19. Crucifixion

Jesus is sentenced to be crucified (19:1-16).

Then Pilate gave orders to have Jesus severely whipped. The soldiers twisted some thorny branches into a crown and thrust it on his head. Draping a purple robe around his shoulders, they kept coming up to him as if he were royalty, mocking him, saying, "Hail! King of the Jews!" But then they would strike him in the face.

Once again Pilate went out before the crowd. "Listen!" he said, "I will have Jesus brought out to you, but I want you to know that I find no basis for a charge against him."

Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. "Look! Here is the man!" declared Pilate.

When the chief priests and their temple guards saw him, they yelled out, "Crucify him! Crucify him!"

"No," said Pilate, "you take him and crucify him! I find no basis for a charge against him."

The Jewish authorities answered back, "We have a law that carries the penalty of death and he broke it. He claimed to be the Son of God."

This gave Pilate yet another reason to be afraid. So he went back inside and said to Jesus, "Tell me, where did you come from?" Jesus gave him no answer.

"Why won't you answer my question?" said Pilate. "Don't you know that I have the authority to set you free or to crucify you?"

"If God had not given you the authority," answered Jesus, "you would not be able to do anything to me. So the one who handed me over to you is guilty of an even greater sin."

From then on Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish authorities kept shouting, "If you let this man go, you are no friend of the Emperor! Anyone who claims to be king is guilty of rebellion against the Emperor!"

When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out, and took his seat on the judge's bench. The place was called "The Stone Pavement'" or, in Aramaic, "Gabbatha." It was about noon on the day before Passover (the day of preparation). "Here is your king!" said Pilate to the mob.

"Away with him! Away with him!" they shouted. "Crucify him!"

"So you want me to crucify your king?" responded Pilate.

Jesus' crown may have been made of acacia plant.

"The only king we have is the Emperor!" shouted back the chief priests. Then Pilate handed Jesus over them to be crucified, and they took him away.

The crucifixion and death of Jesus (19:17-30).

Jesus carried his own cross to the place known as "The Skull," or, in the language of the Jews, "Golgotha." There they nailed him to a cross. Two others were crucified, one on each side of Jesus.

Pilate had the charge against Jesus written on a board and posted on the cross above Jesus' head. It read, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." The words were written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek .

Many of the people in Jerusalem read this inscription because the place where Jesus was crucified was just outside the city. So the chief priests went to Pilate and said, "Why did you write, 'The King of the Jews'? You should have written, 'This man claimed to be the King of the Jews.'"

Pilate answered, "What I have written, stays written."

One traditional site of Golgotha

After the soldiers had nailed Jesus to the cross, they took his robe and tore it into four pieces, one piece for each of them. Since his inner garment was seamless, woven from top to bottom, the soldiers said to one another, "Let's not rip it apart, but throw dice to see who will get it." This happened so the Scripture would be fulfilled that said, "They divided up my robe, but threw dice for my inner garment."

So that is just what they did.

Jesus' mother was standing near the cross along with her sister Mary, the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. So when Jesus saw his mother standing there, and me by her side, he said to her, "Dear woman, John is now your son!" Then he said to me, "She is now your mother!" From that day on I took her to live in my home.

Later on, when Jesus knew that the work he had been sent to do was over, and so that the Scriptures would be fulfilled, he said, "I am thirsty." So they soaked a sponge in a jar of vinegar wine and held it up to his mouth, using the branch of a hyssop plant. When he had taken the wine, Jesus said, "It is finished!" Then he bowed his head and yielded his spirit to God.

A soldier thrusts a spear into Jesus' side (19:31-37).

Since it was Friday, the Jewish authorities asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken, and their bodies taken down. They did not want them on the cross during the Sabbath, especially during Passover. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the two men who had been crucified along with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead. So they did not break his legs.

Church built over another traditional site of Golgotha

But one of the soldiers thrust a spear into his side, and at once blood and water flowed out. I know this is true because it was reported by a man who actually saw it happen, and he is totally reliable. So now you too may believe. All this happened so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, "Not one of his bones will be broken," and, "They will look on him in whose side they thrust a spear."

Jesus is buried in a nearby garden tomb (19:38-42).

Joseph of Arimathea, a disciple of Jesus (although he kept it quiet because he was afraid of the Jewish authorities) went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate agreed, so Joseph came and took it down from the cross.

Nicodemus went with Joseph, carrying about seventy-five pounds of spices, a mixture of myrrh and aloes. This was the same Nicodemus who some time before had visited Jesus at night. The two men wrapped the body in linen cloths with the spices, as required by the Jewish burial customs. Near the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden with a tomb that had never been used. The tomb was close by, and since the time of preparing for the Sabbath had come, they laid the body there.