John 19:1-22 - Skip Heitzig
Welcome to Expound, our verse by verse study of God's word. Our goal is to expand your knowledge of the truth of God by explaining the Word of God in a way that is interactive, enjoyable, and congregational.
And let's prepare our hearts. Let's just pray, come before the Lord and purposely, intentionally, still, calm those hearts, our thoughts before God, making a determination that we're not going to let anything distract us, disturb us, steal away those thoughts of Him and the concentration on His Word. Let's just pray.
Father, we do bring our bodies before You as living sacrifices. That's what Paul told us we should do. And so we bring them to You. We bring our thoughts, our minds to You.
And we pray that we wouldn't be disturbed, that there wouldn't be anything competing with them, that we wouldn't be giving attention to communications from anyone else, or the need for us to communicate during this time. We're communicating with You. And You're communicating with us.
This is Your text message from heaven to earth. This is Your inerrant Word given through someone who lived close to Jesus, the Apostle John. And as we open up our Bibles, we open up our hearts. We pray, Father, that You would form impressions upon us, You would help us to understand, You would help us to grow in our knowledge of You because that is important.
We remember the prophet said, "my people perish for lack of knowledge." But, Lord, not just knowledge about You, but truly knowledge of You on a personal level, that we would come to know You as the Lord Jesus prayed, we would come to know You, the only true God and Lord Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
Lord, I thank You for this flock. Many, we've grown up together, raised children together, walked through storms together. And Lord, as You have taken us back, now take us forward into the future, Lord, with Your strength, with Your power.
It's the same Holy Spirit that did an incredible work in our midst and in our lives. You still want to do an incredible work yet to come. So we just say, do it. Do it, Lord. We want to see it. We want to be a part of it. We don't want to manufacture it because we're not manufacturers. We're just distributors. Help us to be faithful. In Jesus' name, Amen.
As we think back-- I was thinking back today to my mother. Now we all have, or I should say most of us, have fond memories of our mothers. I can't say all because inevitably somebody's going to come back and unload about all the bad memories and things their mom did wrong.
But I have really good memories of my mom. And the only negative ones I have of my mother is when I did something deserving of her wrath. She was a little lady, as the Scots would say, a wee little lady. She was barely five foot tall. But she could pack a punch. And I remember that punch. And I learned early not to cross lines with her.
But of all the memories I have of her life that are fond, there is a memory that sticks with me that is sweet to me. It was the very end of her life, her last breath. I had the privilege of sitting with my mom on her deathbed.
And I say it's a privilege-- it really was. It was a holy moment because the thought came to me, here is this woman who was there, obviously, when I took my first breath. When I came into the world, she brought me into the world. And then I thought, what a privilege to see the tables turned. As I hold her hand, she's taking her final breath.
And I read a Psalm to her. And I said, "mom, you know God really loves you?" And she couldn't speak, but she nodded her head. What a privilege that was, though, for me to be there with her in that moment.
The Apostle John wants us to know what a privilege it was for him to stand there at the foot of the cross while his Savior, his Lord, and his personal friend, Jesus Christ, was dying. He takes us there. He takes us to the foot of the cross. He describes the event we call the crucifixion.
Whenever Jesus fed people, thousands followed Him. When Jesus taught people, preached the gospel to people, hundreds followed Him. There were 12, only 12, really close associates with Jesus. And one turned out to be a rat, a deceiver, a traitor. Three of those 12 were His most intimate of friends, Peter, James, and John, an inner circle. They show up at very specific times when Jesus took just them alone.
But when it comes to the death of Jesus, only one, only one apostle, is at the foot of the cross. And it's this one, John. There are more women friends of Jesus at the cross than men friends. There are five of His followers there. Four of them are women. One's a guy. Guys are outnumbered.
Can I say they've always been. It shouldn't be that way. When it comes to the things of Christ, I would love to see more men take an interest than women. But typically, traditionally-- ask pastors, do a little work in Church history and you will discover when it comes to starting something, volunteering for stuff, you will find a quicker response among women than men. You could chalk it up to a number of reasons I suppose, busyness. But it doesn't need to be that way.
We're going to look at the foot of the cross. And we're going to notice the people who were there. But it is John and none of the others. The others were scared. They had fled, including Peter who denied the Lord and walked away feeling shameful. But John the Apostle is there. And he will make note of his presence.
