Overall Pericope John 19:1-42

John 19:1-18 

JESUS: THE CRUCIFIED LORD

            Many nations have, in their histories, days that are described as “infamous”. For Americans, it is considered to be the day that Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1944. Perhaps for Tanzanians, it is the day that Uganda attacked Tanzania in 1978. Certainly, if you are interested you can research history and find out which days for which counties are forever remembered as the worst.

          However, I would like to take you back in time to a day almost 2,000 years ago that will forever be remembered as the most infamous day in the history of all humanity. On that day, the creature made the decision and took the steps necessary to kill its Creator. On that day, mankind raised a fist in rebellion against the Almighty God. On that day, the Son of God became the Lamb slain from the foundations of the world. The day that Jesus Christ was crucified is the most infamous day in the history of the world.

          In this morning’s passage, the apostle John shows us the picture of Jesus as The Crucified Lord. Today, I want us to remember what He suffered to provide salvation for sinners. Today, I want us to look at the King of kings and the Lord of lords as He dies for you and for me. Today, I would like for us to take a look at Calvary and the events that took place there that day. As we consider Jesus: The Crucified Lord, I want you to see just how much this man Jesus loves you. I want you to see what He was willing to experience for your sake. I want you to see how His death on the cross can become the means of your salvation if you do not know Him, and what His death means to you if you are saved. As we go through this overall passage from verses 1-42, I want to point out some important parts that will help us to understand Jesus as the Crucified Lord.

          The first thing that I want us to look at in this passage is the various groups that were involved in this rejection and rebellion towards the Lord. Who were these people who had the nerve to be involved in the death of our Lord? We can identify five separate groups that we can consider as being directly responsible for the death of Jesus.

          The first group we find in verses 2-3. They were the soldiers. These ruthless and pitiless men took Jesus, whipped him to within an inch of His life. They made fun of Him by placing a crown of thorns on his head. There seemed to be no end to the cruel treatment that our Lord suffered at their hands. Some of these same men also took Jesus to the site of His crucifixion. There they would nail Him to the cross and that wasn’t even the extent of their heartlessness, they then gambled over His remaining clothing as He died for the sins of the world. Without a doubt, these men were directly responsible for Jesus’ death.

          Then in verses 4-7 and again in verse 15 we read about the second group, all the religious men who were involved in the whole ugly and unjust process. These religious men were the ones who orchestrated the arrest, the false accusations, and then when it looked like Jesus would go free, arranged for Him to be condemned under the false charge of treason. In the gospel of Mark 15:29, we even read that these same men were, Those who passed by [and] hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 come down from the cross and save yourself!” In their arrogance, they thought nothing of insulting the Creator of the universe while He was dying. These men too were directly responsible for the death of the Saviour.

 

          Of course, then we have the third discernable group, they were the rulers. Those men in positions of authority who were guilty of ignoring the truth even when it stared them straight in the face. Both Pontius Pilate and Herod Antipas knew that Jesus was not guilty and whether out of cowardice or just lack of compassion they allowed the injustice to take place. In verses 6-16 we could even say that Pilate tried everything to get Jesus released. Everything that is except use His power to set Jesus free. In the end, he just chose to let Jesus die rather than face the angry mob. Therefore, we can also easily come to the conclusion that those in the positions of power also were directly responsible for Jesus’ death.

          The fourth group is not directly identified in our passage here in John, but we should at least say something about them. This group consisted of what I will call fickle people. Those who were only following Jesus for what they could get out of it for themselves. We find them in the gospel of Luke chapter 23 verse 21-23. The apostle Luke describes the scene before Pontius Pilate in this way, But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” 22 For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.” 23 But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed”.

          What is perhaps the most disturbing thing about this group is that they were in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. It is probably safe to assume that some of the people calling for Jesus to be crucified were also present at His triumphal entry to Jerusalem. Just a few days before they had been loudly praising Him as their coming Messiah. Now we find them standing with the religious leaders and calling for His innocent blood. It is without a doubt that they too were directly responsible for the death of the Messiah.

          Finally, and this may be the hardest thing for us to hear this morning, I want to point out the fifth group. This group is not mentioned anywhere in this or any other of the gospel accounts of the crucifixion but there is very clear guilt by association. This identity of the fifth group is revealed when we consider the real reason that Jesus went to the cross. Why did he go? He went to the cross because all people are sinners and need a saviour. When Jesus went to the cross, he was dying for the sins of all humanity. This is the clear teaching of 2 Corinthians 5:15 which says, “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. According to 2 Corinthians, 5:21 Jesus literally became sin for you and me when, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”. Therefore, since that is true then we can also conclude that you and I are directly responsible for the death of our Lord and King. Why did the crucifixion take place? For you and me. The Lord was crucified, and it was our fault!

