Study Notes

John 19:17-37


Last week, we saw Jesus before Pilate, who found Him not guilty, but sentenced Him to death. We saw Him beaten mercilessly, and now being led out to be crucified.

19:17 The Place Of The Skull

They took Jesus to the Place of the Skull, called Golgotha in Hebrew. It was named this because the hill somewhat resembled a skull. In latin, it is called Calvary. But long before, it went by a different name: Mt. Moriah.

And long before, another son climbed that hill to be put to death.

Gen. 22:1-14 Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." And He said, "Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah; and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you." So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place from a distance. And Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go yonder; and we will worship and return to you." And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son, and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. And Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, "My father!" And he said, "Here I am, my son." And he said, "Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?" And Abraham said, "God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." So the two of them walked on together. Then they came to the place of which God had told him; and Abraham built the altar there, and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. And Abraham stretched out his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." And he said, "Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me." Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind {him} a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place The LORD Will Provide, as it is said to this day, "In the mount of the LORD it will be provided."

An only son, dead to his father for three days, carried the wood of his own sacrifice up this very same hill. The father said, "God will provide Himself the lamb for the offering, my son." The place was named "The Lord Will Provide." Not, "Where God provided," past tense, but a prophetic name. Abraham prophesied of this place, that "In the mount of the LORD it will be provided." Here in John 19, we see that taking place, God's provision, God providing Himself the Lamb for the offering.

19:18 Between Two Men

Just as Isaac was between two men, Jesus Christ was between two men. Thieves, transgressors of the law. Robbers being put to death for their crimes. But Jesus was in between them, also being put to death for their crimes. Isaiah prophesied,

Isa. 53:12 ...He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors.

Jesus was bearing the sin of the world as He hung on that cross, bearing the sin of the two men on either side of Him. Bearing the sins committed by you and me. Only one of these thieves would acknowledge this before the three of them died. So one went to Paradise, the other went to hell.

It is so important that each person look to the cross. It is only through the cross that we are healed. It is only through the cross that we have victory.

Just as the Lord placed a portrait of Christ between two men in Genesis, there is also an interesting picture of this in the book of Exodus.

In chapter 17, we read that the Amalekites fought against Israel.

Exod. 17:9-12 So Moses said to Joshua, "Choose men for us, and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand." And Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. But Moses' hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set.

There were three men up on the hill, Moses' staff horizontally between the three of them. When their arms were down, there was defeat, but when their arms were up, there was victory. The same is true today. There were three men on Calvary, the one in the center sent by God. His willingness to stretch out His arms gave us victory. If He hadn't done it, we all would be dead.

19:19-22 Uproar About The Sign

Pilate made a sign to hang over Jesus' head on the cross. But the Jews were incensed! They were so angry, they demanded that Pilate make a new sign. Why did the chief priests get so bent out of shape at the sign? Why did they want him to change it? Pilate had written the inscription in three languages: Hebrew, Latin, and Greek.

When Pilate had written "Jesus the Nazarene and King of the Jews" in Hebrew, the sign read "Y'Shua HaNazarei vMelech HaYehudim." This statement formed an acrostic spelling"YHWH." Yahweh, the holy name of God!

To the Jews, this was a grievous insult. But in truth, here was God being put to death!

19:23-24 Casting Lots

Jesus garments were divided between the four soldiers for the material, but the tunic was something they wanted to have whole. They decided to "roll the dice" as it were, to see who got to keep it. This was a direct fulfillment of prophecy that these Gentiles, whom the Jews called dogs, weren't even aware of.

Ps. 22:16-18 For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me; They divide my garments among them, And for my clothing they cast lots.

The cross was clearly visible over 900 years before it was erected.

19:25-27 Mother And Son

Jesus' mother Mary was there at the foot of the cross.

Imagine the grief of any mother losing her oldest son instantly in an auto accident. Now imagine a long, agonizing death in the hospital as doctors vainly try to save him. These horrors are not even comparable to the cross.