Now as we're getting into chapter 19, I want you to know something. Early church leaders saw a parallel between the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary, and the sacrifice of Isaac on the same mountain thousands of years earlier.
They made note of it. They remarked about it. They saw the parallel. They could see that there was a similarity, that wood was placed on Isaac's shoulder and he marched toward a mountain called Mount Moriah. And they took note of the fact that God said to Abram, "take now your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to a place where you will sacrifice him."
I have noted on several occasions the very first time the word love is used in all of the Bible, it is in that passage, Genesis 22. And it's the love of a father for his son, his only son, as God calls it, even though Abraham had two boys. God regarded one, unique, only begotten son. "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love."
The first time love is used, it's the love of a father for his son as he goes to sacrifice him on a mountain. And the early church leaders noted that parallel. And well they should because you know the story. Abraham was stopped from plunging the knife.
And the revelation came to Abraham, the Lord will provide Himself a sacrifice. In the mountain of the Lord, it shall be seen. That was a prophecy. The Lord will provide Himself a sacrifice. That's what we're seeing happen in this chapter. The Lord is providing Himself a sacrifice. He's providing a sacrifice for Himself in the Lord Jesus Christ.
But because we know Jesus to be God in human flesh, God is providing Himself as the sacrifice. It is God incarnate. He is the sacrifice. God will provide Himself the sacrifice.
And then that phrase, "in the mountain of the Lord it shall be seen." It's interesting. And those leaders noted it, and so should we. That on the very mountain where Isaac was almost sacrificed, Jesus Christ, years later, was sacrificed, same mountain, same hill.
What mountain was that? Mount Moriah, also called Mount Zion later on. Mount Mariah was settled in the time of David in just a little outcropping of rock known as the City of David. It was a Jebusite city.
If I could stand at the City of David with you now, I would point to the north because we would see the hill rising to the north. And to the north of us, as the mountain rises, you would see a flat area with a mosque on it, today. But 2,000 years ago, you would have seen a temple on it.
That's the Temple Mount-- 35 acres and that stone pavement still exists-- the Temple Mount. And so you can see the mountain rising to the north. And if I were to take you on top of that Temple Mount and pointed north, you would see the mountain still rising.
So down at the City of David and down at the Temple Mount, we're not yet on the peak of the mountain yet. The peak of the mountain is just to the north at a place the Hebrews called Golgotha, the place of the skull. It's the very pinnacle of Mount Moriah.
So in Abraham's time, there was no temple. There was no City of David. He would have gone to Mount Moriah. And he would have looked at the very top of the mountain and would have moved his son toward the top of the mountain to kill him as a sacrifice to the Lord. The Lord stopped him but said, "in the mountain of the Lord it shall be seen."
The lambs were sacrificed down in the temple area, but the Lamb was slain on the top, on Golgotha. All of that comes into play here. All of that comes into play here. And the fact that the early church made that parallel, they took comfort in the fact that this was all planned.
The cross was never an oops or uh-oh moment for God. It was not like, "oh no. What do I do now?" God never says oops. Aren't you glad that in running the universe God never on any day goes, "uh-oh. Bummer. What do I do now?" Everything is planned.
And Jesus knew this was His hour. He has been through the trials of the Sanhedrin, including Caiaphas and Annas. And now He stands before Pontius Pilate who has already delivered the verdict, not guilty, not guilty. But the crowd wants blood. They're not satisfied. They've made false charges against Him. But they can't substantiate them.
Pilate, being a governor and a judge, needs evidence. He needs a crime committed. And so the trial continues in verse 1 of chapter 19. "And so then Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him." To scourge means to whip. The Romans had a very precise way of meting out punishment on criminals.
And one of the ways that they punished a criminal were three different forms of a scourging. Now a scourge was a whip made out of leather strings, or leather thongs, a wooden handle, and attached to the leather were little jagged metal balls and pieces of sheep bone.
On either side of the victim, who would be tied to a pillar so that his back was tight, his skin was tight, the two men who were called lictors would take a weapon each-- each one would have a whip-- and they would strike diagonal blows on the victim. That's the scourging. But as I mentioned, there were three levels of scourging.
