John 18 – 19

The Sacrificial Death of Christ
John 18 – 19
John 18 – 19. In these chapters we have a new section in the gospel of John. Previously, the Lord had concluded His public ministry (ch.12), and then concluded His private ministry with His disciples (ch.16), and then concluded it all with a prayer to His Father (ch.17). There was nothing left but the cross. These chapters cover the events leading up to the cross, the crucifixion and death of Christ, and His burial. In comparison to the synoptic gospels which cover many of the same events, John’s gospel brings out in a greater way the Deity and Divine glory of the Son, even in death. It is remarkable that we do not read of the Lord’s suffering in Gethsemane, nor of the abandonment of Calvary. It isn’t so much the work that is in view, but the Person that accomplished it. Yet we also have in these chapter the guilt of all mankind established. The cruelty of the Gentiles is there, but far worse the hatred of the Jews, who had “the greater sin”.

Arrest in the Garden (18:1-14)

Jesus, having said these things, went out with his disciples beyond the torrent Cedron, where was a garden, into which he entered, he and his disciples. v.1 The Garden. The Lord went with His disciples over a small stream called Cedron into a garden. This is the same stream king David passed over when he left the city in rejection (2 Sam. 15), and there was one who was seeking to betray him. It is an interesting parallel with the Lord. This garden is no doubt the same place as the garden called Gethsemane in the other gospels. The Lord’s agony in the garden, His exceeding sorrow, which He suffered in anticipation of the cross, is completely passed over in John. This is in keeping with the character of the gospel, which focuses more on the glory of His Person than on His sufferings. We know from the other gospels that Jesus was praying for “one hour” in the garden. John records nothing of the garden prayers, yet devotes an entire chapter to the prayer of John 17, which the other writers make no mention of! What a testimony to the work of the Spirit of God in inspiration!
2 And Judas also, who delivered him up, knew the place, because Jesus was often there, in company with his disciples. 3 Judas therefore, having got the band, and officers of the chief priests and Pharisees, comes there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4 Jesus therefore, knowing all things that were coming upon him, went forth and said to them, Whom seek ye? 5 They answered him, Jesus the Nazaraean. Jesus says to them, I am he. And Judas also, who delivered him up, stood with them. 6 When therefore he said to them, I am he, they went away backward and fell to the ground. vv.2-6 Judas and the Soldiers. Judas knew the location where the Lord would be, even though he had parted company with the Lord back in ch.13. He knew that this garden was a place the Lord would go with the disciples in the evenings when He was in Jerusalem. How sad that Judas would exploit this special, inside knowledge to betray the Lord. It is noted that Judas felt it necessary to gather “the band, and officers of the chief priests and Pharisees” along with “lanterns and torches and weapons”. The torches we perhaps for illumination because it was dark. But there was no sense in bringing weapons. The Lord had never acted in self defense before. At times when they had tried to take Him, He slipped through their midst by Divine power. It is also likely that Judas believed the Lord would be delivered miraculously as He had at other times (Luke 4:29-30; John 8:59; John 10:39). Perhaps he thought Jesus would escape and he could make some money off it. But Judas was wrong. This could be why Judas was “filled with remorse” (Matt. 27:3) when the Lord was condemned. All the soldiers and weapons were useless against His power should He chose to escape, and they were needless should He chose to surrender. Maybe they had a bad conscience? We have a beautiful statement of the Lord’s omniscience and willingness to suffer; “Jesus therefore, knowing all things that were coming upon him, went forth”. We see the Divine glory of Jesus in this; not captured, not dragged away, but going forward of His own accord. He was intent on doing His Father’s will. Notice that it is not immediately obvious to the soldiers which one was Jesus of Nazareth. The Lord was so lowly, that He was inconspicuous as being their Master. The Lord replied to their answer, “I am”. No doubt it was a response that told them He was the One they were seeking, but it was more than that. This is one of the great “I am” statements of John’s gospel. The name “I AM” declares the eternal existence of God; the One who was, who is, and who is to come. His enemies were knocked backward to the ground, as if by the glory of His Person. Notice that the friends of the Lord fall forward on their faces when confronted with His glory, but the enemies fall backward, away from His presence.
