Then Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read,
“Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”
Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate,
“Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’ ”
“What I have written I have written.”
When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another,
“Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.”
This was to fulfil what the scripture says,
“They divided my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots.”
And that is what the soldiers did. Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother,
“Woman, here is your son.”
Then he said to the disciple,
“Here is your mother.”
And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.
After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfil the scripture),
“I am thirsty.”
A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said,
“It is finished.”
Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the Sabbath, especially because that Sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled,
“None of his bones shall be broken.”
And again another passage of scripture says,
“They will look on the one whom they have pierced.”
After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
Our passage for today occurs in the Lectionary on Good Friday and Holy Saturday. This means that many of us rarely consider it in depth through preaching; Good Friday services being much more likely to be reflective. John’s Gospel, especially in our passage, gives us particular details for specific reasons. Let’s have a look at some:
“ “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” … written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek.”
Not just the ‘charge’ that took Jesus to the cross – but in this gospel a significant truth about him. Written not only in the local language, but in the two main world languages of the day. Therefore, John’s Gospel points us to the importance of everyone being given the opportunity to know about Jesus as King in a language they understand.
“They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top.”
It seems that mothers may have made and given to their sons seamless garments when they left home; so maybe Mary made this garment for Jesus. However, in Exodus we read that the Priest’s robe was woven with a reinforced neck opening – a seamless robe. Therefore, in John’s Gospel, the seamless garment points to Jesus as priest.
“When Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said … “I am thirsty” A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth.”
The hyssop points us to Jesus as the Passover Lamb.
When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Jesus’ crucifixion took place on what we call Friday; the sixth day of the week. In the beginning – God completed the work of creation on the sixth day, and on the seventh/Sabbath He rested. In John’s Gospel “It is finished” points to Jesus completing the work of Salvation on the sixth day; and on the Sabbath – He rested.
“Nicodemus … came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds.”
This was no ordinary quantity of oils and spices for a burial. This was enough for a royal burial. John’s Gospel again points to Jesus as the King.
King Jesus, At your birth the Magi brought you symbols in gifts :
gold for kingship;
frankincense for priesthood and
myrrh for death.
John’s gospel shows us in your death signs of your kingship, your priesthood and your sacrifice. Thank you that you are our King.
Help us, in our words and actions, to proclaim that you are King, so that everyone can hear in language they can understand. Thank you that you are our Priest.
Help us to know that we don’t need anyone but you, Jesus, to offer our needs and worship to our Heavenly Father. Thank you that you are our Passover Lamb. Help us to remember that your death completed the work of salvation, setting us free to be your people. A gift for all people, of all times.
King Jesus – thank you. Amen.
The Rev’d Annette Haigh is a Minister within the Goyt and Etherow Pastorate in Derbyshire and Cheshire.