Lord Jesus, you were afflicted with my afflictions. I bow before you in this holiest of days, before the mystery of your suffering love.
Read JOHN 19:16b–30
16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.
The Crucifixion of Jesus
So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. 17 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.
19 Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: jesus of nazareth, the king of the jews. 20 Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 21 The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.”
22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”
23 When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.
24 “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.”
This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said,
“They divided my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.”[a]
So this is what the soldiers did.
25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman,[b] here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
The Death of Jesus
28 Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 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. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Romans 8:28 challenges us: ‘God works for the good of those who love him’. Thank him for his sovereignty and trustingly ask for the good to be revealed.
John stresses three times how even small details in the story of the cross reflect the mysterious sovereignty of God, for they fulfill Scripture. First, the division of Jesus’ clothes echoes Psalm 22:18. Second, when Jesus states that he is thirsty and is offered wine vinegar, this might reflect verse 15 of the same psalm, though Psalm 69:21 seems the clearest echo; in asking for the drink, Jesus once again shows that he is not entirely at the mercy of events. A third reference to the fulfillment of Scripture comes in verse 37 of tomorrow’s reading: the picture of Jesus crucified by a public road, with his enemies coming to gloat,1 calls to mind Zechariah’s prophesy, ‘They will look … on the one they have pierced’.2
The fact that Jesus’ side was pierced to determine that he was dead shows, from John’s perspective, that Jesus can be our Passover lamb, because none of his bones were broken (v 36).3 As Paul will later proclaim, ‘Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed’.4
Even as John recounts a story in which the religious leaders are doing their worst and Pilate is being manipulated, his references to other Scriptures reassure us that this somehow furthers God’s deepest purpose. As the first church reminds us,5 all Pilate and Herod could do was what God’s power and will had decided beforehand should happen. This is, somehow, the new Exodus, the new mighty act of deliverance through which God’s people are forever ‘passed over’6 for judgment through the cross of Christ and are rescued to serve and glorify him. It is this – which Jesus has courageously embraced and undergone as the still center of the narrative – which has been ‘accomplished’.7
John 12:32 refers to the cross as Jesus being lifted up to draw people to himself. Pray for those you’d long to see drawn to Jesus.
Lord, your amazing love constrains to turn to a weary and despairing world, and lift that world to you.
1 Cf Mark 15:31,32 2 Zech 12:10 3 Cf Exod 12:46 4 1 Cor 5:7 5 Acts 4:27,28 6 Exod 12 7 Eph 3:11
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