet and purple, being lined with scarlet. Both colors could then be seen because of the cape-like nature of the robe.

The robe may have belonged to the centurion at the Cross. He was melted down by a process—a process of conviction. But earlier, at this time, the soldiers could have borrowed his cape.

All of these details were necessary in order for Jesus to fully pay the penalty for Adam. The crown of thorns was an offset for the curse put on Adam that he would have to till the ground by the sweat of his brow and that thorns and thistles would spring forth. Also, Jesus had to die as a King because Adam was a king. In other words, Jesus did not just have to die as a perfect man for Adam, but other correspondencies had to occur. Adam was king over the animals as well as king over his own family and the potential future human race to come from his loins. With thorns being part of the curse, Jesus had to experience them also. The point is that in order to be the corresponding price, Jesus had to feel the curse as well as die as a perfect man.

John 19:3 And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands.

Notice, it was the soldiery who put the crown of thorns on Jesus’ head and a purple robe on him and mockingly hailed him as “King of the Jews.” This suggests that soldiers were present as bodyguards for Pilate when he had the private audience with Jesus (John 18:33-37). Pilate had asked Jesus, “Art thou the King of the Jews?” And Jesus had replied, “Yes.” Thus the soldiers would have heard the exchange between Pilate and Jesus.

The mockery and ill treatment of Jesus show how cruel and hardened these soldiers were—and accustomed to doing such butchery as crucifixion and scourging. Their callousness was manifested even more later, at the Cross. They were sadistic.

John 19:4 Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him.

Three times in John’s Gospel, Pilate said publicly in regard to Jesus, “I find no fault in him” (John 18:38; 19:4,6). The repetition is impressive. And it is true, as the hymn goes: “Spotless Lamb of God was he.” Pilate’s words point out that the charges were false.

The mood that prevailed had a bearing on Jesus’ experiences and intensified his suffering and shame. Although the soldiers alone did the scourging, the multitude could have cheered as they witnessed it. The mood was like a football stadium, a bullfight, etc., where the sadistic nature of the crowd comes out. The people liked brutality and blood. Hence a mob spirit prevailed in regard to Jesus. No doubt Satan provided ideas for the occasion, such as the crown of thorns and the robe. Nevertheless, the soldiers were hardened to comply. The scourging usually involved 40 lashes save one. On the end of each strip of leather was a piece of metal, so that when the victim was hit, the flesh was ripped off his back as the leather strips were pulled back. “With [or by] his stripes we are healed” becomes very significant (Isa. 53:5). Jesus bore MUCH humiliation and shame with great patience so that Adam’s sin could be forgiven (and thus ours and the world’s). Technically, Jesus died for Adam, but in the process, he was even helping those who had scourged him and the mob that had shouted, “Crucify him!”—for all will have the opportunity for life.

We see the temptation Jesus faced. He knew he possessed powers when he was taunted, “If you are really the Son of God, come down from the cross” (Matt. 27:40 paraphrase). He patiently endured and went through the rigors of the Cross and death. In Matthew 26:53, he said, “Know ye not that I could call twelve legions of angels if I so desired?” (paraphrase). Over and over again we see that Jesus did not just die—it is the manner in which he died that is so significant.

John 19:5 Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!

John 19:6 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.

The chief priests and officers had a blind spot. No matter what Pilate said, they would not be dissuaded. The same was true of the Holy(?) Inquisition. Many thought they were doing God a favor by persecuting so-called “heretics.” Hence they were completely hardened to the cries and moans of the afflicted. Reprint No. 2312 entitled “Jesus Before Pilate—’Consider Him’” contains an interesting statement: “The hatred inspired by religious fanaticism is the deepest, wickedest, and most conscienceless of all.”

There were different groups of soldiers. One group, plus a motley crew of others, apprehended Jesus in Gethsemane. A different group of soldiers, Pilate’s own cohorts and bodyguards, scourged Jesus. Thus the priests had a contingent of soldiers to keep order during their services, and Pilate had his own soldiers. We know that the officers who later watched the sealed tomb pertained to the priests because when the resurrection occurred, the soldiers reported to the priests, and the priests, in turn, paid hush money to the soldiers.

“Behold the man!” (“Ecce homo”) included Jesus’ countenance, bearing, stature, composure, and dignity—in spite of all the humiliation. The way Jesus patiently accepted the situation impressed Pilate, and Pilate was a hardened individual. But there are people who, even though hardened, want justice. Roman governors, such as Pilate, had to be very careful lest they lose their office overnight at the order of the emperor or someone higher up than they.

Pilate no doubt sensed that Jesus was innocent. If he consented too quickly to Jesus’ death, there might be repercussions. But he finally agreed when Caesar was mentioned. The chief priests said in effect, “We want your approval to have him crucified. If you refuse, you know what Caesar will do” (John 19:12).

Pilate’s words “Behold the man!” showed the excellency of Jesus’ dignity as a perfect man. This is a good example for us to remember when we are on trial at the end of the age. We are to keep our dignity, even when suffering for the Lord’s cause. Pilate discerned the perfection of Jesus’ being. Although Jesus’ countenance was 90 percent of the situation (see Strong’s), everything about him contributed. (The word “countenance” can be used in either a large sense or a restricted sense.)

