Sunday, April 03, 2022

“Here They Crucified Him” [Matt's Messages]

“Here They Crucified Him”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
April 3, 2022 :: John 19:17-30

“When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
On Which the Prince of Glory Died
My Richest Gain I Count But Loss
And Pour Contempt On All My Pride” 
(Isaac Watts, 1707)

The authors of the four gospels do not spend hardly any time on the sheer horror of the crucifixion.

They don’t describe it.
They don’t give the details.

I think that one of the reasons for that is that everybody in the Roman world knew what crucifixion was. You didn’t have to describe how awful it was. 

Everybody knew.

I think another reason is so that we don’t get fixated on the gore. We can sometimes take a perverse pleasure in picturing pain and miss the point. The gospel writers never miss the point.

But everybody knew.

All John has to say is what he says in verse 18, “Here they crucified him,” and everybody knew how unthinkably awful was what happened there to Jesus.

D.A. Carson describes it this way, “Here, in this public place where all could see him, the soldiers crucified [Jesus]. In the ancient world, this most terrible of punishments is always associated with shame and horror. It was so brutal that no Roman citizen could be crucified without the sanction of the Emperor. Stripped naked and beaten to pulpy weakness, the victim could hang in the hot sun for hours, even days. To breathe, it was necessary to push with the legs and pull with the arms to keep the chest cavity open and functioning. Terrible muscle spasm wracked the entire body; but since collapse meant asphyxiation, the strain went on and on” (PNTC, pg. 610).

That’s what was going on in verse 18. That’s what was happening to Jesus. And we saw it live and in person, we would probably puke.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tempted to not think about that. I’m tempted to turn my mind away to “nicer” things. But I believe that we should not look away. We should survey the wondrously awful Cross.

“See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down;
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?”

And there was so much going on when Jesus was crucified.

So much more than just a painful gasping and the agony of the nails.

The Apostle John, in reflecting back on those crucial hours, saw many things coming together around and through Jesus as He was crucified there.

I want to point out four of them that I’ve noted in verses 17 through 30.

As they crucified Him...


Jesus has lived His perfect life, and done His amazing miracles, and taught His kingdom teaching, and for all of that goodness He has been feared, hated, arrested,  flogged, judged, dragged from court to court, from Jewish court to Roman court, beaten, spat upon, mocked, yelled at, and scourged. 

And now He’s been made to carry His own cross. V.17

“Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). Here they crucified him, and with him two others–one on each side and Jesus in the middle.”

The part of Jesus’ Cross that He probably had to carry was the crossbeam. See here on the sculpture Josh has shared with us, his artwork, again this year, this part that goes horizontally. Often the vertical piece was permanently in the ground as a stake.

And the victim was made to carry His own crossbeam to the place of execution which was called Skull Hill (“Kranion” in Greek). “Golgotha” in Aramaic. Later “Kranion” or “Skull” would be translated into “Calvary” in Latin. That’s where we get that word.

This is the place outside of Jerusalem where Jesus died. “Here they crucified him.”

And, just as Isaiah predicted, He was “numbered with the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12). He was crucified in between two bad guys. Probably rebel insurrectionists, terrorist guerrilla fighters. 

Each of them, all three of them, nailed to their crosses and struggling to breathe and slowly dying.

It was a common practice to put up a placard either hanging around the neck or nailed above the head of the criminal being crucified with the charge inscribed on it–that which you were convicted of and being executed for.

This would be a deterrent for other criminals. “See what happens to you if you do this?!”

What was Jesus’ crime? Look at verse 19.

“Pilate [the Roman governor] had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Many 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.”

The language of the natives, the language of their overlords, and the trade language spoken by everybody. It was proclaimed in such a way that everybody who could read knew what it said, “JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

Oh boy, the Jewish leaders were not happy about that. They were happy He was dying. But they had pretty much manipulated the situation so that He would. Pilate didn’t want to execute Him, but he was weak and felt like his hands were tied. So he washed his hands and had Jesus crucified.

But he was going to do it his way. Verse 21.

“The 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.’ Pilate answered, ‘What I have written, I have written.’”

That doesn’t mean that he believed it. But it does mean was stubborn and wasn’t going to be manipulated any further. He was going to proclaim what he was going to proclaim. He probably thought it was ironic!

And it was ironic, just not in the way Pilate thought.
It was ironic because it was true.
It wasn’t just ironic; it was prophetic.

Pilate was unwittingly witnessing to the true identity of the “Prince of Glory.” He was (and IS!) the “King of the Jews.” And, more, the King of the whole world!

What is the right application of that except to bow?

To worship Jesus as King. He was being enthroned as King even as He was being crucified. He may be the strangest King there ever was, but He’s the greatest King there ever will be! And He was being proclaimed as King, universally proclaimed as King, even as they crucified Him there. Worship Him. 

“Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small (to give to Him):
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.”

And not just worship Him, but proclaim Him now, as well.

