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John 19

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

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Verses 1-42

Chapter 19

Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him ( John 19:1 ).

The scourging was a whipping that was done to examine the prisoners. It was a third degree technique of the Roman Empire. They did not have amnesty in those days, or human rights. They had a third degree that was totally unmerciful. They would tie a prisoner to a post so that the back was stretched out. And then with a cat of nine tails whip, a leather whip with little bits of glass and lead imbedded in it designed to rip the flesh, they would lay the whip across the back of the prisoner thirty-nine times. Forty is the number of judgment, thirty-nine the number of mercy. So, judgment must be tempered by mercy, so they would lay thirty-nine stripes. As they would lay the stripe across his back, the prisoner would cry out a crime that he had committed. And every time he would cry out a crime, the lash would be a little less severe. Until by the time the thirty-ninth stripe came, they would just sort of lay the whip across his back. But, if the prisoner would not confess a crime, then every stripe would be harder and harder and harder, until he would be forced to scream out in sheer agony the crimes that he had committed.

Imagine Jesus in this plight, nothing to confess. And so, "and as the sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth" ( Isaiah 53:7 ). And they laid upon Him the full force of the thirty-nine stripes, and they scourged Him. There's not much said about that, but we cannot imagine the agony. Many times prisoners died as the result of these scourgings. Before the thirty-ninth stripe was laid upon them, they were already dead from the loss of blood and just from the extreme pain. But Jesus bore that suffering.

Now, the question; inasmuch as all of this is a part of God's plan, these stripes being laid upon Him were a part of God's predetermined plan. It was prophesied in the book of Isaiah, so God knew it in advance. If He knew it in advance, He planned it in advance. As Peter was talking to the Jews on the day of Pentecost, he said, "You, according to the predeterminate council and foreknowledge of God, with your wicked hands have crucified and slain Him. According to the predeterminate council and foreknowledge."

Now why would God, in His predeterminate council, determine that Jesus should not only die that horrible death of the cross, but also be scourged, receive the stripes? Going back to the prophecy of Isaiah, "He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him. And with His stripes we are healed" ( Isaiah 53:5 ). Jesus was there, definitely, making provision for healing for His people. I believe that that healing goes beyond the spiritual healing. I do not believe that you can deny that also there is physical healing involved through the suffering of Jesus. Matthew's gospel, chapter 8, "And they brought to Him many who were sick and afflicted with diverse, various kinds of diseases. And He healed them all, that the scripture might be fulfilled which declared, 'He bore our suffering in His own body.'" So that when Paul was writing to the church concerning their taking of the Lord's supper, he said unto them, "There are many of you who are weak and sick because you do not understand the Lord's body. Jesus took the bread and He broke it, and said, 'This is My body broken for you.'" Those in Corinth, many of them were sick because they did not understand the provision that God had made for them through the scourging of Jesus. "And he scourged Him."

And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and they put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe. They said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands ( John 19:2-3 ).

Now, Jesus had already experienced a tremendous buffeting in the house of Caiaphas. There, they put a covering over His head. And with this bag over His head, they began to hit Him. Now, that's vicious. We are fearfully and wonderfully designed, and we are designed to have automatic reflex actions. And when we see a blow coming, we automatically reflex to protect ourselves from that blow by fainting and going with the blow, thus cushioning it. And as long as you see the blow coming, it's amazing what you can absorb. As long as your body can see it coming and you can then compensate and cushion and relax and flow with it.

You see these quarterbacks, you know, these big ol' tackles come in and just massacre them, and you think, "Oh man, he'll never get up," and he jumps up back to his feet and he runs to the huddle. He saw the guy coming. Where they really get hurt is when they get blind-sided. They're not able to prepare themselves, and that's where your ribs get broken, where your collarbone gets broken. That's where you really get hurt, is when you get blind-sided, because there your body is not responding. You don't have this opportunity of reflex action. You can step off a curb and break your leg if you don't know the curb is there. Because you haven't set your body to react for that height. And just the height of a step, you can break your leg by just going down hard, not knowing that the step is there.

So by covering Jesus' eyes, by covering His head, and then buffeting Him, no chance to faint or to respond, and you take the full force of the blow, you don't know it's coming, Wham! That hurts! He'd already taken that kind of abuse.

