Good morning. We ended last week with a look at Jesus before Pilate. Pilate walks away questioning the meaning of truth. He then presented Jesus before the Jews, but they demanded Jesus be crucified. Pilate was placed in a tough spot. He even presented Jesus as the king of the Jews: "Here is your king." (John 19:14b) But, they replied; "We have no king but Caesar." (John 19:15b) Of course, their reply that only Caesar is their king was not only an insult to Jesus, but also to God.
"So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull...Here they crucified him, and with him two others...Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. many of the Jews read this sign...The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, 'Do not write The King of The Jews, but that this man claimed to be the king of the Jews.' Pilate answered, 'What I have written, I have written." (John 19: 16b-21)
If you recall from Friday Pilate wrestled with the meaning of the truth. He made a comment about Jesus being the King of The Jews and Jesus asked him if that was his understanding or did someone else tell him that. Here, Pilate has the title placed over the head of Jesus. The inscription served as more than just the identity of the condemned. It was more of a death warrant. Today, before an inmate is executed the warden reads the death warrant to the convict. It entails the sentence as well as the reason for the sentence. The Jews want the inscription changed, but Pilate refuses to do so. Why? Why would he not change it? Was it because he did not want to take the time to do it? Or, was there a personal reason? I would argue that perhaps the inscription was in fact, Pilate's conclusion. Yes, I leave open the possibility that Pilate concluded that Jesus was the King of the Jews.
"Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, 'Dear woman, here is your son,' and to the disciple, 'Here is your mother.' From that time on, this disciple took her into his home." (John 1925-27)
Well, here we read about "the disciple Jesus loved." Well, tradition has it that the disciple whom Jesus loved was John. However, this can be easily disputed. Many believe this was in fact Lazarus, and for good reason. However, tradition also says that John did in fact take Mary to care for her. Was this John? I would argue, yes. But, not for the reasons many use for their argument. I wont get into that discussion because of time.
Jesus makes arrangements for his mother's care after his death. This is interesting. Why? Because if Jesus had other brothers, and if Mary herself had other children, then shouldn't they provide care for their mother? Where are they at this time? Well, I would argue that the siblings of Jesus that have been mentioned...were his step siblings. Yes, they were Joseph's children and not Mary's.
Jesus is clearly in charge while on the cross in John's gospel. And, although I know that the cross was a cruel form of death, Jesus (sorry Mel Gibson) does not appear to be suffering in this account. No, he is calling the shots. "Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, 'I am thirsty." Why would this statement have any connection to scripture being fulfilled? Was Jesus simply saying, "All this hard work is making me thirsty?" Well, no. Jesus was not just making statements that were recorded like a death row inmate upon execution. No, he is quoting scripture. In Matthew and Mark we heard Jesus quote Psalm 22:1 "My God, My God why have you forsaken me?" Well, guess what? Mid-way through the twenty-second Psalm we read: "My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth." (Psalm 22:15) In other words: "I am thirsty." But, then Jesus, in his very last statement said: "It is finished." (John 19:30) Guess what the last line of the twenty second Psalms says? "for he has done it." Yes, I believe that Jesus is chanting the twenty second Psalm from the cross.
But, there is more to say about the line "It is finished." The timeline for the crucifixion is different in John than that of the other three. *I am not making this up and it is found in the gospels themselves. In John, Jesus was presented as the Lamb of God. (John the Baptist identified him in this way) In John, Jesus' death takes place at the same time the lambs are being sacrificed. When a priest would offer the final lamb he would then shout the words: "It is finished." Therefore, Jesus is symbolically proclaiming himself to be the final sacrifice.
Once Jesus makes his final statement he then "gave up his spirit." *Notice he gave it up. Again he is in full control. Now, in the synoptic gospels the Roman centurion appeared and made a statement at the end of the crucifixion. He does not appear in John. However, there is another interesting character who does. Later on a man named Joseph took the body of Jesus away. But, he was not alone. Who came with him? A man named Nicodemus. Do you remember Nicodemus? The last time we saw him he came to Jesus, when? At night, while it was dark. If you recall light/darkness has been a theme in John's gospel. We last left Nicodemus contemplating what it meant to be "born from above" or "born again." Nicodemus accompanies Joseph to get Jesus' body. Here, Nicodemus comes out during the day. He must have made his decision as to who Jesus was.
Well, there is so much more to cover in John and I can't wait until tomorrow when we look at the empty tomb. Take care and God Bless! -Pastor Rick