Love Poured Out: Jesus Crucified
Friday: John 19:16–42
Our series of Easter Week blogs arrives, at last, at the cross; the moment that has hung like a shadow over the exchanges we’ve looked at over the past few days.
16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.
The Crucifixion of Jesus
So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. 17 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).18 There they crucified him, and with him two others — one on each side and Jesus in the middle.
19 Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: jesus of nazareth, the king of the jews. 20 Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 21 The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”
23 When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. 24 “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said, “They divided my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.” So this is what the soldiers did.
25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
The Death of Jesus
28 Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
31 Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. 32 The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35 The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. 36 These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” 37 and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”
The Burial of Jesus
38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. 40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
The question of how we’re supposed to feel on Good Friday is a strange one. Is it a day for despair, for aligning our hearts with disciples would have felt watching the events unfold before them? Is it a day for reflection, for allowing the magnitude of the cost that Jesus paid that day to settle on our souls? Is it a day for joy, for calling to mind that it was for the joy set before him that Jesus endured the cross? Is it a day for celebration, for dancing and shouting about the great victory that is achieved as Jesus gives himself for us? As we seek more of Jesus this Good Friday, hearts, minds, souls and bodies, there’s a place for each.
We see a place for each in John’s account of the crucifixion, a day of darkness rich in imagery of the light that is coming. Even in Jesus’ death, there remains the anticipation of what he will achieve through it:
- The place of the skull, the place of death, becomes the place where death is defeated at last (Isaiah 25:8)
- The sign above his head, “King of the Jews”, written in the language of the nations, even as through his death, Jesus makes a way for people of every tribe, tongue and nation to come to him as King (Revelation 7:9)
- The soldiers dividing his clothes by lots to fulfil one scripture, as Jesus himself fulfils all that the whole Old Testament has been pointing to, the long-awaited, long-foretold saviour who came to crush the head of the snake once and for all (Genesis 3:15)
- The son, calling his people to a family relationship even as by his death he welcomes us into his family, children of God, heirs and co-heirs with him in his glory and suffering (Romans 8:17)
- The desperate thirst of the one who came to offer us a spring of living water welling up to eternal life, that we might never thirst (John 4:13–14)
- The branch of hyssop, a concession to a dying and defeated man, yet recalling the power of God to defeat both the power of man (Exodus 12:22–23) and the power of sin (Numbers 19:6)
- The one who declares “it is finished” is the one who started it all off (Colossians 1:16), who set the stars in the sky and whose glory is declared by all creation (Psalm 19:1)
- The blood and water poured out from his body, even as the moment of death grace pours out to all those who will receive it (1 Timothy 1:13–14)
- The myrrh used to anoint his body at last, reminding us that this is the point Jesus has been heading toward for his whole life, that none of it is out of his control (Matthew 2:11).
- A new tomb, for a new type of death, one that would not last, but would usher in a new type of life, a Spirit-filled resurrection, the first fruits of what’s to come for all who are in him (1 Corinthians 15:20–22)
As we stand on this Good Friday, and remember the cost of what Jesus did for us, lift your eyes to him again. With heart, soul, mind and body, see this King, this Saviour, this Lord, high and lifted up, glorified even in his death, each moment of his pain pointing to his victory, his love poured out for us.