7 He demanded of them therefore again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus the Nazaraean. 8 Jesus answered, I told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go away; 9 that the word might be fulfilled which he spoke, As to those whom thou hast given me, I have not lost one of them. vv.7-9 Jesus the Shepherd. The Lord asked them again whom they were seeking, and this would seem to be for the purpose of protecting His own disciples. At the first question power shown out, but at the second question grace shown out; “I told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go away”. Here we have the Lord acting as the Good Shepherd; “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). The disciples would not be arrested and put to death. Only their master would suffer now. Like the ark of God in Jordan river, Jesus would go alone into the waters of death, and His disciples would pass over dry-shod (Jos. 3:17).1 He gives Himself up freely for them. But even this was for the fulfillment of His own word in His previous prayer. All of these circumstances were under the Lord’s Divine control.
10 Simon Peter therefore, having a sword, drew it, and smote the bondman of the high priest and cut off his right ear; and the bondman’s name was Malchus [‘a king’]. 11 Jesus therefore said to Peter, Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given me, shall I not drink it? vv.10-11 Peter and Malchus. (See also Matt. 26:51; Mark 14:47; Luke 22:50-51.) Peter was armed with a sword, and decided that it was time to use it. We know that the disciples had two swords, collectively (Luke 22:38). That means that at least two of the disciples were armed, but only one drew his sword. It speaks to Peter’s character that he would not only arm himself, but also be quick to draw his sword; perhaps he did this to make sure he would keep true to his words earlier in ch.13, that he would lay down his life for the Lord. Self-confidence was the root of this failure. Had he not seen the display of power in v.6? Rather than help the Lord, Peter only hindered Him by using the sword. Peter wasn’t aiming for the man’s ear, he was going for the head! Peter was seeking to help the Lord through the efforts of the flesh, and it resulted in disaster. Morally, there is a lesson in this. We can “cut off” another’s “ear” by acting in the flesh; i.e. we can cause them to turn a deaf ear to the truth. We can do personal damage with good intentions. The Lord goes not commend Peter, but simply tells him to put the sword where it belonged. In Luke 22 we find that Jesus healed this man. What grace! While these men were occupied with arresting Him, the Lord stoops down to heal the severed ear; to put right the wrong done by Peter. The Lord adds “the cup which the Father has given me, shall I not drink it?” He viewed the arrest, the cross, the sufferings, etc. all as part of a “cup”, an assigned allotment of suffering, that “the Father” had given Him. Peter did not enter into the motives of the Lord’s heart. Unwittingly, Peter was seeking to take the cup away from the Lord before He could drink it. This could never be. Jesus was determined to accomplish the Father’s will.
12 The band therefore, and the chiliarch, and the officers of the Jews, took Jesus and bound him: 13 and they led him away to Annas first; for he was father-in-law to Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. 14 But it was Caiaphas who counselled the Jews that it was better that one man should perish for the people. vv.12-14 Annas and Caiaphas. The Lord Jesus was seized by the men, tied up, and led away. Matt. 26:56 records that, at this time, all the disciples forsook the Lord and fled. John does not record this, and this is perhaps because he was an exception. It is nice to pass over the failures of our brethren. In Matthew we do not read of the Lord before Annas, but only Caiaphas (Matt. 26:57). Note that there were two high priests that year, Caiaphas and his father-in-law Annas. It was unscriptural to have two high priests, but at this time the office of high priest was being used like a political toy in Judea, often passed back and forth between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and jostled for by powerful families. It could be that there was a marriage alliance between two powerful families at this time, resulting in the double high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas. The character of Caiaphas is specially recalled here. He was a cruel and wicked man, who gave his unscrupulous and awful advice that it was better to kill one man in order to preserve the nation from the iron teeth of Rome (John 11:50). Ironically, killing Jesus would not prevent the Romans from coming, but on the contrary, it was the very thing that sealed the Jews’ fate in the government of God (Matt. 22:7).

Jesus on Trial Before the Jews (18:15-27)

15 Now Simon Peter followed Jesus, and the other disciple. But that disciple was known to the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest; 16 but Peter stood at the door without. The other disciple therefore, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the porteress and brought in Peter. vv.15-16 Peter and John. Simon Peter evidently was intent on making good on his promise, in spite of the fact that he had forsaken the Lord and fled (Matt. 26:56). But he follows the Lord, along with “the other disciple”, which is John’s humble way of identifying himself. John had some sort of connection to the high priest, and he arranged for Peter to be allowed in. Neither John nor Peter had followed the Lord as His disciples; one came as known to the high-priest, and the other through his connection. Little did John know, he was helping to put Peter in a position where he would fail miserably.
