John 19: Yeshua’s Suffering, Death And Burial

Human beings are very damaged – mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually. We are harming this beautiful planet in so many ways. We hurt other people. We experience broken relationships. Humanity is plagued by hatred, injustice, war, murder and other crimes. Frequently, people are unhappy and don’t feel good about themselves.

The reason for all of this is because, in the beginning, Adam and Eve joined the rebellion of the fallen angels. The consequences of joining that rebellion were devastating – a broken relationship with God; a damaged relationship to a now fallen creation; damaged relationships with other human beings; the ruination of human nature; domination by the Satan and the demons; and a destiny of death.

That ruination of body, soul, will, mind, spirit; that damaged relationship to God and creation and other human beings; that loss of eternal life – all of it, like a horrible disease, was passed on to Adam and Eve’s descendants.

Because of our alienation from a God who is perfect and holy, and because of our fallen, sinful, rebellious nature, there is nothing we can do to end our alienation from God or its many tragic consequences. No amount of religious rituals, law-keeping, good deeds or human effort can ever be enough.

Our greatest need is not more education or better politicians or more money to fight man-made global warming. Our greatest need is for atonement and the reversal of the destructive consequences that resulted from the Edenic catastrophe. And there is only one way that can happen – by knowing that Yeshua is the Messiah and the Son of God; that He is fully God and fully man; that He lived a perfect life and then suffered and died came back to life.

Yeshua’s death was essential to end our estrangement from God. Yeshua needed to die if our sins were to be forgiven. But Yeshua didn’t just die. He did not experience an quick, painless death. Prior to being killed, Yeshua suffered. And there are reasons why He suffered.

Yeshua suffered to fulfill prophecy: Isaiah 52: His appearance (referring to God’s Servant, the Messiah) would be disfigured beyond that of any human being and His form marred beyond human likeness. And Psalm 22: I am scorned by everyone, despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads. I am poured out like water and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me. My mouth is dried up like a broken piece of pottery. My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. They pierce my hands and my feet. They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment. Yeshua suffered to fulfill prophecy.

Yeshua suffered to set an example for His disciples. Many of the early Christians and Messianic Jews were stoned to death, or eaten by wild animals or crucified. Over the centuries, many others have been tortured and killed. Yeshua set an example for us. If He could endure His sufferings, and die well, we can too. He knows firsthand how to help us.

Yeshua’s suffering reveals the hatred of the fallen angels toward Yeshua and His Father since they helped orchestrate His suffering and death.

Yeshua’s suffering reveals something about the nature of man. All too often it is callous and cruel.

Yeshua’s suffering reveals the extent of the love of God the Father, who allowed His Son to suffer so much in order to reconcile us to Himself.

Yeshua’s suffering reveals the extent of love of Yeshua Himself, who could have stopped His suffering but chose not to – so that He could redeem us.

Yeshua had been turned over by the Jewish leaders to the Roman governor. They wanted Pilate to judge Yeshua and execute Him. Pilate did not want to do that. He did not believe Yeshua was a threat and wanted to release Him, but the Jewish leaders kept pressuring him not to.

People can be cruel. The ancient Romans were, in particular, very cruel. Here’s what happened next. Then Pilate took Yeshua and had Him flogged. A Roman flogging was horrible. A short whip, made of one or more leather thongs or ropes connected to a handle, was used. Pieces of metal or bone were tied to the thongs or ropes, which when used, cut through the skin and even the muscle. The whole body was affected, sometimes including the face. A flogging could be so brutal that the man being whipped could be disfigured or even die. Again, Isaiah predicted that Messiah’s appearance would be disfigured beyond that of any human being and His form marred beyond human likeness. That’s exactly what a Roman flogging could do. And, that’s what happened to Yeshua.

But it got worse. The Roman soldiers had contempt for Yeshua and wanted to cause more pain to this One who was being called the king of the Jews. And they wanted to humiliate Him. So, after the flogging, the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head. Thorns are mentioned in the Torah as representative of the world being cursed. By having a crown of thorns placed on His head, God is telling us that Yeshua took upon Himself the Genesis curse that so powerfully affected the world. You want to escape the curse that has so powerfully affected the entire world and everyone in it? You need the One who wore a crown of thorns. You need Yeshua.

