New Defender's Study Bible Notes
19:1 scourged him. The Roman scourge, customarily used on criminals prior to crucifixion, was a whip with several thongs, each with several pieces of bone or metal attached, and its use inflicted extremely painful stripes. Pilate at first hoped to satisfy the accusers with the scourging of Jesus (Luke 23:22), but they insisted on His execution. In so doing, however, they were merely fulfilling prophecy: “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
19:3 King of the Jews. Jesus had never claimed such a title, and Pilate had tried without success to get Him to acknowledge it (John 18:33). Perhaps, however, Pilate gave him this title in a sarcastic put-down of the hated Jewish leaders in front of the multitude (John 18:39), and then the soldiers also mocked Jesus with it. The title would finally be nailed to the cross (John 19:19).
19:4 forth to you. Scourging was sometimes used to extract a confession from a criminal, but Jesus still did not acknowledge that He had assumed the role of King of the Jews, so Pilate again judged Him guiltless and tried to persuade the crowd that he should release Him. But they chose the murderer and seditionist Barabbas instead.
19:5 Behold the man. Pilate, evidently trying to show the crowd that Jesus was a pitiable shell rather than a king (thus demonstrating the absurdity of their charge), urged them to behold Him in this forlorn state and ridiculous caricature of kingly apparel, thinking thereby to displace their hatred with pity. But when he said, sarcastically, no doubt, “Behold the man,” he was unwittingly using prophetic language. Through the prophet Isaiah, God had said concerning the coming Messiah, “Behold your God!” and “Behold my Servant” (Isaiah 40:9; 42:1). Through the prophet Zechariah, God said concerning Him, “Behold the Man” and “Behold, thy King” (Zechariah 6:12; 9:9). Note how these four scenes we are urged to behold correspond to the respective pictures of Christ in the four gospels—“King” in Matthew, “Servant” in Mark, “Man” in Luke, “God” in John. Pilate sarcastically used two of these titles: “Behold the Man” in John 19:5, and “Behold your King” in John 19:14.
19:6 no fault. For the third time, Pilate insisted there was no fault in Jesus (also John 18:38; 19:4), but the Jews were determined to see Him crucified.
19:8 more afraid. The Romans were pagan polytheists and had many tales about the “gods” appearing as men. Pilate had been awed by the demeanor of Jesus under questioning and persecution, and when he heard about Jesus’ claims to deity, he became fearful that this might be such a case.
19:11 greater sin. This assessment confirms the fact that there are differing degrees of guilt, and therefore degrees of future punishment. Judas committed a greater sin than Pilate because he had much greater light than Pilate.
19:12 not Caesar’s friend. Pilate desperately wanted to release Jesus because of his superstitious fear of what the gods might do if he executed one of their own. His immediate fear of what Caesar would do to him in the present world, however, soon outweighed his fear of any future world.
19:16 delivered he him. Pilate thought he was the one who “delivered” Jesus to be crucified. The fact is, however, that He, “being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain” (Acts 2:23).
19:17 skull. “Skull” in the Greek is kranion and in the Latin Golgotha or Calvary. The small eighteen-foot hill recognized as “Mount Calvary” in modern Jerusalem does, indeed, have a skull-like appearance.
19:22 What I have written. Pilate, tormented by his conscience, at this point decided the Jews had intimidated him far enough, refusing to change the title on the cross. As a partial response to what they had forced him to do, Pilate cast their charge back in their faces by officially declaring this pitiable figure dying on the cross was their king, in effect threatening that their nation would soon be like their dying king if they persisted in their malevolence against Rome and its representatives.
19:24 scripture might be fulfilled. These actions were in precise fulfillment of a very unlikely prophecy given a thousand years before (Psalm 22:18). It is one of the few events in the life of Christ recorded in all four gospels.
19:26 behold thy son. This brief conversation with John, then with His mother, constituted the “second word from the cross” (see Luke 23:34 for the first). Even in the midst of His own sufferings, He shared His mother’s sufferings (compare Luke 2:35). It is sad to note that His brothers were not present with their mother. Presumably they had remained in Galilee while Mary had decided to journey to Jerusalem with Jesus and the other women.
19:27 Behold thy mother. Jesus was providing here for His mother, not for John, as some have thought. John’s own mother was also there at the crucifixion (Matthew 27:56).
19:28 accomplished. The Greek word for “accomplished” (teleo) is the same as “finished” in John 19:30, and is very similar to that for “fulfilled” (teleloo). All three could well be translated “accomplished.”
19:28 fulfilled. There was only one Scripture yet to be “accomplished;” the word used here is not the customary word for “fulfilled.” The reference is to Psalm 69:21: “In my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.”
19:29 to his mouth. When Jesus was first being nailed to the cross, the soldiers offered to give him a drink of vinegar and gall (Matthew 27:34), and also a drink of wine and myrrh (Mark 15:23), each designed as a drug to alleviate the pain. He would not accept them, for it was His intention to drink the full cup of God’s wrath on sin (John 18:11) without mitigation. Now, however, it had been fully accomplished, and this one Scripture remained to be fulfilled. The thirst associated with crucifixion was very intense, and was a real part of His sufferings (note Luke 16:24), for it is part of the torment of Hades. In contrast, and as a result, He has made wonderful, eternal provision to relieve our thirst (e.g., John 7:37; Revelation 22:17).
19:30 It is finished. This is the great victory cry (Matthew 27:50) of the Lord Jesus Christ, for He had finished the work He had come to do (John 4:34; 17:4). Long ago He had finished the work of creation (Genesis 2:1-3; Hebrews 4:3); now He had finished the work of salvation! This is also the sixth of the seven “words from the cross.”