It's amazing how that animals will pick on one that is already down. You've heard of henpecking. If there's one that is sick or small or scrawny, they'll all peck it until they kill it. It's just a part of animal nature. And man without God is no more than an animal. Man recognizes that. And those men who are without God talk about the highly evolved form of animal life. And they look at the monkey and tip their hat to their ancestor. Because they naturally relate to the animal kingdom, because they live like animals apart from Jesus Christ. Until that spiritual dimension of your life is open through Jesus Christ, you are no more than an animal.

And these men, as animals, seeing Jesus already battered, were not satisfied, but continued this ungodly persecution of a righteous man. His face already bruised, swollen, bloodied by the blows from Caiaphas, they continued the abuse by smiting Him, putting on the crown of thorns, mocking Him. There is a horrible mob psychology, where people lose all of their natural inhibitions and restraints and act as a mob and like an animal. And it's always shocking the things that people can do in the anonymity of a mob. The true vicious nature of man, sinful nature of man is revealed.

Pilate therefore went forth again, and he said unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that you may know that I find no fault in him. And Jesus came forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate said unto them, Behold the man! ( John 19:4-5 )

I think that Pilate was saying this in awe of Jesus. He had just seen Him take thirty-nine stripes without a word. He had heard other men in that condition screaming out in agony. He had heard others as they cried out their crimes, the shrieks, the curses; and yet here, He takes it all without a word, without a whimper. And I'm sure that at this point, Pilate was so totally impressed; the kingly nature of Jesus, how He stood up to the buffeting, to this whole horrible scene. And I'm sure that Pilate's heart was filled with awe and reverence. And he said, "Behold, the man!" And I'm sure that Pilate thought, "I have never seen a man like that in all my life. Behold, the man, every bit the man!" The epitome of manhood was found in Jesus Christ our Lord. He is one that every man can look up to as a model and seek to follow that role model. Every inch a man!


When the chief priests and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. And Pilate said unto them, Do you want to take him, and crucify him? I find no fault in him. The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. When Pilate heard that saying, he was all the more afraid; And he went again into the judgment hall, and he said to Jesus, Where did you come from? But Jesus did not answer him. Then Pilate said unto him, Don't you answer me? Don't you know that I have the power to crucify thee, and I have the power to release thee? Jesus then answered, You could have no power at all against me, unless it was given to you from above: therefore he that delivered me unto you has the greater sin ( John 19:6-11 ).

Pilate, you have a sin, but they have a greater sin.

From that time Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If you let this man go, you are not Caesar's friend: for whosoever makes himself a king is speaking against Caesar ( John 19:12 ).

Uh-oh, he's already lost one bout to Caesar; the next bout will cost him his kingdom. Pilate's past is catching up with him. And so,

When Pilate heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, sat down at the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, in Hebrew, it is Gabbatha. It was preparation for the passover, and it was about the sixth hour ( John 19:13-14 ):

That is about nine o'clock in the morning.

and he said to the Jews ( John 19:14 ),

That is, in the Roman calendar.

Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. And Pilate said unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar ( John 19:14-15 ).

I'm sure that that took Pilate back. He knew what rebels they were against Rome, but to hear the chief priests say, "We have no king but Caesar;" it was that subtle intimation, "If you let this man go, a report is going directly to Caesar, and it's your job, buddy!" Here's a man claiming to be a king. He can't be a friend of Caesar's. And so, "

Pilate delivered him to be crucified. And they led Jesus away ( John 19:16 ).

Pilate had a very difficult decision to make. He knew in his heart what was right, but he was being pressured by the crowd into a decision he knew was wrong. That's always a hard position to be in, when in your heart you know what you ought to do. In your heart you know what is the right thing, but there's the pressures pushing you to do the wrong thing. And what a tragedy when a person succumbs to those evil pressures and does that which is a violation of his own conscience, his own knowledge of what is right. Sad, always, to violate your own conscience and do that which in your heart you know is wrong. Pilate had the power to crucify Jesus or to release Him. Pilate knew that the right thing to do was to release Him. There was no fault. If He would take the scourging without crying out any crimes, He had to be innocent.

Pilate asked them the question, "What shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?" They cried, "Crucify Him!" "Why? What evil has he done?" They just cried louder, "Crucify Him!" No argument, there's no real reason, just the loud cries of the crowd. And Pilate succumbed to those, and he delivered Him to be crucified.