Pilate got his retribution in the present life. After the Crucifixion, he was removed from office very quickly and had a sad ending. Thus in the next age, he will be dealt with a little easier. There were degrees of responsibility among those who contributed to Jesus’ death.

Pilate could see earlier, from his private audience with Jesus, that the latter posed no threat. Jesus had said in effect, “You do not have to worry about me. My Kingdom is not of this world, or else my servants would fight” (John 18:36 paraphrase). He had a different calling for some time in the future—and a very indefinite time from Pilate’s perspective. Both Pilate and Herod represent civil authorities, who will be pawns in the hands of the religious leaders at the end of the present age. Caiaphas and Herodias, picturing Papacy, were the respective connivers. Those in the Papacy will want the feet members put to death but will not want to do the dirty work themselves. The civil authorities will be reluctant to act but will have their hands forced.

Pilate was not concerned with religion, but he considered the subject of sedition against the government more inflammatory. The same will be true in the future. Civil authorities will be concerned over the feet members’ influence on the downfall of governments.

John 19:7 The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.

Notice, Jesus “made himself the Son of God,” not God or even God the Son. This verse is helpful in refuting the Trinity.

John 19:8 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid;

Pilate’s being “more afraid” shows he already was afraid previously. Following a dream, his wife had warned, “Have nothing to do with that just man” (Matt. 27:19). This statement, plus looking at Jesus, made Pilate nervous—there were forces at play here. He could see that he was being railroaded by the chief priests and officers. Now, hearing the claim that Jesus was the Son of God, he was the more afraid.

Following the charge of the “Jews” that Jesus was claiming to be the Son of God, Pilate may have foreseen what the next step would be (verse 12). “If you let this man go, you are not Caesar’s friend, for whosoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar” (paraphrase).

Also, “son of God” was one of Caesar’s titles. (Starting with Julius Caesar, this title was ascribed to the Roman emperor.) Pilate realized he would be pressured on this point. Although he still wanted an out for Jesus, he was frightened and suspicious of what would happen.

John 19:9 And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer.

Notice Pilate’s strategy, for he deliberately took this moment to have Jesus come privately to him again. In other words, when the situation got delicate, he tried to distract attention or break the continuity of thought of the others by an intermission. He still did not want to crucify Jesus.

But notice what Jesus did next: he refused to answer. He did not want to defend himself to the point of being released, for he had come to die. Only after the second question did he answer. In other words, there are times to speak and times to be silent. It is hard to know when to do which.

Pilate knew the reports that Jesus was from Nazareth—he would have known Jesus’ background. But upon hearing the claim that Jesus was the Son of God, he asked, “Whence art thou?” Pilate half expected to hear that Jesus’ origin was another planet! In other words, he suspected Jesus was not really from Nazareth. However, Jesus did not answer because he did not want to be released. Because of their offices, Herod and Pilate both knew about Jesus’ doings and whereabouts—and the possibility that there might be some truth to his claim (even though Pilate had asked earlier, “What is truth?”).

John 19:10 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?

John 19:11 Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.

Jesus knew what was in Pilate’s mind. Therefore, not only did he correct Pilate’s statement about power, but because of Pilate’s fear, he made a statement about guilt and responsibility.

He was saying, “Those who delivered me to you will be worse off.” Jesus’ response went to the core of Pilate’s being and made him tremble even more.

Another point. Jesus’ statement proves there are different degrees of responsibility. He did not say that Pilate had no sin but that the chief priests and officers had the greater sin. Whenever Jesus spoke—even if caught suddenly and off guard—he answered precisely and so true. His words were astonishing, for he was always prepared. He always had the appropriate reply (or nonreply).

Q: How do we harmonize John 18:31 where the Jews said, “It is not lawful for us to put any man to death,” with John 19:7 where they said, “We have a law, and by our law he ought to die”?

A: Their excuse was not that they could not put him to death, for they subsequently stoned Stephen, but that it was the Feast of Passover and they wanted to be ceremoniously clean.

They did not even want to enter the Judgment Hall but stood in the open plaza. In other words, they conveniently used the Law to suit their own purposes.

At Passover many Jews were gathered in Jerusalem. The chief priests were nervous about all the people and hence did not want to be apparent as the murderers of Jesus, yet they were afraid to wait lest his popularity swell even more and their positions be in jeopardy. He had already chased the money changers out of the Temple, and they feared what else he might do. Hence they felt they could not wait any longer. And their trials (Annas, Caiaphas, and the Sanhedrin) were held at night while the people were asleep so that Jesus could be brought to Pilate around 7 a.m. the next morning. At that early hour, they practically got Pilate out of bed, and they demanded an audience, shouting into the recesses of his residence.

Angels have knowledge far superior to men, one reason being that they have lived so much longer. But even without the divine nature, as a perfect human being, Jesus was far superior even to the angels. Consider the parables. When Jesus was questioned on a matter, he often replied with a parable—a deep parable packed with wisdom. His wisdom far outshone Paul’s logic. Paul is usually given the credit based on the fact that Jesus was somewhat limited because the Holy Spirit had not yet been given, but the seemingly simple parables contained very deep spiritual lessons and, at the same time, satisfied the need to answer natural-minded men back there.