 

          The second main section of the overall chapter we find in verses 18 through 29 where we are presented with a brief account of the time Jesus was on the cross. We don’t receive from the apostle John many of the details provided by the other Gospel writers, but his description is enough to give us an understanding of what happened that infamous day.

          Verse 18 gives us the one verse summary of what took place as it simply says, “they crucified him…” I think, however, we need to realize just what Jesus suffered for you and me. 

          Crucifixion was invented and used by other people groups, but it was “perfected” by the Romans as the ultimate execution by torture. The earliest historical record of crucifixion dates to c. 519 BC, when King Darius I of Persia crucified 3,000 of his political enemies in Babylon. Before the Persians, the Assyrians were known to impale people. The Greeks and Carthaginians later used crucifixion, as well. After the break-up of Alexander the Great’s empire, the Seleucid Antiochus IV Epiphanes crucified Jews who refused to accept Hellenization.

          Crucifixion was meant to inflict the maximum amount of shame and torture upon the victim. Roman crucifixions were carried out in public so that all who saw the horror would be deterred from crossing the Roman government. Crucifixion was so horrible that it was reserved for only the worst offenders.

          The victim of crucifixion was first severely scourged or beaten, an ordeal that was life-threatening by itself. Then he was forced to carry the large wooden crossbeam to the site of the crucifixion. Bearing this load was not only extremely painful after the beating, but it added a measure of shame as the victim was carrying the instrument of his own torture and death. It was like digging one’s own grave.

          When the victim arrived at the place of crucifixion, he would be stripped naked to further shame him. Then he would be forced to stretch out his arms on the crossbeam, where they were nailed in place. The nails were hammered through the wrists, not the palms, which kept the nails from pulling through the hand. (In ancient times, the wrist was considered part of the hand.) The placement of the nails in the wrists also caused excruciating pain as the nails pressed on large nerves running to the hands. The crossbeam would then be hoisted up and fastened to an upright piece that would normally remain standing between crucifixions.

          After fastening the crossbeam, the executioners would nail the victim’s feet to the cross as well—normally, one foot on top of the other, nailed through the middle and arch of each foot, with the knees slightly bent. The primary purpose of the nails was to inflict pain.

          Once the victim was fastened to the cross, all his weight was supported by three nails, which would cause pain to shoot throughout the body. The victim’s arms were stretched out in such a way as to cause cramping and paralysis in the chest muscles, making it impossible to breathe unless some of the weight was borne by the feet. In order to take a breath, the victim had to push up with his feet. In addition to enduring excruciating pain caused by the nail in his feet, the victim’s raw back would rub against the rough upright beam of the cross.

          After taking a breath and in order to relieve some of the pain in his feet, the victim would begin to slump down again. This action put more weight on his wrists and again rubbed his raw back against the cross. However, the victim could not breathe in this lowered position, so before long the torturous process would begin again. In order to breathe and to relieve some of the pain caused by the wrist nails, the victim would have to put more weight on the nail in his feet and push up. Then, in order to relieve some of the pain caused by the foot nail, he would have to put more weight on the nails in his wrists and slump down. In either position, the torture was intense.

          Crucifixion usually led to a slow, torturous death. Some victims lasted as long as four days on a cross. Death was ultimately by asphyxiation as the victim lost the strength to continue pushing up on his feet in order to take a breath. In order to hasten death, the victim’s legs might be broken, which would prevent him from pushing up in order to breathe; thus, asphyxiation would follow shortly after (see John 19:32).

          Crucifixion was finally outlawed by the Roman Emperor Constantine in the fourth century. (this material is taken from the Got Questions website at www.gotquestions.com)

 

          We can't even begin to comprehend the pain that Jesus endured on the cross that day to atone for the sins on man. The question naturally arises, “Why did he do it?” The reason is very simple. He suffered all of the indignity, the pain and unimaginable suffering so that we could know just how much God loved us as Romans 5:8 reveals, But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Also, according to 1 John 2:2, he endured the cross because, He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. So, the answer to the question of why He went to the cross is so that you and I would not have to go to hell!

 

          The world today wants us to ignore the cross or dismiss is at unnecessary. The world does not want us to put too much emphasis on the need to atone for our sins through the shedding of lifeblood. But they can never escape this truth and the need for the cross becomes all the more necessary when the reality of our sinful nature becomes more and more clear. In fact, 1 Corinthians 1:18 reminds us that, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God”.