The world put a crown of thorns on the head of the One who deserves to wear, and will wear, the greatest of all crowns, revealing the contempt the world had, and continues to have, for Him.

How ironic that the only crown the King of Kings wore while on Earth was a crown of thorns.

And the mocking of the soldiers got worse. They clothed Him in a purple robe (purple dye was expensive and purple robes became associated with royalty) and went up to Him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped Him in the face. More contempt. More humiliation. More pain. More suffering.

By this point his soldiers had inflicted tremendous pain on Yeshua. And He had been mocked and humiliated. He could not be considered to be a threat to Rome. Pilate did not believe that Yeshua was guilty of a crime worthy of death and hoped that Yeshua’s suffering and humiliation would be enough to placate the Jewish leaders so he could let Yeshua go. Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jewish people gathered there, “Look, I am bringing Him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against Him.” When Yeshua came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”

Here is the man: That meant: Take a good look at this man. He has been arrested. He has been severely whipped and beaten. He is wearing a crown of thorns and purple robe, mocking Him, proving He is not a real king. He is no longer a threat to Rome or Israel. Now that you have looked at the man, can’t you show some compassion and let Him go?

Pilate spoke better than he knew. Yeshua is the man; the greatest man; the perfect man; the only perfect man; the obedient man; the man always full of the Holy Spirit; the man the world rejected but the man God loves above all others; the man the Jewish leaders rejected, the Romans humiliated, tortured and killed; the man who suffered, the man who died and the man who was raised from the dead; and the man who is alive now; the man of atonement; and the man who is returning to rule the world. Here is the man – but here also the Son of God.

Although Pilate said, “here is the man,” he himself really did not see the man; nor did the Jewish leaders. My question to you is: do you see the man – for who He really is?

Yeshua’s sufferings and humiliation were not enough to mollify the leaders. They did not want Yeshua released. They wanted Him dead. As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw Him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”

The Roman governor did not like their response. He knew Yeshua was not guilty of violating a Roman law. But Pilate answered, “You take Him and crucify Him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against Him.”

The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law He must die, because He claimed to be the Son of God.” The Jewish leaders understood that Yeshua claimed to be the Son of God, and share the same divine nature as God. They believed that was blasphemy, and according to the Torah, that was a crime that was punishable by death. And they wanted Yeshua put to death for blasphemy.

When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, and he went back inside the palace. The governor was afraid because he knew Yeshua was innocent. He knew Yeshua was brave and wise. He knew that Yeshua was a popular Rabbi. He may have heard reports that Yeshua had done miracles. Now Pilate found out that Yeshua claimed to be the Son of God. The idea that a god could have a son was part of Greek mythology (think Hercules, the son of Zeus) and was known to the Romans. The idea that Yeshua claimed to be the Son of God scared Pilate, because he thought it could be true.

The governor wanted to know more. “Where do You come from?” he asked Yeshua, but Yeshua gave him no answer – probably because Yeshua had already told him enough of the truth, and Pilate had not acted on the truth he had received. The way God works is that when truth is rejected, additional truth is generally withheld.

Most people comply with the requests of those who have authority. Not Yeshua. “Do You refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t You realize I have power either to free You or to crucify You?” Yeshua informed the governor that he shouldn’t be impressed with his power. He should know that his power was delegated power. Yeshua answered, “You would have no power over Me if it were not given to you from above. Someone greater than Pilate, someone from above, had given Pilate his authority. Pilate should understand that and do what God, who gave him his power, wanted him to do.

Yeshua told Pilate that what he had done to Him was wrong. Therefore the one who handed Me over to you is guilty of a greater sin. There are degrees of sin. To whom much is given, much is required. Pilate was sinning by not believing Yeshua and torturing and humiliating Him, but the sin of the Jewish leaders was worse since they had more knowledge about spiritual things.

Yeshua’s answer, which was wise and other-worldly, disturbed Pilate even more. From then on, Pilate tried to set Yeshua free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.” The leaders threatened to accuse Pilate of being disloyal to Caesar because he was protecting a man who claimed to be a king without Rome’s approval. Pilate knew that was a trumped up charge, and was wrong, and Pilate had the power to set Yeshua free, but to do that he had to risk his career or even his life, and he was unwilling to do that.

He decided it was better to capitulate to the Jewish leaders and kill Yeshua, even though Yeshua was innocent.

