From the House of The Nazarene. This will be a very in-depth deep-dive study of the Book of John.
We have looked at John chapter 18 now as we look at John chapter 19, I want us to consider some key issues concerning the crucifixion of Christ. John 20 looks at the resurrection of Christ and John 21 focuses particularly on resurrection appearances of our Lord. In looking at the crucifixion, many that say the Gibson film, The Passion, of course, have that vividly in their mind’s eye. I want to look at this chapter and recall how we saw how Judas betrayed Jesus, how Jesus stood before the priests, and then before Pilate and you recall that there were three religious trials and three civil trials. First, there were three involving the Jews and then the last three involved the Gentiles, one before Pilate, another before Herod, and finally back again, to the last one, with Pilate. This was a grueling and gruesome ordeal, taking all night, and Jesus was being mocked, vilified, beaten, and spit upon. This treatment lasted virtually all night long.
So, it was a night of tremendous agony for our Lord, and He knew this was coming, and He knew, still, the worst was yet to come. I am referring not just to the crucifixion, but to the bearing of the sins of the world. For that, He would sweat drops of blood. As we continue with the story, and after Jesus has been talking with Pilate and, remember, Pilate asks Him, “What is truth?” He then goes out to the Jews and says, “I find no guilt in Him.” The Jews don’t want to let loose on that score and they say, “Not this Man, but Barabbas.” They wanted Barabbas freed and Jesus crucified. Chapter 19, then, begins, “Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him.” Now, he tried an approach of sympathy, because he really did not want to crucify Jesus. By scourging Him, he hoped to evoke the sympathy and empathy of the crowd. Scourging involved a leather whip, which was knotted and weighted with pieces of metal or bone, and many people would not even survive the whipping involved in that process. Thus, they had to do a careful job to keep victims alive if they were going to crucify them as well. The portrayal in The Passion, of the beating with the rods, is not specifically mentioned in the Gospels.
At the very least, the scourging, which was the second part of that, was, in fact, historical. This is not to say he wasn’t, it is only to say it is not a part of the Biblical accounts. As I said, He had previously been slapped in the face in front of Annas, spat and beat upon before Caiaphas, and then after the scourging, of course, was the crown of thorns, the mocking. I must point out something about the thorns that He wore. Remember they created sort of a skullcap out of these thorns that are indigenous to that area. The thorns and thistles have a theme in the Garden, don’t they? They were brought about by sin. Now, the Creator would wear a crown of thorns as He bore the sins of the world. I don’t think it is accidental. Thorns and thistles will come up as a result of sin and Jesus will bear the sins of the world and actually have a crown of thorns and thistles, which were actually beaten into His head. You see the idea here?
So, you have a very clear idea of how God reverses the work of the Fall and reverses the work of the first Adam in the second Adam. So, the story continues, “And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head and put a purple robe on Him; and they begin to come up to Him and say, ‘Hail, King of the Jews’ and to give Him slaps in the face. Pilate came out again and said to them, ‘Behold, I am bringing Him out to you so that you will know that I find no guilt in Him’.” Let me stop here for just a moment. It is interesting that the Jews mocked Jesus in His claim of being a prophet. In Matthew chapter 26, verses 67 and 68, we see a mocking that has to do with Him being a prophet. “Then they spat in His face and beat Him with their fists; and others slapped Him, and said, ‘Prophesy to us, You Christ’,” in effect saying He is a false Messiah, “Who is the one who hit You?”
So, the Jews mocked His claim to be a prophet and the Gentiles mocked His claims here to be a king. Here it was, “Hail, King of the Jews.” Why would that be? Well, the Jewish understanding and concern would be that of the prophetic, Messianic claims, whereas the Gentiles would see Him as an interloper, or a subversive, or simply as a troublemaker claiming to have the pretense to political authority.
