On 1 June I had the pleasure of teaching our flock at the Wednesday evening service.
Text was from John 19:17-30.
You can here the sermon here - filter by my name and select. I think the flash player only works in IE.
Sermon notes below.
One particular movie plot that works best for me are the thrillers that have me guessing and wondering who did it. And all the way through, you're getting little pieces of information. Little breadcrumbs that the writers have dropped through the story - some obvious, some so vague that you never realise they are there. And at the end, you slap yourself when you realise 'Of course it was the man with the gimpy leg, how did I miss that?'. A lot of the times you have to read it again. And when you do, something else enlightens you that you never saw before.
That's what God's Word is like. Except it's different. Instead of the hero coming through, or the mystery being solved at the end, it happens in the middle. And all through the Old Testament are lots of breadcrumbs hinting at Jesus being the Saviour. And after the Gospels, the New Testament writers explain the breadcrumbs, and what they mean.
The breadcrubs are right there in the index of your Bible, if you have a good Study Bible, that
is. I encourage you to follow them.
When the story of Jesus birth, life, death, and resurrection is told, it's not just an isolated one-off incident. Every facet of Jesus' life on earth was a fulfillment of one or more prophecies. And by the time He ascended, no fewer than 353 were fulfilled.
Also littered througout the Old Testament were what we call types and shadows of Jesus; things that are like foretastes of what represents Jesus. For example, the Ark (a picture of Salvation), the Manna in the Wilderness (Jesus' words are our daily bread), David and Goliath. Daniel in the Lions Den. And just last week we read of another one. I don't know if it might have registered or not. Think back to the story of Abraham & Isaac. We all know how the goat became the sacrifice on the altar instead of Isaac. But remember when Abraham looked, where was the goat? It had its head stuck in a thorn bush - so what did it have? A crown of thorns. The innocent sin offering had a crown of thorns. You read these things and you think 'God, you are so brilliant - who else could have dreamed up a storyline like this?'.
So, in review - we've had all our farcical courts...Jesus faced the Chief Priests, the High Priest, Pilate. And where we left off, Pilate declared him innocent 3 times, but delivered Christ to the Pharisees to keep the peace.
Keep the peace with the Jews, and keep the peace with Rome.
And in verse 16 we read...
John 19:16-30 (NKJV)
16 Then he delivered Him to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus and led Him away.
17 And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha,
18 where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center.
19 Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
20 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.
21 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" '.
22 Pilate answered, 'What I have written, I have written'.
23 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.
24 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.
25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.
26 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, 'Woman, behold your son!'
27 Then He said to the disciple, 'Behold your mother!'. And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.
28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, I thirst!'
29 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.
30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, It is finished!'. And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.
V 17 He carried His cross
Pilate handed Jesus over to the Chief Priests for crucifixion. But they could not carry out the execution themselves. They were accompanied by an execution squad. According to history, this squad normally consisted of 4 legionnaires and a centurion. They would be pushing or dragging Jesus along towards the place of execution. The Pharisees would have been walking in behind them, satisfied, probably gloating inside, that they had got their man. I would guess also that they wanted this done quickly, as the Passover was about to begin. They had to be certain they had time to wash the blood off their hands before they could go and pretend to be holy again.
It was customary for criminals to carry their own cross to the place of execution. Not the whole cross, just the vertical cross-beam. Not only did they have to endure the scourging’s, the beatings, the abuse, they also had to endure the public humiliation for their crimes. Criminals would be paraded down the main streets, where locals can hurl their mockery and abuse. It was their last chance to have their say, to rub it in further.
And it also stood as a statement to the people – if you dare step out of line, if you dare defy Rome and its’ ruling authority, then this is the fate you’ll suffer.
No doubt there were those in the crowd would have been the ones fuelled by the Pharisees’ whipping them into a frenzy, and carried it on.
Remember back in chapter 17 v39…where they shouted ‘Crucify Him’.
Turn back to Matthew’s account, 27:15-20…
Matthew 27:15-20 (NKJV)
15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to releasing to the multitude one prisoner whom they wished.*
16 And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas.
17 Therefore, when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, 'Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?'.
18 For he knew that they had handed Him over because of envy.
19 While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, 'Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him'.
20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus.
Adrenaline would still have been coursing through their veins, and they would have been caught up in the mob mentality.
Just cast your mind back to August 2014 you’ll remember a place called Fergusson in Missouri US, when in an altercation, a white police officer shot and killed a black American man. The outcry was enormous. Cars were set on fire. Whole blocks of shops were broken into, had their goods stolen, and then set on fire. Riot police were sent in, which only fuelled the frenzy. Terrible, terrible stuff.
Or the London riots of 2011, where people rioted over another shooting.
The same sort of carnage took place there as well.
I’m not going to argue either side of the debate. Putting aside who was right and who was wrong, I've read articles and seen TV interviews of people who went to the scene just to see what it was all about. And they got caught up in all the hype and Adrenalin of the situation, and ended up doing wicked things they didn’t set out to do. All because the mob encouraged it. But we also know from Rom 1:28-32…that it was an unashamed reason to outwardly display their true inner depraved hearts. So really, all the excuses on earth mean nothing, because the default condition of the heart is in enmity with God.
But there would also have been those in the crowd that had followed Jesus. The lame who Jesus commanded to walk again. The ones who were born blind but sight had been restored, whose sickness and disease was removed from them, whose demons had been delivered from them, and maybe even those who were physically dead who He brought back to life.
And what about those who heard His messages, recognised that yes, He really was the Messiah – then believed, and repented of their sins, and followed Him. They would have been watching the proceedings as well. What would have been going through their minds?
