John 19

The Thorn Crown of the King

 1-3 So Pilate took Jesus and had him whipped. The soldiers, having braided a crown from thorns, set it on his head, threw a purple robe over him, and approached him with, “Hail, King of the Jews!” Then they greeted him with slaps in the face.

Jesus, the soldiers mocked Your kingship, but I do the same all the time.  When I claim You are my king, and then I am unkind to someone, anyone, in my life, I mock You.  When I long after some worldly item or watch a TV show that I shouldn’t, I slap You in the face.  When I complain about my situation or make it sound worse than it is, I slap You in the face.

Jesus, help me truly make You my King.  Help me to accept the situation You have place me in.  Help me rejoice the work and challenges You have given me.  Help me to follow my King down a road that abandons worldly pleasures, and instead delights in Your true Kingdom.     

 4-5Pilate went back out again and said to them, “I present him to you, but I want you to know that I do not find him guilty of any crime.” Just then Jesus came out wearing the thorn crown and purple robe.

   Pilate announced, “Here he is: the Man.”

Jesus, it almost sounds as if Pilate is introducing You as his superior…”the Man”.  Not a man, but the Man.  Pilate was the highest Roman official in the city, and he certainly did not respect Jews, but in You, he appears to have sensed greatness.  If evil Pilate could sense Your greatness, how do I ever miss it?  Lord, help me to sense that I live every moment in the presence of unimaginable greatness…You.    

 6When the high priests and police saw him, they shouted in a frenzy, “Crucify! Crucify!”

   Pilate told them, “You take him. You crucify him. I find nothing wrong with him.”

Jesus, this is a striking paradox.  Your own people who You came to save and serve want to crucify You, and the foreigner who knows nothing of You or the Father, wants to save You.  Sometimes in my own life I know that the people closest to me seem to want me to fail, or are angered if I am joyful…and people I do not hardly know rejoice with me or help me up when I fall.  And how often have I been on the wrong side of this paradox for those who love me?  Lord, help me to rejoice with You and mourn with You and suffer with You.  And when a loved one can’t see the good in me, help me to forgive them and move on, as You forgave Pilate. 

 7The Jews answered, “We have a law, and by that law he must die because he claimed to be the Son of God.”

 8-9When Pilate heard this, he became even more scared. He went back into the palace and said to Jesus, “Where did you come from?”

   Jesus gave no answer.

 10Pilate said, “You won’t talk? Don’t you know that I have the authority to pardon you, and the authority to—crucify you?”

 11Jesus said, “You haven’t a shred of authority over me except what has been given you from heaven. That’s why the one who betrayed me to you has committed a far greater fault.”

Jesus, when I scold my children or argue with my wife, and I have some authority, help me to remember that I only have authority that You gave me, which means I must use it as You would want me to.  I am totally under Your authority, and treat me with love and kindness and forgiveness beyond measure.  Help me Lord to serve those You have given me authority over, and to them and forgive them.     

 12At this, Pilate tried his best to pardon him, but the Jews shouted him down: “If you pardon this man, you’re no friend of Caesar’s. Anyone setting himself up as ‘king’ defies Caesar.”

 13-14When Pilate heard those words, he led Jesus outside. He sat down at the judgment seat in the area designated Stone Court (in Hebrew, Gabbatha). It was the preparation day for Passover. The hour was noon. Pilate said to the Jews, “Here is your king.”

 15They shouted back, “Kill him! Kill him! Crucify him!”

   Pilate said, “I am to crucify your king?”

   The high priests answered, “We have no king except Caesar.”

Jesus, how often have I made the same choice the Jews did that day?  They had a choice between You, the heavenly King of all eternity, and Caesar, a earthly king who would soon punish them mercilessly and then pass into history…and they chose Caesar.  It seems unthinkable, but I do the same thing every time I sin.  And I sin a lot.  Lord, why am I so drawn to earthly solutions to spiritual problems?  Why do I choose the filth and muck of this life instead of the true life of obedience to You.  change me Lord.  Help me to choose You every time.  Change me.    

 16-19Pilate caved in to their demand. He turned him over to be crucified.

The Crucifixion

   They took Jesus away. Carrying his cross, Jesus went out to the place called Skull Hill (the name in Hebrew is Golgotha), where they crucified him, and with him two others, one on each side, Jesus in the middle. Pilate wrote a sign and had it placed on the cross. It read:

   jesus the nazarene
   the king of the jews. 20-21Many of the Jews read the sign because the place where Jesus was crucified was right next to the city. It was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. The Jewish high priests objected. “Don’t write,” they said to Pilate, “‘The King of the Jews.’ Make it, ‘This man said, “I am the King of the Jews.”‘”

 22Pilate said, “What I’ve written, I’ve written.”

