Behold the man:
(Read John 19:1-16)
In this chapter we see the account of Jesus’ trial before Pilot and His crucifixion. From the human standpoint this trial was the greatest crime and the mockery of Roman law. But from divine standpoint it was the fulfillment of the scriptures (Acts 2:23). Pilot orders Jesus to be flogged, beaten and insulted. The soldiers tortured and forced the crown of thorns on His head. Pilot presented Jesus before Jews saying that 'Behold the man". He hoped, Jews would accept the cruel punishment Jesus received and spare him from execution. But the people cried out "Crucify him, crucify him". Jews were so settled in their mind to crucify Jesus. Pilot declared third time the innocence of Jesus. Jews said "Jesus had claimed to be the God and by Jewish law, He should die" (Leviticus 24:16). Pilot was warned by his wife about Jesus to “Leave that righteous man alone” (Matt 27:19). Pilot asked Jesus “Where are you from?" But Jesus gave him no answer. So Pilot said to Him “Will you not speak to me?” Jesus replied "You have no authority over me unless it had been given from above". Pilot sought to release Jesus. But Jews said "You are not Caesar’s friend if you release Jesus". Driven by fear of guilty of treason against Rome, Pilot yielded to the wishes of the Jews. Jews and pilot thus became guilty of the sin of delivering the innocent Jesus to be crucified. In fact the whole world is guilty of it. The fulfillment of the scripture runs through the entire crucifixion of Jesus. In the crucifixion of Jesus nothing was left to chance but was within the eternal purpose of God’s will and plan (Isaiah 53:10).
(Read John 19:17-27)
Pilot was fearful, confused and spiritually blind. He handed Jesus over to Jews to be crucified. What a tortured situation, knowing the right thing and not able to do it because of fear! Jesus who was weak and beaten was forced to carry His cross by the soldiers. They crucified him between two thieves at Golgotha. Pilot posted a sign above the cross that reads "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." The chief priest demanded that the title should be changed. Pilot refused his demand and said "What I have written, I have written". Each soldier took one garment but they cast lot for the inner garment because it was seamless and woven in one piece from top to bottom. Thus the scripture was fulfilled (Psalms 22:18). Christ was crucified naked before the angry mob. The crucifixion was considered one of the most barbaric, torturous and humiliating death ever conceived by mankind. Even during those painful hours Jesus was focusing on others. There was a small group gathered at the foot of the cross including His mother and John. When Jesus saw His mother, He told John to take care of His mother. Thus Christ sets this example for us to follow. Only gospel can create this kind of compassionate and caring community.
The Death and Burial of Jesus:
(Read John 19:28-42)
Jesus knew that everything was now fulfilled and said, “I am thirsty". He hung on the cross, wounded, burning, swollen up, and dehydrated for our sin. This is the only time Jesus spoke of His physical suffering. It was also the fulfillment of scripture (Psalms 22:15). He became thirty so that those who believe in Him never thirst again. No one knows suffering like our blessed Savior. Jesus endured the vicarious suffering on the cross for sinners. He said, “It is finished" and gave up his spirit. That was the greatest announcement of victory ever spoken. The long night of His suffering is over. He finished the work the Father has given Him to do (John 17:4). His death was not an accident. Jesus died according to the scripture. He gave His life as a ransom for our salvation. By His death He has redeemed us from the bondage of sin, Satan and death. His death satisfied the righteous demands of God (Rom 3:25). He died in our place. This is the greatest exchange ever happened (2 Cor 5:21). When soldiers came to Jesus, they did not break His legs because Jesus was already dead. One of the soldiers took a spear and pierced His side. This happened so that the scripture might be fulfilled (Zachariah 12:10). Even the wicked soldiers were involved in fulfilling the scriptures. Everything needful for our redemption was accomplished. Nothing was left undone. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus prepared the body of Jesus for burial. They were members of the Sanhedrin, the religious court of Jews (Luke 23:51; John 3:1). They were also the followers of Christ. Nicodemus who met Jesus at night brought about 75 pounds of the mixer of myrrh and aloes to wrapped Jesus body with linen. The body was laid in a new tomb that belonged to Joseph of Arimathea. This tomb was near the place of crucifixion. This was also a fulfillment of prophecy (Isaiah 53:9). Several women witnessed where his body was laid (Luke 23:55). The tomb was sealed and guarded by the Roman guards. Our salvation was not an after thought of God. The crucifixion of Jesus was predicted in the Old Testament. It was planned before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4). Our salvation is freely given but it came at the costs the life of Christ.
