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John 19:16b-19:42
Key Verse: 19:30

Today's passage is about Jesus' crucifixion, death and burial. Humanly speaking, it is a tragic story. But from God’s point of view, it is good news, because it is the climax of God’s great redemptive work. So today we will look through the point of view of John who wrote Jesus crucifixion and death in a most factual way.

When Pilate failed to release Jesus, he finally handed him over to the merciless soldiers. So now the soldiers took charge of Jesus, what’s happened to Jesus? Verse 17 says “carrying his own cross, he went to the place of the skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha.” The cross Jesus was carrying it is around 70kg and the place of the skull is approximately 600 meters away. So let’s picture this: after Jesus had been mercilessly beaten with a whip embedded with shards of metal or bone, he was still willing to carry this heavy cross and walk for a long road. On the road to Golgotha Jesus, must have dropped much of blood and sweat, when he was too exhausted he collapsed but he stood up, again and again, and finally made his way to Golgotha.

“There, they crucified him, and with him two others- one on each side and Jesus in the middle.”(18) Crucifixion is the most brutal execution among Roman Empire, it is so brutal that it was not applied to roman citizens but solely given to non-roman criminals, especially to the murders and the leaders in rebellion. However, the innocent Jesus was executed in this way, after being flogged and carrying the cross all the way along. Now his two hands and feet are to be nailed on the wooden cross and be lifted up hanging in the air until death. How much pain Jesus must felt on that cross! But pain is not the only thing Jesus needed to come across. They also shamed Jesus by crucifying him with two other criminals. Jesus came to this world as the Christ, but now he was rejected by his people and had to suffer these pain and shame.

(19) now “Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” From the last passage we knew that, this is the crime that Jesus was charged with, but ironically now it became the title of Jesus’s identity. Many Jews who are close to the town read it and the sign was written in three main languages of the world at that time: Aramaic, Latin and Greek. Then, the religious leaders went to Pilate and asked him to change this title saying “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.” (21) Pilate was very resolute, he rejected their request saying “What I have written, I have written.” Jesus’s true identity was finally revealed, he is the truly King of the Jews, and not only the king for the Jews but also King of all people.

Jesus hung on the cross in agony. The heartless soldiers only thought about who would get his clothes. They reveal fallen man’s mentality–selfish, materialistic and heartless. And they unwittingly fulfilled the words of prophecy in Psalm 22, “They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” Both Pilate and the soldiers became good actors of God’s play; God is in control, directing everything happened there.

While Jesus was on the cross, he was not carried away by his own suffering and pain but was thinking of his loved ones. Verse 26 says “When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Dear woman,[b] here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” While even Jesus was suffering on the cross; he was still thinking of his mother. So when he saw the disciple whom he loved he entrusted her to him. We now saw Jesus’s deep humanity, his great love for his mother; however, his love is not only for his mother. Because John also felt Jesus’s love, and called himself “the disciple whom he loved”. Indeed Jesus’s love is for all mankind, including you and me, and he cares for the perishing souls more than himself.

(28)"Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, 'I am thirsty.'” Jesus was extremely thirsty because he was dehydrated. His body is about to crush. He did not say this because of great suffering on the cross, for he bore all his pain, and he did not have a single word of complaint. Instead of quenching his physical thirst, Jesus is thirstier of fulfilling the scripture. This showed his absolute obedience to God, and his thirst of completing God’s assigned mission.

The story continues, in verse 29 “A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips.” You would not see the description like this in any of other 3 Gospels. John here intentionally recorded the use of the “hyssop plant”, because he remembered what happened in the Old Testament. In Exodus 12:21-23(show 21) we saw that the hyssop was a plant that was used to brush the blood of the Passover lamb to the Israelite door frames, so that the Israelites may be skipped from the destroying of the first born by the angel of death. So the hyssop here reminded John of the blood of the Passover lamb. And it also implied a connection between Jesus and the Passover lamb, we will see this again later.

