John 19

1 In another attempt to avoid executing Jesus, Pilate has Him flogged to placate the Jews. The whip commonly used by the Romans was known as a "cat of nine tails." This weapon was a combination of nine whips, and the tips often contained bits of lead or glass. The idea was to tear the flesh to cause as much pain as possible. While the Jewish law limited a flogging to 40 lashes (Deu 25:3), the Romans had no such restrictions. By the time the flogging was over, Jesus would have been severely injured.
2 Having heard that Jesus was accused of being a king, the soldiers dress Him up like one.

No one knows exactly what plant was used to make the crown of thorns. Some have suggested that it was the thorny lower part of palm branches. This certainly would be ironic, since a few days earlier, palm branches were significant in the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.

The crown of thorns could be thought to represent the sin of the world (Gen 3:17-18).

The macabre king costume was completed with a purple robe. Purple fabric was very expensive because the purple dye was difficult to obtain. Thus, it was typically used only in royal garments. This garment either was a cast off, or was the property of a particularly wealthy (or well-liked) soldier.

3 The soldiers then mocked Jesus by pretending to worship Him just before hitting Him. It appears their bottled-up disdain for all Jews was being poured out onto Jesus.
4 Again, Pilate tells the Jewish leaders that he has no legal reason to punish Jesus, despite the fact that he has already been "forced" to do so.
5 Pilate presents Jesus in a manner similar to how one would present a king. Pilate hopes to evoke pity from the Jews once they see how Jesus had been beaten and humiliated.
6 Again, the Jews respond the opposite Pilate expects. When Pilate says that the Jews should crucify Jesus, he is really saying that the responsibility for Jesus' crucifixion will be on them.
7 Although the Jews' official charge against Jesus was treason to Rome, they reveal that the true reason was that they felt Jesus had committed blasphemy when He claimed to be the Son of God (Lev 24:16).
8 Pilate was afraid of many things: of the Jews forming a riot, having punished an innocent man, and his wife's disturbing dream (Mat 27:19). Now he was faced with the prospect of executing the Son of the Jewish God. In Roman mythology, there are many gods, some of which presumably had children. To harm a child of a god was likely to invoke a devastating response from the parent god. Although Pilate held little respect for the Jewish God, he did not want to risk provoking Him to wrath.
9 Pilate is now asking Jesus if He is of divine origin. Jesus does not answer because He already knows that Pilate will not understand or believe the answer. Jesus was not a son of a mythological god -- He was God. If Pilate was willing to believe that Jesus was the Son of God, he might have taken further steps to prevent the crucifixion. Jesus had to die according to God's plan, so there was no need to risk complicating this situation further.
10 Pilate hopes to leverage Jesus with the hope of escaping crucifixion.
11 This does evoke a response, but Jesus does not tell Pilate who He is. Instead, he rebukes Pilate for not recognizing that God assigns power to men (Rom 13:3-5). Jesus notes that Pilate has (and will) sin, but indicates that the sin of the Jewish leaders is even worse (Jesus may be specifically thinking of Judas).

All sin, no matter how significant, is punishable by death by God. At least one reason that the Jew's sin was greater was that for three years Jesus gave evidence that He was their Messiah. They had seen God face-to-face, but had rejected Him. How much more miserable they will be when they find out that Jesus is whom He said He was.

12 Pilate makes another effort to release Jesus. The Jews counter with a threat to bring the case before the Emperor. Pilate was already on shaky terms with the Emperor and did not need any more trouble. The Emperor would not have looked favorably on a case where Pilate released a man who claimed to be a king without Roman authorization.
13 The Pavement has been identified as being part of the Castle of Antonia. The Jewish name probably means, "elevated ground."
14 At noon, Pilate makes one more presentation of Jesus and a last chance for the Jews to retract their death penalty demand. Now he is officially declaring Jesus the King of the Jews, out of either spite, or a hope to get the Jews to identify with Jesus.

Preparation day is the day before the Passover when the lambs were prepared for sacrifice. God's parallel between the sacrificial laws of Moses and the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus is intentional.

15 Still intent on bloodshed, Pilate asks the Jews if they would really want to crucify their own king. The Jews (for the first time) officially declare their recognition of Caesar as their king. The reason they opposed Roman occupation in the first place was that they considered themselves ruled by God alone. Now they were figuratively and literally declaring that God was not their king. Instead of God, they chose their oppressive Roman rulers to govern them. This utterance shows how desperate the Jews were to execute Jesus.
16 Pilate finally gave in to the religious leaders' demand to have an innocent man crucified.
17 Jesus carried the cross, similar to how Isaac carried the wood that Abraham intended to sacrifice him on (Gen 22:6).

No one knows for sure where Golgotha was located. Many believe that this place is a rounded hill resembling a skull. Others have suggested it was called this because skulls accumulated from the many executions that took place there. The Latin translation of "Golgotha" is "Calvary."