That question that Pilate faced is a question that each of us must face. What am I going to do with Jesus who is called the Christ? You see, every one of us are in Pilate's position. This is just not a recorded fact of history; this is relevant to you tonight. Each one of you must make the same decision that Pilate had to make, what will I do with Jesus who is called the Christ? And you can either believe in Him or not believe in Him. But as many as believed on Him, to them gave He the power to become the sons of God, even to those that believed upon His name. Or you cannot believe. You can confess Him or you can deny Him. "And if you will confess Me before men," Jesus said, "I will confess you before my Father which is in heaven. But if you deny Me before men, I'll also deny you before the Father in the presence of the holy angels." You can receive Him or reject Him. What will you do with Jesus who is called Christ?

Now, there's an interesting paradox here. As I told you, Jesus was the one that was in control of the whole scene. Pilate was supposedly the judge; Jesus was the plaintiff. In reality, Pilate was the plaintiff. His decision was not affect Jesus at all, because what God had pre-ordained was going to take place. Pilate's decision did not affect Jesus. What Jesus had to do, He had to do. What He did, He did. Pilate's decision affected his destiny. His own destiny was determined by the decision he made. And even so with you. Though in a sense you must make your judgment, "What am I going to do with Christ?," your decision does not at all alter the destiny of Jesus Christ. What He is, He is. Where He is, He is. That cannot and will not change, no matter what you believe. You may go on saying, "I don't believe that two and two is four." That doesn't change the fact. It only makes you a fool. What you do with Jesus Christ doesn't alter Him, but it does determine your own destiny. And thus, you are the judge of your own fate, as you face the question, "What will I do with Jesus who is called Christ?" The destiny of your own eternal future is in your hands.

Then he delivered him to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away. And he bearing his cross went forth to the place called the place of a skull, in the Hebrew it is Golgotha ( John 19:16-17 ):

In the Latin it is Calvary.

Where they crucified him, and two others with him, on either side, and Jesus in the middle. Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS ( John 19:18-19 ).

Now, when the sentence of crucifixion was given by the Roman judge, immediately the prisoner was surrounded by four Roman soldiers. He was given his cross and he was to bear his own cross. They would take the longest route through the city. In front of the prisoner would march another Roman soldier with the accusation against the prisoner the crime for which he was being crucified. And as they would go through the streets, it would be a warning to all of the people who would see this man on the way to his death. "This is the crime that he committed against Rome, and this is why he is being crucified." And it would put fear in the hearts of the people to rebel against Rome. And so, the soldier going in front with that accusation, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews," parading through the streets of Jerusalem, out the Damascus gate, over onto the top of Mount Moriah, there above the area that looks like a skull, to be crucified.

Crucifixion was such a horrible, awful death, that it was ruled by Rome that it could not ever be administered to a Roman citizen; it was too horrible a death. And yet, Jesus, the Son of God, condemned to crucifixion.

This title read many of the Jews; for the place where Jesus was crucified was near to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, Greek and Latin ( John 19:20 ).

From the city wall above Herod's gate, you can look right across at Calvary, Golgotha. It's within a stone's throw. And the people there on the wall of the city looking over and seeing the three prisoners could hear the cries and watch the agony in that horrible scene.

Then the chief priests of the Jews came to Pilate and they said, Don't write, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am the King of the Jews ( John 19:21 ).

But Pilate had no patience with these fellows.

And he said, What I have written I have written ( John 19:22 ).

Get lost!

Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part ( John 19:23 );

One took His sandals, one took the girdle, one took the inner robe. But the outer robe, the coat that Jesus wore,

was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said among themselves, Let's not tear it, but let's cast lots for it, whose it shall be ( John 19:23-24 ):

Now, Psalm 22 , it said, "They parted my garments among them, but for my vesture they did cast lots." Actually, what they would do is gamble. They had dice, and they would throw the dice to see who would get the sandals, throw the dice to see who would get the inner coat and the various articles. And when they got to the outer coat, they're gambling, as Jesus was dying, over who would get the robe.

Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene ( John 19:25 ).

So, the three Mary's there at the cross.

And when Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he said to his mother, Woman, behold your son! ( John 19:26 )

No doubt, indicating John.

Then he said to the disciple, Behold your mother! And from that hour that disciple took her into his own home ( John 19:27 ).