Jesus did say there was much he wanted to tell but couldn’t. Nevertheless, he gave forth great wisdom with far-reaching spiritual applications. And consider that he uttered the parables on the spur of the moment—not after an hour’s private planning!

Nicodemus could not understand spiritual things when he went to Jesus by night, but Jesus used a helpful technique. He told Nicodemus something that stayed with him: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up” (John 3:14).

Then, later, when Nicodemus saw Jesus on the Cross, his body naked and all deformed, twisted like a serpent, he got the point. Jesus had predicted that crucifixion would be his fate— that he would be lifted up and draw all men to him. Now Nicodemus was drawn! He had been thinking of Jesus: “I know you are a wonderful Master with a lot of knowledge, but what is the Kingdom you talk about?” Nicodemus was borderline until he saw Jesus on the Cross and remembered the earlier statement. Jesus knew how to reach men’s hearts, so that if they were of the right caliber, they would respond. The original going of Nicodemus to Jesus was like being led of the Father to him. Even though it was at night, Nicodemus took the initiative, and he was rewarded for that step.

John 19:12 And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but 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.

Pilate sought to release Jesus after the latter said there could be no power over him if it were not according to the Father’s will. Since Pilate was accustomed to having the power of life and death over his subjects, Jesus’ words must have made quite an impression.

Earlier the chief priests called Jesus a blasphemer. Now they changed the charge to treason. They cleverly turned the situation to their own advantage, knowing they had Pilate by the throat.

John 19:13 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha.

Pilate came down from an upper court to the Judgment Seat below. The seat itself was elevated. Now came the time for a decision. The chief priests anticipated that Pilate would concur, for he was frightened by their mention of Caesar. The implication was, “If you do not put Jesus to death, we are going to press charges to Caesar.” Hence Pilate was forced to make a judgment.

It is interesting that John used the Hebrew word for Pavement, Gabbatha, and the Hebrew word for Calvary, Golgotha.

John 19:14 And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!

John 19:15 But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.

It was a thorn in Pilate’s flesh to bring up Caesar again. How hypocritical! The chief priests despised the Roman government, wanted their freedom, and were looking for Messiah. What irony!

John’s observation of repetition is interesting. This is the third time Pilate, a heathen, called Jesus “King” (John 18:39; 19:14,15). John also observed the repeated efforts of Pilate to either shift responsibility back to the Jews or suggest a way out of putting Jesus to death (John 18:31,39; 19:1,4-6,12,14,15). The repetition points out the degree of responsibility and guilt that fell on the Jews, that is, on the Jewish religious leaders. John is also showing the tenacity of the Jews in pressing the charges. Every time Pilate brought up a point, he showed his desire to drop the charges. The account reveals the bloodthirstiness of the scribes and Pharisees to have Jesus put to death. For this reason, the Jews hate the Gospel of John; they consider John to be anti- Semitic.

Although John did not narrate all of Jesus’ trials, he listed many of them: Annas, Caiaphas, Hall of Judgment (John 18:28), Hall of Judgment for private questioning by Pilate (John 18:33), Judgment Hall (John 19:9), and Judgment Seat (Pavement or Gabbatha) (John 19:13).

In regard to the reference to Caesar by the chief priests, they should not have entered into government matters, for there was separation of Church and State under the Jewish arrangement. They were wrong to try to trick Jesus earlier by showing him a coin and asking about paying taxes. Their attitude was, “Why, if he were a loyal Jew, he should abhor paying tribute money to Rome!”

According to the Sinaitic manuscript, the time was the third hour (not the sixth hour) Jewish reckoning, or 9 a.m., when this last interchange with Pilate took place, after which Jesus was led away to be crucified. Incidentally, the scourging was rhythmically done. The 39 stripes could have been administered in just 1 1/2 minutes. Hence the chief priests were very successful in getting the matter over with before the populace realized what was happening.

John 19:16 Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away.

John 19:17 And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha:

The fact that John pointed out Hebrew words (19:13,17) proves his Gospel was written in Greek (not Aramaic). Jesus spoke in Aramaic for the most part, although he did speak Greek and Hebrew at times. The Gospels were all written in Greek. When Jesus performed one of his miracles, he said in Hebrew, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be [thou] opened” (Mark 7:34). No doubt the events have been photographically recorded. When they are viewed in the Kingdom, these key words will be repeated in the original Hebrew. Incidentally, when there is one language on earth, all will know the language spoken in Israel. In Jesus’ day, the Jews were forced to know two languages: Hebrew plus Greek for commerce and business. They had to know a smattering of Latin too because the Roman Empire occupied the land and all decrees and public legal pronouncements were in Latin. The same could be true in the earlier phases of the Kingdom, even though one universal language will be gradually implemented. Hence the original Hebrew words will be meaningful.

Q: Before the Church is complete, will we see a remnant of Jews become spiritual in the sense of running the race for the Little Flock?

A: I am not inclined to think so, but it can be. However, some will be interested in truth from a natural and practical standpoint.

