THE JOHANNINE PASSION
This passion story is very much a drama with people moving on and off the stage as we see in the trial. However the overall difference with this gospel from the others is that Christ is in absolute control. As we read this gospel, there are references to “my hour has not yet come” as in 7.30. when the authorities wanted to seize Him, but Jesus slipped away as “his hour has not yet come.”
In chapter ten when Jesus speaks of being the Good Shepherd, He also makes it clear none will take His life; He will lay it down when the hour comes.
Now the hour has come and He will be lifted up to draw all to Him and He will return to the Father whom He left temporarily. All through this gospel the reader has been aware of His pre-existence.
Therefore when His hour came for Jesus Satan has no control over Him, only over Judas and Peter. Yet even with Judas he cannot do anything until Jesus allows him.
THE READINGS FOR GOOD FRIDAY
The Sin-Bearing Servant 52
13 Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently;
He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high.
14 Just as many were astonished at you,
So His visage was marred more than any man,
And His form more than the sons of men;
15 So shall He sprinkle many nations.
Kings shall shut their mouths at Him;
For what had not been told them they shall see,
And what they had not heard they shall consider.
53 Who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
3 He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
4 Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment,
And who will declare His generation?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
9 And they made His grave with the wicked—
But with the rich at His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was any deceit in His mouth.
10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.
11 He shall see the labour of His soul,[b] and be satisfied.
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
For He shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
Because He poured out His soul unto death,
And He was numbered with the transgressors,
And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors.
This is the fourth passage referring to what is known as the Suffering Servant. In context the servant is the nation that has suffered through the hands of its captives. In the Old Testament there are many references to the Jewish people as God’s “servant”; see Jeremiah 30:10, 46:27-28; Psalms 136:22. There is no reason that the “servant” in Isaiah 53 would suddenly switch and refer to someone other than the Jewish people. When this is written it is at the end of the captivity in Babylon and is thus in the part of Isaiah known as The Book of Consolation. The Jews had been cut off from the land of their living and because of their transgression disasters had fallen upon them.
The first Christians saw “the man of sorrows” as the Christ in His passion.
In You, O LORD, I put my trust;
Let me never be ashamed;
Deliver me in Your righteousness.
2 Bow down Your ear to me,
Deliver me speedily;
Be my rock of refuge,
A fortress of defence to save me.
3 For You are my rock and my fortress;
Therefore, for Your name’s sake,
Lead me and guide me.
4 Pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me,
For You are my strength.
5 Into Your hand I commit my spirit;
You have redeemed me, O LORD God of truth.
6 I have hated those who regard useless idols;
But I trust in the LORD.
7 I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy,
For You have considered my trouble;
You have known my soul in adversities,
8 And have not shut me up into the hand of the enemy;
You have set my feet in a wide place.
9 Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am in trouble;
My eye wastes away with grief,
Yes, my soul and my body!
10 For my life is spent with grief,
And my years with sighing;
My strength fails because of my iniquity,
And my bones waste away.
11 I am a reproach among all my enemies,
But especially among my neighbours,
And am repulsive to my acquaintances;
Those who see me outside flee from me.
12 I am forgotten like a dead man, out of mind;
I am like a broken vessel.
13 For I hear the slander of many;
Fear is on every side;
While they take counsel together against me,
They scheme to take away my life.
14 But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD;
I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in Your hand;
Deliver me from the hand of my enemies,
And from those who persecute me.
16 Make Your face shine upon Your servant;
Save me for Your mercies’ sake.
17 Do not let me be ashamed, O LORD, for I have called upon You;
Let the wicked be ashamed;
Let them be silent in the grave.
18 Let the lying lips be put to silence,
Which speak insolent things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous.
It is primarily a psalm of lament with elements of thanksgiving and of trust. The lament is general but it begins with a statement of trust. “In thee O Lord, have I put my trust.” And a couple of verses later “For thou are my strong rock and my castle.” The first part also includes the verse we say each evening “Into thy hands O Lord I commend my spirit: for thou has redeemed me, O Lord, thou God of truth.”
In the second part, the psalmist pours out his grief to the Lord as he laments his years of grief. He has become a laughing stock by his neighbours who flee from him and left forgotten. Yet the danger of being overwhelmed by evil people is cushioned by belief in the goodness of the Lord and His wondrous kindness by the psalmist.