The Last Statements of Jesus From the Cross:
The cross of Christ reveals man’s sin at its worst and God’s love at its best. The Gospels give us a graphic description of Golgotha, where Jesus hung on the cross for six long hours. There we see the extent of God's great love for us. Jesus loves us to the uttermost (John 13:1). There was never a love like the love of our dying Savior. The extent of His love is revealed in the seven statements Jesus made from the cross.
The First Statement:
"Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do" (Luke 23:34). Our Savior was scourged, mocked, beaten and crucified by His enemies. He hung on the cross between the two thieves, abandoned by disciples and experiencing excruciating pain. Father's love was beyond His reach at this time. Yet Jesus was praying for those who were crucifying Him. He repeatedly prayed for them when they had no idea what they are doing to Jesus (1 Cor 2:8). When they had no desire that anyone would pray for them, Jesus prayed for their forgiveness. He could have called legions of angels to destroy them but He chose to suffer the judgment they deserve (Is 53:12). He practiced what He preached (Matt 6:15; Luke 7:47). You may hate Jesus but He loves you anyway. Three times Jesus addresses "Father" from the cross, in the beginning, in the middle and at the end. His own nation rejected him, his disciples failed him even the Father allowed him die on the cross. Yet nothing threatened His relationship with the Father. He taught us to forgive and love our enemies. Only those who are forgiven can appreciate the extent of Christ's love. The self-righteous are blind to see Christ's love for them. The greatest sin is the sin against God's love and forgiveness. Forgiveness is not cheap. It cost Jesus His own life. We cannot expect forgiveness from God when we refuse to forgive others. When Christians Hold back forgiveness, it grieves the Holy Spirit and destroys harmony among them (Heb 12:15). We should forgive others because we ourselves have been forgiven ( Ephesians 4:32). When God forgives sins, He will remember them no more ( Heb 8:12). Jesus became the sin offering for us. In Him we have redemption and forgiveness (Ephesians 1:7)
The Second Statement:
"Verily I say unto you, today you shall be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43). Jesus was nailed to the cross between two thieves. Christ is always in the center. He is able to save sinners from anywhere. One of the two thieves railed at Jesus said "If you are Christ save yourself and us". But the other thief rebuked the one railing and said, "Don't you fear God even when you are dying?" And he asked Christ for forgiveness and he received it. Jesus said to him "Today you will be with me in paradise". He was saved in the same hour. Our salvation is based on Christ's work on the cross and not on our good works (Ephesians 2:8,9). Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone and in Christ alone. Christ came to save sinners. Saved people are not on probation. They serve Jesus because they love Him. Are you saved?
The Third Statement:
“Woman behold, your son, here is your son” (John 19:25, 27). Jesus saw three women standing near the cross (John 19:25). One among them was Mary the mother of Jesus. The disciple whom Jesus loved was John. He was also there. Jesus saw His mother and said to her "Woman behold your son and to John, behold your mother”. Although Mary was His earthly mother, Christ was her Redeemer and Savior (Luke 2:46-47). Even in that crucial hour, Christ sets an example for us to take care of our parents. In this statement we see Christ's humanity and divinity.
