In the beginning Jesus talked about how the times were changing; the traditions and the temple customs of the Jewish leaders were not being fulfilled for God’s intended purpose. The Israelite's had a blessed and wonderful calling of representing God to the nations through the temple and they had failed miserably. They were not the light of the nations instead the temple had become a symbol of division and repulsion among the nations. Israel abused her calling as the chosen nation which resulted in an elitist mindset. They felt they were above judgment, they were more righteous, and they believed God favored them thus they did not have to practice what they preached. Ultimately the temple system became about keeping traditions rather than obedience to God and unity.
Read John 19:1 – 16
It is interesting that Pilate finds no fault in Jesus; yet he is so insecure as a leader that he caves into the wishes of the mob. The flogging was probably done to try and appease the masses, they would not be satisfied with a token beating; they wanted death. Some had even thought that bringing Jesus out to the people in his robe and crown of thorns that the crowd would think he was punished sufficiently.
Pilate tells the Jews to take him and crucify him, but he knew they could not because Jews were forbidden to perform crucifixions. They brought up the law and one of Pilate’s jobs was to maintain the law and keep the peace among the people. Failure to do so could end badly for Pilate. He then takes Jesus into the Praetorium and questions him. This is an interesting conversation because Pilate says he has the power to set Jesus free yet Jesus corrects him and says he has no power whatsoever. Pilate must sentence Jesus to death in order for Jesus to accomplish his purpose. Pilate proceeds to sentence Jesus to death.
Read John 19:17 – 27
The death of Jesus is a graphic and gruesome thing. Many of us have either seen movies, read books or imagined what this horrific event was like, but I do not think we can fathom it at all. The death Jesus suffered was painful, humiliating and violent yet it was necessary in order to accomplish the will of the Father. Crucifixion was a method of capital punishment used by many nations including Greece and Persia. The Romans used it as a means to execute slaves and criminals.
In the Gospel of John the final two statements made by Jesus was first a personal need, “I thirst” and the second a declaration of completion, “It is finished!” What was finished? Jesus had accomplished what he came to do. The law had been fulfilled and redemption completed. Through Jesus’ death humanity can have have peace with God. He has bore the penalty of sin for humanity so that those who believe and obey would not face this penalty.
Sabbath was near and Passover was beginning (which was a high celebration and certainly significant that Jesus was crucified at this time) the process of death was going to be sped up by breaking the legs of those being crucified. They wanted to get this over so they could go ahead and celebrate the Passover. Jesus had already given up his spirit and was lifeless so there was no need to break his legs in order to fulfill prophecy. To ensure he was dead the Roman soldier pierced his side. The blood and water was significant to John and there are many theories as to why he put it in this account, it was written to show that Jesus did in fact die a normal human death.
It is believed that both Joseph and Nicodemus were Sanhedrin and followers of Jesus. Joseph must have been a person of influence because typically a person who was crucified was thrown in a common grave. The fact that Pilate allowed Joseph to take Jesus' body shows he may have had influence.
We can rejoice hat the story does not end here. This account is gruesome, brutal, and somewhat tragic but altogether necessary. The death of Jesus Christ establishes God’s new covenant of grace, atonement and redemption with humanity. It is important to understand that everything Jesus did on earth was for a higher purpose and the people of his time had difficulty understanding this. He took the world by storm and exposed the religious people of their errors and showed the public the true meaning of what it means to be a child of God.
We are truly the beneficiaries of the work Jesus has done and completed on the cross. We know with certainty that because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus anyone who believes, trusts and obeys his commands has been given the true grace of life everlasting (This is the Good News, this is the Gospel). It is available to ALL who believe and obey Jesus regardless of race, gender, or social status. God has established a new way through Jesus Christ that does not depend on works and legalism but is evidenced through good works. The way is no longer based on the sacrifice of animals but on the sacrifice of the Lamb. The way is not based on keeping the law but on a promise kept by God. The new way promotes freedom through submission. The way promotes living through dying. The way promotes loving all. The way promotes faith in God instead of faith in man or circumstances. The way is made available to us because Jesus willingly gave himself up so that humanity could be made right with God.