It is ironic that Jesus is the crucified king. It is ironic that Pontius Pilate should acknowledge that Jesus is King of the Jews probably to spite the Jews. In so doing the man who asked, “What is truth?” declares a very important truth. The King of the Jews is lifted up in John and glorified through crucifixion. For John, things are not what they seem. For John there are layers of meaning. The quality of the tomb is also important when understanding that Jesus is king. The tomb that a crucified victim would usually be thrown in would be an inglorious hole outside the walls of the city. Wild animals might even ravage the body. Jesus is placed by a wealthy man in an unused tomb. This again marks that there is something distinct about Jesus.
When we look at the sign that Pilate placed over Jesus’ head, it was written in Greek, Aramaic, and Latin. Jesus was announced as the king to all the peoples of the known world. In other words, Jesus is not just the King of the Jews but he is raised up as the universal king. This foreshadows the spread of the gospel through Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth. For John, this death on the cross is no sad defeat but it is the ironic triumph of a conquering king who completes his work for his subjects.
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). 18There 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. 21The 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.”
22Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”
23When 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,” 27and 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. 30When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
31 Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. 32 The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35 The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. 36 These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,”[c] 37 and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”[d]
The Burial of Jesus
38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.[e] 40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
- Which facts in John’s account point to Jesus as king?
- Why does John tell us that Jesus legs were not broken; a hyssop branch was used; and that Jesus’ blood flowed out?
- Who secretly followed Jesus?
- What do you understand as the rights of a king? What are Jesus’ rights?
- What does this passage have to say about those who follow Jesus in secret fear?