The Glory of the Cross | John 19

The Glory of the Cross of Christ

Today morning let us look at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ marks the faith of Christianity as definitely different and even unique. Crucifixion is the heart of the gospel message. The cross and the resurrection is the heart of Christianity. The Persians invented crucifixion and it was mastered by the Romans under whom Jesus was crucified.

John 19:13-36

13Then Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). 14It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon. “Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews. 15But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!” “Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked. “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered. 16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

The Crucifixion of Jesus

So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. 17Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). 18There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.

19Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: jesus of nazareth, the king of the jews. 20Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 21The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.” 22Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

23When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. 24“Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said, “They divided my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.” So this is what the soldiers did.

25Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” 27and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

The Death of Jesus

28Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

31Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. 32The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.

34Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. 36These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,”

You might think that it would be difficult to find any glory in the crucifixion of Jesus. However, John wants us to understand the glory of the cross.

Four Features of the Glory of the Cross

1. Scripture Fulfilled At The Cross

2. Sign Placed Over Jesus’ Head

3. Sympathy On The Cross

4. Supremacy Of Christ

1. Scripture Fulfilled At The Cross

People may think that Jesus was crucified by no will of His. However, when you read the scripture, we find that everything that happened to Jesus right from his birth until his death is the OT scripture being fulfilled.

a. Jesus Voluntarily Walked To The Cross

When Pilate handed Jesus over to the execution soldiers (usually 4 in number), Jesus went voluntarily. Typically, a person headed to crucifixion would fight and resist. They would be terrified. They would be taken to execution in the horrors of crucifixion. People had to be driven very often like some kind of wild animal. Not Jesus, He went voluntarily to the cross.

Jesus said in

John 10:17-18

17The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

Jesus went willingly to the cross. He just followed the soldiers. There was no hesitation on Jesus’ part.

Isaiah 53:7

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,

Jesus was led to the cross like Isaac to his sacrifice. Jesus was bearing His own cross.

John 19:17

Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull..

This is a kind of analogy to Isaac who was to be the sacrifice that Abraham would make for God. Isaac carried his own wood on own back. That too is a picture of Christ. But in the case of Christ, He carried His own wood to His own execution, and there was no substitute.

b. Division Of The Clothes Of Jesus

Psalm 22:18

They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.

c. The Thirst Of Jesus

John 19:28-29

28Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips.

Psalm 69:21

They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.

d. The Suffering Of Christ

The suffering of Jesus involved piercing, exhaustion, unnatural position of the body, stress on the heart, weakness, thirst, torture etc. All of that describes crucifixion. This was explained in psalm 22.

Psalm 22:14-18

14I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me. 15My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. 16Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet. 17All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me. 18They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.

e. Not One Of His Bones Will Be Broken

John 19:36

These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.”

f. They Will Look On The One They Have Pierced

John 19:47

and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”

Zechariah 12:10

…They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.

God was orchestrating everything. Every single thing on the cross was a familiar fulfillment or picture of something in the scripture. We saw the scripture fulfilled.

The fulfilment of scripture was not just in the crucifixion but right from the time Jesus was conceived, it was scripture that was fulfilled.

See one statement by Matthew during Jesus’ trial:

Matthew 26:56

But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.

So we see the glory of the cross in the scripture that was fulfilled on the cross.

2. Sign

The sign placed over Jesus’ head read: jesus of nazareth, the king of the jews.

Now it was customary when someone was to be crucified that they were paraded through town dragging their own instrument of execution, their own cross. In front of the person would be a man with a sign, a placard, that would identify the crime. This was to put fear in the hearts of all the people about violating any Roman law.

Jesus essentially was taken through the city. He went direct from judgment to execution. This violated Jewish law. There was supposed to be days in-between for new evidence to be heard. Incidentally, this also violated the Roman law. There were at least two days required between a judgment and an execution. It was Jesus who decided when he would be crucified.

In the process of taking Him out to the place of execution, a man with a sign was placed in front of Him. The sign itself brings glory to Christ. The sign is another glory of the cross.

John 19:19

Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the jews.

During the process of the trial, Pilate said six times, “I find no fault in this man.” He officially declared Him not guilty six separate times. Why is he doing this execution then? Because the Jews wanted Jesus to be crucified.

History says that earlier, on a number of occasions, Pilot did some radically foolish things which created riots in Jerusalem. Reports went back to Rome that he was less than competent as a leader representing Rome. He was afraid that one more big mistake, one more big riot with the Jews and he would lose his position, and maybe his own life.

The Jews threatened Him with that:

John 19:12

From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”

We’re going to report you to Caesar again. So Pilate is blackmailed to do what he knew was wrong. There was no crime. Pilate couldn’t put a crime on the sign, so instead he put on the sign as a mockery to the Jews, “Jesus of Nazarene, the King of the Jews,” and nailed it over His head on the cross.

a. The Sign Declared The Innocence Of Jesus

I don’t think Pilate was nearly as concerned about Jesus. But he had reached a point where he was so angry with them that he sought vengeance. In his vengeance he writes, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”

Now he knows that the Jews hate Jesus. They have screamed, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” This was all basically perpetrated by the chief religious leaders. This is his moment of vengeance.

