By James R. Strange, Ph.D.
Professor of biblical and religious studies, Samford University
Jesus Died for Me
John 19:16–19, 28–30, 38–42
In John 18:28–19:16, we learn Jesus’ crucifixion is the result of His encounter with Pontius Pilate, a Roman prefect who governed Judea from A.D. 26 to 36.
In John’s Gospel, Pilate and the chief priests stand out against the backdrop of many people who believe in Jesus after they encounter Him. All these encounters coalesce in the events of chapters 19 and 20.
In verse 8, we learn Pilate is afraid. Presumably, he is worried about the implied threat in verse 12.
From all sources that mention Pilate, we know it’s unlikely he wants to avoid angering the Jewish people. Instead, he probably wants to maintain a good relationship with the priesthood.
What we do know is this — he executes someone he thinks is innocent, probably because Jesus is Jewish and has no status. The flogging and crucifixion reveal Pilate’s character.
Jesus is crucified on the day of preparation for Passover, when lambs are being slaughtered nearby in the temple. We recall the confession of John the Baptist in John 1:29 and 36.
Jesus was free of sin, yet He was crucified. (16–19)
“Calvary” comes from Latin translations of “Golgotha.” Jesus probably carried the cross beam to the place where vertical posts were set beside the road outside a western gate of the city.
The Gospels don’t mention a hill, but early Christians identified the place with a raised outcrop of limestone bedrock.
Jesus poses no threat to Roman control of the region. But because of the accusations, Pilate can make a grisly and public example of Him, which is what crucifixion is designed to do. The Romans use the inscription to say, “This is what we do to your kings.”
Christ’s work on the cross was completed when He died. (28–30)
Verses 28 and 29 fulfill Psalm 69:21. Hyssop, an herb similar to oregano, grows wild in Israel. Hyssop and wine recall the use of hyssop and lambs’ blood at the first Passover (Ex. 12:22).
The death and burial of Jesus was attested to by others. (38–42)
Although the town of Arimathea is unknown, Joseph is mentioned in all four Gospels.
His traditional tomb is inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. According to Mark 15:43, Joseph is rich, which accords with having a rock-cut family tomb in Jerusalem (Matt. 27:60).
In the other Gospels, women come to the empty tomb to anoint Jesus’ body with spices.
In John, Nicodemus provides a lavish amount of myrrh and aloes. Only John mentions this garden and the one on the Mount of Olives where Jesus was arrested (“Gethsemane” in Matthew and Mark).
In John, all encounters with Jesus lead to the question of His identity.
His crucifixion and resurrection are His glorification — the most complete revelation that He is the Son who reveals the Father. The priesthood and Gentile governor reject this revelation while many others believe.
John wants his audience to believe Jesus is the Son of God and to “have life in His name” (20:31). The same encouragement, therefore, applies to us. Let us live life in Jesus’ name.
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