When the priests said, “We have no king but Caesar,” they must have spoken very threateningly because right after that statement, Pilate sent Jesus away to be crucified. The centurions, as Pilate’s representatives, would have escorted Jesus to keep back the crowds. “Unto them” (verse 16) means “unto their wishes.” Pilate gave Jesus over according to the desires of the chief priests, but Pilate had his own soldiers do the work.

The place of crucifixion looks like a skull. The hill has pocket cavities that resemble eyes and a promontory that projects out. Called Gordon’s Calvary, the hill is north of the Damascus Gate, a short distance away.

Originally, the skull was concealed underground. Then about 200 BC, the hill was dug out to make Jerusalem harder to capture. In the process, the skull was exposed. No doubt Satan, who would like to bury all evidence, was behind the thought to fill that land in again subsequent to the Crucifixion. This happened in AD 135 when Hadrian made a ramp to capture the city. Then in 1874, the skull was again excavated. (Note: The Vespasian-Titus siege of Jerusalem was earlier, in AD 69. The last two fortresses fell in AD 73, one of which was Masada.)

As for the skull formation, it was fitting that Jesus paid the Ransom price for dead humanity on the very spot that resembled what he would redeem, figuratively speaking. Gordon described the topography as being the skull of a person lying on his back. The chest would be the Temple Mount proper. The neck was the gully that during the Hasmonean rulership era in Israel was dug out to make it more difficult for an army to conquer Jerusalem. (The wall, plus the gully, made Jerusalem harder to conquer.)

Originally, Skull Hill was part of Mount Moriah, the mount where Abraham offered up Isaac. The mount was like a loaf of bread before it was gouged out and the skull exposed. Just as Jesus bore his cross, so Isaac, picturing Jesus, bore the wood for the sacrifice. Both were willing sacrifices. In addition, Arabic tradition states that Mount Moriah is where Adam died— specifically at Golgotha. How appropriate that both the first Adam and the second Adam died on Mount Moriah or Golgotha!

Comment: God’s foreknowledge is shown by His preparing earth’s surface—i.e., Golgotha, Skull Hill—long before Adam was created. God foreknew that Adam would sin, that he would die above the skull buried in Mount Moriah, that the skull would be unearthed, and that Jesus would die as Adam’s Ransom price in the very same place with the skull exposed.

John 19:18 Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.

Jesus was crucified between two thieves, as prophesied. “He made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; … he was numbered with the transgressors” (Isa. 53:9,12). In the Kingdom, the Jews will be ashamed that with so many Old Testament prophecies predicting details about Messiah, they failed to recognize him.

Q: If it is true that five were on the hill, would two have been crucified earlier (that is, the day before) and thus already be there? Then two others were crucified at the same time as Jesus.

A: Piecing together certain Scriptures, the Companion Bible puts forth the theory that more than two others were there with Jesus on Calvary Hill. Two individuals definitely accompanied Jesus to Calvary and were crucified at the same time. These two would have been aligned with Jesus in front; others were in back, having been previously crucified.

John 19:19 And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.

John 19:20 This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin.

The writing on the Cross would have been fairly large. Some artists show it in script form.

And—how interesting! The chief priests worked secretly at night to set the machinery in motion for Jesus’ death, and now the truth was stated in three languages so that all could read.

It was like an open rebuke. Moreover, this was Pilate’s way of getting back at Jesus’ accusers. The chief priests resented the sign and wanted the writing reworded, but Pilate refused, saying, “What I have written I have written” (verse 22). In the antitype, when the feet members are put to death, the event will be known universally.

The place of the Crucifixion “was nigh to the city,” not in the city. Hence verse 20 is a proof that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is not the site of the Crucifixion, for it is inside the city walls— despite the fact that some have drawn the old wall with a peculiar indentation so as to put the Church of the Holy Sepulchre outside the wall. Moshe Dayan and others bent the facts lest they offend the Catholic view. In 1922 the wall of the Damascus Gate was found. To hold to the erroneous view, they said that wall did not exist in Jesus’ day. But subsequently another wall was found underneath, and that wall did exist in Jesus’ day. Jesus came out the original (lower) Damascus Gate when he was crucified.

John 19:21 Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews.

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

Pilate was saying, “You forced me to crucify Jesus, and now you will have to face the matter squarely.” How dramatic this scene will be when viewed in the future! With the Crucifixion being one of the turning points of earth’s history, the title on the Cross will be very meaningful for the world to see as the Ransom is dramatically testified to them in due time (1 Tim. 2:5,6).

John 19:23 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout.

Altogether, there were five parts. Four parts pertained to articles of clothing, one part for each soldier. Hence we know there were four soldiers, for each soldier got one garment. The fifth part, the coat “without seam,” was more valuable and prized. Since it would not have made sense to cut the coat into four pieces and give each soldier a fragment, they cast lots for it (verse 24). The words “and also his coat” are apparently spurious.

Why were four soldiers on the scene? When the Crucifixion took place, one soldier held down Jesus’ hand, another put the spike through the hand, a third soldier held the other hand, and a fourth put the second spike through Jesus’ other hand. His feet were probably nailed last.

Q: Was a coat without seams unusual?