The most mild form of scourging was called, in Latin, the fustigatio. It was a way of saying, we know what you've done. We're going to let you off the hook. But we're going to rough you up a little bit before we let you go. That was the fustigatio. That's level one.
Level two was called the flagellatio. Now this was for more serious crimes. And it was a brutal punishment. But there was a third. And this is the one Jesus underwent. Because the third, called the verberatio in Latin, was reserved for capital crimes. It was always associated with capital punishment. It was always associated with a crucifixion.
A prisoner would go through this beating of 40 strikes of the whip, minus one, 39 lashes. One is taken away as an act of mercy. And the purpose of it was twofold, to weaken the victim so that his death wouldn't last very long. Death by crucifixion could sometimes last four days. So to weaken, to almost kill-- and in some cases it did kill the victim. But to weaken the victim sufficiently, enormous amount of bloodletting took place.
And number two, to get a confession. So those who had the whip would whip and first they would say "confess" in the Latin language, then they would bring down the whip. And then the other would say "confess" and bring down the whip. Now the idea is, eventually, if you've done a crime, you spit it out. You confess your crime. And at that point, they'll ease up on the beating before they kill you. But it was to elicit a confession.
Jesus was not guilty. There was no confession. So He took every one of those stripes. Now the stripes, the beating, was quite brutal. In Church history, there is a man by the name of Eusebius who wrote a book called Ecclesiastical History. And he says that the Roman scourging would expose the deep veins and arteries in the back.
And sometimes the viscera-- the organs and the trails-- were exposed to sight. So it would leave the back in ribbons of bleeding flesh and then pull apart the muscle down to the organs, themselves, sometimes. That's why I say many did not survive it. So when you read that He was scourged, this is what Jesus went through, this brutal beating.
"And the soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and put it on His head. And they put on Him a purple robe." This is a military robe. There were many in the Antonia Fortress. One of the soldiers took another soldier's or perhaps His own robe and put it on Him.
This will add to the suffering of Jesus later on. Because as the robe is put on Him and the blood soaks through the robe and begins to coagulate, by the time He gets to the place of crucifixion, and they rip the robe off of Him, it'll open up those wounds afresh.
Now a crown of thorns is put upon His head. Now thorns, I think, are significant. They're emblematic of the curse. After Adam sinned in the garden, God pronounced a curse. He said, "cursed is the ground for your sake. Thorns and thistles they will bring forth."
So this emblem of the curse put on the one who came to eradicate the curse-- the one who would one day take away the curse of the earth all together as we all live in a millennial kingdom, a paradise on earth-- is now taking the punishment for the curse brought upon mankind by sin.
And verse 3, "then they said, 'hail, King of the Jews.' And they struck Him with their hands." There was a game, a very cruel Roman game played by the soldiers. Keep in mind, Roman soldiers were bored. They gathered in Jerusalem at the Antonia Fortress just to put down any riot that might start. So they just sort of sat around all day waiting for action. And if no action came their way, they would create a little.
So whenever they got a prisoner, they would take their aggressions out, their boredom out, on a prisoner. And one of the games was called hot hand. They would blindfold a prisoner. And they would take turns punching in the face that prisoner, and then telling the prisoner to guess which soldier it was that struck the blow.
Now why this was unusually cruel is because if I were to throw a jab at your face-- and trust me I won't do that, unless you really bother me. No, I'm just kidding. I won't do it. But if I were to do that, you would have the advantage of sight. You'd be able to duck, move your body with it and lessen the impact.
But when you're blindfolded and you get struck, you get cold-cocked without being able to see it, you will take the full brunt of that impact. So they struck Him with their hand. They played that cruel game.
"Pilate, then, went out again and said to them, 'behold, I am bringing Him out to you, that you may know that I find no fault in Him'." The second time we read-- and there are many times, if you put Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John together-- there were several times that Pilate was trying to get Jesus off. He knew He was innocent. He has come to a verdict, not guilty. After the scourging it's like, "OK, let this man go. I find no fault in Him. I'm the judge here. You brought Him to me. He's clear."
"Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them, 'behold, the man'." It's a very famous phrase. You've read it. You've heard it-- in Latin, ecce homo, behold, the man. There's an arch in Jerusalem called the Ecce Homo Arch that is believed to be the spot, the area of the Antonia Fortress, where Pilate brought Jesus out and said these words.