17 The maid therefore, who was porteress, says to Peter, Art thou also of the disciples of this man? He says, I am not. v.17 Peter’s First Denial. Peter’s self-confidence had carried him to the palace, but now he was in a place where his own strength could not sustain him. He was previously unwilling to heed the Lord’s warnings, and so he must learn the hard way. So with us, if we are unwilling to believe God’s Word, we may have to learn by hard experience. The maid who kept the door (a porteress) asked Peter if he was a disciple of Jesus. Peter denied this emphatically; “I am not”. Notice that the maid says “also”, indicating that she knew John also was the Lord’s disciple. But he questioned Peter, not John. This was providentially allowed by God that Peter’s proud boasting would be tested, and that the Lord’s word would be fulfilled.
18 But the bondmen and officers, having made a fire of coals (for it was cold), stood and warmed themselves; and Peter was standing with them and warming himself. v.18 Standing at the enemy’s fire. The men built a fire, and it was noted as a cold night. Morally too, it was a cold night. Man was rejecting his Savior; what could be colder than that? So much of what we see that man has built in this world is to fill that void left by rejecting the Savior; to warm their cold hands so to speak. Peter came, no doubt to the circle gathering there, and was warming himself beside a fire built by the men. He was trying to blend in with the enemies of Christ. What an awful place to be! Lot sat in the enemy’s gate, Samson slept in the enemy’s lap, and Peter warmed himself by the enemy’s fire. But Peter was there in his own strength. It is amazing how far the energy of the flesh can carry us, but in the end it will fail us.
19 The high priest therefore demanded of Jesus concerning his disciples and concerning his doctrine. 20 Jesus answered him, I spoke openly to the world; I taught always in the synagogue and in the temple, where all the Jews come together, and in secret I have spoken nothing. 21 Why demandest thou of me? Demand of those who have heard, what I have spoken to them; behold, they know what I have said. vv.19-21 Concerning Jesus’ Doctrine. It would seem that the trials of the Lord before the Jews, which are compressed into one scene in other gospels, took place in two phases: before Annas, then before Caiaphas. The first attempt to condemn the Lord was through His disciples and His doctrine; something He taught. They were digging for evidence, but the Lord would not indulge them. He had openly taught “in the synagogue and in the temple, where all the Jews come together”. When He says “in secret I have spoken nothing” it means the Lord didn’t have a double tongue, preaching peace in public and insurrection behind closed doors. It does not negate the fact that the upper room ministry was in private. The point is that they knew what He taught, or had access to those who had heard Him. How sad to think of this inquisition being conducted by the high priest. The role of a priest was to be that of gracious intercession, not of inquiry; “and the judges shall make thorough inquiry” (Deut. 19:18). Apostasy had rendered the most gracious of institutions as an instrument of corrupt judgment.
22 But as he said these things, one of the officers who stood by gave a blow on the face to Jesus, saying, Answerest thou the high priest thus? 23 Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou me? 24 Annas then had sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. vv.22-24 Abused by the Jews. We have the account of the first physical violence done to the Lord Jesus. Once physical abuse has started, it generally gets worse. One of the officers felt that Jesus’ words were disrespectful to the High Priest, and lashed out indignantly. He was seeking to defend the majesty of the high priest, but instead he insulted the majesty of the Son of God! How easy it is for religious zeal to blind the mind to the majesty of Christ. Graciously, the Lord answered him in a way that showed there was no fault with what He had spoken. After this, it seems that Annas wanted to get rid of the Lord, and sent him to his son-in-law Caiaphas. We read the details of the trial before Caiaphas in Matt. 26:57-68.