Jesus, You are the King, whether we like it or not.  The Jewish leaders may have rejected You, but it didn’t change anything.  This godless Roman (perhaps I am being judgmental there) declared it.  I wonder if it knew it was true, or if he was just using the occasion to shame the Jewish leaders.  The truth again is: his motives don’t matter.  You used him to declare the truth, whether he liked it or not. 

Lord, I want to be a willing servant that You use because I love You.  But I know I am very imperfect and slow of heart.  If You need to use me as a fool, like You did Pilate and the Pharisees, go ahead.  Whatever You want, however You want it, or not at all if that is Your will.

And Lord, remind me when I am worrying and upset, that Your will is done, with or without our cooperation.  Remind me to trust You and rest in You.  You are the King of kings, like or not!  (I like it!)   

 23-24When they crucified him, the Roman soldiers took his clothes and divided them up four ways, to each soldier a fourth. But his robe was seamless, a single piece of weaving, so they said to each other, “Let’s not tear it up. Let’s throw dice to see who gets it.” This confirmed the Scripture that said, “They divided up my clothes among them and threw dice for my coat.” (The soldiers validated the Scriptures!)

Again Jesus, You are in total control, and always have been.  You wrote the scripture referenced here (Psalm 22 I think) hundreds of years before You came to earth.  The soldiers didn’t know it and didn’t care.  And yet they did exactly what You said they would do.  Help me find comfort in this Lord.  My world is really a mess right now, but You are really in control.  You are totally in control.  Help me choose to trust You.    

 24-27While the soldiers were looking after themselves, Jesus’ mother, his aunt, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene stood at the foot of the cross. Jesus saw his mother and the disciple he loved standing near her. He said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that moment the disciple accepted her as his own mother.

 28Jesus, seeing that everything had been completed so that the Scripture record might also be complete, then said, “I’m thirsty.”

 29-30A jug of sour wine was standing by. Someone put a sponge soaked with the wine on a javelin and lifted it to his mouth. After he took the wine, Jesus said, “It’s done . . . complete.” Bowing his head, he offered up his spirit.

Jesus, You knew Your job, completed it, and gave up Your life.  No one took Your life, You gave it.  You gave it all.  You held nothing back.  You were careful to complete even the smallest task, drinking some sour wine, in the midst of Your misery.  Lord help me to know my task and to complete it thoroughly and completely.  Help me to give all of my life to You, every bit, right down to the end.  Lord watch me, guide me and guard me.  Keep me in Your will.  Keep me giving till I have given it all.   

 31-34Then the Jews, since it was the day of Sabbath preparation, and so the bodies wouldn’t stay on the crosses over the Sabbath (it was a high holy day that year), petitioned Pilate that their legs be broken to speed death, and the bodies taken down. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man crucified with Jesus, and then the other. When they got to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they didn’t break his legs. One of the soldiers stabbed him in the side with his spear. Blood and water gushed out.

 35The eyewitness to these things has presented an accurate report. He saw it himself and is telling the truth so that you, also, will believe.

 36-37These things that happened confirmed the Scripture, “Not a bone in his body was broken,” and the other Scripture that reads, “They will stare at the one they pierced.”

Jesus, help me to stare at the one I have pierced.  My sins killed You and I may as well have been the soldier that stabbed You.  Do not let me ever forget that.  Burn it into my heart and mind so I am never proud or aloof.  Help me to know there is no other person worse than me or less deserving of Your salvation than me.  Never let me lose this image Lord.  

 38After all this, Joseph of Arimathea (he was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, because he was intimidated by the Jews) petitioned Pilate to take the body of Jesus. Pilate gave permission. So Joseph came and took the body.

 39-42Nicodemus, who had first come to Jesus at night, came now in broad daylight carrying a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. They took Jesus’ body and, following the Jewish burial custom, wrapped it in linen with the spices. There was a garden near the place he was crucified, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been placed. So, because it was Sabbath preparation for the Jews and the tomb was convenient, they placed Jesus in it.

Jesus, am I a secret disciple?  I know sometimes I am.  In social settings I very unlikely to mention Your name.  Yes, I’m still intimidated by popularity.  I don’t want to be a social outsider.  Heck, I even drink too much sometimes because I want to fit in.

But these two men finally threw all that aside and decided to follow You when You were dead.  They had to see Your death.  What will have to happen for me to finally claim You 100% of the time?

And Lord, is it possible that when I finally die to this world, I will lead someone else to You?  Could it happen?  Is that what has caused me to be such an ineffective witness to You?  Lord, is all this trouble and problem in my life just a way to get me to finally crucify my own life and live only for You?  Lord, help me to die completely and live only for You.