HEBREWS 4. 14-16, 5.7-9
14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. …
7 who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, 8 though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. 9 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, 10 called by God as High Priest “according to the order of Melchizedek,” of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.
The homilist is encouraging his listeners to believe there is not anything of which to be afraid. Has not Jesus ascended to heaven; he who was like us except for sin. So our High Priest will gladly intercede for us before the throne of heaven. Let us approach boldly.
After all whilst living amongst us He had offered up cries to be delivered from death but learnt obedience that led to His sufferings. Like Melchizedek the king of Salem and priest of the most High God as in Genesis 14, Psalm 110 makes it clear that Jesus is a priest after the order of Melchizedek. That is, Jesus who will intercede for ever for us.
Johannine Passion begins the night before.
Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet
13 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.
2 And supper being ended the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, 4 rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. 5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. 6 Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?”
7 Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.”
8 Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”
Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”
9 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”
10 Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, “You are not all clean.”
12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
The evangelist makes it clear that Passover begins the evening of Christ’s death and that when He dies is the time when lambs are being killed for the coming meal. When Jesus shares His last meal it is not the Passover. There are overtones from the Paschal meal such as when He dips the bread with the dipping of the bitter herbs into the haroseth sauce. There is no sharing the cup or breaking bread either. The highlight is the washing of the feet by Jesus.
Why does the evangelist decide to highlight this as the main event? Not even the menial servant had to perform this. As it was such a menial task, surely the evangelist is highlighting that Jesus, the I AM, is showing how the disciples must learn to be a servant to all after His death. Once again Peter does not understand. When Jesus explains if he will not allow Him to wash his feet, he can have no part in Him, Peter goes overboard. Eventually after the resurrection the penny will drop. What Jesus taught the disciples is what the evangelist wanted his community to practise and us too. When you do this you are doing for me and to me.
Jesus Identifies His Betrayer
18 “I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.’ 19 Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I am He. 20 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.”
21 When Jesus had said these things, He was troubled in spirit, and testified and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.” 22 Then the disciples looked at one another, perplexed about whom He spoke. …
25 Then, leaning back on Jesus’ breast, he said to Him, “Lord, who is it?”
26 Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it.” And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. 27 Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.” 28 But no one at the table knew for what reason He said this to him. 29 For some thought, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus had said to him, “Buy those things we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor.
30 Having received the piece of bread, he then went out immediately. And it was night.
Jesus shows that He is in command. He knows he is to be betrayed and who is the betrayer. Satan has already entered into Judas but he cannot act until Jesus gives him permission. When he does, he leaves in the darkness of night/
The beloved disciple
23 Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. 24 Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask who it was of whom He spoke.
One of the features in the passion/resurrection narrative is the juxtaposing of the beloved disciple with Peter. Peter always comes off second best. Who is the beloved disciple? He is the founder of the Johannine community and who taught them lovingly. It was this community who gave him the title of “the beloved disciple” and the evangelist/s is/are from this community. I think we are first introduced to him in the opening chapter when Andrew and another disciple stayed with Jesus. obviously loved Jesus and knew.
The New Commandment – Mandatum -
31 So, when he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. 32 If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him immediately. 33 Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come,’ so now I say to you. 34 A new I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
This commandment was the basic commitment of the Johannine community. Love God and each other.
Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial
36 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?”
Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward.”
37 Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for Your sake.”
38 Jesus answered him, “Will you lay down your life for My sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times.
Peter’s denial is in all gospel and there is not any new insight in this gospel. This tradition is very much embedded in the early traditions.
Then follows the discourses. It is probably that the original discourse that night is in chapter 14. The others have been added by the redactor. Look at the end of this chapter that says “let us arise” and the beginning of chapter 18. They set out to the Kidron valley.
The Way, the Truth, and the Life
14 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
The Father Revealed
7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”
8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”
9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.
The Answered Prayer
12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask[c] anything in My name, I will do it.
Jesus Promises Another Helper
15 “If you love Me, keep[d] My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
Indwelling of the Father and the Son
19 “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. 21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”
22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?”
23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24 He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.
