THE 89 DAY GOSPEL CHALLENGE
DAY EIGHTY-SEVEN JOHN NINETEEN
Before Jesus began the walk to the cross, His body was already in a state of distress. From the time He was arrested He was physically abused and battered. The soldiers, who first arrested Him, blindfolded Him and stuck Him in the face and taunted Him with blasphemous slurs. “Prophesy for us Prophet! Tell us who struck You” (Luke 22:63-65). By the time He appeared before Pilate, He was already bludgeoned and bruised.
Pilate had hoped to appease the council by scourging Jesus and letting Him go. But his attempt was unsuccessful. The Pharisees and scribes were determined for Jesus to be put to death.
The Roman flogging or scourging that Jesus endured before the cross usually consisted of a beating of thirty-nine strips but could have been more at the discretion of the executioner. The instrument used was called a “flagrum.” It consisted of braided leather strips with fragments of metal and pieces of sharp bone woven into or intertwined with the braids. It would tear the flesh and cause contusions and deep bruising. The one who administered the torture would quickly lay the victim’s back open, exposing muscle and sinew and bone. Often it would wrap around the victim’s ribs and stomach and, it is said, that a man could be disemboweled from the beating he received. Sometimes the man would succumb to the beating and never make it to the cross.
By the time Jesus stood before the crowd, He was a gory sight, weakened from the loss of blood and barely able to stand. Perhaps this is what Isaiah saw when through the “eye of prophecy” he wrote, “He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquity. He was chastised in order that we might have peace. And by the blood of His strips we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5 paraphrased).
- Mocked by the Soldiers (v. 1-3)
After the scourging, the soldiers continued to strike Him with their hands. They twisted thorns into a crown and pressed it down upon His brow. They put a purple robe on His shoulders and mocked Him with sarcastic sneers and hailed Him as King of the Jews.
- Behold the Man (v. 4-16)
Pilate went out before the people and declared, “I find not fault in Him. There is no evidence that He has done anything worthy of death.” Truer words were never spoken because Jesus was not there for what He had done. He was there carrying the penalty of the sins of all mankind.
Jesus then appeared, bleeding and beaten. Pilate presented Him to the mob and said, “Behold the Man!” Pilate was saying, “Isn’t this enough? He has done nothing wrong but I have punished Him anyway. Can’t we let Him go now?”
But it was not enough to pacify the hatred of the priests and scribes. They were determined to end it all that day.
1) They cried out “Crucify Him! Crucify Him.” The more Pilate declared His innocence, the louder the roar of the crown to extract the price of blood.
2) The leaders of the Temple declared, “We have a law and according to our Law, He ought to die because He claimed He was the Son of God.” Critics today say that Jesus never claimed to be God or the Son of God. But that’s not what His enemies heard. That’s not what the Bible says. That is the reason they gave for wanting Him dead.
3) Pilate turned to Jesus and asked, “Where are you from?” (v. 8) It’s a little late to ask that question. Jesus gave him no answer. Then Pilate said, “Why do you not answer me? Don’t you know I can either crucify you or let you go?”
Jesus responded, “You have no power over Me at all except the power My Father allows you to have.” (v. 10,11)
4) Pilate continued to press to release Jesus. He did not care for the Jew’s Law. But they struck a nerve when they said, “If you let this man go, you are not Caesar’s friend. Anyone who makes Himself a king speaks against Caesar” (v. 12).
5) Pilate had been pressed to the limit. He sat down in the judgment seat and presented Jesus to the crowd and said, “Behold your King!” (v. 14).
6) The chant continued to swell with the demand to crucify Jesus. Pilate asked, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar” (v. 15). And with that the rejection was complete. Israel had denied their Messiah. Pilate was finished. He relented and let the mob have their way. They led Jesus out to be crucified.
- On the Cross (v. 17-24)
They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha where they crucified Him along with two common thieves. Pilate had a sign prepared that said, “Jesus of Nazareth, The King of the Jews.” It was written in three languages, Latin, Greek and Hebrew for all to see. When the priests objected, Pilate replied, “What I have written, I have written,” meaning, “It will stand as is!”
As Jesus hung on the cross the soldiers divided His garments and gambled at the foot of the cross. John saw this as a fulfillment of Psalm 22:18.
- Behold Your Mother (v. 25-27)
Mary was at the cross as well as Mary Magdalene and Mary, the wife of Cleopas. John, the disciple who Jesus loved, was also there. Jesus seeing His mother in agony spoke to John and said, “John, take care of my mother.” And to Mary He said, “Mom, John will take care of you.”
John accepted the responsibility in spite of the fact that Mary had other living sons. Some church historians believe that Mary was with John when he was pastor of the church in Ephesus. John was true to his word and faithful to His Lord.
- “Finished!” (v. 28-37)
Jesus cried from the cross, “I thirst.” This is a symptom of hypovolemic shock, or low blood volume. The loss of blood experienced by Jesus would cause the heart to race to pump blood that was not there. The kidneys would shut down to preserve body fluids. Low blood pressure could have caused Him to faint or collapse as He did on the way to the cross.
They filled a sponge with sour wine and put it to His mouth. After He had received it, He said, “It is finished” and bowed His head and died. The eyes that had looked on Jerusalem and wept for sinners glazed over and went dim. The hands that had fed the multitudes and had healed so many now hung lifelessly, impaled to the cross. The voice that spoke such wonderful words was silent. The heart that loved unconditionally beat no more. Jesus was dead.
No one took His life. Ten legions of angels awaited His command to set Him free. But the request never came. Instead, he laid down His sinless, wonderful life.
- The Pierced Him (v. 31-37)
The Sabbath was approaching. The Jews asked Pilate to take the bodies from the cross before it began. Pilate ordered the soldiers to brake the legs of those on the cross to hasten death. With their legs broken, they could not raise themselves up to catch a breath and would quickly suffocate. But when they came to Jesus, He was dead already.
To assure He was dead, a soldier thrust a spear into His side. John was at the cross and testified to what he saw (v. 35). Blood mixed with water gushed from the wound. Fluid had gathered in the membrane around the heart and lungs of Jesus. The spear pierced the heart and the pericardial sac bringing forth the blood mixed with water. No one can doubt. Jesus was dead.
- The Borrowed Tomb (v. 38-42)
Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus claimed the body of Jesus. They gently removed it and carried it to Joseph’s tomb and there they laid their Savior to rest. Both were members of the Sanhedrin. Both had been disciples of Jesus, but secretly. But when it mattered the most, they stood up and did the only noble thing that happened that day. They would never be silent again.
Two more days and our journey is finished.
Love to all,