They had even said:

John 19:15

“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.

They refused Jesus as their king, but Pilate is going to identify Him that way: “Jesus of Nazareth.” Why does he say that? Because Nazareth was an utterly unimportant, insignificant town above the Sea of Galilee. Early in the gospel of John:

John 1:45

“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.

So Pilate is mocking the Jews. This Jesus from absolutely nowhere, this weak man is your king? To add on to the insult Pilate wrote in triplicate, three languages: “King of the Jews.” Hebrew, the language of the Jews. Greek, the language of culture. Latin, the official Roman language. Those were the languages that Pilate chose so that everybody could read.

b. The Sign Declared Who Jesus Is

In his folly Pilate declares the absolute truth. Jesus is the King of the Jews. When He was born, the angel came and declared to His mother Mary that she would have a child who would be a king, who would reign on a throne and eternal kingdom. In His infancy wise men came from the east searching for Him as God’s King. In fact, on the same Monday, during the triumphal entry as Jesus came to Jerusalem, all the people were shouting, ‘Blessed is the King of Israel.’” So this sign declared who Jesus truly is.

So chief priests came to Pilate and they said, “Don’t let that sign stay there.”

John 19:21-22

.21The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.” 22Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

History does not record a crucified Savior with a list of crimes over His head. It records a crucified Savior with the truth over His head: King of the Jews. He is the King not only of Israel, but He will be the King of the entire world.

I think the sign played a role even that day. Maybe it was like an evangelistic tract to one of the thief on the cross when he said, “Lord, remember me when you come into Your kingdom.”

So when you look at the cross and you’re looking at glory of the cross, it is there in the fulfilled scripture. Secondly, the glory of the cross is in the sign, Jesus, king of the Jews.

3. Sympathy

John 19:26-27

26When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” 27and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

At the foot of the cross you have the crowd. There are the chief priests, the rulers, the Sanhedrin. You have the Roman authorities. There are the executioners, the Roman soldiers exercising crowd control, led by a centurion. But in sharp contrast to them, there’s a group of five standing very near the cross. There were four courageous women and one courageous man. There was just one disciple here. So for sometime during Jesus’ suffering, he was not alone He had 5 close people there, even though after sometime they move into obscurity.

The women are Mary, the mother of Jesus; Salome, the wife of Zebedee; Mary the wife of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene. Mary was a common name. By the way, Mary means “bitterness.”

This is the moment which was prophesied to Mary that a sword would go through her own soul. It was the agony of watching her Son die. He was pierced, and she was pierced as well. There’s no hysteria on her part. There’s no crying. She suffers in unbroken silence realizing this is the sword that was promised. The crowds are mocking. One thief is taunting. The soldiers are gambling. Her Son is bleeding and she is watching.

John 19:26

When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,”

Jesus’ focus is on His mother. She is a widow and now her Son is on the Cross. She needs someone to care for her. And so Jesus looks down at her and says, “Woman, here is your son!” and He’s directing her to the apostle John.

John 19:27

..and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

This is the heart of Jesus, sympathy even in the midst of the most horrible suffering.

Jesus has been sympathetic to the people right from the beginning of His ministry. He healed the people. He had compassion on people. See the final days of Jesus. On Thursday night, he washed the feet of the disciples. This is humble act of love usually reserved for the lowest servant. Jesus says to them

John 13:34-35

34“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”

Jesus’ Loving And Sympathetic Statements:

In chapter 14 His love and sympathy continues. They’re very troubled knowing that Jesus is going to die. Jesus said:

John 14:1

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. They are worried about Jesus’ death and going back to the Father.

John 14:16

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—

John 14:18

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

John 18:25-26

25“All this I have spoken while still with you. 26But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

John 18:27

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 18:28

I am going away and I am coming back to you.

This is just a massive expression of love. This is a sympathy that is literally beyond our ability to understand. In the scene of greatest hate, love dominates.

So we saw the glory of the cross in Scripture fulfilled. The glory of the cross was seen in the Sign on the cross. Finally, the glory of the cross was seen by Sympathy of Christ.

Conclusion:

After fulfilling the scripture and showing sympathy to his mother, Jesus died.

John 19:28-30

28Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

His blood became the ransom for our sins. If you truly see, Jesus was not only sympathetic about his mother, but he was sympathetic about the entire mankind who was in sin, separated from God and deserving the wrath of God. Today, he is primarily looking at your sins and willing to forgive you.

Will you come and stand at the feet of Jesus today? Are you willing to surrender your life to see the glory of the cross in your life?

Commit your life into God’s hand. He died for you. Appropriate it in your life. Wherever you are, with surrendered hearts let us look to him today.

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