A: Yes. Josephus states that the high priest wore a garment without seams, so such a garment was unusual. It would be interesting to know who made the coat and under what circumstances.

Bro. Russell and other writers suggest that the coat represents the covering of the Church.

When we consecrate and become members of Jesus’ body, the thought is not that the Ransom is parceled out to us. Instead, we come under the Ransom. In other words, the Ransom is not a piecemeal thing. This concept fits in with the garment being of one piece and without seam—it covers the whole.

As an outer garment, the coat covered the four other garments that were distributed. The four garments represent four classes of humanity (like the four rivers of Eden). All four classes are covered; all four are of Adam’s race. Stated another way, the one Ransom is for all humanity, of which four classes are called. (Of course the consecrated of the Gospel Age have the Ransom on the basis of a mortgage or a loan.) The four classes are the Little Flock, the Great Company, the Ancient Worthies, and the world of mankind.

With condemned prisoners who were crucified, it was a practice for soldiers to parcel out the garments among themselves. In other words, the garments became the property of those immediately involved with the execution. Hence verse 23 states that when the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they parted his garments. After doing the dirty work—nailing the prisoner to the cross, lifting the cross up into position, and putting the cross in the hole in the ground— they disposed of the prisoner’s goods. This is sordid. Hardness is suggested.

Q: After Jesus was scourged, were these clothes put back on him? If so, they would have been bloody, yet the soldiers wanted them.

A: Yes. In ancient times, clothing was considered valuable. And no doubt the women made sure that the Master’s clothing was kept clean and in excellent shape. We are used to washing our hands each time they are a little soiled, but such was not the case in olden times. With water not being readily available in many places, it did not mean much that garments were soiled and wrinkled. Moreover, Jesus was probably unusually meticulous as far as possible and convenient under those circumstances. Therefore, from a material standpoint, his garments were valuable despite the blood stains, perspiration, dirt, etc., for they could be washed.

John 19:24 They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did.

The disposition of Jesus’ garments was prophesied long in advance in Psalm 22:18.

John 19:25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.

The fact that three Marys were on the scene at the time of the Crucifixion is unusual. Mary Magdalene is mentioned in all four Gospels, whereas the others are mentioned sometimes and sometimes not. Mary Magdalene was present at the Cross, when Jesus’ body was laid in the Garden Tomb, when the women came to anoint his body after the sabbath, etc. Her name is the most constant one.

The Greek is unclear whether “his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas” is one person or two. The family relationships are an involved study. It is possible for two Marys to be in the same family.

The name Mary, which is Miriam in the Hebrew, had a great appeal for Hebrew women because traditionally it was felt that the mother of the Messiah would be called Miriam. Hence Mary (or Miriam) was a very common name at the time of the First Advent. Many were afraid that not having that name would jeopardize their chances for being the mother of the Messiah. There are five Marys in the New Testament.

John 19:26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!

John 19:27 Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.

John was at the Cross with the women. Notice that in verse 26, he described himself as “the disciple standing by, whom he [Jesus] loved.” Jesus committed his mother to the custodianship of John (only John’s Gospel shows this, among other details). The women and John went closer to the Cross than any of the others. A beautiful painting shows them kneeling and looking up at Jesus. The artist painted the picture as if he were behind the Cross and looking towards it.

Thus the perspective of the person viewing the painting is that he is Jesus and looking down at the suppliants.

When Jesus was apprehended earlier, John and Peter followed him, and John got Peter into the palace of Caiaphas. Only John’s Gospel tells of this incident. John’s multiple additional details enrich the Gospels, for he provides insights that the other Gospels lack. “Woman, behold thy son!” Jesus’ manner of address to Mary safeguards us against Mariolatry.

It shows a certain reserve, and the reserve is proper because Jesus is Lord and Master. By calling Mary the “mother of God,” Catholics give her inordinate reverence and respect. Jesus alone is the Mediator—Mary is NOT the Mediatrix. Catholics wrongly pray to Mary, thinking that as a woman, she is more pliable and compassionate. They expect her to put in a good word for them to either God or Jesus. The doctrine of the Trinity confuses the picture even more.

Then Jesus told John, “Behold thy mother!” And from that very hour, John took Mary into his home. Jesus was making provision for his own—making sure Mary would be cared for in the best way. In spite of his suffering and his preoccupation with his own trials from the night before and on through the Crucifixion, when he saw Mary, he thought of her welfare.

Why did Jesus give Mary to John—especially when two of his stepbrothers were apostles?

Jesus recognized certain qualities in John that led him to make an important decision concerning the welfare of his mother, and that decision was above the natural family relationship. The arrangement would profit Mary spiritually and affectionately, as well as provide stability in temporal matters. Moreover, John would be comforted in having charge of Mary while he felt the loss of Jesus so keenly. John would feel that what he did for Mary he was doing for Jesus.

Jesus made only a brief statement to John and Mary in their grief—and yet they understood the meaning of the words “Behold thy son!” and “Behold thy mother!” Certain factors suggest that Mary was more compatible with John than with her own sons. When we are consecrated, we look at our natural families in a different light. Despite her great age, tradition says that Mary went to Asia Minor. John’s type of ministry was better suited to taking care of Mary, and generally speaking, the circumstances of his life were more stable. For the most part, we have to rely on tradition to know the whereabouts of some of the other apostles later on—what nations they went to, how they died, etc. Among the nations Peter traveled to were Babylon, Iran, and Iraq. He was the chief spokesman until Paul appeared on the scene. Moreover, Peter was of a different disposition than John, although both were fiery. John’s emotionalism was of a different type.