The Gift of His Peace
25 “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. 28 You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said,[e] ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I.
29 “And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me. 31 But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go from here.
In this discourse, Jesus wants to comfort His disciples that He will always be with them for after He is gone the Paraclete will come and be their teacher, comforter and adviser. He bestows His peace, a peace different from the world's before He returns to the Father. Yet the disciples still do not understand Jesus’s teaching on His relation with the Father as seen in the questions of Philip and Thomas.
Betrayal and Arrest in Gethsemane
18 When Jesus had spoken these words, He went out with His disciples over the Brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which He and His disciples entered. 2 And Judas, who betrayed Him, also knew the place; for Jesus often met there with His disciples. 3 Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. 4 Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, “Whom are you seeking?”
5 They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.”
Jesus said to them, “I am He.” And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. 6 Now when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
7 Then He asked them again, “Whom are you seeking?”
And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.”
8 Jesus answered, “I have told you that I am He. Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way,” 9 that the saying might be fulfilled which He spoke, “Of those whom You gave Me I have lost none.”
10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.
11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?”
Jesus is waiting for Judas and the authorities and Roman soldiers to arrest Him. They come with lanterns, an ironical touch, as Judas has preferred darkness to light and thus the need of artificial light. Unlike the Synoptics that have Jesus falling to the ground in the garden, it is the other round here. When Jesus asks for whom they are seeking, they reply, Jesus. He responds, “I AM.” Hearing the sacred name the arresting party fall to the ground. Being in control from the beginning, Jesus orders them not to arrest any of His followers.
Before the High Priest
12 Then the detachment of troops and the captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound Him. 13 And they led Him away to Annas first, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas who was high priest that year. 14 Now it was Caiaphas who advised the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people. …
Jesus Questioned by the High Priest
19 The high priest then asked Jesus about His disciples and His doctrine.
20 Jesus answered him, “I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing. 21 Why do you ask Me? Ask those who have heard Me what I said to them. Indeed they know what I said.”
22 And when He had said these things, one of the officers who stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, “Do You answer the high priest like that?”
23 Jesus answered him, “If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why do you strike Me?”
24 Then Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
There is no trial as in Mark/Matthew but an interrogation before Annas to see if there is evidence for Jesus to be handed over for a Roman trial. Again Jesus is in control and it is Annas who is left with unanswered questions
Peter Denies Jesus
15 And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest. 16 But Peter stood at the door outside. Then the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to her who kept the door, and brought Peter in. 17 Then the servant girl who kept the door said to Peter, “You are not also one of this Man’s disciples, are you?”
He said, “I am not.”
18 Now the servants and officers who had made a fire of coals stood there, for it was cold, and they warmed themselves. And Peter stood with them and warmed himself.
‘’’Peter Denies Twice More
25 Now Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. Therefore they said to him, “You are not also one of His disciples, are you?”
He denied it and said, “I am not!”
26 One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of him whose ear Peter cut off, said, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” 27 Peter then denied again; and immediately a rooster crowed.
While Jesus is showing His innocence, Peter who has vowed to follow even unto death, is denying he knows Jesus. Peter is first recognised as the one who cut off the servant’s ear. Yet he denies. Actually Peter could only be admitted to the courtyard through the beloved disciple who knew the high priest.
In Pilate’s Court
28 Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium, and it was early morning. But they themselves did not go into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover. 29 Pilate then went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this Man?”
30 They answered and said to him, “If He were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him up to you.”
31 Then Pilate said to them, “You take Him and judge Him according to your law.”
Therefore the Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death,” 32 that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled which He spoke, signifying by what death He would die.
33 Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”
34 Jesus answered him, “Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?”
35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?”
36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”
37 Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?”
Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”
38 Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in Him at all.”
Taking the Place of Barabbas
39 “But you have a custom that I should release someone to you at the Passover. Do you therefore want me to release to you the King of the Jews?”
40 Then they all cried again, saying, “Not this Man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.
The Soldiers Mock Jesus
19 So then Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him. 2 And the soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe. 3 Then they said, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they struck Him with their hands.
4 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.”
5 Then Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them, “Behold the Man!”
6 Therefore, when the chief priests and 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 in Him.”
7 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.”