When Pilate said, "behold, the man," this is a cry of pity, like, "look at this poor creature." I believe Pilate, trying to appeal to their compassion, said, "look at Him." Isaiah predicted this. Isaiah said that He will be beaten with stripes, for by His stripes we are healed. His visage, His face, Isaiah said, is marred more than any other man, and His form more than the sons of man. "Behold, the man."
"Therefore when the chief priests and the officers saw Him, they cried out saying, 'crucify Him. Crucify Him.' Pilate said to them, 'you take Him and crucify Him, for I find no fault'." Third time Pilate has declared by his own lips not guilty.
"The Jews answered him, 'we have a law. And according to our law, He ought to die because He made Himself the Son of God'." Now they're showing their hand. Now they're revealing their true motive. They made up charges. And they tried to get Jesus killed based on those false charges.
They said, "he's an insurrectionist. He commands us to avoid paying taxes to Caesar." Those charges didn't stick because they were false charges. There was no evidence of that. Even bringing in false witnesses didn't stick. So now, they're revealing their true motive. We want to kill Him because He is a blasphemer. He claims that He is deity. He claims to be God.
Leviticus 24 is the reference. When they say we have a law and our law commands that He die, Leviticus 24 says, "if there's somebody among you that blasphemes, you are to take him, throw him down, and stone him to death." That was their law.
The problem was the Jews had no right to execute anyone. The Romans took that right away. Capital punishment was removed. Only the Romans could lay down the law. So they bring Him to Pilate. They want a guilty verdict. But there's nothing in Roman law that would implicate Him.
So they say, "'we have a law. And according to our law, He must die because He made Himself the Son of God'." Now I want you to think of that phrase, Son of God, for a moment. I want you to think of it because you may meet someone who will say to you, Jesus never claimed to be God. He only claimed to be the Son of God.
The term the Son of God is a term of deity, an expression of being God. I have a son. He has my DNA. We're two separate beings. But as my son, he is a man like I am a man. The son of a man is a man. The son of a dog is a dog. The son of a shark is a shark, same DNA, two separate entities but same substance. The Son of God is God. It's a term of deity used in the Old Testament and applied to Jesus Christ.
And they wouldn't kill somebody who says, I'm a child of God. Like everybody else, I'm a child of God. You don't get killed for that. That's not a capital crime. The reason the Jews wanted to kill Him is because He claimed to be equal with God. We read that in the Gospel of John. We have noted on several occasions.
Jesus said to them on one occasion-- they tried to pick up stones to kill Him. "I've done many good works. Which good work do you want to stone me for?" And they said, "not for a good work, but because you, being a man, are making yourself out to be God." And they said, "that's blasphemy. You claim to be deity." So now they're just cutting down to the core and they're saying, "look, according to our law, He needs to die because of blasphemy. He makes Himself the Son of God."
Now notice what happens next. "Therefore, when Pilate heard that saying, he was more afraid." Pilate immediately thinks, "uh oh. He's what?" They keep using that term, Son of God.
Pilate, being a Roman, had a Roman worldview. The Roman worldview is very superstitious. They believe that a person may be a representative of a divine being. And if you mess with that person, they might bring damage on you. They might kill you. They might hurt you.
Well Pilate just had Jesus beaten up. "Uh, you called Him what? And I just did what?" Not only that, but Pilate's wife-- remember had that dream-- said, "have nothing to do with that righteous man." "Uh oh, he's the what? Son of God?" "Therefore, when Pilate heard that saying, he was more afraid."
We don't have time to look back, but in Matthew's gospel, the Gospel of Matthew, it says, "Pilate marveled at Him." Marveled at Him. The word is thaumazo in the Greek. It means to be shaken and astonished-- shaken and astonished. He marveled at Him.
Now watch this. "And went again into the Praetorian and said to Jesus, 'where are you from?'" Now remember, in our last chapter, Jesus said, "my kingdom is not of this world." And then He said, "I came into this world for that purpose as a King." So He has already said and intimated that He comes from another realm and that He is a King but not of this world, but from a heavenly realm.
So now Pilate just comes and point blank says, "where are you from?" "But Jesus gave him no answer. Then Pilate said to Him--" Oh you could just see him raising his eyebrow, "'are you not speaking to me? Do you not know that I have power to crucify you and power to release you?'"