A beautiful bond between Jesus and His mother Mary. She had born a secret for a long time, the secret of the incarnation. She knew that the child was a special child. The angel of the Lord had told her that before she ever conceived Him by the Holy Spirit. "He shall be great, He shall be called the Son of the Highest. And of the increase of His government and peace, there shall be no end." And Mary buried that in her heart, wondering, "Oh my, what kind of child is this going to be?" And when Joseph and Mary brought Him into the temple to be presented unto the Lord, this ancient man Simeon, a godly man, and the Lord had said unto him, "Simeon, you're not going to die until you have seen the Messiah." And as Mary and Joseph came with the child, he took Him up in his arms and he said, "Oh God, now let your servant depart in peace, for I have seen Your salvation." But he turned to Mary and he said, "There's going to be a sword that will pierce your soul." And right now, Mary was understanding what he was talking about as that sword of grief pierced her soul as she saw her son there on the cross. Mary standing there close by the cross to see the end. "If I were hanged on the highest hill, oh mother of mine, oh mother of mine, I know whose love would follow me still, oh mother of mine, oh mother of mine." And there was Mary, standing. And Jesus, though in this period of agony, great pain, took care to take care of her. "Woman, behold your son!" Indicating John. "John, behold your mother!" And John took her into his home from that time on. No doubt Joseph was already dead. And the brothers of Jesus at this point did not believe in Him. There is a closer bond always created in the family of God than even in our natural families, if they are not also in God. "Behold your mother!" "Behold your son!"

After this, Jesus ( John 19:28 )

Having taken care of His mother, this is it. Having done this,

knowing that all things were now accomplished ( John 19:28 ),

As we told you, this word teleo is accomplished or paid or finished, "...knowing that all things were now accomplished,"

that the scripture might be fulfilled, he said, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. And when Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished ( John 19:28-29 ):

Teleo, it is accomplished, it is paid! God's work is complete! "I came not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. I have come to do the will of the Father, and to finish his work. It is finished!" God's work of redemption for lost man is a finished work wrought by Jesus Christ upon the cross, and there's nothing you can add to it by your good works to be accepted by God. All you can do is receive that finished work of Jesus. Any endeavor on your part to improve on the righteousness that God has already accounted to you is only going to mar things, it's not going to help. It's finished, God's work of redemption is complete. And you can receive the greatest benefits with the simplest act of faith, just believing.

and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost ( John 19:30 ).

Or dismissed His Spirit, delivered up His Spirit.

The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the body should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day ( John 19:31 ),

Notice John says,

(for that sabbath day was a high day,) ( John 19:31 )

Within the Passover feast, the first and the last day of the Passover feast were called high days, extra Sabbath days. So, this was not necessarily the Sabbath Saturday. And there is where we get a confusion; how could Jesus be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth if He were crucified on Friday? So, the high day Sabbath was probably the Thursday, so they had a double Sabbath day. And Jesus was probably crucified during the day on Thursday. And then, the Sabbath day on Friday, actually, and then the Sabbath day on Saturday; the double Sabbath on Friday and Saturday. And then early the morning of the first day of the week they came and found the empty tomb. But John, notice, tells us that this was a particular ceremonial Sabbath day in regards to the Passover; it was the high day.

But because it was coming and they were preparing for it and they could not do any work and all, when it started they begged Pilate that the legs might be broken in order that they might hasten the death and get the prisoners down off the cross.

Now, crucifixion was begun in Persia. Because the Persians considered the ground sacred, if a man was evil enough to be crucified, they felt that his body shouldn't be placed in the ground. So, they were hung on a cross. And after they died their bodies were then eaten by the vultures, and thus, their bodies did not spoil the ground. Most generally, they did not bury those who were crucified, but they left them to the vultures and to the dogs. And the Jews, however, did bury those that were crucified. But the Romans generally did not, the Carthegians did not, nor did the Persians who originated crucifixion, but left them just hanging there until they were consumed by the vultures and the dogs.

Now, they wanted to break the legs so they could hasten the death and take them down before the Sabbath.

And the soldiers came, and they broke the legs of the first, and of the other who was crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, and they broke not his legs ( John 19:32-33 ):

Jesus had said earlier, "No man takes My life from Me. I'm giving My life. I have the power to give it, and I have the power to take it up again." So, He gave His life; He dismissed His Spirit before the soldiers ever got there with the spear. He was already dead. They marveled that He was already dead. And so, they did not break His legs.