Tell somebody about Jesus in the next month. Do some evangelism. Be bold and share about your faith in your Lord. Tell somebody that Jesus is your King.

As they crucified Him...


I love how John could see how these people who were doing such evil things were unwittingly accomplishing God’s plans at the very same time. Look at verse 23.

“When the soldiers crucified Jesus [don’t forget what’s happening, don’t look away, when this four man execution squad crucified Jesus], they took his clothes [robe, belt, sandals, head-covering], 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. [It was a “tunic” like an undershirt that went from neck to knees. And woven like that, it was too valuable to cut into four pieces. V.24] ‘Let's not tear it,’ they said to one another. ‘Let's decide by lot who will get it.’”

“I’ll roll you for it. This guy won’t be needing it any longer.”

Don’t miss how awful this is. When this little game of chance was over, our Lord was hanging there exposed. But even in that shaming act, these soldiers were carrying out God’s plan.

The Apostle John saw in their gambling, God’s promises. His mind went back to Psalm 22, the one that begins, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” We read it together just about one year ago out in that parking lot right there in the drizzle.

The John says, “That’s Psalm 22, verse 18!” Look at v.24. John writes, “This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said, ‘They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.’

King David wrote that 1000 years before Jesus was born. It’s terrible, and it’s wonderful at the same time. Because it means that nothing can stop the promises of God, even the scariest of them. And that means that you and I can trust in the promises of God, even the sweetest and most unbelievable of them.

God can use all kinds of horrible things to effect His good plan for His children.

I mean, on a grander scale, that’s what was happening as Jesus was crucified, right? This was a terrible injustice. This Man hanging on the Cross. This shouldn’t have happened!

And yet it was also God’s plan being carried out. On the day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter told the gathering, “This man [Jesus] was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross” (Acts 2:23).

They should not have done that, but praise God they did. These soldiers should not have gambled for His clothes, but praise they did. V.24, “So this is what the soldiers did.”

Praise God that no matter how He does it, He always keeps His promises, Amen?

Let’s trust those promises! Do you know His promises? Do you know what He has promised to do? Nothing will stop Him from keeping them. In fact, He will use everything, even the bad things, to bring them to fruition.

Even these soldiers stealing his last earthly possessions. At this moment, He had nothing. No things. And He’s about to lose His family. Because He’s about to lose His life. V.25

“Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. [We’ll hear more from here when get to chapter 20. Right now, of the four women, Jesus focuses on His mom. V.26] When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”

Most Christians scholars believe that this disciple is John the Apostle and gospel-writer himself. He’s too humble to say his name, too bowled over to have been so beloved like this.

Jesus saw his mother who is about to have that sharp sword of grief pierce her soul (Luke 2:35), so He tenderly arranges an adoption for her. He provides for her and really for John, as well. Likely, Joseph has died and Jesus’ half brothers don’t believe in Him yet, so He puts these two together to watch out for each other.

Here’s what I am amazed at here:

That He’s thinking about them at all.

I don’t know about you, but if I were being crucified, I’d be thinking about being crucified. I would be full of terror and rage at what was happening to me.

But Jesus is full of love!

Even as they crucified Him...


His beloved mother, and His beloved disciple. And you know that He was caring for you and me, too.

I think it’s terrible that these women had to be there watching this monstrous thing happen.

Yet Jesus was in control. He was in charge even as He hung dying. He was making arrangements.

He was making arrangements! He was making arrangements for His loved-ones. Including arrangements for you and me.

Even as they crucified Him, Jesus was caring for His loved-ones.


I love how John knows that Jesus knows exactly what He’s doing.

Pilate didn’t realize what he was doing.
The Jews didn’t realize what they were doing.
The soldiers didn’t realize what they were doing.

But Jesus knew exactly what He was doing. Look at verse 28.

“Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.’ [He knows exactly what He’s about. He’s fulfilling Scripture on purpose. Psalm 22 also says “My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth...” Psalm 69:21 which we also look at a year ago sings, “They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.” Jesus is doing this on purpose. He’s genuinely thirsty because they’re crucifying Him here, but He says this now to make sure that we understand that He’s fulfilling Psalm 22 and Psalm 69. And so are the soldiers once again. V.29] A jar of wine vinegar [cheap sour wine] 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.”

He knows that this moment has come. The completion moment, when He’s bringing everything together. 

And now His mouth is moistened so that He yell out with a loud cry. V.30 “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”

In Greek, it’s just one word, “Tetelestai.” It takes three in English to say it, “It is finished.”

He’s not saying, “I am finished” as in “I’m a goner” or “I have lost.”

He’s saying that His mission is accomplished.
He’s saying that He’s won the victory.
He’s saying that His suffering is over and Has accomplished its purpose.
He’s done what the Father sent Him to do.

Just a few hours earlier, He had prayed to His Father, “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do” (John 17:4).

And now that work is completely done. And so Jesus can lay down His life and give up his spirit.

He’s in control even of the moment of His death. With these words on His lips, “It is finished.”