Now let’s look at verse 30. “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. “It is finished” is a very unique last word from Jesus; it is different because what one used to say is what he has not yet done, and dies with regrets or sorrow. But Jesus said, “It is finished.” and gave up his spirit. Here we saw that Jesus is very satisfied when he dies. He was satisfied because he lived a life that pleases God: he fulfilled the scripture and served as Lamb of God for the salvation of all mankind. His death made old sacrifice system obsolete, Hebrews 9:22 says, “…without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” But now through the shedding of Jesus’s blood, we are forgiven. Therefore, the old sacrifice is gone, and we need not to sacrifice anymore, because the sacrifice of Jesus is once for all. This brought us to the next point, through Jesus’s death on the cross, our sins are completely paid off; our sins in the past, at present, and even in the future are all paid off 100%. Our debts with God are all cancelled, and in Christ we will be no longer under the wrath of God, because God has forgiven all. So in Hebrew 9: 27 “so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many.” Jesus’s death complete his redemptive work for mankind, he paid off all our debts from God and made the entire sacrifice system obsolete. Therefore, in Christ there is no more sin and condemnation, because now we are no long the slaves to sin but children of God.

What does this mean to us? Now we are saved, sin and Satan cannot bind us; does it mean we can do whatever we desire, because we will not be condemned again? No, we must know that it is our sin that killed Jesus; if we continue sinning against him is like we are crucifying him on the cross again. As the true disciples of Jesus, we should repent and stay away from our sin. It requires each of us to deny ourselves, carry our own cross and follow Jesus.

Before meeting Christ, I was addicted to smoking, drinking, gaming, and partying. My life was very miserable and I lived days as night and nights as days. A lot of time I woke up at night feeling terrible and was disappointed of myself, but didn’t know what to do. As I started to read the bible and learned more about Jesus, I was deeply moved by his grace and love. I repented my sins and accepted Christ who died for my salvation. I was able to say goodbye to all my addictions and enjoyed the new spiritual life in Christ. I thought I would be perfect from then on, but I did not realize that sin has already rooted in my life. I felt that is very hard to carry my own cross, because a lot of time I was bounded to the rules of God. I was getting tired and began to seek an easy way of life. When I reopen the gates to the evil, all my sinful habits came back again to me. But God is always there willing to forgive me and patiently waited for me to repent. Again and again God moved me with his Grace. Finally, on this New Year’ Day I was finally able to make decision to buried my sin with Jesus, and live a righteous life. I was also baptized on that day, and had a goal of being trained as his useful instrument. This is not easy at all; I had to cut off a lot of my own habit in order for receiving God’s training. I struggled hard to obey God’s redemptive work, but my sinful nature kept resisting me from changing. Till last week when I was preparing my message, I was remaindered of who was crucified and died for my sins in the full obedience to God on the cross. I newly decided to follow Jesus’s step and learn to obey God in any circumstances. As I kept meditating on the passage, God reminded me I too have a mission from him. He wants me to bear his fruit and become a bible teacher to feed his sheep. Thank God for sending Jesus to me and through him, my salvation was completed, and my sins were buried with him and I could live a new life and receive the mission form God in his grace.

Now the Sabbath was coming, because the Jews did not want the body hanging on the cross, they asked Pilate to break their legs so they could die faster. So the soldiers went and broke the legs of the two criminals, but when they came to Jesus and found him already died, they did not break his leg, but instead pierced Jesus’s side with a spear, bring a sudden flow of blood and water. God again use this event to fulfill the scripture which said, “Not one of his bones will be broken” and also “they will look on the one they have priced”. Here Jesus was compared to the Passover lamb which again proved he is truly the Christ. Aside from that, we also saw God’s perfect control of Jesus blood, from soldier’s piercing, Jesus’s last blood flew out and completely washed our sin away.

Jesus was buried by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus two Sanhedrin members. They were secret disciples of Jesus because they feared Jews. But Jesus death indeed touched their heart; they began to acknowledge him as God, and decided to not fear people but God. So Joseph fearlessly went to Pilate, and asked for Jesus' body (38). Nicodemus was also born again of Holy Spirit and water and became the disciple of Jesus, brought mixture of myrr and aloes and buried Jesus together Joseph according to Jewish custom. They buried Jesus in a new tomb, in the garden near where Jesus was crucified. John wrote in this way so that we are sure that Jesus is died and buried. He indeed died for us, and God’s redemptive work for mankind it now finished!

(Written by Allen)

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