After His trial Jesus was delivered to be crucified. He bore His own cross to Golgotha, the place here He would be crucified and there in between two other men, He was lifted up. (Verses 16-18). It was customary to have the condemned man’s crime written on a sign and carried for all to see as an added deterrent to wrong doing. So Pilate had a sign written for Jesus and attached it to the cross Jesus carried. Verses 19-22 read,
“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. 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.”
The exchange between Pilate and the Jews showed what a childish pathetic man Pilate was. The weak governor could finally stand up to the council since he had given them what they wanted and they could no longer threaten his job. But in his insistence for his own way, every person who would witness the gruesome crucifixion would see, not what Jesus was accused of, but a declaration of who He is. They would bear witness to the crucifixion of the King of the Jews, the King of kings, their Messiah. Pilate, like Caiaphas while working for Satan, was used by God to bring about His will and His glory.
Even the hardened Roman soldiers, many who seemed a bit sadistic and who took a sick pleasure in the grisly events were used by God. Verses 23-24 say,
“When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, 24 so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says,
“They divided my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.”
So the soldiers did these things,”
It was Passover, and many of the Jews witnessing the crucifixion had already eaten their Seder. During the meal there are many scriptures which are read. One of those is Psalm 22. The first line of that Psalm is “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The gospels of Matthew and Mark both recorded Jesus cry from the cross. “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). Immediately Jesus words would have brought the Psalm to mind. Right away they would recall phrases such as verse 14, “I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;” And verses 16-18,
“For dogs encompass me;
a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and fee]--
17 I can count all my bones--
they stare and gloat over me;
18 they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.”
Even on the cross, Jesus was telling them who He was and giving them a chance to believe in Him.
Jesus was giving away His life on the cross which has been recorded as an incredibly horrible and painful way to die. Yet He still cared about people. He looked at His loved ones among the crowd and saw His mother, His aunt, Mary Magdalene, another Mary, and John. He didn’t think of Himself, He thought of His mother. From the cross through His agony He told John to treat His mother Mary as his own mother and told Mary to look at John as a son. Even in through suffering Jesus glorified the Father and carried out His will that we care for widows and orphans and that we love one another. He formed the community and family of the church as is final act before dying.
Verses 28-29 read,
“After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth.”
When the soldiers gave Jesus the sour wine they fulfilled the scripture of Psalm 69:21,
“They gave me poison for food,
and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.”
The soldiers didn’t know the scripture, they were enjoying their torture. They didn’t care who Jesus was to the people or themselves, but in their cruelty they continue to serve God’s will. They used a hyssop branch to give Jesus the wine. The same type of branch used to sprinkle sacrificial blood and cleanse and purify in sacramental rites as well as the branch that was used in the first Passover to put blood on the doors of the homes of the people who would be saved from death.
Now that Jesus earthly ministry was done, He could complete it. Verse 30 reads,
“When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”
Jesus declared His ministry and God’s plan finished. God’s plan of course continues but Jesus giving up His life as the perfect lamb was the core of it. Jesus gave up His life. No one took it. He bowed His head in submission to the Father and gave up His spirit, His life’s breath. He was an example for us to follow. We are too submit to the Father and give our lives to Jesus. He did after all pay a hefty price. Matthew 10:39-39 reads,
“And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says,
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
Jesus willingly gave up His life so that you could know God and have salvation. Even through His crucifixion He told people He was Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. God made it clear that He was the Messiah. He called people to Him even at that terrible time. He used people who wanted to be used, like John. And He used people who thought they were working against Him like Pilate and the soldiers. He used them all for His glory and for your good.
Jesus paid for your salvation with His life. God loves you so much that He gave up His Son just for you. Pay attention to the call and give your life to the One who created you and paid for you.