John 19:28 After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.

Psalm 69:21 is the Old Testament prophecy Jesus referred to: “They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” Jesus knew this Scripture still needed fulfillment, so he said, “I thirst.” Had he not thus spoken, he might not have been given the vinegar. Extreme thirst is a problem with crucifixion.

John 19:29 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.

A hyssop reed or branch was needed to reach Jesus’ mouth, for he was probably 2 1/2 to 3 feet off the ground with his mouth about 9 feet up.

Vinegar was another form of cruelty, for it does not assuage thirst. In fact, it exacerbated Jesus’ symptoms. Offering the vinegar shows the sordid, sadistic nature of the soldiers—and others of humanity. An element of society gets a thrill from hurting people or their property. Psalm 69 gives Jesus’ thinking. Although he died for the world of mankind, the incorrigible will not be saved; they will not get life. That element must be weeded out of earth—weeded out of the Church, the Great Company, and the world. Thank God, the permission of evil is not forever!

In time there will be a cleansed universe. Psalm 69:28 expresses those sentiments: “Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous”; in other words, “Let the incorrigible go into Second Death.”

Q: On many other occasions, a prophecy about Jesus was fulfilled inadvertently by a certain event or incident happening. We know that Scriptures were brought to Jesus’ mind in Gethsemane and on the Cross to strengthen him. Is that the basis for assuming he was aware of the prophecy of Psalm 69:21? Then, knowing that it needed to be fulfilled, he intentionally said, “I thirst.”

A: Yes. Jesus’ “checklist” showed that all Scriptures had been fulfilled regarding what others would do to him except this one. The vinegar intensified his thirst, yet he uttered these words and accepted the vinegar uncomplainingly just to fulfill prophecy.

Q: What is the significance of the hyssop?

A: Hyssop, a purgative, represents cleansing and discipline. At the time of the first Passover, a sprig or branch of hyssop was dipped in the blood so that the blood could be splashed on the doorposts of the houses. The splashing of the blood suggests punishment, hardship, and severity.

John 19:30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

A person being crucified would normally have his head bowed all along from the pain, agony, and weariness, but Jesus held his head erect. He saw what was happening (for example, he saw his mother). Even though he was on the Cross, he held up his head like a king. Despite all the agony, he tried to keep his composure, but he had no control over his body. Referring on the Cross to his naked and twisted body, Jesus said, “I am a worm.” (These words were prophetically recorded in Psalm 22:6.) Jesus could not do anything about the pitiful state of his body, but what he could do, he did. He maintained his composure, even under excruciating pain.

This nineteenth chapter of John suggests that Jesus felt the burden of sin that is on the human race. People who are thoroughly innocent of a crime, but sensitive by nature, may feel guilty if they are suspected of that crime and there is substantial evidence. Jesus had this experience.

Isaiah 53:5 reads, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”

There is a lot of meaning behind the thought that Jesus bore our sins—not only pain and humility but the weight of sin itself. Jesus felt the guilt just as Adam did. Adam hid behind a tree; Jesus was nailed in front of a tree. Adam had a feeling of guilt when he heard the Logos walking in the midst of the Garden of Eden, calling “Adam! Adam!” The sensation of guilt was part of the Ransom. Using a scale to illustrate the corresponding price may show justice, but it is too cold to portray the depth of Jesus’ sufferings in taking Adam’s place. The crown of thorns around Jesus’ brow corresponds to the curse in Genesis 3:18 about the thorns and thistles.

Adam was a king, and the charge of “King” was nailed to the Cross. There are many other correspondencies as well. The point is that the guilt aspect was significant—Jesus really FELT the guilt.

Psalm 69:8 is a prophecy that some of Jesus’ stepbrothers would reject him until later, until after his resurrection. “I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother’s children.” Seeing Jesus cursed and put to death by the nation, they rejected him as Messiah, but when they subsequently got proof of his resurrection, they did believe.

Jesus’ very terse statement “It is finished” was his last. We would be missing a lot if Jesus had not concluded with these words about his finishing the Ransom sacrifice. In a loud voice, he cried out with a note of triumph (Matt. 27:50; Mark 15:37). As he pronounced the words in this moment of excitement, his heart ruptured.

Jesus had checkered experiences of depression and exhilaration. Hence we should not expect a Christian to always be calm and gentle, for we, too, have mixed experiences.

John 19:31 The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.

“It was the preparation” for the Passover, the preparation day being the 14th of Nisan. The next day, the 15th, began the seven-day Feast of Passover. In both type and antitype, the slaying of the lamb took place on the 14th. The lamb was slain “between the two evenings,” that is, at the midpoint of 3 p.m., which was between 12 noon and 6 p.m. Jewish time (Num. 9:3 King James margin). In other words, 3 p.m. was three hours before sundown, and sundown marked the beginning of the next day, the 15th. The lamb was slain, flayed, and prepared for roasting on the day of preparation.

