"The Death of Jesus"
The Crucifixion and Burial

The Death of Jesus

The Death of Jesus:
Verse 28: "After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said to fulfill the Scripture), "I thirst."

The scripture that referred to his drinking the vinegar is Psa_69:21. "They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink."

If you remember, earlier in this Gospel Jesus used Scripture as one of His witnesses to prove that He was the Messiah. By His saying "I thirst" fulfills still another Prophecy offering even more proof that He was indeed the Messiah'

Verse 29: "A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth." (HIH-suhp)or (HiH-soph)

The 'sour wine' was most likely the tart wine of the Roman Soldiers. Although for the use of the Soldiers administering the crucifixion, was probably given to the person being crucified and suffering a slow tormented death.

The sour wine should not be confused with the drink mentioned in (Mat 27:34 and Mark 15:23 as vinegar and gall' which has been identified as the 'stupefying potion,' which Jesus refused.

Although of little importance, there has been a variety of conjectures concerning exactly what type of reed, as mentioned in Matthew and Mark, or stick or stalk, was used to lift the sponge to Jesus, but John say's the sponge was lifted on the stalk of the hyssop.

The hyssop is thought to be used only to bind the sponge to the stalk; but, as a matter of interest, the hyssop was frequently used in the Old Testament during rites of purification.

And in Verse 30 Jesus Says "It is Finished:"

Verse 30: "When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, "It is finished," and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit."

"It is finished!" or as we might say "It is done!" He had followed and executed the mission assigned to Him by His Father, the Almighty God. Through the death of Jesus man was reconciled to God, opening the "Holy of Holies" and the "kingdom of heaven" to every believing soul.

Jesus’s Side Is Pierced

Verses 31-33: "Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. 32So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him."

The Jewish law, in Deu_21:22-23, ordered that the bodies of criminals should not hang all night; nor did they wish to profane the Sabbath and disturb the joy of that holy time by either taking them down on that day, or letting them hang. Perhaps their guilty consciences is what led them to remove the body of Jesus out of their sight.

Breaking the legs or other bones of criminals upon the cross was common custom as it would rush their death and bring a speedy end to their torturous death; although in this case the main reason was to make sure the bodies would be removed before the Passover began.

Verses 33-34: "But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water."

Though unverified, according to some Roman Catholic writers, the name of the soldier who pierced the Lord's side, was "Longinus." According to their writings it was he who, after witnessing the death of Jesus, said "Truly this was the Son of God." As a result, he was converted, and later traveled to Cappadocia where he preached the Gospel, and was martyred.

It is not known which side of Jesus the soldiers pierced and is of no importance, else this would have been revealed by the Holy Spirit.

The piercing appears to have taken place because his legs were not broken; and, since the law stated that the criminals were to continue on the cross till they died, He was pierced to satisfy this law.

Verse 35: "He who saw it has borne witness— his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth— that you also may believe."

This is John's graphic "eye-witness" account of the death of Jesus, not heresy.

Verse 36: "For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: "Not one of his bones will be broken." 37And again another Scripture says, "They will look on him whom they have pierced."

Most scholars believe that Jesus died just as the lambs for the Passover meal were being slain; which means that Jesus' death came at exactly the right time, just as the Father had planned.

Not one of His bones were broken just as prophesied some 1440 years earlier, in Ps 34:20, Ex 12:46, and Num 9:12.

There is some disagreement, but most bible scholars believe the passage "They will look on him whom they have pierced." is a reference to Zach 12:10: "I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced;...

Burial of Jesus:

Verse 38: "After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body."

Crucifixion victims were usually thrown into a common grave for criminals and were not to be mourned publicly after their death. In addition, it was customary, under Roman rule, to not bury the corpses at all unless a powerful patron or family member interceded for the body. Joseph of Arimathea was such a person. Because of the Sabbath it was required that the body would be down before sundown.

Verse 39: "Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight."

In a lavish expression of devotion to the Saviour, both Nicodemus, a member of the powerful Sanhedrin, and Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy and powerful businessman, had hidden their faith in Jesus. Now, at the death of Jesus, they threw their timidity and fear aside, and boldly demanded the body of Jesus, then personally attended to His burial.

Verse 40: "So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews."

The Greeks and Romans often burned their dead heroes. The Egyptians even mutilated theirs for embalming, but not the Jews. The Jewish bodies were wrapped in shrouds, sometimes expensive ones, especially prepared for burials.

John gave more exact details concerning the death of Jesus than the synoptic gospels, and for good reason. We will see an astounding miracle concerning the grave clothes later in a following study.

Verses 41: "Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid."

According to Jewish customs, burials had to be outside the city walls. To be buried in a tomb not yet used was a special honor and would also make the tomb difficult to confuse with others in that area.

Verse 42: "So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there."

This was a year of the High Sabbath which caused the Passover to fall upon a Wednesday instead of Friday. Nicodemus and Joseph had to hurry in order to complete His burial before sundown.

The tomb was probably a cave carved out of the stone hillside. Most graves were large enough for a person to walk into. A large stone was rolled in front of the entrance.

For our next study lesson we can read John, Chapter 20,

The Resurrection of Jesus

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Death of Jesus Samuel L. Mills