25 But Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They said therefore to him, Art thou also of his disciples? He denied, and said, I am not. 26 One of the bondmen of the high priest, who was kinsman of him whose ear Peter cut off, says, Did not I see thee in the garden with him? 27 Peter denied therefore again, and immediately the cock crew. vv.25-27 Peter’s Second and Third Denials. Peter’s second and third denials were by the fire, not by the door. These were more public. The men standing around asked Peter it he was the Lord’s disciple, and Peter denied it. Then another person, one who had actually been in the garden when Peter used his sword, asked more pointedly of Peter; “Did not I see thee in the garden with him?”. Notice that the questions get more and more pointed. God ordered the circumstances so there was no question in Peter’s mind; “and immediately the cock crew”. The Lord’s prophecy was accurate! From other gospels we know that Peter remembered the Lord’s words, and suddenly was filled with deep sorrow, marked by bitter weeping. How much better if Peter could have put his trust in the Lord; “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.” (Prov. 29:25). But though his failure was grievous, we find that Peter was later restored to the Lord, and then to a place of public service before the other apostles (John 21:15-23). The Lord can still use His servants after they have failed. Peter was so thoroughly restored that he was used by God to preach to the nation of Israel after the Day of Pentecost; “ye denied the Holy One and the Just” (Acts 3:14). What about us? Are we capable of denying the Lord? Yes. If there is an opportunity to identify ourselves with Christ, and we hide from making our Christianity known, we are essentially denying the Lord. 

Jesus on Trial Before Pilate (18:28 – 19:16)

28 They lead therefore Jesus from Caiaphas to the praetorium; and it was early morn. And “they” entered not into the praetorium, that they might not be defiled, but eat the passover. v.28 The Sanctimonious Hypocrisy of the Jews. The time was now early morning. The arrest happened in the late evening, and the Jews held the Lord under arrest all night. The Jews refused to enter the praetorium on the Passover day, and therefore they “went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled”, and made Pilate come out to speak with them (v.29), then go back inside to speak with Jesus (v.33). As well as show the punctilious and sanctimonious hypocrisy of the Jews, this fact also explains why the conversation is structured the way it is. They didn’t know it, but they were delivering up the True Passover to be sacrificed. They were careful not to be ceremonially defiled, but they were unwittingly sealing their own fate in the government of God.
29 Pilate therefore went out to them and said, What accusation do ye bring against this man? 30 They answered and said to him, If this man were not an evildoer, we should not have delivered him up to thee. vv.29-20 A Groundless Accusation. Pilate asked the Jews the accusation that they had against Jesus. This of course was a necessary step in his process of judgment. The answer the Jews gave was totally groundless; “If this man were not an evildoer, we should not have delivered him up to thee”. In other words, “You leave the matter of what he’s done up to us, and just take our word for it”. So proud, they thought Pilate should accept their presence as proof of Jesus’ guilt. The only reason they were coming to Pilate was to use his authority to put Jesus to death (v.31). 
31 Pilate therefore said to them, Take him, ye, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said to him, It is not permitted to us to put any one to death; 32 that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled which he spoke, signifying what death he should die. vv.31-32 Authority to execute. Naturally, if Jesus had committed some crime against the law, He could be punished by the Jewish courts. But they weren’t seeking a minor punishment. They were seeking capital punishment. Pilate must have immediately realized how determined they were. The Jews did not have sufficient authority to carry out capital punishment, because they were under Roman authority; “It is not permitted to us to put any one to death”. They had lost ius gladii (literally, “the right of the sword”, or the legal right to exercise capital punishment) in A.D. 6, when Palestine became a Roman province. For this reason, they needed to take Jesus to the civil authorities; enter Pontius Pilate. Of course, this was all part of the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, that the Jews would put Jesus to death through the instrumentality of Gentiles; “Him… ye [Jews] have taken, and by wicked hands [Gentiles] have crucified and slain” (Acts 2:23). Whatever the complicity of the Gentiles in the crucifixion might be, the Spirit of God reveals that the Jews were behind it fully. The Jews would normally have stoned their criminals (as Stephen was stoned), but Jesus must be crucified in fulfillment of Psa. 22:16, “they pierced my hands and my feet”. That meant Jesus would receive a Roman trial and, if He was convicted, a Roman execution. Even this was for the fulfillment of scripture, not only of Psalm 22, but the Lord’s own words about being “lifted up” (John 3:14; 8:28; 12:32); “that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled which he spoke, signifying what death he should die”.