When Pilate heard this, he brought Yeshua out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic [better translated as Hebrew] is Gabbatha). It was the day of Preparation of the Passover (the sixth day of the week; Friday; the day before the Sabbath that took place during the special week of Passover); it was about noon.

The representative of the Roman empire sat in the place of judgment, ready to make his decision. “Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jewish people. Meaning – Yeshua may be a king but He poses no threat and should be released. Or: You are a wretched people and this wretched king well represents you.

Pilate’s statement was met with continued calls for Yeshua’s death. But they shouted, “Take Him away! Take Him away! Crucify Him!”

Pilate responded by asking if crucifixion was really what they wanted. Couldn’t there be some alternative? “Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.

The leaders rejected the possibility that Yeshua could be their king. “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered. This was a rejection of the Son of God of the highest magnitude, and the Son of God represents God.

These political and religious leaders of Israel chose a pagan king rather than the king of righteousness. They chose Caesar instead of the Son of David. This was like choosing Baal instead of Adonai. This was like worshiping the golden calf. This was blasphemy. This was apostasy. This was spiritual suicide for Israel’s leaders and the nation they represented.

The Roman governor did what was politically and personally expedient and yielded to their demands. Finally Pilate handed Him over to them to be crucified.

So the soldiers took charge of Yeshua. Adding to His suffering and humiliation, they forced Yeshua, who was weakened and suffering, to carry his cross, like a man who is forced to dig his own grave. Carrying His own cross, He went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic [better translated as Hebrew] is called Golgotha).

The place of the Skull was outside the city, which is significant. Just as the bodies of the animals that were sacrificed on Yom Kippur were burned outside the camp, Yeshua died outside the city as the ultimate sacrifice. His death outside the gates of Jerusalem made ultimate atonement possible and opened the gates of the New Jerusalem for us.

Yeshua died outside of Jerusalem, and He is still outside. He is still rejected by Jerusalem and by the world. If we want to be where He is, we must go to Him, and we do that by identifying with Him and His teachings and enduring the world’s rejection.

There they crucified Him, and with Him two others – one on each side and Yeshua in the middle – fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy: He was counted with the transgressors. This shows us that the world is often unable to tell the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between lawkeepers and lawbreakers. But the truth is that Yeshua died in the middle of criminals in order to atone for all those who have broken God’s laws and who have been condemned to death – which includes each one of us. How ironic – that the One who gave the Law was considered a lawbreaker and executed among criminals.

Yeshua’s crime was displayed on His cross for everyone to read. Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: Yeshua of Nazareth, the king of the Jews. Many of the Jewish people read this sign, for the place where Yeshua was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic (better translated as “Hebrew”), Latin and Greek. Everyone in that area was familiar with one of those languages. Everyone would know the crime Yeshua was being executed for – being the king of the Jews.

How ironic – the long awaited King Messiah was killed by the Roman and Jewish leaders for being who He is – the rightful ruler of the Chosen People through whom God will bless the world. Truly He was in the world, but the world did not know Him. Do you know Him? And follow Him?

The chief priests didn’t like the way Yeshua’s crime was phrased on the notice. The chief priests of the Jewish people protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.”

But the governor had had enough. He had made enough compromises. Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.” And what he wrote was true. And what he wrote was damning to his soul. And what he wrote is something that everyone in the world should know and respond to in a very different way that Pilate and the Jewish leaders did.

The cruel, callous Roman soldiers stripped Yeshua of His clothes and His dignity. In doing so, they fulfilled the Psalm 22 prophecy made by king David 1000 years earlier. When the soldiers crucified Yeshua, they took His clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said, “They divided my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.” So this is what the soldiers did.

Although all of His male disciples, with the exception of John, had abandoned Him, several women were right there with Him while He was dying. Before you conclude that the women were braver or more loyal than the men, keep in mind that the men were the ones at risk of being arrested – not the women. Near the cross of Yeshua stood His mother, His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene – and scholars are divided whether this describes three or four women.

Yeshua was dying, and even though He was in terrible pain, His thoughts were not only about His own horrible situation. He was concerned about His mother. When Yeshua saw His mother there, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby (referring to John, our author, who out of humility doesn’t mention himself by name), He said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. Yeshua was the eldest son and the head of the family, and even though He had brothers and sisters, and could have left Mary to their care, He entrusted His mother to the disciple He loved – I think, because John was loyal to Yeshua and believed in Him and His brothers and sisters of Yeshua did not. The bond of spiritual brotherhood was more important to Yeshua than ordinary familial relationships.