Now at this saying, Jesus is going to pipe up. Now Jesus is going to speak. Pilate has appealed to authority. "Don't you know who I am? I have power. I have authority. I can give you the death sentence. Don't you realize who I am?" "Jesus answered, 'you could have no power at all against me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore, the one who delivered me to you has greater sin'."
Now something struck me as I was reading this verse. Jesus said, "you would have no power at all unless it was given to you from above." Do you believe that leaders, good or bad, are put in their position by God? I hope you do.
If you believe Romans chapter 13, you may not like the judge who hands you the sentence, or the police officer who writes you the ticket, or the president who is in the White House, but nobody has the right, as a Christian, to ever say, well, that's not my judge, or that's not my governor, or that's not my president. Because that person, whether it's the current president, or the former president, or the president last generation, is put in that position by God.
And so Paul's point in Romans 13 is give honor to whom honor is due. Pray for them. Honor them. Because if you don't, you're dishonoring God in heaven. It leaves the Christian with absolutely no option except to honor those in authority, whether you agree or not, whether you voted for that person or not.
Here is Pontius Pilate, a cruel dictator as a governor. And Jesus acknowledges him. You have power. But you've been put in power for this season by God. "From then on, Pilate sought to release Him." See, Pilate knows He's innocent. "But the Jews cried out saying, 'if you let this man go, you are not Caesar's friend. Whoever makes himself a King speaks against Caesar'."
Now these guys hate Caesar. They hate him with a passion. They hate the Roman government. But all of a sudden they get suddenly patriotic. Suddenly, they're all worried about Caesar and being buddies with Caesar. "When Pilate, therefore, heard that saying, he brought Jesus out and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha."
That saying really bothered him. And you need to know why. Shall we say Pilate was on thin ice with the Emperor in Rome. That was Tiberius Caesar. Let me tell you why. Pontius Pilate had been the governor of Judea for five years, so far, at this point. He had made mistakes. He had made three very bad mistakes. But this isn't baseball, so he's not out yet. But he's on thin ice.
Strike number one came when Pontius Pilate was first placed in that position. And he came into Jerusalem with the banners, the ensigns of the Roman army. Those were those tall vertical poles. And on top of the poles, on top of the banner, on top of the standard, was a little bust of Caesar because Caesar was worshiped as deity.
So on top of those little poles is this little bust of Caesar. On all the soldiers poles had them. Well you know in Judaism, it's against Jewish law to have an image of any kind, of any kind-- anything in heaven or on earth. Second commandment says, "I want no images."
They took it very seriously. Because there's images in Jerusalem, they rebelled. How'd they rebel? They went to Caesarea by the sea, which is where Pilate's headquarters were, and said, "we demand you take those little busts away, those poles out-- no images in Jerusalem."
Pilate responded by herding them all in the amphitheater in Caesarea and said, "now my soldiers are going to come by and cut your heads off unless you stop your protest." What happened next, Pilate was not ready for. The Jewish leaders fell to the ground, pulled their shirts down, and bared their neck to the Roman sword and said, "please, cut here, along this line. We would rather die than break our law."
Well at that point, Pilate knew he lost. He had never seen people willing to die for such a law. So he recanted. He thought this would be a mess. He pulled back. And he pulled those ensigns out. That got all the way to Rome.
Second mistake, Pontius Pilate wanted to build an aqueduct to bring more water into Jerusalem because the sacrifices in the temple required a lot of water to wash away the blood. And they just needed more water in that city. It was a growing city. Well he didn't have the money in the coffers of Rome to pay for it. So by force, he invaded the temple and took from the temple treasury money to pay for the aqueduct.
People protested. Pilate sent soldiers in among the protesting crowd with swords and clubs hidden in their robe. And at the certain signal, he told his soldiers-- dressed like regular people-- to kill them. So several were murdered and the crowd was dispersed. That God back to Rome.
Third mistake, he brought tribute shields with an embossed image of Tiberius Caesar to the Antonia Fortress. These were just decorative shields. And they were only placed inside the Antonia Fortress where soldiers could see them, not the Jewish public.
But they found out about it. And they protested. And they complained and appealed to Caesar in Rome. Caesar, himself, said, "you take those shields out." So he's on thin ice.