33 Pilate therefore entered again into the praetorium and called Jesus, and said to him, Thou art the king of the Jews? 34 Jesus answered him, Dost thou say this of thyself, or have others said it to thee concerning me? 35 Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thy nation and the chief priests have delivered thee up to me: what hast thou done? 36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, my servants had fought that I might not be delivered up to the Jews; but now my kingdom is not from hence. vv.33-36 Jesus’ Kingdom. Pilate asked the Lord if He were the king of the Jews. The Lord did not immediately reply in the affirmative, although we know He later did (Matt. 27:11). He asked Pilate if the question were a genuine concern about the interests of Caesar; “Dost thou say this of thyself, or have others said it to thee concerning me?” Was Pilate was just doing his job, and checking to see if the Lord was actually a threat to the stability of the region, or was he looking to satisfy the Jews? In this case the Jews had prompted the question, which Pilate, disgusted by the Jews, ceded by saying “Am I a Jew? Thy nation and the chief priests have delivered thee up to me: what hast thou done?”. The Lord was no threat to Caesar (John 6:15). He could say, “My kingdom is not of this world”. His kingdom at that time was of a heavenly character, focused on a rejected but glorified Christ, and so it would not function as the world does, by asserting its claims through force. Notice that, even if the Lord’s kingdom were earthly, His servants would not revolt against Caesar, but rather fight that He “might not be delivered up to the Jews”. The Jews were really at work here, using the “wicked hands” of the Gentiles to accomplish there awful plan. But the Lord’s kingdom was not from this world, and therefore it took a totally different character. How sad that many Christians today fail to understand the character of the kingdom of heaven at the present time. In the future, when the Lord appears, His kingdom will have a different character (2 Thess. 1:8), and His servants will certainly fight, and blood will be shed, enemies conquered, etc. But the kingdom of Christ, now or ever, is not of this world. It’s authority is from above, and even in the future, the armies of heaven will not fight on their own charges, but following the Conqueror who leads onward to victory! Many are seeking to advance the interests of Christ with methods that are borrowed from the world, and that run contrary to what Jesus said here.2
37 Pilate therefore said to him, Thou art then a king? Jesus answered, Thou sayest it, that I am a king. I have been born for this, and for this I have come into the world, that I might bear witness to the truth. Every one that is of the truth hears my voice. 38a Pilate says to him, What is truth? vv.37-38a Jesus’ Purpose. Pilate then, assured that Jesus was no threat to Caesar, asked a further question, and this would seem to be asked of his own volition, out of personal curiosity; “Thou art then a king?”3 The Lord answered straightforwardly, and this is what is called “the good confession” in 1 Timothy 6:13; “Thou sayest it, that I am a king. I have been born for this, and for this I have come into the world, that I might bear witness to the truth. Every one that is of the truth hears my voice.” The good confession goes far deeper than the kingship of Christ. It involves who He is as the truth. As the truth, Jesus revealed what man is, and who the Father is. This was the true reason why the Jews had delivered Him up. They rejected the truth. They did not want to hear that a man must be born again. They did not want to hear that the Father’s heart is toward all men. They did not want to hear that the Son is equal with the Father. They were not “of the truth”, and so they did not hear His voice as God’s Faithful Witness. Yes, Jesus was a king, but the deeper reason why the Jews had delivered Him was that He bore witness of the truth, and this was the very reason for the Lord to come into the world. Paul, in writing to Timothy, told him to follow the Lord’s example when under attack by those who would detract from the sound doctrine he was maintaining. “I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; that thou keep this commandment without spot…” (1 Tim. 6:13-16). The Lord set the perfect example of One who was on trial for the truth, and His life was at stake. He did not swerve from the truth, but answered fully. That was the good confession. Am I willing to confess the truth – the whole truth of who the Lord is – in the face of death? Our calling is to follow Christ Jesus. Pilate’s response reveals his cynical, skeptical attitude toward truth; “What is truth?” Notice that he doesn’t wait for an answer; it was a statement in the form of a question. Pilate’s conscience was not touched, and so he abandoned the inquisition. He was not seriously searching for the truth.4
38b And having said this he went out again to the Jews, and says to them, I find no fault whatever in him. 39 But ye have a custom that I release some one to you at the passover; will ye therefore that I release unto you the king of the Jews? 40 They cried therefore again all, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber. vv.38b-40 Barabbas. Pilate was now satisfide that Jesus was no political threat, either to Caesar or the Jews. Yet he had a difficult situation to deal with, and wanted an easy way out. As part of Roman political tolerance, the Romans would release one Jewish prisoner at the time of Passover, to commemorate the release of Israel from Egypt. Pilate did not want to put a man to death on the eve of the greatest holiday in Judaism, for he knew Jesus had disciples. Hoping to put some sense into them, Pilate recalled the custom of releasing a prisoner, and suggested that Jesus be released. Notice that Pilate insists on using the term “the king of the Jews”. By linking Jesus with the Jews, calling Him their king, he was insulting the Jews as well as trying to manipulate their will. But nothing could change the minds of these murderous Jews. It only drew out their hatred even more, and also exposed their true lack of moral compunction. The Jews asked instead for Barabbas to be released. Barabbas was in prison with a number of men who had made insurrection against Rome. He was “a robber” and he also “had committed murder in the insurrection” (Mark 15:7). Did not the Jews’ choice of Barabbas reveal what their hearts were like? It is striking that the name Barabbas means “son of the father”. This man was Satan’s “son of the father” in contrast to the blessed Savior, the true Son of the Father!
