************ Sermon on John 19:16 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on April 2, 2021
"Handed Over to be Crucified"
Good Friday 2021
It sounds like Pilate is in charge. "Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified" (Jn 19:16). The reality is something entirely different: namely, Jesus is in charge from beginning to end. We see this as we look at four points: first, the fulfilment of Scripture; second, the sign on the cross; third, a word to Mary; fourth, the death of Jesus.
I The Fulfilment of Scripture
A "Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified" (Jn 19:16). Was Pilate in charge? Our first point is that Pilate handed Jesus over so Scripture could be fulfilled. Our Bible reading says this twice.
Look at verse 24. The soldiers gambled for Jesus' clothes. This happened, wrote John, "that the scripture might be fulfilled ..." What Scripture? The words of Psalm 22:18 written more than six hundred earlier. The soldiers didn't know the Scriptures. They didn't know that what they were doing would fulfil the words of Psalm 22. God was orchestrating everything so Scripture would be fulfilled.
Speaking of Psalm 22, consider the rest of the psalm. Beginning in verse 14 it describes Jesus' death: the piercing, exhaustion, thirst, mocks and jeers, death and burial. All of this fulfilled by Pilate when Jesus was handed over.
Let's go back, for a moment, to Jesus' garments. John tells us it " was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom" (Jn 19:24). That's why the soldiers gambled for Jesus' clothes. They didn't want to tear the garment into four pieces. Do you happen to know who in the Old Testament wore a similar garment? A garment woven in one piece with only a hole for the head? According to Exodus this was the tunic of the high priest (Ex 28:31-32). So Christ went to the cross as our great High Priest -- He was the offerer and the offering.
Look at verse 28. "So that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, 'I am thirsty.'" What Scripture? The words of Psalm 69:21 written more than a millennium earlier. A jar of wine vinegar 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. Any Jew reading this would also see the fulfilment of Exodus 12 and the Passover. When the angel of death came to kill the firstborn, he passed over those who had taken the blood of a lamb and spread it on the doorpost using hyssop.
B But these are not the only Scriptures that were fulfilled. Look at how verse 17 starts: "Carrying his own cross ..." Sound familiar? Go back to the story of Abraham and Isaac. Mount Moriah. "Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac" (Gen 22:6). Abraham's son carried the wood just like God's Son carried the cross. Abraham's son was bound to the wood, just like God's Son was nailed to the cross. Abraham's son was to be sacrificed, just like God's Son was sacrificed.
Now listen to the next part of verse 17: "[Jesus] want out." "He went out." Went out of what? Went out of Pilate's courtroom. Went out of Jerusalem too. Do you know why? The book of Hebrews says Jesus is like the sin offerings of the Old Testament:
(Heb 13:11–12; NIV84) — 11 The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. 12 And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. (Cf Ex 29; Lev 4, 16)As the once for all sacrifice for sin, Jesus went outside of the city, outside of the gate, to be crucified.
Back to the phrase, "he went out." If it was you, how would you go out? You would be fighting. You would be resisting. You would be terrified. Because crucifixion was a horrible way to die, a painful way to die, a lingering way to die that could last days. Those about to be crucified had to be driven like some kind of wild animal. They had to be pushed and forced. But not Jesus. "He went out."
Mark and Luke both say Jesus was "led" (Mk 15:20; Lk 23:26). Realize what this means? This means Jesus followed. Jesus followed. He wasn't driven, He wasn't herded, He wasn't corralled. He was led, He followed, "He went out." I hope you recognize the Scripture this fulfills: "he was led like a lamb to the slaughter." This comes from the great prophecy of our Lord's death in Isaiah 53:7. Cattle are herded from the rear; sheep are led. He, like a sheep, was led, and He followed. Isaiah 53 also says He was "numbered with the transgressors" (Is 53:12). So we read in verse 18 that "with him two others -- one on each side and Jesus in the middle." And, Isaiah 53 says "by oppression and judgment he was taken away" (Is 53:8). He went from judgment to execution.
Jesus went out to be crucified. Jesus predicted this would happen. He said the Son of Man would be lifted up even as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert (Jn 3). Jesus said He was going to be lifted up from the earth. He said this to show the kind of death He was going to die (Jn 12:32-33). When it came to execution, Jews threw down and Romans lifted up. Jews threw down to the ground and stoned to death; Romans lifted up from the ground and crucified. Jesus died the way He said He was going to die.
"Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified." Was Pilate in charge? Was Pilate in control? Not at all. He was simply fulfilling the prophecies of Scriptures; He was simply fulfilling the plan God put into place centuries before.
II The Sign on the Cross
A "Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified" (Jn 19:16). Was Pilate in charge? Our second point is the sign on the cross: "JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS" (Jn 19:19). The Jews objected to this sign (Jn 19:21). But Pilate refused to change it.
"JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS." Why does Pilate include Nazareth? Because Nazareth was a small, insignificant, unimportant, nothing town way off in the back country, above the Sea of Galilee. Remember what was said about Nazareth: "Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" (Jn 1:46). So Pilate is declaring Jesus is a nobody from nowhere. This Jesus, a nobody from nowhere, hanging on a cross, is king of the Jews. What a hoot. How ridiculous. Pilate was mocking.
B "JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS." Take another look at the sign. It also tells us of the glory of Christ.