So you can understand, now, the threat when they say, "whoever does this is not Caesar's friend." Uh oh. He knew what that meant. It was a veiled threat, or not so veiled. We're going to tell on you. We're going to tell mom on you, or daddy on you. Daddy Caesar's going to find out about this.
"When Pilate, therefore, heard that saying, he brought Jesus out and sat in the judgment in that place that is called the Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha. Now it was the preparation day of the Passover. And it was about the sixth hour.
And he said to the Jews, 'behold, your King.' But they cried out, 'away with Him. Away with Him. Crucify Him.' Pilate said, 'shall I crucify your King?' The chief priest answered--" Now this is going to seal it. The chief priest, who hated Caesar, answered, "'we have no King but Caesar'."
Again, suddenly they wax patriotic. Suddenly they love Caesar. And in rejecting Jesus as their King and saying, "we want Caesar as our King" you know what will happen? In just a few years from now, at Caesar's orders-- their King, Caesar, will order Titus in 70 AD to destroy the temple, destroy the city, and slaughter 1.5 million Jews. You really want Caesar as your King because that's what your King is going to do to you.
I do want to make note of something in this verse that you might just pass over. But I think it will help you in understanding the chronology of the New Testament and especially this crucifixion. It says in verse 14, "it was the preparation day of the Passover--" it was Friday-- "and it was about the sixth hour."
Now John is using Roman time, the reckoning of time by Rome. And according to Rome, the Romans began their day at midnight. So it was 6 AM. The sixth hour was 6:00 in the morning. The preparation day was the day that the lambs would be, in the afternoon, for a two hour period, slaughtered in the temple.
And it was that day that the Jews would eat the Passover in Jerusalem. They're going to go home and take that lamb that was slaughtered. And they're going to have a meal, the Passover meal. That's the preparation day.
And we read in the previous chapter that when they brought Jesus before Pontius Pilate, they didn't want to go into Pontius Pilate's headquarters lest they become-- remember the word-- defiled, so that they could eat the Passover. They hadn't eaten it yet. That's going to come later on that night.
The day of preparation, the lambs are going to be slain. They're going to take one home. They're going to eat the Passover that night. So now we have a bit of a problem because Jesus and his disciples the night before have eaten the Passover. So people will read this and they'll go, see there's a problem in the Bible, another one. There's this discrepancy. They're all over the place. And here's one.
And that's because they don't know their history. And so they just want to chalk it up to being a discrepancy, or a contradiction. It's not a contradiction at all. And let me explain to you why. In Galilee, the Galileans, the Northerners, began their day-- they looked at the day from sunrise to sunrise.
In Jerusalem, down south in Judea, the more Orthodox Jews reckoned time from sunset to sunset, which means Galileans-- this is according to Josephus, the Jewish historian, and the Jewish writings in the Mishnah, and a couple of other sources-- the Galileans, because of their reckoning of the day, would eat the Passover on one night and the next night the Judeans would eat it. Clears it up, doesn't it? Makes sense.
That also helped in Jerusalem with the volume problem. Remember, Josephus said 30 years after this Passover 256,000 lambs were slaughtered in the temple. That's hard to do in two hours. That's the period, that's the window they have to kill the lambs, two hours.
So if you can divide that up for all the northerners that come to Jerusalem to celebrate it by doing it in one shift on-- in this case-- Thursday and the next shift on Friday, you've mitigated the crowd problem. And you've solved the time problems for the Galileans and the Judeans.
So Jesus, being Galilean, with his disciples had already, in the upper room, celebrated Passover. The Jews, now, down south must still eat the Passover. It's their preparation day. So that means while Jesus is on the cross, the lambs in the temple are being slaughtered at Passover. Very significant, Jesus died on Passover. While the lambs were being slain, the Lamb was being slain on Golgotha. So I thought that was important to get the chronology.
So they shout out, "'we have no King but Caesar.' Then--" because of that statement-- "then he delivered Him to them to be crucified." Luke offers us a sentence that is not in the Gospel of John. It tells us what is going on in the mind and heart of Pilate. It says, "the voices of the people and the chief priests prevailed. And he said, 'crucify Him'."