Mary had been so blessed. An angel appeared to her, she was chosen to carry the Son of God in her womb. Magi brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh to her door. But don't forget that when they took Jesus to be circumcised in Jerusalem eight days after His birth, there was an old man named Simeon who prophesied over the family.

Luke 2:34-35 And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, "Behold, this {Child} is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed and a sword will pierce even your own soul..."

A sword would pierce Mary's soul. Certainly, it must have been this very day that Simeon spoke of.

Jesus commissioned John the apostle to care for His mother, which he did until her death.

19:28-29 I Thirst

In crucifixion, dehydration is caused in a terrible manner. The suffocating pressure on the lungs causes a lack of oxygen, bringing carbon dioxide levels in the blood way up. This makes the prisoner struggle to breathe more and the heart begins to beat as fast as possible to oxygenate the blood. Instead of its usual 5 liters per minute, it is now pumping out 20 liters per minute. At this rate it will become fatigued and the person will die of high output failure.

The blood pressure becomes so high that plasma is actually forced out the walls of the blood vessels into the area between the thorax and the lung. This fluid lost from the blood and filling this area can amount to a gallon. The only way for the body to replace it is to drink liquids.

So the Lord says, "I thirst." Hoping to lengthen His life and suffering, they soak a sponge with wine, and put it onto a hyssop branch.

We have talked many times about the parallels to the Passover and the cross. Here is another. When the lamb of God was sacrificed, they were to

Exod. 12:22 "...take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and apply some of the blood that is in the basin to the lintel and the two doorposts..."

Here, the hyssop is present at the cross.

19:30 It Is Finished

Mark tells us that this final statement of Jesus was a loud cry. The last words of a dying man: "It is finished." In Greek, it is, "te tel-EH-o stai."

This phrase was well known during those days. You see, in the Roman Empire, when you were convicted of a crime, you owed society payment for your crime, it was paid in time. That's where we get the phrase, "He's paid his debt to society."

In a Roman prison, your debt was hung up like a balance sheet. It listed your crime, and the price you had to pay for committing that crime. When you had served your time, paid your debt to society, the jailer would write across that balance sheet, "Te tel-EH-o stai," which literally means, "paid in full." The freed prisoner would then keep that balance sheet to protect him from accusation that he had to pay a debt to society. He could produce the document bearing the inscription "Te tel-EH-o stai," and everyone would know that his debt was paid in full.

So here is Jesus Christ on the cross, seconds from death. He lets out a loud cry, that all who are listening might hear... "Te tel-EH-o stai." Paid in full.

Your sins were paid in full on the cross - every one of them.

19:31-37 The Day Of Preparation

Remember that Jewish days begin and end at sundown. Passover was on the 14th of Nisan, from sundown at the last supper, until sundown when they buried Jesus Christ. Then, at sunset, it became the 15th of Nisan, which began the feast of Unleavened Bread, lasting a week.

The first day of the feast of Unleavened Bread was a Sabbath - a day when they could do no work. So although according to the calendar it was technically still Passover, because they had celebrated it the night before, the Jews would use the daytime of the 14th as a preparation for the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which would begin at twilight. That is why we find it referred to in every gospel as "the Preparation day" or "the Jewish day of Preparation." It is Passover day, but they are preparing for Unleavened Bread at sundown, when they could do no work.

Hanging a body on a cross was work by the Jews' definition, so they wanted the three prisoners killed and taken down before the sun set. The way to quickly kill a crucified man was easy: just break his legs, and he won't be able to lift himself up to breathe. He will suffocate in a minute or two.

The soldiers were commanded to break their legs. But coming to Jesus, they saw He was already dead. Disobeying a direct order, they pierced His side with a spear instead. Why would the soldiers risk being put to death themselves? The Scriptures had to be fulfilled.

Exod. 12:46 "...nor are you to break any bone of it."

In order to be qualified, none of the Passover Lamb's bones could be broken. God will go to great lengths to insure that the Word of God be true.

So That You Also May Believe

John adds his commentary to the crucifixion, saying,

John 19:35 And he who has seen has borne witness, and his witness is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe.

John had seen all this happen. He was telling the truth when he wrote it down. Why? So that you also may believe.

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