          Even well-meaning but confused Christians think that if we take away the crucifixion then Christianity will become more acceptable to the people. However, what they fail to understand is that the central teaching of the gospel is the cross. If you take away the teaching that the blood of Christ and his suffering on the cross is necessary, then there is no gospel left. The only thing left would be a religious message that doesn’t have the power to save one sinner from hell.

          The final section we will look at today begins in verse 30 and goes to the end of the chapter. Jesus spent 6 hours on the cross and during that time he spoke a few things. The last thing he said is the most important and that is what we are going to spend some time looking at now. Just before He is about to give Himself over to death in verse 30 He cries out, “It is finished!”. The thing we need to understand here is that Jesus did not say, “I am finished!”. His cry was not that of a defeated person.

          No, His was the cry of victory. He had paid the full price and finished the work he had come to do. The Greek word that is translated as “finished” is “Tetelestai”. This word ‘Tetelestai’ is very powerful and dramatic. By understanding how it was used in the original language will help us to better understand what Jesus meant when He said, “It is finished

          This word is actually an accounting term, so pay attention all you COBA students. It means ‘paid in full’. When Jesus said, “tetelestai” He was saying that the debt owed to God the Father was cleared, completely and forever. What is most amazing is that this was not a debt that was owed by Jesus to God but the debt that Jesus removed was the debt that humanity owed. This was the debt of sin.

          You may remember a few chapels ago, the sermon based upon John chapter 17. We learned about Jesus’ last prayer. In that prayer, Jesus asked the Father to glorify Him just as He had glorified the Father because, as He said in verse 4 of chapter 17, He had, “finished (tetelestai) the work you have given me to do”. According to the gospel of Luke in 19:10 the work that Jesus was sent to do was to, “seek and save that which was lost” and Romans 3:23-25 further tells us that Jesus’ work involved providing the atonement necessary for the sins of all who would ever believe in Him thereby reconciling them to God. That work was fully completed!

          Also completed was the fulfillment of all the prophecies, symbols, and foreshadowings we read about in the Old Testament with regards to the coming Messiah. From Genesis to Malachi, there are over 300 specific prophecies that talk about the coming of the Anointed One. These were all fulfilled by Jesus. From the prophecy in Genesis 3:15 about the “seed” who would crush the serpent’s head to Isaiah’s depiction of the Suffering Servant in chapter 53 to the prophecy of the herald of the Messiah’s coming who was John the Baptist. All the prophecies of Jesus’ life, ministry, and death were fulfilled and finished at the cross.

          Even though the most important finished work was the redemption of humanity, there were many other things that came to an end at the cross. Jesus sufferings not only came to an end, but so did the power of sin and Satan. We also no longer need to suffer at the hands of Satan because now we can raise up the ‘shield of faith’ in the One who finished everything completely.

          So, when Jesus cried out, “It is finished”, He was telling us that the price had been paid in full, salvation had been accomplished and God was satisfied with the price that had been paid.

          Probably, the most important truth that we need to acknowledge here this morning is that Jesus’ death was absolutely necessary. If he had not died on the cross, then our sin would never have been paid for. Remember what it says in Romans 6:23, “the wages of sin is death”. This will always be true and will never change. People think the cross is bloody and Jesus did not deserve it. They are right! But you cannot be saved without faith in the work of Christ on the cross. 

          The good news is that on the third day, He arose from the dead. Jesus died to pay for our sins, and he rose from the dead so that we could be justified and therefore acceptable to a Holy God. Perhaps the greatest words in the Bible are found in Matthew 28:6 when those who went to the tomb where Jesus was laid were met by an angel who said, “He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.” This truth of a risen saviour is what places Christianity apart from the other world religions. Christians have a living faith in a living Lord. Jesus is alive and so is everyone who places their faith in Him for their salvation?

          Let’s Pray: Father you are almighty you are the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Only you could do what was necessary for us to be reconciled to you. Thank you for the fact that we can have a renewed relationship with you through Jesus our crucified Lord. We are so thankful that he was willing to suffer what He did so that we might be saved. Lord let those who are trusting in something or someone other than Jesus for the salvation of their souls come to Christ and Christ Alone and be born again. When we think of what Jesus has done for us on the cross we are fully aware of our need to repent and return to you and allow you to have your way in our lives. Father may each one here today respond to you according to your will. In Jesus name, we pray, Amen.