Yeshua probably had not had anything to drink since the previous evening, and it was now afternoon. He had been up all night and moved from place to place. He had been whipped so that He lost blood. He was forced to carry a heavy cross over a distance. He was exposed to the sun of an Israeli spring day, which could be quite hot. While on the cross, Yeshua experienced another kind of suffering – thirst. Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled (referring to Psalm 22 – my mouth is dried up like a broken piece of pottery. My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth), Yeshua said, “I am thirsty.”

A jar of wine vinegar was there (wine that ages too long and turns sour. It’s barely drinkable unless it’s diluted with water), so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Yeshua’ lips. It was enough to wet His lips and mouth but not sufficient to quench His thirst. Yeshua experience thirst so that our thirst for meaning, and our thirst for life could be satisfied and we can drink from the river of the water of life in the New Jerusalem.

Yeshua knew that He had done everything His Father had asked Him to do. He had lived a perfectly righteous, obedient, God-honoring life. He had spoken the truth. He had revealed the nature of God to humanity. He had prepared His disciples to take over His mission. He had suffered and was about to die to meet our greatest need – for atonement. He needed to suffer no longer. When He had received the drink, Yeshua said, “It is finished.” With that, He bowed His head and gave up His spirit – which lets us know that Yeshua had authority over His death. No one took His life from Him. He released His spirit.

Now it was the day of Preparation (Friday), and the next day was to be a special Sabbath (because it was the Sabbath during Passover). Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken (which was more Roman cruelty. Since a man who was crucified could linger for days, sometimes they would break his legs to speed up his death. The man was not able to support his body and couldn’t breathe and would suffocate) and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Yeshua, and then those of the other. But when they came to Yeshua and found that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Yeshua’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.

John wants us to know that he was there. He witnessed what happened and recorded what he saw. Yeshua did not merely faint on that cross. He really died. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. John wants us to know that he is a truthful witness. He wrote the truth and we should have confidence in him and what he wrote and believe it.

And, like other events connected to the life and death and resurrection of Yeshua were predicted, so was the fact that His legs were not broken like the lets of the other men; and He was pierced. These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken” – referring to the instructions for preparing the Passover lamb, which lets us know that Yeshua is the fulfillment of Passover and the Passover lamb. And, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced” – a reference to Zechariah’s great prophecy about the Last Days, when the Lord saves the Jewish people from certain annihilation by the armies of the nations, and we recognize that our savior is Someone we pierced.

Several times in this chapter John has told us that events connected to Yeshua’s suffering and death fulfilled ancient prophecies. That’s very significant. No one else has had prophecies given about their death. That tells us that Yeshua is the Most Important Man Who Ever Lived who died the most important death. And, these prophecies also tell us that the Bible is very special. No other holy book from any of the other world religion has detailed prophecies like these that were fulfilled so specifically. This lets us know that this is the true holy book of the true God who is outside the confines of time and knows all things.

Yeshua suffered. He died – which is one of the greatest events in history. Now He is buried – which reinforces the truth that He was really dead. Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Yeshua. Now Joseph was a disciple of Yeshua (and a member of the Sanhedrin), but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus (and another member of the Sanhedrin), the man who earlier had visited Yeshua at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Yeshua’s body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Yeshua was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Yeshua there. Yeshua was buried by two members of the Sanhedrin, which lets us know that not every Jewish leader rejected Yeshua. There was a remnant who believed in Him – as there is today.

Joseph and Nicodemus summoned the courage to give Yeshua’s body an honorable burial in a nearby tomb that Joseph owned – fulfilling another prophecy: He was with a rich man in His death

The stage is now set for another one of the greatest events in history – Yeshua’s resurrection.

Let’s pray: Father, we know that our suffering can produce good results in us and benefit others. Thank You that Yeshua’s suffering produced the greatest results that have ever come from anyone’s suffering.

Father, we also know that a good death can produce good results, and we thank You that Yeshua died the greatest death of all, which produced the greatest results.

May we take His suffering and death to heart, and may His suffering and death accomplish its full work in us. Amen.