Then Pilate therefore took Jesus and scourged him2 And the soldiers having plaited a crown of thorns put it on his head, and put a purple robe on him, 3 and came to him and said, Hail, king of the Jews! and gave him blows on the face. vv.1-3 Mockery of the Soldiers. Now we see the cruelty of Pilate and the Romans come forth. Pilate had Jesus scourged, which was totally unjust. Roman scourging was an awful form of torture, and deeply humiliating. Jesus endured it patiently, in perfect obedience to His Father’s will. The scriptures “I gave my back to the smiters” (Isa. 50:6) and “The ploughers ploughed upon my back; they made long their furrows” (Psa. 129:3) were fulfilled when they scourged Jesus. When the soldiers take command of the situation, something comes out that was not seen before. The cruelty of man is seen, not the hot hatred of the Lord’s religious enemies, but the cold cruelty of those who perhaps had never met the Lord. They were just “average” soldiers, but man is a tyrant by nature, and this was quickly made manifest. Man, when given absolute power over others, invariably descends into barbarous cruelty, finding pleasure in the humiliation and suffering of others. The soldiers understood that Jesus had been arrested for claiming to be the King of the Jews. The proceeded to mock the Lord in the capacity of king. “A crown of thorns” is a mockery of royalty. There are two words in the New Testament translated crown; one is ‘wreath’ or ‘crown’, the other is ‘diadem’. Crowns are rewards for service and accomplishments. Diadems are worn by right and title, as by royal birth. Here the word is ‘wreath’ and it is the same word used in Hebrews 2:9. Man awarded Jesus with a crown of thorns, but God seated Him at His right hand and gave Him a crown of glory and honor! Thorns are the fruit of the curse (Gen. 3:18), and unwittingly these soldiers depicted the work Jesus would shortly accomplish as the Lamb of God. They put on Him “a purple robe”. In Matthew it was a scarlet cloak, here it is purple. Evidently this robe was partly scarlet and partly purple, or a blend, but each evangelist is led to record the details suited to the character of each gospel. Purple is the color of nobility, and in Mark and John the emphasis is on the Lord’s being the Son of God, while in Matthew it is on His being Messiah. It was a false robe however, for the purposes of mocking Jesus. Incidentally, Herod’s soldiers did a similar thing (Luke 23:11); evil minds think alike. Perhaps the most cruel of all, the soldiers then mocked the Lord, saying “Hail, King of the Jews!” Such behavior is fitting only for a king, but the soldiers did so in cruel mockery. Their feigned reverence was cruely coupled with physical abuse; “and gave him blows on the face”.
4 And Pilate went out again and says to them, Lo, I bring him out to you, that ye may know that I find in him no fault whatever. 5 (Jesus therefore went forth without, wearing the crown of thorn, and the purple robe.) And he says to them, Behold the man! 6 When therefore the chief priests and the officers saw him they cried out saying, Crucify, crucify him. Pilate says to them, Take him ye and crucify him, for I find no fault in him. 7 The Jews answered him, We have a law, and according to our law he ought to die, because he made himself Son of God. vv.4-7 No Fault in Him. Pilate made another attempt to release the Lord. He proclaimed “I find in him no fault whatever”. He wanted to bring Jesus out as a bedraggled, pitiful, even comical figure. He hoped they would be satisfied that Jesus had suffered enough, and that some spark of compassion might be found within these people. This would show that Jesus was no threat to the Jews, and Pilate hoped they would let Him go. But it says here “Jesus therefore went forth without”. He went forth of His own accord, in perfect control of Himself. Pilate exclaimed “Behold the man!” They had done so much to humiliate Him, yet as He came forth, He had a royal dignity that could not be mocked. Pilate had never seen humanity in such perfection. The more they did to humiliate Him, the more that dignity shone forth! Rather than evoke pity, this sight further enraged the Jews, who called for Jesus to be crucified; “When therefore the chief priests and the officers saw him they cried out saying, Crucify, crucify him.” Pilate is the typical specimen of a politician. He had no conscience, and would readily have the faultless Lord tortured and abused to gratify the Jews, but did not want blood on his own hands. Pilate tried desperately to push the responsibility away from himself. But the implacable Jews keep bringing it back to him. The hearts of many were revealed. The Jews finally come to the root, the deepest object of their hatred; the fact that Jesus made Himself equal with God (John 5:18); “We have a law, and according to our law he ought to die, because he made himself Son of God”. The truth is that Jesus never “made himself” the Son of God, He always was the Son of God. Even in this we see the hand of God. The Son would not die for a lie, but for the truth.