Moved by the crowd-- crowd pressure has made people do more stupid things. Peer pressure-- everybody's doing it, man. You ought to do it. So the voices of the people prevail. He knew Jesus was innocent. He kept saying, "he's not guilty, not guilty, not guilty."
Finally, he gives up because they say we have no King but Caesar. And you're really going to tick Caesar off. And we're going to tell him. And so, "he delivered Him to them to be crucified. And so they took Jesus and led Him away. And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the place of a skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha."
Golgotha is Hebrew. The Greek name would have been kranion. If you've taken biology or medical studies you know that the bones of the skull are called the cranium. And that's from the Greek, kranion, the skull bones. That's the skull.
So Golgotha is Hebrew. Kranion is the Greek. The Latin equivalent of those two words is calvarium, calvarium, Place of the Skull. So Calvery of Albuquerque, Calvery is named after the place where Jesus died, the Place of the Skull.
That is because if you were to stand on the Damascus Gate-- let's just, for a minute, say that I could transport you all right now to the ramparts on top of the Damascus Gate. I would point to the north. Remember, from the City of David, I pointed to the north, to the Temple Mount, and then to the peak?
So now I'm standing with you toward the north at the Damascus Gate. And I'm showing you the rock that continues. And you would see it if you looked at it today. It looks like a skull in that hill, very plainly visible.
Now there's nothing in the Bible that says Jesus was crucified on a hill, even though the song says "on a hill far away." And we have all these songs and cards and paintings of Jesus dying on a hill. Most probably, Jesus died in front of that skull hill on ground level, at street level, off the main road toward Damascus because the Romans were into showing the population their gruesome punishments.
They wanted people to see this is what we do if you mess with us. And they crucified people on main roads. There are many stories of thousands of crosses lining the roadways in the Middle East. So the travelers would see crucified person after crucified person. So that people would realize, you know, I don't think I'm going to ever say anything bad about Rome.
So Jesus was probably placed in an open flat area on the other side of the gate of Damascus, main entrance to the city. And He was crucified there. If you go there today, you have to get on the Damascus Gate to look down to see the skull.
In the ancient times, you could just, at the road level, look right up and see it. Today it's hidden. And it's hidden by a bus station. An Arab bus station is there. On top of the hill is an Arab cemetery, a Muslim cemetery. You go there and it's busy and smelly and noisy.
But if you get back behind there, you can see it plainly, the Place of the Skull. And then next to this is a tomb, called the Garden Tomb. And that's where we take our groups every time we go. We take them to the Place of the Skull. Then we have communion right there at the tomb, called the Garden Tomb.
And so Jesus was taken to this place of execution "where they crucified Him and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center." Now that's significant. The person in the center was always regarded as the worst.
If there were five people or seven people, the one in the middle, or the ones in the middle, were considered the worst. If you've got three people on crosses, the one in the middle-- to put him in the middle is the place of disgrace.
But Isaiah the Prophet said, "He was numbered with the transgressors." They really did deserve crucifixion. On the cross one of them will say, "we are getting what we deserve. But this man is not deserving of death."
So Jesus is placed in that center position, the position of disgrace. And now Pilate wrote a title. And he put it there on the cross. And the writing was "Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews."
The Romans did not invent crucifixion. They did, however, perfect it. It was invented years before them by the Persians. It was a form of death intended to lift a person off the ground. And we are told that the reason Pilate got involved is because if the Jews had their way, they would kill by stoning, right?
The Jewish form, the Levitical form, is to throw a person down on the ground and stone the person on the ground. So they went to Pilate that it might be fulfilled what kind of death He would die, we are told. He's not going to be killed by being thrown to the ground, but being lifted up off the ground on a cross.
The Persians believed the earth was sacred. They were into Mother Earth. They worship their environment. They worship the earth. They worship the ground. And so they thought to kill a person on the ground is to defile him. If a person is worthy of capital punishment, we will lift that person off the ground. And they will die on a post, a pole, a tree, a stake, a vertical stake, sometimes just a single pole.
At other times there was a crossbeam called a patibulum. And that is the kind of cross Jesus died on. A patibulum was the crossbeam, as I mentioned. It weighed between 75 and 100 pounds. When we're told that Jesus carried the cross toward Golgotha, He only carried that part.
