John’s Gospel is unique in its record of Jesus’ death: John was an eye-witness!
“The King of the Jews” (19:16-22)
John takes us swiftly to the “Place of the Skull.” Crucifixion was the most cruel form of execution devised by man. But John focuses on the sign over the Lord’s head. Indicating the charges for which the condemned was crucified was common practice. In this way, those who witnessed the crucifixion would be warned as to which offenses the Romans took that seriously. The charge against Jesus was: “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”
This notice upset the Jewish religious leaders. They especially did not like the inference of Pilate’s words which implied that Jesus’ claim to be the “King of the Jews” was true. They wanted the notice to indicate only that Jesus claimed to be “King of the Jews,” . But Pilate had had enough of them for one day. His words would stand!
If God can speak through a dumb animal (i.e. Balaam’s donkey), he can speak through men who do not even believe in him. What Pilate wrote was true!
Loyalty and Lottery (19:23-27)
William Hendriksen says:
The clear implication of the passage … is this: Jesus bore for us the curse of nakedness in order to deliver us from it! (Gen. 3:9-11, 21; 2 Cor. 5:4; Rev. 7:12, 13. Surely if what Ham did to his father Noah is singled out for special mention because of its reprehensible character, what the soldiers did when they disrobed Jesus and then divided his garments among themselves, casting lots, should cause us to pause with horror.”
Hanging upon that cross, our Lord was almost naked as He bore our punishment for sin. After man first sinned, nakedness became shameful. Can we imagine the humiliation our Lord endured as He hung upon that cross, half-naked, with hundreds of people looking on?
For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me” (Psalm 22:16-17).
It Is Finished! (19:28-30)
Jesus knew that everything was completed. He was no helpless victim, powerless, and therefore subject to the whims of those who had arrested Him. Jesus notes that every prophetic detail has been fulfilled to this point and now he may proceed to complete the mission. So, the “wine” that Jesus refused at the outset of His crucifixion would have been mixed with a pain killer. Jesus refused this so that he could experience the “cup of God’s wrath” to the full (John 18:11). Jesus now accepts cheap wine which again fulfils Scripture:
My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death. (Psalm 22:15).
I am worn out calling for help;
my throat is parched.
My eyes fail,
looking for my God. (Psalm 69:3).
They put gall in my food
and gave me vinegar for my thirst. (Psalm 69:21).
Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. Not one of you shall go out the door of his house until morning. (Exodus 12:22).
Now, he can end his life triumphantly, with a cry: “It is completed.” Jesus declares that his work is completed, and then he gives up his Spirit. His life is not taken away from him; he voluntarily gives it up. Pilate will be surprised to hear that Jesus has died so soon (Mark 15:44). The timing of his death was indicative of his sovereignty over all things. Because Jesus died when He did, His legs would not be broken, thus fulfilling yet another prophecy.
The physical suffering of our Lord was but a small part of what he endured at Calvary. The great suffering which our Lord endured at Calvary was the spiritual suffering as he became sin for us and suffered in our place to save us from our sins. He suffered the eternal wrath of God. I am taken by this bit is speculation:
It is my opinion that God “turned out the lights” so that no one would be able to see the bulk of the spiritual suffering our Lord endured at the Father’s hand. Do you remember in the Book of Exodus, when Moses asked God to see His glory (Exodus 33:18)? God allowed Moses to see a portion of His glory, but not the totality of it. God covered Moses with his hand, so that he would not die beholding His unveiled glory. I wonder if God did not do something similar with the darkness, as our Lord suffered on the cross. Would men have survived if they beheld the wrath of God being poured out in full measure upon the Son? How good God is to keep us from knowing any more of the suffering of the Son than He has revealed, than He wants us to know.
The cross is reveals the truth. The cross is the measure of the magnitude of our sin. The cross is the measure of God’s hatred of sin. The cross is also the measure of God’s love and grace, poured out upon those whom He saves.