Top Menu

A Visual Meditation on The Crucifixion in John 19:16-37

Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’ ” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” (John 19:16–22, NRSV)

These three languages represent “The World” in Jesus’ day.

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.” This was to fulfill what the scripture says, “They divided my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots.” (John 19:23–25, NRSV)

 

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home. (John 19:25–27, NRSV)

The last (and only other) time we meet Jesus’ mother is at the wedding party in Cana. She urged Jesus to turn the water into wine. She gave birth to his first sign. Now, she stand at the foot of the cross. She is there at the beginning and the end of his ministry as the Word become Flesh. She is the bookend of the incarnation.

Now, Jesus passes this beautiful relationship on to his beloved friend. This whole story is about being in relationship, in the flesh, as the family of God.

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. (John 19:28–29, NRSV)

This is an ironic twist on Jesus’ famous “I AM” statements. Here, the one who claimed to be the Living Water, of which no one will ever thirst again, says, “I am thirsty.” Perhaps we could mimic Paul’s words and say, “He who knew no thirst became thirsty for us.”

When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30, NRSV)

The Greek word translated finished is telos. It means to complete or accomplish a goal or intended purpose. This is the end of the incarnation, but it is not the end of the story or of the Gospel. Jesus will rise again in a new creation and will ascend to the Father where he prepares our dwelling place.

Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, “None of his bones shall be broken.” And again another passage of scripture says, “They will look on the one whom they have pierced.” (John 19:31–37, NRSV)

Jesus is the lamb of God, slaughtered on the same day that all the other lambs are slaughtered in preparation for the passover. His legs were not broken, so that he might be the lamb, whose bones were not broken.

The water and the blood takes us back to John 6 where Jesus says, “unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have part with me.” The blood of Jesus is the blood of the lamb spread on the doorposts of each house in the Exodus story, to save them from death. The blood of Jesus is the living water, poured out for all who hunger and thirst for a relationship with God.

Thanks be to God.

 

, , , , ,

Comments
subscribe to my monthly newsletter
Holler Box