8 Therefore, when Pilate heard that saying, he was the more afraid, 9 and went again into the Praetorium, and said to Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus gave him no answer.
10 Then Pilate said to Him, “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?”
11 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 the greater sin.”
12 From then on Pilate sought to release Him, 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.”
13 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. 14 Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, “Behold
15 But they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!”
Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?”
The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!”
6 Then he delivered Him to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus and led Him away.
This is the evangelist’s masterpiece of drama. It is like a stage production with Pilate going outside to parley with the crowd and priests and then back inside to parley with Jesus. He does this four times, the last with Jesus dressed as a king. As Pilate moves from one stage to the next, he is like a chameleon, changing his view according to the parties. The two scenes differ. Outside there is constant noise and shouting and conniving whilst inside there is calm and penetrating dialogue. Unlike in Mark/Matthew where Jesus is mainly silent, here He is an eloquent spokesman as he replies to the different accusations brought against Him. So assured is the Johannine Jesus that it is Pilate who actually end up on trial. Will he speak the truth?
Jesus already knows His destiny, to be lifted up in order to draw all to Him. He does not fear death. But will Pilate betray what he knows is the truth – the innocence of Jesus, by allowing himself to be persuaded by those outside.
In the Johannine trial the scourging and mockery are placed in the centre of the Roman trial. It is not part of the sentence as in Mark/Matthew. Here it happens before Pilate takes Jesus out to the crowd still dressed in royal purple and wearing the crown of thorns. Pilate informs the crowd, Ecco homo and that he finds no fault in Him. The crowd’s response, that they have no king but Caesar, had had consequences ever since for the Jews. For Pilate it tipped the balance and he gave way to the chief priests and the crowd.
The King on a Cross
17 And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, 18 where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center. 19 Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was:
JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
20 Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.
21 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.”’”
22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”
23 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece. 24 They said therefore among themselves, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be,” that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says:
“They divided My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.”
Therefore the soldiers did these things. …
It Is Finished
28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” 29 Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. 30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.
Jesus’ Side Is Pierced
31 Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32 Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. 35 And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe. 36 For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, “Not one of His bones shall be broken.” 37 And again another Scripture says, “They shall look on Him whom they pierced.”
Pilate makes a royal proclamation when he has written that Jesus is the king of the Jews as it is written in three languages: Aramaic, Greek and Roman. It is clear that Christ dies at the moment when the paschal lambs are being sacrificed in the temple for the Passover meal. All through this Gospel the evangelist has had Christ replacing Jewish festivals. At the beginning of this gospel, the evangelist had the Baptist on our introduction to Jesus, called “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
Wine is placed on hyssop and offered to Jesus that recalls the sprinkling of blood on the door posts of the Hebrew children the night that Yahweh passed over in Egypt and did not kill their first born. This is another link to the Passover (Ex. 12.22)
The tunic is not divided in this gospel but lots are cast for this seamless garment. Perhaps it is a symbol of unity as Christ had prayed that All would be one just before His arrest.
When Jesus knew His Father He cries out “It is finished” and hands over His spirit, He does not give it up.
The other Johannine touch is the spear piercing Jesus’ side from whence came blood and water. Later Christians would interpret this as signifying the two main sacraments.
Behold Your Mother
25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” 27 Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.
Jesus does not die alone. People are with Him at the cross, not at a distance. Two are His mother and the beloved disciples who are entrusted to one another’s care as well as the faithful women. Many scholars think when Jesus handed over His spirit, it was given to these faithful who never abandoned Him. So in the Johannine sense Jesus’ work continued with these faithful ones. Pentecost on Easter Day.
Jesus Buried in Joseph’s Tomb
38 After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus. 39 And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. 40 Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury. 41 Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42 So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby.
Jesus is buried like a king with pounds of expensive ointments and spices in a new tomb in a garden, indicative of life and beauty.
The Johannine Christ is victorious. All has been achieved for the Father by living in obedience to His will. In this gospel, it is that obedience that led to Golgotha. Christ triumphs over all Satanic powers to enable us to live in the new creation – the eighth day of creation as the early Fathers called it. Death and sin have no more sting as Christs has told us that in Him we have the abundancy of life in this wonderful gospel. Love me and let my Spirit lead you in this new creation.