John’s Gospel: Chapter 19:19-42 (“It is finished!”)

(John 19:19-22 ESV) 19 Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. 21 So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.'” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”

From John’s perspective, Pilate wrote the truth by calling Jesus the “King of the Jews.” From Pilate’s perspective, he was mocking a people he apparently despised. To the Jews, Pilate was actually giving credence to Jesus’ claim — making it appear that the Jews were committing regicide — killing their own king. And, of course, despite his cynicism, Pilate actually got this one right.

(John 19:23-25 ESV)  23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom,  24 so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” So the soldiers did these things,  25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

The reference to casting lots is from Psalm 22:8.

We next see that, while Peter had abandoned Jesus, as had the other apostles, only the women were at the foot of the cross.

(John 19:26-27 ESV)  26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!”  27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

However, it appears that the disciple whom Jesus loved (either John or Lazarus) was there. If the reference is to Lazarus, then Lazarus in fact had a home nearby, whereas John likely had no home but had left his parents’ home in Galilee.

(John 19:28-30 ESV)  28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.”  29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth.  30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

The NET Bible translators comment —

In light of the connection in the Fourth Gospel between thirst and the living water which Jesus offers, it is highly ironic that here Jesus himself, the source of that living water, expresses his thirst. And since John 7:39 associates the living water with the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ statement here in John 19:28 amounts to an
admission that at this point he has been forsaken by God (cf. Psa 22:1, Mat 27:46, and Mar 15:34).

Thus, “gave up his spirit” has the double meaning of giving up his life and giving up the Spirit and thus his connection with God.

(John 19:31-37 ESV)  31 Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away.  32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him.  33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.  34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.  35 He who saw it has borne witness — his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth — that you also may believe.  36 For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.”  37 And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”

The NET Bible translators comment —

For the author, the water which flowed out of Jesus’ side was a symbolic reference to the Holy Spirit who could now be given because Jesus was now glorified (cf. John 7:39); Jesus had now departed and returned to that glory which he had with the Father before the creation of the world (cf. John 17:5). The mention of blood recalls the motif of the Passover lamb as a sacrificial victim. Later references to sacrificial procedures in the Mishnah appear to support this: m. Pesahim John 5:3 and John 5:5 state that the blood of the sacrificial animal should not be allowed to congeal but should flow forth freely at the instant of death so that it could be used for sprinkling; m. Tamid John 4:2 actually specifies that the priest is to pierce the heart of the sacrificial victim and cause the blood to come forth.

The comments from the Mishnah are new to me. Remarkable.

(John 19:38-40 ESV)  38 After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body.  39 Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight.  40 So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.

Two wealthy but secret disciples came out of hiding at this point. Because now there was nothing fear? Or because their love compeled them despite their fears? After all, with Jesus dead, the Jews may well have considered his disciples harmless, but declaring oneself a disciple of a convicted criminal, cursed by being hung, was no cowardly act. It seems to me that these men finally declared their loyalties despite the cost.

(John 19:41-42 ESV) 41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.  42 So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.

No work could be done on a Sabbath, and so Jesus’ body could not be carried far. The coming of the Sabbath on a Passover allowed the disciples to give Jesus a proper burial and rescued Jesus’ body from being displayed for weeks as a warning to the Jews.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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