John 19:28-37 Easter at Christmas: Very Dead

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.

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,” 37 and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”

Very Dead

John is writing so that those who do not believe in Jesus would come to faith.  It is very important to him to make clear that Jesus was dead.  It was no mistake that Jesus was on the cross and it was not true that Jesus could have swooned or that he was ‘mostly dead’ as Princess Bride might have put it.  Jesus was completely dead and that is important.  He paid the price as a sacrificial lamb.  The lamb of Passover needed to be sacrificed so that the sins of the nation could be overlooked.  Every person deserves death and will enter into it at some time.  Jesus’ death takes the finality of death and makes it into a transition.  The historical hold that death has had over us is no more.

In the moment listed above the price was paid and justice was done.  No-one has got away free with the fallen condition of being human.  The cost of being human, in all its fallen depravity, is death.  In one sense a death is a separation from the  body.  In a second sense, to die is to be separated from the grace of God.  Common grace rests on all the world now, but this means that the verdict on our sin has not been pronounced.  Ultimately a good God has to see that justice is done.  The wages of sin is death.  Death peppers the pages of the Old Testament and in our indulgent society we are aghast at the God who kills.  However, in Jesus God could pay the price so that we could live in an age of grace.  Yet year by year we presume upon his grace and we indulge our own belief that we are gods.  This will not end well for us.  Ignoring the path to God that Jesus purchased for us on the cross results in descent once more into chaos and destruction.


When man lives for nothing bigger than man, each person does what is right in his own eyes.  We are embracing anarchy and worshiping ourselves.  Forgive us.  Let us look to the life that Jesus gave so that our own lives will not be demanded of us.


  1. How did Jesus die?
  2. How do we know that he was dead?
  3. Why would John think that knowing Jesus was dead is important?
  4. Do you think that Jesus really existed and died?
  5. What do you say when you talk with others about Jesus’ death?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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2 Responses to John 19:28-37 Easter at Christmas: Very Dead

  1. Ed says:

    Death by crucifixion was prophesy. Jesus being dead is why his legs were not broken says the Romans but this was also prophesy actually, there was several things that were prophesy during the last twelve hours. This was a huge event and John knew we needed to recorded this for the future believers. No doubt Jesus died and was risen from death for our sins. A Men he has risen. When I talk to others my heart gets really excited and I can go on with great emotion but I must lead non believer’s to the Spirit so I hold back my emotions. Grace, what a gift when I’m with my sisters and brothers I get chocked up and teary eyed not much to be said unless I can help them better understand.

  2. Dylan says:

    1. Jesus died through crucifixion but ultimately by giving up his spirit.
    2. When his side was pierced, not only blood but water poured out.
    3. John knew that skeptics would claim Jesus never actually died to mitigate the power and reality of the resurrection.
    4. I do!
    5. When I speak with others about Jesus death I have failed if I don’t tell them why he had to die. I must show them he was so much more than a martyr. He is the Son of God who died for people like you and me! In addition to giving the gospel I also try to explain what a horrible way of execution this was. This demonstrates how much God love us. Many people are so used to seeing the image of Jesus in the cross that they forget the horror of the crucifixion. Not only the physical though, but Jesus also carries every sin to the cross and was separated from God for the first time in history. Jesus loved us this much and he is our hero and our God.

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