Probably helplessness. Or hopelessness. The temptation to scream out of his innocence would have been tempered with the fear of reprisal. And that reprisal would have come from the Roman authorities, who would have seen it as an act of defiance against Pilates’ authority. Reprisal would also come from the crowd, who would have branded them as accomplices, or like-minded as the criminal. They would have seen it as an excuse to turn on them also.
Think back to those riots. Think what would happen if one person ran into the middle of the streets and yell 'Stop!'. What would happen to that person? The crowd would have swallowed them up, and they would be the object of their fury.
So, they would have stood, and wept. We know this from Luke's account that the women wept openly when He passed by. The beatings that He endured, accompanied by the long hours of examination and cross-examination, without any sustinence, finally took its' toll. He could endure no more. Again, in the other accounts we read that a man from Cyrene was enlisted to carry the cross for Him part of the way.
And they led Him to Golgotha. The place of a Skull - and looking back over history, this was named probably due to its' physical appearance. If you could imagine the profile of the shape of a skull, with the dips and peaks, depicting facial parts. If it was chosen as a site for crucifixion for this reason, then it was very apt.
v18 they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, Jesus in the centre.
I always wondered 'What was the significance of the layout of those being crucified?'.
I don't know about you, but I do that a lot with scripture. When the authour describes a scene a certain way, or with particular detail, I always ask the question 'Why?. Not because I'm looking for doctrine in every little detail, because it just pricks my curiosity.
And after I thought about it for a while, I remembered something. Again, in another Gospel account, Lukes', one of the robbers repented. Turn to Luke 23:39-43...
So, on one side of Jesus was a picture of death - a hard heart that blasphemed Jesus and demanded He save Him, while on the other side was a picture of life - a repentant humble heart who accepted Christ, and His sacrifice on his behalf. And what was the bridge between the two?
From death to life?. Jesus Christ Himself. It may not be an intentional or 'official' type and shadow, but hey, if I can draw a Gospel conclusion out of it, it's good enough for me! You get that one for free.
v19-20. In Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. Pilate didn't understand the implications of what he was doing.
In writing it in Hebrew, all of the Jewish people (official language of the country) could read it.
In Greek so that all the Greek learned scholars (the current language) could read it.
In Latin so that the occupying authority (the 'official' language) at the time could read it.
So in essence, Pilate was inadvertently spreading the Gospel, without meaning to.
v21 The Pharisees showed further disdain to both Pilate, and to Jesus. They weren't done with rubbing Jesus face in the dirt. No, they wanted the wording of the title changed. Because, leaving it how it was would somehow give the impression that this was an 'earnt' or an 'official' title.
That somehow this might seem to have their endorsement, or stamp of approval on it.
No, no, that wouldn't do. Just tweak the words a little bit, they said. Instead of 'King of the Jews', just say 'I am the King of the Jews'. They wanted to picture Jesus as a nutcase, someone who walked around declaring thinngs about Him that weren't true. Also, it was to highlight their blasphemy charges against Him. They would try aything, to persecute Him more, and justify their bringing Him to the cross.
And that's like all those that go against Christ - they go to any lengths to show their hatred. 2000 years later, it's no different...
And I love Pilate's reply - v22 What I have written, I have written. By now, I'm guessing that he had had an absolute gutsfull of the Pharisees.
But they had no more claim on him. He had already given them what they wanted, and they couldn't abuse his power, or put him under pressure any more, so he may have used it as a way of getting the last counter-punch in. Flick back to verse 12-14...the Pharisses showed contempt at Pilate's authority by squeezing him into a corner until he conceded to them.
v23... The soldiers, took His clothes and divided them into 4 parts, but the tunic was in one piece, without seam. Unless they drew out their swords and cut it into parts, it couldn't be divided. And if they did divide it, how useless would it be to them?
This garment was made by weaving into one whole piece of fabric, with holes for the hands and head, in the same manner as it would for a High Priest, reminding us that Jesus is our High Priest. It tells us that this fulfills scripture, verse 24, a direct link to
Psalm 22:18 (NKJV)
18 They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.
v25-27 Jesus sees His mother, bur refers to her as 'Woman'. That seems a strange thing to say, and if you remember back in chapter 2 at the wedding of Cana, Jesus refers to her as 'Woman' as well.
John 2:4 (NKJV)
4 Jesus said to her, 'Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me?
My hour has not yet come'.
I know that when I was a child if I called my mother 'Woman', it would end up badly for me. Not becuase of what my mother would do, but more so because of what my father would do.
So He called her 'Woman' at the wedding, and what did she do? She told the servants to do whatever He said to do. She knew something miraculous was about to happen. And what was the miracle? He turned the water into wine.
Well, the same thing was about to happen here. Something miraculous was going to take place, except this time, His hour had come.
She could no longer follow Him wherever He went. She needed a home, so He commissioned John, the disciple He loved, to comfort her, care for her and be as a son to her.
v 28-29...we are reaching the climax here...Jesus is aware that every thing that has happened is fulfilling scripture left, right and centre, and you can follow them in your index or cross-references.
He shouted 'I thirst!' and they gave Him vinegar. How awfully cruel that you would want to give a man literally on his last legs vinegar. But the vinegar had another property - it awoke the senses, and prolonged the agony - much like a shot of ammonia would do to a boxer these days - it was just another cruel tool for the Romans to use. And it did wake His spirits enough for Him to shout at the appointed time 'It is finished!.
What was finished? The fulfillment of prophecy, the pinnacle of God's master plan, where His only begotten Son had drank the wrath of all mankind's sin....