19:30 bowed his head. The words “bowed His head” are the same as “laid His head.” The first of the eighty times Jesus called Himself “the Son of man” was when he said, “The Son of man hath not where to lay His head” (Matthew 8:20). In the Old Testament (but see also Luke 24:5), the term “bow the head” is equivalent to “worship,” that is, to “bow down to the will of God” (see notes on Genesis 22:5). During His earthly ministry, we never read of Jesus worshiping God, though He taught others to do so. He had nowhere to “bow His head,” to “worship.” He had come to do the will of God and to finish His work, and that was still unfinished until He went to the cross. But now the work was accomplished; He had perfectly finished the will of God, so at last He could “bow His head.” He finally had a place to worship the Father.
19:34 blood and water. The gushing forth of a “fountain of blood” to wash our sins away (Revelation 1:5) is a natural metaphor drawn from this scene, but it is not clear how both blood and water could flow from such a wound. Some have suggested Jesus literally died of a broken heart, with the collapse of the ruptured heart cavity resulting in separation of the watery serum from the clotted blood in the pericardium. On the other hand, Jesus’ death was supernatural; He did not die naturally like others, but volitionally “gave up the ghost” (John 19:30; see note on Luke 23:46), so there may not be a natural explanation for this phenomenon. He had promised to provide “living water” to those who would “come unto me and drink” (John 4:10; 7:37), and the water flowing from His side would at least be symbolic of the “water of life” that would be eternally “proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Revelation 22:1). The blood and water flowing from His opened side thus would represent both the cleansing blood of the slain Lamb and the life-sustaining water from the smitten Rock (Exodus 17:6; I Corinthians 10:4); it might even speak of the opened side of the first Adam, from which God made his bride (Genesis 2:21-24). See also John’s application of the water and the blood in I John 5:6-8.
19:35 that ye might believe. John’s emphatic assertion here that he was recording what really happened was necessary both because of the unique nature of the phenomenon and also to emphasize that Jesus was really dead, thus anticipating the later skeptical attempt to explain the resurrection by supposing that He merely swooned and had not actually died.
19:36 scripture should be fulfilled. This volitional death of Jesus before His legs could be broken (John 19:31-33) was in fulfillment of the prophecy in Psalm 34:19-20. Also, Jesus was fulfilling the type of the sacrificial Passover lamb (I Corinthians 5:7), the bones of which were not to be broken (Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12).
19:37 another scripture. This terrible piercing of Jesus’ side fulfilled the prophecy in Zechariah 12:10. The wound marks were still visible in His resurrected body (John 20:27), and will be with Him forever (note Revelation 1:7).
19:38 secretly. On the account of Jesus’ burial, see also the notes on Matthew 27:57-60; Mark 15:42-46; and Luke 23:50-53. Joseph was a member of the Council which had condemned Jesus, though he did not consent to this (Luke 23:51). He had been a disciple of Jesus for some time, but “secretly.” This does not suggest cowardice, however, but strategy. In fact, the Greek word for “secretly” is krupto, from which we get our word “cryptic.” It actually means “under cover” or “in hiding.” It may well suggest that Joseph was hiding in the tomb he had built, watching the crucifixion, so that he would know exactly when Jesus died and could go immediately to Pilate, who was surprised to learn he was already dead.
19:39 Nicodemus. Nicodemus was also a member of the Council, and he too had defended Jesus (John 7:50-52). He must also have been waiting in the tomb, with all the spices and graveclothes. These could not have been procured on a sudden impulse, but must have been prepared earlier. Furthermore, Nicodemus was “a master of Israel” (John 3:10), and so must have been an elderly man; he could hardly have carried a hundred pounds very far. This all leads to the further inference that the two Counselors were friends; both had become “disciples” of Jesus, and so must have spent much time studying about Jesus and the Messianic promises in their Scriptures. It is possible that they had studied with John (see note on John 18:15) or even, from time to time, with Jesus Himself. The intriguing conversation with Jesus on the first occasion (John 3:1-21) surely stimulated Nicodemus to much further study, especially of such passages as Isaiah 53. There he and Joseph would learn (even if Jesus did not actually tell them) that He would be executed “with the wicked” but then be buried “with the rich” (Isaiah 53:9). Somehow, then, they decided that they were called to be the rich men who would provide proper burial for Him after He was put to death with the criminals. They also knew His death would be by crucifixion, since Nicodemus had been told that He must be “lifted up” like “the serpent in the wilderness” (John 3:14). They could only conclude that He would be crucified by the Romans on Golgotha, the regular hill where criminals were crucified. Joseph, therefore, had arranged to buy a tract nearby, where they could bury Him quickly when the time came. They also knew He would not be in the tomb very long, so there was no need to find a more serene location.
19:39 pound. This “pound” contained about twelve ounces.
19:40 bury. The manner of the Jews to bury was not like that of Egyptian mummies; the cloths were entwined lengthwise, and there was a separate cloth for the head.
19:41 never man yet laid. The area had been purchased and specially constructed by Joseph, including even a garden, evidently as a special act of devotion to Christ. Since his home was in Arimathaea, not Jerusalem, he would hardly have prepared such a place for himself or any members of his family, especially within sight and sound of dying criminals. The only reasonable inference is that he—possibly with Nicodemus—had prepared the tomb and the graveclothes well in advance of the time they would be needed, precisely for this very temporary but eternally significant ministry.
19:42 Jews preparation day. This was the day before the Sabbath, spent in “preparation” for this special Sabbath—the Sabbath of the Passover week. The Jews were scrupulous about allowing no work such as this on the Sabbath, so it was necessary for the two friends to finish the burial necessities to the extent they could before the sun went down. Thus, just as the Lord rested one day after finishing the work of His creation week, so He would also rest another full day after finishing His redemption work.