It was required back then that the criminal wear a sign announcing his crime. Look at Jesus' sign. Does it say murderer, bandit, insurrectionist, thief? Does it say blasphemer? Is He like Barabbas? Is He like the thieves hanging on either side of Him? Does it announce He is a dangerous criminal? Pilate knew there was no crime. At least three times he declared Jesus to be innocent (Jn 18:38; 19:4,6). Pilate doesn't write down a crime because there is no crime. He simply writes, "JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS." Unknowingly, Pilate declares the truth of Isaiah 53, that "he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth" (Is 53:9).
To emphasize Jesus' innocence and holiness, Pilate puts it in triplicate: Aramaic, Latin, Greek. Aramaic was the language of Israel; Greek was the language of culture and education; Latin was the language of Rome. These were the languages that Pilate chose so the Jewish pilgrims from all over the Mediterranean area would be able to read the sign and see there is no charge; so all the Passover pilgrims would see Jesus is innocent, holy, pure, righteous.
C "JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS." Unknowingly, Pilate declares the truth about Jesus. His unregenerate heart rightly declares who Jesus is: King, Messiah, Christ, Anointed One.
"JESUS ... THE KING OF THE JEWS." We heard this already at Jesus' birth. An angel declared to Mary that her child will occupy the throne of David. Wise men from the east looked for and worshiped Him as the king of the Jesus (Mt 2). On Palm Sunday the crowds welcomed Jesus saying, "Blessed is the King of Israel!" (Jn 12:13). Before Pilate Jesus said His Kingdom is not of this world (Jn 18:36-37). Jesus is King. King of Israel. King of kings. Lord of lords. King of the entire world. As Paul put it in his glorious hymn of Christ,
(Phil 2:10–11; NIV84) — 10 at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
D "JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS." Do you know who believed that sign? Not Pilate. Not the soldiers. Not the Jews. Not the crowds. Not even the disciples! Do you know who believed that sign? The thief on the cross. He said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into [into what?] ..." "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom" (Lk 12:42). God used that sign to save a dying thief. How glorious is our God that He turns mockery into evangelism!
III A Word to Mary
A "Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified" (Jn 19:16). Was Pilate in charge? Our third point is the word to Mary. Now, imagine the scene. There is the crowd, the Jews, the Roman soldiers. And, says John, over against all these hateful people there is a group of five sympathizers standing near the cross: Mary His mother, His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, Mary Magdalene, and John. Four women and one man. Why weren't there more? Where are the other disciples? Because it is dangerous to identify with a crucified criminal. It is dangerous to identify with someone who opposes Caesar and rebels against Rome. But there are four courageous women and one courageous man willing to stick their necks out.
B Now notice what happens. Jesus is on the cross. Below Him are two of those who believe in Him.
(Jn 19:26–27; NIV84) — 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,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.Do you realize what was happening here? Beneath the cross of Jesus a new fellowship was created. The blood of Christ formed a new community. Through His redemptive work upon the cross Jesus forged a new fellowship of the redeemed. We know it as the Church!
Up to that time the community of God's people was based on physical descent. To be one of God's people meant to be a physical descendant of Abraham. Almost everyone in the family of God was a blood relative.
But now there is a new community, a new family, a new fellowship of God's people. This one is not based on physical descent but on spiritual descent. It isn't blood lines but a common belief in Christ that unites this new fellowship. Jesus forged this new community. Mary and John were joined together by the Lord because of their common belief. And, if we believe, we too are part of that new community, that new fellowship, of love and concern.
C Now think about this. Mary was broken-hearted, crushed, devastated. The future suddenly looked so unsure and even a little scary. But Jesus tells her she is not alone, she is part of a family that will provide for her in her time of need.
Maybe you are in the same spot as Mary -- alone, scared, afraid, anxious. Beneath the cross of Jesus you are not alone. You are not on your own. You are part of a family, the family of God.
Or maybe you are in the same spot as John. The Lord puts people in your life that need your help, your support, your care, you love. In Christ they are your mother, your brother, your sister, your son, your daughter. In Christ they are your responsibility to love and help.
Though Pilate handed Jesus over, Jesus used this as an opportunity to build His church.
IV The Death of Jesus
A "Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified" (Jn 19:16). Was Pilate in charge? Our fourth point is the death of Jesus.
Jesus controls His dying. He controls it. Not Pilate. Not the soldiers. Not the Jews. You need to know many crucified people could last days on the cross. They eventually died of dehydration or because they couldn't breathe. But it is too soon for that to be the case with Jesus. Yet, He died within hours of being hung. Not because He was weak. Not because He was a wimp. Not because He was sickly. He died because He willed Himself to die: "he bowed his head and gave up his spirit" (Jn 19:30). No one took His life from Him; rather, He laid it down (cf Jn 10:17-18).
B Jesus died when His work as Savior was done. Jesus said, "It is finished" (Jn 19:30). He finished what the Father sent Him to do. He finished the work for which He came into the world. He finished so He willed Himself to die. He finished: our debt is paid for and we are saved from our sin.
"Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified" (Jn 19:16). Was Pilate in charge? Absolutely not! So I say to you, behold the glory and majesty of Christ. Consider His fulfilment of Scripture, the sign on His cross, His word to Mary, and the manner of His death. Consider, repent, and believe.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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