John 19:17-22: Jesus was pronounced “NOT GUILTY” three times and yetwas crucified Part 4

The Crucifixion

So they took Jesus, 17 and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha.

Comment: After Pilate delivered Jesus to the Chief Priest and the Jews to be crucified, they wasted no time in executing the crucifixion. Since these crucifixions were performed outside the city, Jesus was also taken outside the city to the place of skull or Golgotha. John tells us here that Jesus bore His own cross. It is important to note this because Jesus said in Luke 9:23 and Mat 16:24 that whoever wants to follow Him, must bear his own cross. Jesus here leads by an example as He bears His own cross. This is also a fulfilment of what took place in Gen 22:6 when Isaac who was going to be offered as a sacrifice was made to carry the same wood that was going to be used to burn him. Jesus likewise carried His own cross.

18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them.

Comment: Like the bronze snake that Moses lifted up on a wooden pole in Numbers 21:9, and also as Jesus indicated in John 3:14-15, so was Jesus lifted up on a wooden cross and crucified. What is also important to note here is that Jesus was crucified among two criminals. Not only that, but Jesus was placed in the middle of the two criminals as if to say that He was the worst of them all. This was also to fulfil Isaiah 53:12 which indicated that He was going to be numbered among the transgressors. Putting Jesus in between the two criminals also gave Jesus the opportunity to demonstrate his saving power by saving one of the criminals at the very last minute Luke 23:40-43.

This is how John MacArthur in His ESV study bible notes describes crucifixion:

“Matthew 27:31 (MacArthur Study Bible Notes (ESV))

Crucifixion was a form of punishment that had been passed down to the Romans from the Persians, Phoenicians, and Carthaginians. Roman crucifixion was a lingering doom—by design. Roman executioners had perfected the art of slow torture while keeping the victim alive. Some victims even lingered until they were eaten alive by birds of prey or wild beasts. Most hung on the cross for days before dying of exhaustion, dehydration, traumatic fever, or—most likely—suffocation. When the legs would no longer support the weight of the body, the diaphragm was constricted in a way that made breathing impossible. That is why breaking the legs would hasten death (John 19:31–33), but this was unnecessary in Jesus’ case. The hands were usually nailed through the wrists, and the feet through the instep or the Achilles tendon (sometimes using one nail for both feet). None of these wounds would be fatal, but their pain would become unbearable as the hours dragged on. The most notable feature of crucifixion was the stigma of disgrace that was attached to it (Gal. 3:13 5:11; Heb. 12:2). One indignity was the humiliation of carrying one’s own cross, which might weigh as much as 200 pounds. Normally a quaternion, four soldiers, would escort the prisoner through the crowds to the place of crucifixion. A placard bearing the indictment would be hung around the person’s neck.”

In short, this was the most painful and humiliating way of dying.

19 Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek.

Comment: It was part of the custom of the day to have an inscription written and hanged either on a person or the cross, which clearly stated the reason why the person was crucified. In Jesus’s case, the inscription did not indicate any crime. It stated what even Pilate knew not to be a fact. Jesus was indeed the King of the Jews but not only the Jews but the world. This is why the inscription was written in three languages: Aramaic which was the language spoken and understood by many Jews, Latin which was the language understood by the Roman occupying force and lastly Greek which was an international language understood by Jews and Gentiles. Now since the crucifixion was near the city, everyone could see and read it. Pilate wrote a fact without knowing that he was and decided to write it in three well known languages so that all may know that indeed Jesus was and is a King. This clearly indicating that God was still in control.

21 So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”

Comment: Having threatened Pilate into allowing them to crucify Jesus against his will, Pilate found a way to mock the Jews by writing the inscription that Jesus was their king. He knew this would not go down well with them and he was right as the Chief Priest did come and complain but Pilate stood his ground.

Posted in John 19, The Gospel of John.

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