Jesus Died John 19:16-30
We sing, “I am not skilled to understand/ what God has willed, what God has planned/ I only know at His right hand/ Is One who is my Savior.” The last verse carries us to the cross. “Yes, living dying let me bring, my strength, my solace from this spring/ that He who lives to be my King/ once died to be my Savior.”
Today, we will look at John’s record of the crucifixion. While we cannot understand all that the God the Father was doing at Calvary, we do know that He who hung there and died in pain and great shame was both our King and our Savior!
In verses 18-22 we read, “They crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side and Jesus in the center. Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. Therefore the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, ‘Do not write, The King of the Jews, but, He said, ‘I am the King of the Jews.’ Pilate answered, ‘What I have written, I have written.’”
None of the Gospel writers expanded on our Lord’s physical sufferings. They simply reported He was crucified. Still, the words, “They crucified Him,” should echo in our hearts. John is very clear the religious leaders of the day were responsible, but we must not forget that our sin put Him there. In a real sense, you and I crucified Him.
The placard placed on the cross which was supposed to list the crime he committed simply said in three languages, “JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” Our Lord’s crime was simply being Whom He said He was. The Jewish people and the Gentile world had rejected Him as John said they would. Jesus died a sinless sacrifice on behalf of His sheep. “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:12)
The placard irritated the Jewish leaders who took it up with Pilate. Pilate refused to change it. We do not know why Pilate refused. In sticking by his guns in this, Pilate bore witness to the truth, however unwittingly this testimony was.
Not only did Pilate inadvertently witnesses to Jesus’ identity, The Lord’s executioners also unintentionally fulfilled Old Testament prophecy. (Verses 23-24) “Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece. They said therefore among themselves, ‘Let us not tear it, but 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 clothing they cast lots.’ Therefore the soldiers did these things.”
The Apostle John wanted to underscore the Old Testament prophecies of the death of Christ, which the Lord Himself could not have humanly effected. Here is one. The soldiers did exactly what Psalm 22:18 said, “They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.” Who was this one who died? It was the same Messiah who was predicted to die in the Old Testament.
While Pilate and the Jews argued over the placard and the Soldiers cast lots for Jesus clothing, Jesus, in great agony, still discharged His duty to care for His earthly mother. “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’ And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.” (John 19:25-27)
While others unwittingly fulfill their prophetic roles in the crucifixion, Jesus was always aware of His part in laying down His life for His sheep. He was never a victim. He could have delivered Himself any time in this process, but He didn’t. He is in control even in the midst of the agony. Before He dies, He demonstrates His love and care for His own by providing for His mother in this moment. He in effect gives her over to His beloved disciple, the Apostle John. Even in excruciating pain, our Lord cared for His own.
Pilate and the soldiers unwittingly fulfill the Old Testament prophecies. Jesus purposely takes care of His mother, now comes the end (verses 28-30). “After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, ‘I thirst!’ Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.”
Jesus now completes His mission. First, He completed His mission by crying out in anguish declaring His physical thirst. The soldiers responding by supplying “sour wine,” a kind of vinegar on a sponge. Psalm 69:21 records, “They also gave me gall for my food, And for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” His great spiritual anguish is described in His cry from the cross, “My God My God why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46) His physical anguish is heard in His cry, “I thirst!”
Once this was done, “When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.” Second, Jesus completed His mission. The word “It is finished” is one Greek word which says “It has been done.” Yet, even more than that the word contains the idea of completion. Jesus proclaimed, “Mission accomplished.” It was fulfilled. Redemption was accomplished and applied. The Old Testament sacrificial system was complete, and the way to direct access to God the Father was opened. Our sin has been paid for, once and for all. “[The Lord Jesus Christ] then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” (Hebrews 9:26)
Finally, He laid down His life of His own volition. “And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.” They crucified Him, but He willingly died for us. He said, He would lay His life down for us and no one would take it from Him. He did just what He said He would do.
We began with the hymn, L am not skilled to understand. The verse we sometimes do not sing is one I think about here.
“And oh, that He fulfilled may see
The travail of His soul in me,
And with His work contented be,
As I with my dear Savior!”
He died for us. If you have not put your faith in Him to save you, you should today. If you have trusted Him for salvation, are you living for Him? Are we committed to the ideal Paul articulated in Philippians 3:12 “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.”