The Fourth Statement:
"My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt 27:46). Here we see the high cost of our redemption. From noon until 3:00 P.M. there was darkness. Why Jesus was forsaken and bore our sins on the cross? Here we see the ugly color of our sin. On the cross Christ endured our hell. Hell is real as cross is real. It is a place of blackness of darkness. Jesus willingly suffered our judgment. He was separated from the love of God. What a picture of hell! Will you not flee from hell by receiving Christ today? Here we see God’s indescribable love. Here the righteousness and the mercy of God met together. The focal point of Christ's earthly life was His death on the cross. The number of chapters allotted to the final week of His life shows the importance of Christ's death. His death was more than an example but an obedience to His Father's will. His death was not the death of a martyr or a death of a criminal. He died for our sins (Rom 5:8). His life was the ransom paid for our redemption. Jesus died in our place as our substitute (Isaiah 53:6; 2; 2 Cor 5:21). He died to reconcile us to God (2 Cor 5:18.19). He died to satisfy all the righteous demands of holy God (Rom 3:25). Those who do not believe in Christ are lost in their sins forever. Christ paid the ultimate price for our salvation by dying on the cross. He came to seek and save those who are lost. Have you received Christ by faith to be saved?
The Fifth Statement:
“I am thirsty” (John 19:28). Jesus knew that His end is near. Last six hours Jesus was on the cross, wounded, burning, swollen up and dehydrated. He experienced intense agony for you and me. He said, “I am thirsty”. It was a fulfillment of prophecy written a thousand year before when crucifixion was unknown to the world (Psalms 22:15). This is the only time Jesus spoke of His physical suffering from the cross. He understands our sufferings and able to help us in our needs (Heb 4:15-16). Do you experience pain in your body? Are you misunderstood and marginalized by others? So is Jesus. In our sufferings, no one can help us like Jesus. Jesus is the creator of heavens and earth. Yet heaven denied Him light and earth denied Him water. They gave Jesus vinegar. The one who is source of living water became thirty for us. Jesus is the smitten rock from where the living water flows (1 Cor 10:4). Those who believe Jesus will be satisfied. He wants that the living water should flow from them to others.
The Sixth Statement:
"It is finished"(John 19:30). Jesus came to do the will of the Father (John 2:4; 4:34). Christ has brought glory to the Father by completing the work of redemption (John 17:4). He came through intense suffering and agony. Now that work is completed. This was the greatest announcement of victory ever made. The decisive battle with Satan is over. By His death Jesus destroyed the power of death, and the devil and released those who were living in the fear of death (Heb 2:14, 15). Jesus willingly offered Himself to God. His death met all God's righteous demands. Atonement for our sin was paid in full. Nothing can be added to it. He did not say I am finished but it is finished. Slave who completes a given task would say at the end “It is finished” or “Tettalastai”. The priest who offers a perfect sacrifice and an artist who completes the artwork successfully would say, “It is finished”. A merchant who gives the receipt to the buyer would say you have paid the bill in full, "It is finished". Christ by His perfect sacrifice paid our debts in full. He cancelled out the record of our debt by nailing it on the cross (Col 2:14). He triumphed over Satan and death. By His death he bought our redemption. By His one sacrifice He perfected those who are saved forever (Heb 10:14). In the Tabernacle, Priests were not allowed to sit. But Christ offered one sacrifice and sat down (Heb 10:12). The veil is rent from top to bottom. Now believers have access into the presence of God. They are complete in Christ (Col 2:10).
The Seventh Statement:
“Father into thy hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46). Having said this Jesus gave up His spirit. "Father" is the first and the last word Jesus spoke from the cross. He endured hell on the cross for us and came through it. Now He calls God as Father in triumph. Jesus died on His own free will. He dismissed His spirit with a loud voice. Usually last words of dying people are weak whisper. Jesus’ last word was loud and victorious. The centurion heard it, glorified God and said "Certainly this was a righteous man" (Luke 23:47). Nobody died like Jesus (Gal 2:20). The cross is important because Christ died there for us. Isaac Watts wrote, "When I survey the wondrous cross on which the prince of glory died". Someone has said, “Seeing the cross means, meeting Jesus who died on it. Surveying the cross means, not turning our eyes away from the one who loved us and gave Himself for us”. Do you know this great and wonderful Savior? Is Jesus your Lord and Savior? Prayerfully let us reflect on Christ who loved us and gave himself for us.