Our lesson this week continues moments after Jesus stood before Pilate and stated the truth that He is a king that is not of this world (John 18:37).  While Pilate did not find Jesus to be a threat against Rome, the Jews saw Jesus as an evildoer and rather Barabbas be set free over Jesus (John 18:40).  We are going to be taking a look at the crucifixion of Jesus in our lesson today as we continue in our final unit of lesson for this quarter which is titled – Triumph over Trials. This week’s lesson is being taught from John 19:16-30.

Jesus Crucified

Our lesson opens with Jesus being handed over to be crucified (v. 16).  As I mentioned at church while teaching last week’s lesson,  The Jews desired for the Romans to be the one to put Jesus to death.  Again, for the religious leaders, it was about covering up what they were doing; they were trying to uphold their image.  Yet, in all honesty, there was nothing they could do to hide their wickedness and their hatred for Jesus.  The Romans were going to do what the religious leaders of the Jews desired – they were going to put Jesus to death.

Jesus bearing the cross

Jesus was made to bear His cross to the place called Golgotha, Place of a Skull (v.17).  Golgotha, also known as Calvary, sat nearby to Jerusalem and would have been easily visible to those passing by.

I said about the Romans in my sermon last week – Who Do You Serve – that they were very harsh and abusive.  The Romans were incredibly harsh on those that were slaves and to those that were  criminals that acted against Rome, they were even harsher.  The Romans enjoyed crucifying people as it was very degrading and a way to humiliate those that went against or ever challenged Roman authority.  

Crucifixion was also used as a means to deter people from ever opposing the Romans.  So, Jesus being whipped and then made to bear what some believe to be the crossbar of the cross, was an act of humiliation and deterrence.  Now, as I mentioned in last week’s lesson, the Romans did not necessarily care much about Jesus and what the religious leaders were doing.  Yet, we do know that Jesus was mocked by the Romans quite a bit when He was handed over to them for crucifixion (John 19:1-3).

Hanging on the cross

The humiliation of Jesus went even further in that when He was placed on the cross and raised, He was raised between two others (v.19).  Now, from the other gospels, we knew that the two others were criminals, specifically robbers (Matt. 27:38; Mark 15:27).  Jesus was innocent, yet He was being treated as a common thief and was hanging on a cross with, and in between, them.

To go even further into this humiliation, Pilate had it written and hung on the cross the message, “JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS (v.19).”  Jesus admitted to being a king, as we saw in our lesson last week when He admitted to His kingdom not being of our world (John 18:37).  Jesus never denied being a king, and when He spoke of being a king, His kingdom did not only include the Jews but it also included Gentiles as well (John 10:16).

So, what was so humiliating about Pilate hanging this inscription?  Well, in Old Testament times, when kings would fall to another king, they – whether living or dead – would be paraded through the streets just as we have seen in our lesson with Jesus.  Then, after being paraded through the streets, they would essentially be raised in front of a crowd to be mocked.  

Saul did this during his days as king when he spared Agag only to take all that he had before his face and parade him around (1 Sam. 15:8-9).  Such mockery also happened to Zedekiah when Nebuchadnezzar killed his sons before gouging out his eyes, bounding him with bronze restraining chains, and sending him back to Babylon (2 Kgs. 25:7).  

So, doing all of that  in those days was done to show one king’s authority and dominance over another.  Pilate having this inscription mounted above Jesus on the cross was essentially a “look at what we have done to the king of the Jews” moment for the Romans.  The religious leaders did not like this and desired for the sign to read, “He said, ‘I am the King of the Jews. (v.21)’”  They knew that this was mockery for the Jews and they desired for the mockery to solely be put on Jesus.

The humiliation of Jesus continued while He was on the cross as the soldiers divided Jesus’ garments and cast lots for the parts they would get (vss.23-24).  John tells us that the dividing and casting of lots for Jesus’ garments fulfilled Scripture.  The Scripture that was fulfilled is from Psalm 22:18, where we see glimpses of the suffering of the Messiah.

Jesus’ caring for Mary

Now, as Jesus hung dying on the cross, we are told that a faithful few stood by the cross.  John writes that Mary, the mother of Jesus, along with her sister, another Mary who was married to Cleopas (Luke 24:18), and then Mary Magdalene were present at the crucifixion of Jesus (v.25).  John was able to write this because he was also standing there next to Mary, the mother of Jesus (v.26).

When Jesus looked down to see them, He said to His mom, “Woman, behold your son!”  Now, Jesus was not telling her to look at Him as she was most likely already looking at Him.  Jesus was nearing the end of His physical life and He was more concerned about Mary than Himself.  He had no reason to be concerned for Himself as He was about to be glorified.

So, we are shown that Jesus then said to “the disciple”, which we know is John (John 21:24), “Behold your mother” (v.27).  Jesus desired for John to take care of Mary and from that day forward he took her into his own home.  I suppose this would cause us to question Joseph’s (Mary’s husband) whereabouts and why Jesus felt He had to leave John to care for Mary.

So, for just a quick sidebar, scripture does not tell us exactly what happened to Joseph.  The last time Joseph is mentioned in scripture is when Jesus was twelve years old.  At the age of twelve, they went up to the temple for the Passover Feast.  After the days of the feast, they left but Jesus stayed behind teaching in the temple.  They had gone a day’s journey out with their traveling party before realizing Jesus was not with them.  When they returned to Jerusalem, they found Him in the temple in the midst of teachers both listening and asking questions (Luke 2:41-50).

I believe scripture points to Joseph dying before Jesus began ministering when He was 30 years old.  Joseph is not spoken of ever being around during the years Jesus ministered.  For example, he was not at the wedding in Cana when Jesus performed His first miracle.  When Mary and Jesus’ siblings came to visit Him while He was ministering, Joseph was not mentioned as being there (Mark 3:31-35).  So, it is highly likely that Joseph was not at the cross because he had died.

Still firm in the faith

So, Jesus knew that all things were accomplished and that He was at the end of His physical life.  By this point, Jesus was physically dehydrated and said that He was thirsty (v.28) – this is what being crucified did to the body.  Not only that, but we have to also consider that Jesus had not eaten since the supper at the feast of Passover when He announced that He would be betrayed (Matt. 26:20-21).

After hearing Jesus say this, they gave Jesus a sponge with sour wine.  And after receiving the wine, Jesus said, “It is finished!”  Jesus bowed His head and gave up His spirit (v.30).  The task was completed.  Through all of the antagonizing of the religious leaders, and through the trials, Jesus stood firm in the faith.

I state this about our walk of faith quite often – it is not going to be an easy walk.  We are going to have our trials, tribulations, afflictions, and infirmities while we are on this journey.  However, we must remain steadfast in our faith – follow the example that Jesus set for us!  Through our faith in the Lord, we can overcome all of our trials, tribulations, afflictions, burdens, and infirmities.  

We overcome all of these things because Jesus has already overcome them for us.  All that is required out of us is to simply have faith in Him.


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