JOHN:The Book Of Heartfelt Belief
Death By Crucifixion
Jerry A Collins
During the past several weeks we have been watching and hearing of the events surrounding the life and death of pastor Mark Tromp. His words ! am slipping away...I see a door and I am going thru it now were his last on this earth. We are rejoicing with him that he is with his Savior and at the same time grieve with his family at such a sudden and unexpected loss of a young husband and father. Death is so final on this side of the grave. He will not come back to us but we will go to him. In our passage we see and hear of another death. This one by crucifixion. Death that was not sudden and unexpected but planned and prepared for. Death that was both rejoiced over by enemies and mourned by friends. A death where life was not taken but given. The death of Jesus.
1. JESUS JOURNEY TO CALVARY 19:17
The soldiers led Jesus from Pilates judgment seat to Golgotha called the place of the skull. Probably called this because the hill with its stony barren top looked like a skull. A skull is a symbol of death and this is Gods way of saying that he intends to deal with the problem of death at the place of the skull. Criminals condemned to crucifixion such as Jesus normally carried all or only the crosspiece of their cross. On this journey Jesus seems to have fulfilled 2 OT symbols or types. (1) Isaac carried his own wood for the sacrifice Gen 22:1-6 and (2) the sin offering used to be taken outside the camp or city Heb 13:11-13. Here every passerby in and out of the city would pass by this crucifixion as a reminder of roman authority and a deterrent to crime. So in this way Jesus was made sin for us 2 Cor 5:21. Jesus journey toward his crucifixion then fulfilled the exact symbols and types alluding to it in the Bible. This tells us that this crucifixion and death was not a chance event but the actual fulfillment of symbols and types alluding to it in the Bible hundreds of years before it literally happened.
2. MEN CRUCIFIED WITH JESUS 19:18
While John tells us of these two men crucified with Christ, Luke adds they were criminals 23:32-33 and Matthew calls them robbers 27:44. Though John does not elaborate about them, he may have mentioned them here to make understandable the later reference to their legs being broken but not those of Jesus. Note some things about crucifixion:
(1) It was a deliberately long and painful form of death. The victim could hang in the hot sun for hours, even days.
(2) It humiliated the sufferer publicly. They hung naked for all to see as they suffered.
(3) It was a form of torture. Collapsing on the cross brot asphyxiation. Breathing was essential to prolong life so it was necessary to push with the legs and pull with arms to catch breath. A piece of wood sedecula served as a small seat partially supporting the bodys weight prolonging life and agony while encouraging the victim to fight on.
(5) Its purpose was to discourage others from rebelling against Rome.
3. THE INSCRIPTION OVER JESUSí CROSS 19:19-22
Normally a placard identifying the crime would inform onlookers of who the criminal was and why he was suffering this way. This placard was in Aramaic, the common language spoken by the Jews in Palestine, Latin the official language of the Romans and Greek the common language of the roman empire. It is clear that God wanted the whole world to know that Jesus was King of the Jews no one could miss it. The Chief priest naturally did not want this proclaimed as fact but that Jesus was claiming to be so. Pilate had already conceded once to their request but he refused to give him the satisfaction of robbing him of his revenge. He seems to enjoy his joke against them. Ironically, what Pilate left stand was the exact truth. He had unwittingly become Gods herald of His sovereign and redeeming purposes thru His Son. In another way these words area fitting judgment on the life of Pilate. He played his part and had his moment of truth. He too will be judged accordingly by this King!
4. THE DISTRIBUTION OF JESUS GARMENTS 19:23-24
Stripping and dividing of clothes was part of the customary cruelty of crucifixion. Here john has in mind all of Jesus outer garments including the robe, sandals, belt and head covering. This would have resulted in each of the four soldiers receiving one piece of clothing. The garment that remained was one piece and they decided to cast lots for this. For John the significance of this is in the fulfillment of Psalm 22:18 where fulfillment was in 2 separate acts (1) they divided my garments and (2) they cast lots for my clothing. Men continued to carry our Gods foreordained plan of salvation though unconsciously. Even as Jesus humiliation reached its depths as enemies took even his clothes from him leaving him naked the Father controlled His destiny. Though naked in shame bearing our sins, at same time he is the last Adam who provides clothes of righteousness for sinners.
5. JESUS PROVISION FOR HIS MOTHER 19:25-27
In stark contrast to the cruelty of the soldiers is a group of four women watching on love and grief. These 4 women are in contrast to the 4 soldiers. John mentions his mother as the sister of Jesus mother (Mark 15:40 and Matt 27:56) making John Jesus cousin on his bothers side. As such he was the logical person to assume responsibility for Marys welfare. Evidently Jesus brothers did not become believers until after the resurrection making John the one who could comfort and care for Mary in ways her sons could not. The anguish of Jesus mother fulfilled a prophecy of Simeon when he said in Luke 2:35 after the birth of Christ a sword will pierce your own soul too. Despite his own anguish he took care of his mothers welfare.
6. THE DEATH OF JESUS 19:28-30
As the moment of his death drew nearer he expressed His thirst. This shows his complete humanity. Here the Water of life also confesses his thirst. This again fulfills scripture revealing that this death was deliberate and purposeful. After receiving the drink he utters his last words IT IS FINISHED. It means to complete a task. Jesus was not just announc9ing that he was about to die. He was declaring that he fulfilled Gods will for him (17:4). Nothing more needed doing. He then handed over His Spirit to His Father in death.