Jesus Crucified - John 19:17-30

Expositions by H. A. Wilson

Taken from Grace and Truth Magazine 1923


Memory Verse — I Corinthians 15:3

The crucifixion of Jesus is the most colossal event in all history. Much has been written and said about it, and much more will doubtless be written and said before the close of the history of the human race, but it is a subject which cannot be exhausted. It is the wisdom of God and the power of God, and until men can exhaust His wisdom or come to the end of His power they cannot fathom the depths of truth which are found in the Gospel of Jesus. The Cross of Christ is the subject of the prophecies and songs of the Old Testament, and it is the substance of its symbols and types. It is the heart of the New Testament and the basis for its promises and appeals. The believer in the apes before the Cross looked forward to it by faith and gave evidence of that faith in his sacrifices and offerings. The believer since then looks back in faith, to the Cross and is exhorted to manifest his faith in a life of "living sacrifice." Both believers before the Cross and believers on this side of the Cross are saved simply through their faith in the Saviour who died thereon. It is this wonderful and at the same time terrible event to which we come in this lesson. I. Cor. 1:18, 23-2.1.; Heb. 11:4; Rom. 12:1-2.


Vs. 17-18

One of the things which make the Cross a terrible thing is the suffering which Jesus endured there. Not primarily the physical suffering, as terrible as that was, but rather the spiritual suffering of which the physical was only a slight suggestion. When Jesus hung upon the Cross He became subject to the wrath of God. God actually counted Him guilty of the sins of the whole world and treated Him accordingly. He heaped upon Him the awful judgment which had been due men's sins in the past, and which would be merited by the sins of the future. Jesus suffered terribly from a physical standpoint, but He suffered infinitely more because "He Who was without sin became sin for us" and received the full measure of God's judgment for our sins. I Pet. 2:2j.: Isa. 53:12; I Pet. 3:18; I Cor. 15:3.

But the physical aspects of Jesus' crucifixion do suggest this tremendous spiritual fact. The cross was the place where criminals were judged in the days of Roman dominion. Many cases are on record which were judged in this manner. The cross held in men's minds then the same connection which the hangman's noose does in our thoughts today. This is further indicated by the fact that Jesus was not crucified alone, but with two others of whom we are told that they were thieves. The death of the cross being the death of a transgressor suggests the fact that when Jesus hung there God judged Him as a sinner for us. This is the greatest fact about the Cross: JESUS DIED FOR US THERE!


Vss. 19-22

But while Jesus teas suffering for the sins of men they reviled and mocked Him. This is in striking contrast to the love of God which was manifested in His death, but the very contrast makes it plain how great the love of God really is. It shows that Jesus' death for sinners was an act of pure grace for it shows how unworthy of such love men were. Pilate, the Gentile ruler, wrote a title and put it over the Cross. He wrote "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." Undoubtedly he did it to deepen Jesus' humiliation and to make sport of the Jews and of their Messianic hope. But though his motive was one of unbelief, Pilate had written a great truth and one which the Jews were unwilling to admit. They protested and asked that the writing be changed, thus showing their hatred for Jews. (Verse 21). Then as He hung upon the Cross and suffered, the Roman soldiers made sport of Him and the Jews mocked Him as they passed by. Thus unbelieving Gentiles and bigoted Jews joined in reviling Jesus, the Son of God Who had come to save them. Their attitude is characteristic of an unbelieving world. Isa. 53:3; I Cor. 1:18, 23.

Some question exists concerning the title which was put over the Cross, and for this reason it merits our special attention. One who reads the four Gospel accounts will discover that the words of the title are given differently in each one. Some have fancied that this was a contradiction in the Bible, and have concluded that due to such contradictions they cannot believe in it. However, no contradiction exists. The passage which we are studying gives the solution of the whole matter. Verse twenty tells us that it was written in "Hebrew and Greek and Latin." Each writer fives us a different version. Probably Matthew gives us a translation of the Hebrew, for he writes an especially strong Jewish argument. Either Mark or Luke gives us the translation of the Latin and the other gives us that of the Greek. While John gives us a summarizing of all three, for his is the most complete, and comprehends all the others. Thus it will be seen that there is no contradiction but perfect agreement in the Word of God. II Tim. 3:16-17; Matt. 27:37; Mark 15:26; Luke 23:38.


Vss. 23-27

When the soldiers took Jesus' garments from Him and divided them among themselves they unwittingly gave us a spiritual message. "Garments" in the Scripture are typical of righteousness. As we have already seen God did not deal with Jesus as the One Who was absolutely righteous, but rather as guilty of the sins of the whole world, for Jesus having upon Him the sins of men must be judged as though He were a sinner. This is suggested in the removal of His garments. Still another truth, and a most marvelous one, is suggested here. That is that the dividing of Jesus' garments among those rough and wicked soldiers signifies that His righteousness may be shared by guilty, undeserving men. So the Word of God says that "the righteousness of God is unto all and upon all them that believe" (Romans 3:22).


Vss. 25-27

Another thing which makes the Cross of Christ a wonderful tiling to us is the fact that He there manifested a matchless love and care for others. This is seen in His care for His mother. He had been a Son to her upon Whom she had leaned and in Whom she had trusted. Now He was dying and shortly He must ascend to the right hand of God. She would be left alone so far as human love and sympathy were concerned, and Jesus knew her need of care and love and sympathy. So in the midst of His sufferings He thought of her and asked the beloved disciple John to care for her as his own mother. In this He also ministered to the need of John, for John like the mother needed human love and fellowship. The same care for others is seen in His cry, "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). Jesus' care for others and His loving desire to minister to their needs is the key to the meaning of the Cross. It was His love for sinful, fallen men which led Him to die for them, in order that He might save them, and this love is exemplified in His care for His mother. John 3:16.


A significant phrase is found in Verse twenty-eight. It is these words: "That the Scripture might he fulfilled." It is impossible to say exactly how many Scriptures were fulfilled in the Cross of Christ, due to our blindness and inability to see the meaning of many of them. But an idea may be gained when one considers that every offering recorded in the Old Testament Scriptures was a prophecy and found its fulfillment in the death of Jesus. (Jno. 1:29). Every detail of that death was the subject of prophecy. Unfortunately in the brief limits of this discussion we cannot take time to refer to all such prophecies, but careful consideration of the Scriptures referred to at the foot of this paragraph and comparison of them with the Gospel accounts of the crucifixion will demonstrate that the death of Jesus did fulfill Scripture in wonderful wealth of detail. Acts 10:43; Psa. 22:1-19; Isa. 53:5-12.


Vss. 29-30

The fullness of God's grace is revealed in Jesus' cry, "It is finished!" He left nothing for us to do to accomplish our salvation. He did it all. He bore all of God's judgment and has provided a full and free salvation, including even the imputation of His righteousness to the believer. We can do nothing to add to His finished work. We can do nothing to help in our salvation. All we can do is to accept Him by faith. Believing in Him we receive the eternal life which He purchased for us at the cost of the infinite suffering of which we have been studying. The salvation provided in the death of Jesus and testified in His resurrection is ours for the asking, and it is to be had in no other way. All we can do is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and immediately we are saved. Acts 16:31; Jno. 3:16; Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5; Jno. 5:24.