“That sabbath day was an high day.” The regular sabbath day is a Saturday, which begins the day before (Friday) at 6 p.m. and ends Saturday at 6 p.m. In other words, Jesus died before the sabbath, before the “high day” began. He died three hours before Saturday—on Friday afternoon at 3 p.m., April 3, AD 33.

In regard to the Passover Feast, both the first and the seventh days are “high days.” For the year that Jesus died, the first day of the Passover Feast happened to occur on a regular sabbath day. However, all high days in the Jewish festivals are sabbaths, and they can occur on any day of the week, including Saturday, the regular sabbath. The year of Jesus’ death, the “high day” festival sabbath fell on a regular sabbath. Fifty-two regular sabbaths occur in a calendar year but only three or so high sabbaths.

The Jews did not want Jesus’ body to remain on the Cross, for that would defile their sabbath. It was 3 p.m. and they wanted his body removed before they observed the Passover, the Feast of Passover, on Saturday. In other words, the Jews’ Feast of Passover, in which they ate the lamb at the time Jesus died, was a Saturday, a sabbath.

When the Jews have their Passover, they do not reckon the 14th. Instead they start with the 15th day of Nisan. However, as Christians, we attach far more importance to the 14th, the day of preparation, the day before the feast.

It is erroneous to say that Jesus was in the tomb for three full days and that, therefore, he died on Wednesday. John 19:31 is proof that he died on Friday, for he died on the “day of preparation,” on the day before the (Saturday) sabbath—three hours before. In other words, Jesus ate the Passover on the 14th of Nisan and also died on the 14th. He ate after 6 p.m., after the 14th of Nisan had begun, and he died the next day, which was still the same day, the 14th, according to Jewish reckoning. In order to fulfill the type, he had to die on the 14th.

John 19:32 Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him.

Two had already been crucified and were on the hill of Calvary at the time Jesus brought his cross, and two more were crucified with him at the same time. Thus five were there, with Jesus in the middle. The soldiers went down the row, as it were, and broke the legs of the first individual—one of the two who were already there. Then they broke the legs of the person who was next to Jesus, that individual being one of the ones crucified with him. Next they came to Jesus, who was put in the center, or middle, to specifically point him out.

Golgotha, Jesus crucified with 2 others plus others that were already there.

Golgotha, Jesus crucified with 2 others plus others that were already there.

By analyzing the Gospels, we know that four others were with Jesus on Calvary, for their conversations reveal this fact. First of all, two others were crucified with him at the same time (John 19:18; Matt. 27:38; Luke 23:32,33). Now notice the conversations of the individuals who were crucified on Calvary. Matthew 27:44 says that the two “thieves” who were crucified with him “cast the same [mockery] in his teeth.” But Luke 23:39-43 provides other information.

“One of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him.” (The account does not say that the malefactors were crucified at the same time.) “But the other [malefactor] answering rebuked him [the first malefactor], saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.” Then he asked to be remembered when Jesus came into his Kingdom: “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” Jesus responded that he would. Thus the Scriptures prove that four were with Jesus, for three of them cursed Jesus and/or had nothing complimentary to say. Only one individual supported him. With different Greek words describing the two pairs, the suggestion is that their crucifixions were done on a different basis. Incidentally, people who are crucified can be on a cross for days before they die.

The legs of two of the others were broken before the soldiers arrived at Jesus in the center. A note in the Companion Bible says there are places in history, such as in a small French village, where five crosses are shown with Jesus in the center. The fact that the five crosses are old suggests a factual basis.

What did the breaking of the legs accomplish? How did it cause the death of those who were crucified? Shock killed them immediately. And if, because of the way they were hanging, they had to lift their legs to breathe, then broken legs would interfere with breathing.

John 19:33 But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs:

This verse shows that the soldiers climbed the hill and started at one end, breaking the legs of the first and then of the next one, who was more immediate to Jesus. Then “they came to Jesus” in the center, but he was already dead. From there the soldiers went on to the third individual and then the fourth.

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

The blood and water show that Jesus died of a broken heart. His heart actually ruptured, and the pericardium sac outside the heart became filled with blood and water. When the spear punctured that sac, blood and water came out. The thought of a broken heart is bolstered by Jesus’ words “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46). Jesus was so weak from the emotional trauma that even though he cried out victoriously and loudly, “It is finished,” the energy expended to make that pronouncement was more than his heart could take and it burst. The soldiers came along a little later, and one pierced his side.

Let us consider the blood and the water from another standpoint. “Water” is a symbol of truth, the truth that comes through Jesus. It is a miracle to understand the measure of truth that we have because Satan has blinded the minds of men lest they believe (2 Cor. 4:4). The truth is from Jesus, from his side. Of course “blood” refers to his death. BOTH truth and Jesus’ death are needed by the Christian.

John 19:35 And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.

The pronouns “he” (used three times) and “his” refer to John. Instead of his saying “I” and “my,” the use of third-person pronouns indicates humility and modesty. In his second and third epistles, John called himself “the elder.” In Revelation 1:2, he used the same words “bare record.”

John 19:36 For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.