That was important from a prophetic standpoint, for the scripture said, "Not a bone of Him shall be broken." You see, He was dying as a sacrificial Lamb of God. Now, they were not to offer a lamb that had any blemish or any spot or any broken bone. God didn't want an old sick lamb. You say, "Well, it's got a broken leg and it's going to die. Let's make a sacrifice unto God with this thing." God says, "No way, don't give me your hand-offs, or your cast-offs." And so, under the law they couldn't give a lamb that had a spot or a blemish. They couldn't give a lamb that had broken bones. God knew the nature of man, how we're apt to just cast anything off on Him, save the best for ourselves. And God says, "Not so!" And so, with Jesus, in order to fulfill the type of the sacrificial lamb, could not have a broken bone. And it was prophesied, "Not a bone of Him shall be broken." Now, had one of those soldiers just, you know, swung the sledgehammer and broke His leg anyhow, then we would have to say, "Well, we better look for another Messiah. Jesus cannot be the Messiah. His bones were broken." Oh, God was there to protect from such an accident.

And instead of breaking His bone, he took his spear and put it into His side in order that the scripture that might be fulfilled that spoke about His side being pierced. No broken bones, but they pierced His side. And thus, the prophecy was fulfilled. And we need look no further for a Messiah. Jesus indeed fulfilled all of the prophecies. It is accomplished, performed, paid, fulfilled!

One of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and there came forth blood and water. And he that saw it ( John 19:34-35 ),

That is John, "I was standing there, I saw it..."

he bears record and his record is true; and he knows what he is saying, that it is true ( John 19:35 ),

"And I'm writing it," he said,

that you might believe ( John 19:35 ).

John said, "Look, I was there. I saw it. I know what I saw, I bear record of the truth of what I saw and I'm writing it to you that you might believe."

For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. And again another scripture says, They shall look on him whom they pierced ( John 19:36-37 ).

That particular prophecy, "They shall look upon Him whom they have pierced," it's a different Hebrew word than the word used, "They pierced His hands and His feet." It's a piercing with a sword. "And they shall look upon Him whom they have pierced." The fact that blood and water came forth indicates that if an autopsy were performed, they would have discovered that Jesus died of a ruptured heart. For when the heart ruptures, a watertight substance fills a sack around the heart. And when they put the spear into His heart and pulled it out, the water and blood indicates death by a ruptured heart, or you might say a broken heart. A heart that was broken over the sin of the world.

And after this Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews ( John 19:38 ),

There's a lot of secret disciples today, I guess, for fear of the guys at work will make fun of them and all; but I always like it when the disciples come out of the closet.

and they besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him permission. And he came therefore, and he took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, that one that came to Jesus by night, and he brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pound weight. They took the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as is the manner of the Jews to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never a man yet laid. And there they laid Jesus because of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was near ( John 19:38-42 ).

And handy really, it was right there close by. Now if you will go today to Jerusalem, and you see the skull on the side of the mountain at the top of Mount Moriah, just adjacent to it there is a lovely garden that is an ancient garden, because you can see the cisterns that are still there from ancient days that were used for the watering of that garden. And there happens to be in that garden, a very interesting tomb that has a little trough in front of it that shows that at one time, there was a stone rolled along that trough to cover the door of that tomb. I am of the personal deep conviction that that is the very tomb where Jesus' body lay. What happened to the stone? Probably was chipped off and sold for souvenirs through the years. But, thank God this is not the end of the story.

Continued next week, as we come into the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And we will finish the gospel of John next week. And then we will enter into that exciting book of the Acts of the apostles, as we continue our journey through the Word of God, studying to show ourselves approved unto God, rightly dividing the Word of Truth. How important that we know God's word! And so, continuing on through the Word, next week, finish the gospel of John.

May the Lord be with you and watch over you this week. May you just have a beautiful encounter with God. Even as God's love was manifested to us through the death of Jesus Christ, may God manifest His love to you this week in special ways. That you'll just get that beautiful warmth from the realization, "Hey, God loves me! He knows all about me!" And that from that recognition there will come that automatic, natural response, "Oh, God, I love You." And may you come into a deep loving relationship with God, as you walk with Him this week. In Jesus' name. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on John 19". "Smith's Bible Commentary". 2014.