18 Even in death, Jesus has central importance.
19 The charge for which a prisoner was executed was usually fastened to the cross. Since Jesus had committed no crime, Pilate wrote down the only thing that He was charged with that could possibly justify His execution. However, the obvious implication of the note is to remind the Jews that they are still under Roman authority, even if they got their way with the execution of Jesus. The "king" of the Jews represented the whole. If the Romans would execute the king of the Jews, they would not hesitate to execute any lesser Jew who would rebel against Rome.
20 During the Passover, Jews from all over the world gathered in Jerusalem. Many of the foreigners did not know how to read Hebrew, so Pilate wrote the warning in the regional common language, Greek, and the official Roman language, Latin. Since the crucifixions were typically done near the city gates, many pilgrims either saw Jesus as they entered Jerusalem, or the residence could have easily walked there to satisfy their curiosity about the matter.
21 The charges were insulting to the religious leaders. They told Pilate that they did not want people to think that Jesus was their official king.
22 Pilate was finally through giving in to the leaders' demands in this matter. The charges would stand intentionally to spite the Jews. Although the Jewish leaders would not accept it (or had not taken the time to research it), Jesus had rightful heritage of the throne as well as the spiritual authority. When Jesus returns, He will not just be King of the Jews, but King of the World.
23 Four soldiers executed Jesus. For their bonus, they were allowed to divide Jesus' clothing, His only possessions. The most valuable garment, the coat, was left for last. The less-common Galilean style of coats was more valuable because it was seamless.
24 Apparently, it was common to divide the coat and use the scraps of cloth for other purposes. Because of the value of this item, they decided to gamble over it. The fulfilled prophecy is Psa 22:18.
25 The other Gospels indicate that various other women who followed Jesus also watched the crucifixion.
26 John appears to have been the only disciple brave enough to attend the crucifixion. The others were certainly afraid that they would be recognized as Jesus' followers and be executed along with Him.

At that time it was the oldest son's duty to see that his widowed mother was taken care of. By this time, Jesus' "step-father," Joseph, was dead, and Jesus' brothers were not believers. Jesus was about to die, so He took his prerogative as the oldest son and placed Mary in the custody of His beloved disciple, John.

27 According to tradition, John took care of Mary until she died.
28 Although Jesus stated His thirst as a fact, it was taken to be a request.
30 The wine vinegar gave Him enough strength to shout out one of His last utterances.

The same word used here for "it is finished" was also used on Greek currency; meaning "paid in full." Jesus had paid the full price for sin for all times, for all whom believed in Him.

31 Deu 21:22-23 states that a hung corps would defile the land if left up overnight. This would especially not do on the Passover.

The ultimate demise of a crucified prisoner was from asphyxiation. Most would succumb within one day, but some could last several days. To continue breathing, the prisoner could push up with his feet. However, if his legs were broken, the prisoner would be unable to breathe, and would suffocate much quicker.

33 Some have claimed that Jesus did not really die on the cross, which would give a non-miraculous explanation for the subsequent "resurrection." However, it should be noted that the Romans were experts in death. The Roman soldier could tell that Jesus was dead. In addition, Jesus' body was pierced with a spear, which gave further confirmation of His death. His body was also handled and buried by people who also saw that He was dead.

In accordance with the regulations for the Passover lamb, none of the bones were broken in Jesus' body (Num 9:11-12).

34 Some have suggested that the "water" was from the pericardial sac around the heart. Others have suggested that that the separation of blood and water is consistent with the settling of blood cells from the plasma that occurs at death. The purposes for piercing the body include confirmation and/or guarantee of death.

For Christians, blood and water symbolize the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

35 John now reminds the reader that he was witness to the death of Jesus. He did not make up this story, nor is he merely repeating a story he heard from someone else. He was there, and he can be trusted to tell the truth about it.
36 Incredible as it might sound, God had predicted Jesus' death hundreds of years beforehand through various prophecies. The fulfillment of the prophecies was unintentionally by those involved, but nonetheless, it happened just as God had foretold.
37 Zec 12:10
38 At the grimmest hour, Joseph of Arimathea sees that he can be of service and finds a boldness he had not had before. He knew that caring for the body of Jesus would bring scrutiny and disdain from the Jewish leadership. Since Joseph was a man of affluence, he had undoubtedly been looked upon favorably with the Jewish leaders before this incident. Joseph had not wanted to jeopardize his status until this moment.
39 Nicodemus, who may have been the only member of the Sanhedrin who believed in Jesus, also assisted with His burial. Myrrh and aloes were commonly used to embalm a body at burial. A talent (75 lb. or 34 kg) of embalming materials was an unusually large quantity, but was probably a token of Nicodemus' great reverence for Jesus. Note that some translations specify that 100 pounds was used, but 75 pounds is the accurate conversion.
40 The Jewish custom for burial preparation was to wrap the body in a spiral manner with strips of linen. The embalming spices were applied with the strips. The head was wrapped separately.

The Shroud of Turin, which allegedly bears an image of the crucified Jesus, does not fit the description of the burial cloths.

41 Mat 27:59-60 explains that this tomb was the one that Joseph had made for himself.
42 Sunset was approaching rapidly, so the burial had to be done quickly.