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Bible Commentaries
John 19

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

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Verses 1-42

John 19:1 . Pilate therefore took Jesus and scourged him, as stated in Matthew 27:26. In cases where this preseded crucifixion, Cicero has recited the form of the sentence from the Roman law. I, lictor, colliga manus, caput obnubito, arbori infelici suspendito. Go, lictor, tie his hands, cover his head, suspend him to the unhappy tree. Those punishments on persons apprehended for robberies and sedition, were usually inflicted with great severity. All this Isaiah had foreseen, when he said, I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to those that plucked off the hair. I hid not my face from shame and spitting. Isaiah 50:6. Another prophet had also said, The ploughers ploughed on my back, they made long their furrows. Psalms 129:3.

John 19:5-6 . Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate said, behold the man. A sight designed by Pilate to excite compassion, but which roused the demon in the hearts of the rulers and their creatures, to cry, away with him, crucify him! Proofs the most impressive, that those who crucified the Lord were, as Paul says of some others, “given over to a reprobate mind.”

John 19:7-9 . By our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. These words gave Pilate divine alarm. To a Roman they might be ambiguous, as the poets caused many of the more illustrious to be descended from Jove, or as our forefathers, from Odin. Pilate asked, whence art thou? What is thy descent; who are thy ancestors? To this enquiry Jesus gave no reply. To the apostles, after supper, he had made a full disclosure of his personal dignity and glory; but to Pilate he refused to be known. Otherwise, how had the scriptures been fulfilled?

John 19:19 . Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. Notes on this subject will be found on Matthew 27:37. Luke 23:38.

John 19:23 . Then the soldiers took his garments. These circumstances are more minutely related by John than by the other evangelists.

John 19:25 . There stood by the cross his mother, his mother’s sister and Mary Magdalene. Mark says they stood “afar off,” as was the custom of the east; but as the crowd diminished, they approached nearer to the cross. Here the Saviour commended his mother to the care of John, who also was standing by the cross.

John 19:28 . I thirst. Our Saviour, finding that all was accomplished which he was to do before his death, except the fulfilling of that one scripture, Psalms 69:21, “they gave me vinegar to drink,” for the accomplishment thereof now said, “I thirst.” Such were the agonies of our Lord upon the cross, that they drank up his very spirits. When he cried, “‘I thirst,” it was to show that whatever was foretold by the prophets concerning him was exactly accomplished, and every minutiƦ of circumstance fulfilled.

John 19:30 . He said, it is finished. Thus the Saviour died in the faith, with the words of Daniel in his mouth. This is the faith that conquers death. I see heaven open, said Stephen, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

John 19:32-37 . Then came the soldiers, at three o’clock, the proper hour. And he that saw bare record, and his record is true, concerning occurrences apparently casual, but which to the letter fulfilled the scriptures. What, Roman soldiers, ignorant of the scriptures, break the legs of the first thief, and then passing by the Saviour who was now dead, break the legs of the second thief, to fulfil the letter of the law concerning the paschal lamb, which enjoined that not a bone of it should be broken!

Exodus 12:46. Equally remarkable is the piercing of the Redeemer’s side, whence issued “water and blood,” as in 1 John 5:8. By water is understood the serum of the pericardium, in which the heart swims, or rather is lubricated. Therefore the water would issue first, and the blood instantly follow. How exact is the narration of John. All was now finished: they looked on him whom they had pierced. Zechariah 12:10.


Having now passed through the painful but glorious scenes of the cross, foretold from the beginning, that the serpent should bruise the heel of Christ, we must not stay in the tomb, like the unitarian, who knows him only after the flesh. In his humiliation we know him no more; infirmity, the greatest proof of redeeming love, is swallowed up in the glory of the only- begotten of the Father. He lives he dies no more.

Neither let us dwell on the evil age; the ruling agents fell under “the power of darkness.” Profane men, so transported with sacerdotal enmity, that they ate not that year of the paschal supper, unless they did it at an unlawful hour; for whatever might remain of that sacrifice was to be burned before the morning. Oh what is man; and what the end of sinners like these? Gloomy were all their future years, with the blood of the Holy and Just One of Israel invoked on them and on their children. Malachi 4:1. From those characters, turn away, oh my soul, and behold the man! The Ecce homo of the Romans, the shame of the Jews, the glory of the church. They crowned him with thorns; but God crowned him with glory, and anointed him with the oil of gladness above his fellows. They arrayed him in purple; heaven clothed him in the garments of light and majesty. They put a reed into his hand; but the Father having given him the heathen for his inheritance, gave him a rod of iron for his sceptre, to dash in pieces the rebellious as a potter’s vase, which cannot be joined or repaired. “The nation that will not serve him shall perish; yea, it shall be utterly wasted away.” This name, the Son the Son of God, terrified Pilate, as a glance at the same Son had once terrified Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel 3:25; Daniel 3:25. When he shall roar out of Zion, all his foes will seek to hide themselves.

And you, oh blessed men, bold to own the crucified, and honour him as a prince of David’s house; you gathered up his remains, the trophies of glory; he will gather you from the hands of bloody men, and make you noble in his church. He will write your name in the book of life, while the name of the wicked shall be written in the dust, and while the flames of Jerusalem shall bury them in the polluted ashes of the ungodly. Their sun shall be darkened, while the sun of righteousness shall rise on the church, and heal the gentile world with his beams. But let us pray for the misguided jews. Wicked they are, and still blaspheming; for it is a sight of Jehovah’s fellow, which alone can bring them to true repentance.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on John 19". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/john-19.html. 1835.
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