8 When Pilate therefore heard this word, he was the rather afraid, 9 and went into the praetorium again and says to Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer. 10 Pilate therefore says to him, Speakest thou not to “me”? Dost thou not know that I have authority to release thee and have authority to crucify thee? 11 Jesus answered, Thou hadst no authority whatever against me if it were not given to thee from above. On this account he that has delivered me up to thee has the greater sin. vv.8-11 Conversation with Pilate. Pilate was afraid when He heard the Jews’ revised accusation. This wasn’t the fear of faith, but rather a sense of dread or uneasiness. This man was not normal. In frustration, Pilate returned to question the Lord further. But this question was nothing more than curiosity. Pilate had already declared his ambivalence for truth. The Lord Jesus did not answer Pilate this time, and the Roman governor became angry. Pilate vaunted his perceived authority over the Man standing before him; “Speakest thou not to me? Dost thou not know that I have authority to release thee and have authority to crucify thee?”
12 From this time Pilate sought to release him; but the Jews cried out saying, If thou releasest this man, thou art not a friend to Caesar. Every one making himself a king speaks against Caesar. v.12 The Jews Manipulate Pilate with Threats.
13 Pilate therefore, having heard these words, led Jesus out and sat down upon the judgment-seat, at a place called Pavement, but in Hebrew Gabbatha; 14 (now it was the preparation of the passover; it was about the sixth hour;) and he says to the Jews, Behold your king! vv.13-14 The Judgment Seat of Pilate. john reckons time as the romans… this is our 6:00 AM.
15 But they cried out, Take him away, take him away, crucify him. Pilate says to them, Shall I crucify your king? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. 16 Then therefore he delivered him up to them, that he might be crucified; and they took Jesus and led him away. vv.15-16 A final opportunity. 

The Crucifixion Scene (19:17-37)

17 And he went out, bearing his cross, to the place called place of a skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha; 18 where they crucified him, and with him two others, one on this side, and one on that, and Jesus in the middle. vv.17-18 Circumstances of the Crucifixion.
19 And Pilate wrote a title also and put it on the cross. But there was written: Jesus the Nazaraean, the King of the Jews. 20 This title therefore many of the Jews read, for the place of the city where Jesus was crucified was near; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, Latin. 21 The chief priests of the Jews therefore said to Pilate, Do not write, The king of the Jews, but that “he” said, I am king of the Jews. 22 Pilate answered, What I have written, I have written. vv.19-22 The title over the cross. 
23 The soldiers therefore, when they had crucified Jesus, took his clothes, and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and the body-coat; but the body-coat was seamless, woven through the whole from the top. 24 They said therefore to one another, Let us not rend it, but let us cast lots for it, whose it shall be; that the scripture might be fulfilled which says, They parted my garments among themselves, and on my vesture they cast lots. The soldiers therefore did these things. vv.23-24 Jesus’ garments and coat.
25 And by the cross of Jesus stood his mother, and the sister of his mother, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. 26 Jesus therefore, seeing his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, says to his mother, Woman, behold thy son. 27 Then he says unto the disciple, Behold thy mother. And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. vv.25-27 The women standing by, instruction to John. 
28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now finished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, says, I thirst. 29 There was a vessel therefore there full of vinegar, and having filled a sponge with vinegar, and putting hyssop round it, they put it up to his mouth. 30 When therefore Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished; and having bowed his head, he delivered up his spirit. vv.28-30 Vinegar and Victory. 
