Day 46 (April 11), John 19:1-42
Context: Pilate tries at least two more times to release Jesus but to no avail. He appeals to Jesus in private and asks him why he refuses to answer. ‘Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or crucify you?’ he asks. Jesus replies, ‘You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above, therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.’ Another gospel records Pilate ‘washing his hands’ publicly before giving him over to the Jews for crucifixion with the complicity of the Roman soldiers. (The Jews were unable to execute the death penalty on their own under Roman rule). Jesus carries his cross to Golgotha, the place of the Skull. While on the cross he commissions John to care for his mother. Eventually, he breaths his last, gives up his spirit and says, ‘It is finished.’ His legs were not broken in keeping with OT prophecy, similarly with the casting of lots for his clothing. Two prominent Jewish leaders, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, help get his body prepared for burial and a garden tomb nearby (note the two possible sites for Calvary in the map below).
Observations: Why was Pilate unwilling to go against the tide of the Jewish leaders and people calling for Jesus’ crucifixion? Why did the Jews object to the sign that Pilate had placed on the cross? What does the interplay between Jesus and John regarding Mary tell you about both of them? Why did Jesus say ‘It is finished’ as his last words? Note v. 35 and the eyewitness, very personal, nature of it. What emotions were going through John at this time?
Application: What in this story brings you to worship? How can you express that worship today? Saturday is called the ‘in-between’ day … between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Why is that so difficult to live in? Is there something in your life that is unresolved and/or highly disappointing? How can the Easter story and reality of Jesus and his disciples help you through it?
Prayer: Lord, help me NEVER to take the Cross and the Crucifixion for granted or allow it to be relegated to some distant and impersonal story. Keep my spiritual eyes open to its reality, my mind open to its meaning and my heart tender to its significance in my own soul. Amen.