It's heavy enough. 75 to 100 pounds is a load on your shoulders, especially after you have sweat great drops of blood, after a crown of thorns is placed on your head, after you have been beaten to a pulp by Roman lictors. Now to have that patibulum put on-- is what Jesus carried.
The saying was, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." Notice what happens. "Many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city. And it was written in Hebrew, in Greek, and Latin." Why three languages? Because Jerusalem-- the Middle East for that matter-- but Jerusalem, especially, was very multilingual, multicultural.
You had Jews, Hebrews. And the language of religion is Hebrew. So it is written in Hebrew, the language of religion. Greek was the language of the world. It was the lingua franca of the world ever since Alexander the Great took over. Greek culture spread everywhere. Greek was the language of education and culture.
So you have the language of religion. You have the language of culture and education. Latin was the Roman language. It was the language of law and order-- three different languages. The idea is here is Jesus. He's for everyone. He's for all people, all ethnic backgrounds, all linguistic backgrounds, people of all the world. He's the Savior of all.
In three languages that was placed. "Therefore, the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, 'do not write "the King of the Jews," but, "he said, I am the King of the Jews"'." Now these guys have gall. They're pretty bold. Now they're being Pilate's editor. "Hey let me edit that sentence for you. Write, 'he said that'." And Pilate basically said, it's too late. "He answered, 'what I have written, I have written'."
Most people who were crucified stayed on a cross for days. I say the Romans perfected it-- back in 1968 they discovered the only archaeological evidence that we have of crucifixion from the time of Jesus. But it shows the skeletal remains of a man on a cross.
And they show him with his legs bent and off to one side with a little piece of wood so that he could sit on it and be placed in a position where he would have to pull up on the spikes in order to catch a breath. But it changes a little bit of the artist's depiction of showing Jesus standing there on a cross, when, actually, the way it was done-- and that's the archaeological evidence, the only piece that we have, the only description that we have-- is it was in a seated position.
It was intentionally done to delay death so maximum torture could take place for days. Until the person died, usually of asphyxiation. On that piece of evidence that I told you about, that archaeological dig, they show that the spikes, the nails, were large tapered spikes that went through the wrist.
All of this area was called-- in ancient times, this is the hand. So a lot of people go, Bible says it went through his hands, so it has to be here. If it was here, it would tear very easily. There's not enough to hold.
But here, you have a little bit of a hook. You have two bones called the radius and the ulna. And tightly wrapped with tendons, they form a hook. And a person can easily hang his weight and pull up on those spikes in order to take and let air out.
And so a person was beaten to weaken that person so that death wouldn't take so long. And in this case, the soldiers are going to go out and try to break the legs of those-- they will do it to those two on the side, but not to Jesus. Because they're going to discover that Jesus died earlier than they expected. He was already dead. He lasted on the cross only six hours.
Now that's horrible. That's long. The sins of the world were placed on Him. But in terms of the history of antiquity and crucifixion, six hours was short. And it says the soldiers marveled that Jesus was already dead. Why was he already dead? Well unfortunately, we don't have enough time to answer that question. But we will next time.
Father, when we pray, Lord, take us back, Lord, take me back, we have been taken back by John 2,000 years to that place that some would say is a place of shame. But for us, it's a place of victory. It's where the battle was won. It's where the battle cry was uttered, "it is finished."
And the work that Jesus did that day, in those six hours, from 9 o'clock in the morning to 3 o'clock in the afternoon, is done. It's enough. It's finished. It's completed. We can't add anything to it. We can't take anything from it. If a person looks to Jesus by faith, believes in Jesus by faith, confesses their sins by faith, because of that one act, that one work, it's enough.
We will live forever if we believe. So Lord, you've made a way. As shameful, as painful, as sorrowful as that day was, we look back to the cross with a sense of dignity. And we just say, thank you, Lord. Thank you, Jesus, for being numbered among the transgressors, for healing us with Your stripes, for taking our pain, our punishment, our sin, so that, as Paul said, we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Lord, Pilate marveled. We marvel. We are astonished that You love us, that You chose us. And no matter what happens between here and heaven, no matter what heartache we're going to go through, whatever pain we're going to experience, or are experiencing, we're going to go to heaven.
One day the pain is going to end and the glory begins, all because of that one obedient act. So we thank You, Jesus. And we give You glory. In the powerful, strong, mighty, wonderful name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.