31 The Jews therefore, that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath, for it was the preparation, (for the day of that sabbath was a great day,) demanded of Pilate that their legs might be broken and they taken away. v.31 The Preparation Day.
32 The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first and of the other that had been crucified with him; 33 but coming to Jesus, when they 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 immediately there came out blood and water. vv.32-34 Dead already; blood and water. 
35 And he who saw it bears witness, and his witness is true, and he knows that he says true that ye also may believe. v.35 John’s True Witness.
36 For these things took place that the scripture might be fulfilled, Not a bone of him shall be broken. 37 And again another scripture says, They shall look on him whom they pierced. vv.36-37 Scripture Fulfilled.

In Exodus 12:46 we read; “Neither shall ye break a bone thereof…” and in Psalms 34:20 we read "He keepeth all his bones; not one of them is broken." Not a bone of the Passover lamb was to be broken, and so with the Messiah when He died. This scripture is quoted in John 19:33-36 in connection with the Lord being dead before the soldiers reached Him with their clubs. This shows the Passover was completely filled by Christ. Scripture doesn't say exactly why it was important that a bone of the Messiah would not be broken. Here are several possible reasons. (1) To break a bone of the Lamb would introduce the thought of “crushing” or forcibly ending life. It was imperative that Christ lay down His own life in obedience to His Father’s will (John 10:18). No man took it from Him. And yet, while no man took His life from Him, God holds man responsible for their intentions... murder. Accordingly, in the book of Revelation, Jesus appears as "a lamb as it had been slain" (Rev. 5:6). The symbol of a "slain lamb" has the idea of an innocent victim subjected to a violent death. It says in Zech. 12:10 that Israel "shall look upon me whom they have pierced". God holds them responsible. (2) Bones are the frame of a person, and the Person of our Lord was not affected by the sufferings of the cross. His sufferings did not make Him less than He was. (3) We are not saved by his walk (leg bones) by by his blood (pierced side).

It is beautiful to see the connection of Zechariah 12:10 with the crucifixion. It speaks of a time when Israel will own their guilt in crucifying the Lord. Even here at the cross, the Spirit is looking forward to Israel’s restoration!
Scripture only records believers seeing the Lord Jesus after this time. No unbeliever saw Him after His body was taken down from the cross. Man’s time with Him was done. It was God’s time. But the world will see Christ again as in Zech. 12:10; Rev. 1.

The Burial Scene (19:38-42)

38 And after these things Joseph of Arimathaea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly through fear of the Jews, demanded of Pilate that he might take the body of Jesus: and Pilate allowed it. He came therefore and took away the body of Jesus. vv.38 Joseph takes the body.
39 And Nicodemus also, who at first came to Jesus by night, came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. v.39 Nicodemus. 
40 They took therefore the body of Jesus and bound it up in linen with the spices, as it is the custom with the Jews to prepare for burial. v.40 Preparation for burial. God allowed the Lord Jesus to be buried according to the custom of the Jews. Practices in funerals, weddings, etc. vary from culture to culture, and the Word of God gives Christian’s liberty to practice in accordance with their customs, so long as it doesn’t go against scripture. However, there are customs that are against scripture. Cremation might be an example of a burial practice which, while it may be necessary at times, is not an intelligent use of the body.
41 But there was in the place where he had been crucified a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. 42 There therefore, on account of the preparation of the Jews, because the tomb was near, they laid Jesus. vv.41-42 The garden tomb. 
  1. Kelly, W. Exposition of the Gospel of John.
  2. This was the turning-point. If the governor were uneasy as to the rights and interests of Caesar, the Lord could have pointed to His uniform life as in John 6:15, and to His invariable teaching as in Luke 20:25, for a perfect disproof and reassurance. But if the question originated, as it really did, with the Jews (Luke 23:2), the Lord had nothing to say but the truth in the face of Israel’s unbelief and gainsaying, nothing to do but witness the “good confession” before Pontius Pilate; (1 Tim. 6:13) and this He does with all simplicity. – Kelly, W. Exposition of the Gospel of John.
  3. The governor, while satisfied that there was nothing to fear politically, could not but perceive a claim incomprehensible to his mind. – Kelly, W. Exposition of the Gospel of John.
  4. He did not seriously seek an answer: an awakened conscience alone does; and grace, as it produces the desire in the sinner, gives the answer of good from God. Not so Pilate… Kelly, W. Exposition of the Gospel of John.
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