Jesus was already dead when the soldiers got to him (verse 33). Thus they did not have to break his legs, and the Scripture was fulfilled that not a bone of him would be broken. Having no broken bones enabled him to be an antitype of the Passover lamb. Also, the nails were driven through the wrists and ankles so that no bones would be broken. (Since the Greek language has no words for wrists and ankles, the words for “hands” and “feet” included these parts of the body.)

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

An additional reason why one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side was to fulfill Zechariah 12:10. Of course there will be a further fulfillment of that Scripture in the future, but the nation of Israel had to see him pierced at that time too (Rev. 1:7).

John 19:38 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.

John 19:39 And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.

It is interesting that John tarried at the Cross to see these things happen, for when the soldiers came, it was after 3 p.m., the time Jesus died. Between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate beseeching Jesus’ body. Joseph returned with Nicodemus and removed the body from the Cross. Thus John remained for some time after Jesus’ death. And now we can see why John felt it essential to write about Nicodemus in his Gospel (the other Gospels mention Joseph but not Nicodemus). Only John recorded the conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus. Here is another example showing that all four Gospels are needed for a rounded-out picture.

Being a disciple of Jesus,” Joseph of Arimathea besought Pilate for the body. In other words, Joseph was fully convinced of Jesus’ Messiahship before he went to Pilate, but he had not disclosed his conviction previously. Now that Jesus was dead, Joseph was strengthened in character to beseech Pilate for the body, even though doing so would make him a public spectacle—and Nicodemus too. Initially Joseph and Nicodemus, who went to Jesus secretly by night, were fearful. Both were probably on the Sanhedrin, and both were men of means.

Joseph provided the tomb, and Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes that weighed 100 pounds. The mixture would have been very expensive because the myrrh came from Arabia. The number “100” pictures perfection.

Joseph was “an honourable counsellor” (Mark 15:43); “a good man, and a just [man]” (Luke 23:50); and “a rich man” (Matt. 27:57). Although he was present at Jesus’ trial, he did not consent to the evil deeds and counsel. In other words, he voiced his opposition to the majority thinking. And he “waited for the kingdom of God” (Luke 23:51).

While Jesus was alive, Joseph and Nicodemus were fearful. Therefore, it would seem logical that after his death, they would be even more fearful to identify themselves with him. But at this very point in time, they manifested supernormal character in taking his body. Moreover, removing the body from the Cross would have been a gory ordeal. A Reprint article states that it was a sacrifice on the part of Joseph and Nicodemus to even touch the dead body, for this act made them unclean for Passover, one of the highest feasts of the year.

John 19:40 Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.

The Diaglott has “linen cloths.” The customary burial manner was to use several cloths ultimately sewn together into one long, narrow winding bandage to wrap the body—and then  the head was wrapped separately with a “napkin” (John 11:44; 20:7). The cloths were very long, relatively narrow strips. When one cloth was used up, another was started, etc. This method of wrapping made the subsequent extraction of Jesus’ body even more miraculous; that is, it was miraculous that all the separate pieces of cloth held their position, not being unwrapped.

How appropriate that white linen was used, picturing righteousness! Although the custom was to wrap with separate cloths, it was not customary to use white linen, for the latter was expensive. Joseph of Arimathea supplied the white “fine” linen (Mark 15:46).

Because the custom was to wrap the legs separately, Lazarus could walk when Jesus “cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth” (John 11:43). Lazarus climbed the winding staircase up out of the tomb.

Evidently, Joseph was a believer, but out of fear for his position, he did not declare his belief openly—not until Jesus’ death. Then he showed great bravery in going to Pilate and begging the body. In that sense, he did even more than Nicodemus.

Isaiah 53:9 reads in part, “And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death.” The Hebrew word translated “grave” is not necessarily the tomb itself but a condition. Jesus fulfilled this Scripture by dying on the Cross between the thieves and then being laid to rest in a rich man’s tomb.

John 19:41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.

The Crucifixion and the sepulcher were in close proximity. The Garden Tomb beautifully fits this description. In this tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, places had already been prepared for two adult-length bodies and then a small one at the top, or head. The fact that one of the places had been enlarged shows God’s foreknowledge that Jesus would be crucified nearby; that Joseph, a man of good heart condition, would obtain the property and build a tomb there; that the tomb would not be used prior to Jesus’ death; etc. And God made sure that the tomb would be carved out of rock with only one entrance which could be sealed by a stone. “And when Joseph had taken 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 great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed” (Matt. 27:59,60).

It is interesting that both Jesus’ birth and his burial occurred in a carved-out rock. He was born in a cave stable (illustrated by the Grotto in the Pyramid) and laid to rest in a hewn-out rock tomb (illustrated by the Coffer in the Pyramid). Moreover, he is called the Rock.

John 19:42 There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.

Jesus’ body was not put in a tomb bed but was laid in the antechamber, which originally had a shelf protruding from the wall. The large number of visitors since 1874 has worn the shelf down.

(1986–1987 Study)

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John Chapter 19: Jesus’ Trial and Crucifixion, 3.0 out of 5 based on 2 ratings
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  1. 5 crosses? This is cool, i would agree that 2 were nailed up earlier

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