John 19

* Christ condemned and crucified. (1-18) Christ on the cross.

(19-30) His side pierced. (31-37) The burial of Jesus. (38-42)

1-18 Little did Pilate think with what holy regard these

sufferings of Christ would, in after-ages, be thought upon and

spoken of by the best and greatest of men. Our Lord Jesus came

forth, willing to be exposed to their scorn. It is good for

every one with faith, to behold Christ Jesus in his sufferings.

Behold him, and love him; be still looking unto Jesus. Did their

hatred sharpen their endeavours against him? and shall not our

love for him quicken our endeavours for him and his kingdom?

Pilate seems to have thought that Jesus might be some person

above the common order. Even natural conscience makes men afraid

of being found fighting against God. As our Lord suffered for

the sins both of Jews and Gentiles, it was a special part of the

counsel of Divine Wisdom, that the Jews should first purpose his

death, and the Gentiles carry that purpose into effect. Had not

Christ been thus rejected of men, we had been for ever rejected

of God. Now was the Son of man delivered into the hands of

wicked and unreasonable men. He was led forth for us, that we

might escape. He was nailed to the cross, as a Sacrifice bound

to the altar. The Scripture was fulfilled; he did not die at the

altar among the sacrifices, but among criminals sacrificed to

public justice. And now let us pause, and with faith look upon

Jesus. Was ever sorrow like unto his sorrow? See him bleeding,

see him dying, see him and love him! love him, and live to him!
19-30 Here are some remarkable circumstances of Jesus' death,

more fully related than before. Pilate would not gratify the

chief priests by allowing the writing to be altered; which was

doubtless owing to a secret power of God upon his heart, that

this statement of our Lord's character and authority might

continue. Many things done by the Roman soldiers were

fulfilments of the prophecies of the Old Testament. All things

therein written shall be fulfilled. Christ tenderly provided for

his mother at his death. Sometimes, when God removes one comfort

from us, he raises up another for us, where we looked not for

it. Christ's example teaches all men to honour their parents in

life and death; to provide for their wants, and to promote their

comfort by every means in their power. Especially observe the

dying word wherewith Jesus breathed out his soul. It is

finished; that is, the counsels of the Father concerning his

sufferings were now fulfilled. It is finished; all the types and

prophecies of the Old Testament, which pointed at the sufferings

of the Messiah, were accomplished. It is finished; the

ceremonial law is abolished; the substance is now come, and all

the shadows are done away. It is finished; an end is made of

transgression by bringing in an everlasting righteousness. His

sufferings were now finished, both those of his soul, and those

of his body. It is finished; the work of man's redemption and

salvation is now completed. His life was not taken from him by

force, but freely given up.
31-37 A trial was made whether Jesus was dead. He died in less

time than persons crucified commonly did. It showed that he had

laid down his life of himself. The spear broke up the very

fountains of life; no human body could survive such a wound. But

its being so solemnly attested, shows there was something

peculiar in it. The blood and water that flowed out, signified

those two great benefits which all believers partake of through

Christ, justification and sanctification; blood for atonement,

water for purification. They both flow from the pierced side of

our Redeemer. To Christ crucified we owe merit for our

justification, and Spirit and grace for our sanctification. Let

this silence the fears of weak Christians, and encourage their

hopes; there came both water and blood out of Jesus' pierced

side, both to justify and sanctify them. The Scripture was

fulfilled, in Pilate's not allowing his legs to be broken, #Ps

34:20|. There was a type of this in the paschal lamb, #Ex

12:46|. May we ever look to Him, whom, by our sins, we have

ignorantly and heedlessly pierced, nay, sometimes against

convictions and mercies; and who shed from his wounded side both

water and blood, that we might be justified and sanctified in

his name.
38-42 Joseph of Arimathea was a disciple of Christ in secret.

Disciples should openly own themselves; yet some, who in lesser

trials have been fearful, in greater have been courageous. When

God has work to do, he can find out such as are proper to do it.

The embalming was done by Nicodemus, a secret friend to Christ,

though not his constant follower. That grace which at first is

like a bruised reed, may afterward resemble a strong cedar.

Hereby these two rich men showed the value they had for Christ's

person and doctrine, and that it was not lessened by the

reproach of the cross. We must do our duty as the present day

and opportunity are, and leave it to God to fulfil his promises

in his own way and his own time. The grave of Jesus was

appointed with the wicked, as was the case of those who suffered

as criminals; but he was with the rich in his death, as

prophesied, #Isa 53:9|; these two circumstances it was very

unlikely should ever be united in the same person. He was buried

in a new sepulchre; therefore it could not be said that it was

not he, but some other that rose. We also are here taught not to

be particular as to the place of our burial. He was buried in

the sepulchre next at hand. Here is the Sun of Righteousness set

for a while, to rise again in greater glory, and then to set no

more.

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