So, he would be mocked by both, but for different reasons. Now, in verse 4, “Pilate came out again and said to them, ‘Behold, I am bringing Him out to you’,” and this is the third time that Pilate faces the people, ‘“So that you may know that I find no guilt in Him’. Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and a purple robe. Pilate said to them, ‘Ecce Homo’,” or, ‘Behold, the Man’. My suspicion here is that he was saying it as in, ‘haven’t we done enough’? Pilate was hoping to gain the sympathy of the Jews. I must tell you, though, that we are never saved by a moral example. We are never saved by sympathy, but only, and ultimately, by turning away from our sins and trusting in the sinless substitute. The Gospels are very clear about this. If He were just scourged and beaten, it would not have been enough. As believers, we don’t just contemplate the Cross, in a way we also carry it.
So, there is this idea of the Cross but also of the crucified life as well, because we are followers in His steps. In this case, the crucifixion is that one dies with Christ, and we crucify the flesh, with its desires and so forth, and put on the Spirit instead. In verse six, we see, “So when the chief priests and the officers saw Him, they cried out, ‘Crucify, Crucify’!” They were rousing up the mob, a fickle lot, and eventually, everyone was saying it. “Pilate said to them, ‘Take Him yourselves and crucify Him, for I find no guilt in Him’.” Now, this was the third time that Pilate declared that he found no guilt in Jesus and he wanted a compromise that would somehow please everybody, but he figured he was better off letting them take Him off and crucify Him, but even that was not enough. We now see that “The Jews answered him, ‘We have a law, and by that law, He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God’.” The verse that follows is very interesting. “When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid.” Now, Pilate was already plenty afraid. Turn with me to Matthew 27:19, and we see something which took place right before this moment. “While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him a message, saying, ‘Have nothing to do with that righteous man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him’.”
So, he was already wondering who this guy really was. Remember that idea? He claimed to have an authority that was not a human authority. “My Kingdom is not this world,” that kind of an idea. That, in addition to the statement, here, that He was claiming to be the Son of God, actually made Pilate afraid. The significant part here is that Jesus was silent. It goes on to say, in verse nine, “He entered into the Praetorium again and said to Jesus, ‘Where are You from’? But Jesus gave him no answer.” He was silent before His accusers. Turn, for example, to 1st Peter chapter two, where it gives us an illustration of the prophecy found in Isaiah 53, where He did not open His mouth. In 1st Peter 2:20-23, we see, “For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience?
But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, ‘Who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth’,” and that is from Isaiah 53, “And while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously. And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the Cross, so that we might die to sin,” and here you see the image of our dying with Him as well, “and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” The next verse says, “For you were continually straying like sheep,” and this is another allusion to Isaiah 53, “but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.”
So, we have a very clear portrait here of the fulfillment in part of Isaiah 53. Looking back to the text, in verse ten, “So Pilate said to Him, ‘You do not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You’? Jesus answered, ‘You would have no authority over Me unless it had been given you from above; for this reason, he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin’.” Pilate is making a boast that he has authority. But, if you consider Romans 13:1, it says that all authority comes from God. He is the One who empowers. He raises some up and then He deposes them. We suppose we are in authority, but ultimately it is God who is in authority. It goes on to speak of how Caiaphas knew the Scriptures, but it hardened his heart. This we learned in chapter eleven, verses 47 through 54.
So, it was he who had the greater sin. Then, in verses 12 to 15, we read that “Because of this Pilate made efforts to release Him,” because, again, he cannot comprehend matters and that this is not an ordinary criminal. He is wrestling with this concept. “But the Jews cried out saying, ‘If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar; everyone who makes himself out to be a king opposes Caesar’. Therefore, when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out, and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha.”
You can see that actual pavement today because it has been uncovered there in Jerusalem. As you know, the city of Jerusalem was razed in the year 70, and then it was rebuilt around 135 AD, and it was called the ‘Aelia Capitolina’ and then that, too, was destroyed. It was a hard job to find where the authentic sites were. You do know, of course, that when you look at Jerusalem, it looks like an ancient city from the outside, but those walls are from the 15th century and what we call the ‘Via Della Rosa’ is not where Jesus walked. He would have been in that area, but the streets have been rebuilt.