vs 7 The Law they were referring to may have been one of the following:
Lev 24:16 "anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD must be put to death."This last one is interesting for it affirms that false prophets may be able to produce miracles. Thus miracles alone are not the final test of a prophet. The Jewish leaders knew Jesus did miracles. But they reckoned that his teachings were leading people away from their concept of God, and thus he was reckoned a false prophet. Not only so, but also calling himself the Son of God made himself the object of faith and worship, just as we have seen in John 10:33.
Deuteronomy 18:20 But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death."
Deuteronomy 13:1-5 If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, "Let us follow other gods" (gods you have not known) "and let us worship them," you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. That prophet or dreamer must be put to death, because he preached rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery; he has tried to turn you from the way the LORD your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you.
Though Pilate had a distorted concept of God, yet there was a ray of truth about Christ which penetrated the darkness and wrought fear in this man. In doing evangelism there are many truths that we could share. But we need to discerned which truths will best penetrate the person's religion and philosophy. Here we have a very practical example in that speaking of Christ as King of the Jews didn't really touch the Roman unbeliever in a spiritual sense, as they would think more politically of such matters. But speaking of Christ as the Son of God touches a chord with them. And this is the reason why the expression "Son of God" is found so frequently in the gospel of John. For John was written later than the other gospels, being supplementary to them. But as the church was becoming increasingly dominated by Gentiles John wrote his gospel geared towards Gentiles in the Roman world. In Pilate we see the effectiveness of the term "Son of God" among such people. It is not that John was making this up, but rather out of Jesus' life and ministry he brought forth those aspects, those teachings, which the Gentiles could most easily identify with.
vs 11 Here Jesus acknowledges Pilate as a legitimate authority figure established by God, having authority even over himself in this matter. In humility Jesus deferred to Pilate's judgement. So also secular authorities are established by God as having legitimate authority in their given realm. This is not to say that the decisions they make are always right or best. They will be held responsible answering to God for such decisions when the time comes. Nor is this to say that we should always defer and submit to authority, but rather that we are under obligation to do say as long as they are acting within their legitimate God-given realm of authority.
Jesus had the option of being more zealous in defending himself. He could have tried to legally escape death. Later in Acts Paul would exert his rights a Roman citizen to escape persecution. And previously Jesus also escaped persecution by crossing borders to different provinces. But now was the time to die and thus he made no effort to defend himself.
But why did he reckoned Pilate's sin to be less than that of Judas? One thing to note here is that he indeed does affirm that some sins are worse than others. Not all sins are equal. But you would think that as Pilate was an authority figure he would be held more accountable. For with authority comes accountability. What Jesus is saying is essentially that for example a civil authority figure having someone put to death unjustly is not as bad as just an ordinary citizen who is a murderer. Both have sinned, but one more severely than the other. On the other hand though such sins being reckoned less severe in the case of the authority figure, such authority figures generally have more to be accountable for. (So I guess it balances out!)
In the case of Christ' death there's plenty of blame to hand out. Peter here blames the Jews along with the Romans.
Acts 2:23 This man was handed over to you by Godís set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.vs 12-15 Here the Jews manipulate Pilate politically. There was a real threat to Pilate here. The Caesars were megalomanics, suppressing any threat to their authority. They were unpredictable and often irrational and zealous even killing members of their own family to protect their position. The Jews were threatening to spread rumors to Caesar implying Pilate himself was a traitor. Pilate put a stop to it by washing his hands of the matter and leaving the decision in the hands of the Jewish multitudes. And not only so but he also managed to get the Jews to pledge allegiance to Caesar. But in saying they had no king but Caesar they were rejecting God, as it is written, "The LORD is King for ever and ever" Psalms 10:16 And "the LORD your God was your king" 1Sam 12:12
Acts 4:26,27 The kings of the earth take a stand, And the rulers take council together, Against the Lord, and against his Christ.í For truly, in this city against your holy servant, Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together
vs 17 In the picture of the crucifixion we see a sort of metaphoric
fulfillment of the prophecy of Genesis 3:15 "he will crush your
head, and you will strike his heel." For the cross plunged into "The
Place of the Skull" illustrated the crushing of the head of the Serpent,
who is Satan, while on the cross we see Jesus being wounded in his hands
and feet. The crushing of the head is a mortal blow, while the wounding
of the feet is not a mortal blow. And indeed Jesus rises from the dead
in his ultimate victory. And as I quoted previously, "he too shared
in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the
power of death-- that is, the devil-- and free those who all their
lives were held in slavery by their fear of death." Heb 2:14,15
vs 18 Jesus died reckoned as a criminal.
vs 19-22 The Jews demand a sign from God and God gave them a sign right above Jesus' head "JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS." Of course Pilate put it there for two reasons. First it was in accordance with Roman law to place a sign or document where the prisoner was put to death stating the charges against him. This they did to show that his death was judicial, which was also a warning to others. But also I think Pilate did it to mock the Jews, which is how the Jews took it in that such a sign communicated Roman oppression of Jews. And Pilate cared not about offending them, which is to be expected seeing as they had previously threatened him. But in the end it was really God manipulating both sides to achieve His ends.
vs 23-24 Much of what occurred on the cross here and in the synoptics points us to the messianic Psalm 22 which starts out "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?", which is recorded in the synoptics as one of Jesus' sayings on the cross. The Psalm written by King David 1000 years before Christ describes a man being crucified. Within it there is the phrase, "They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing." Ps 22:18, the fulfillment of which we see here at the cross.
But many times historical events also have allegorical applications. The clothes may represent the Christian community. For as Jesus is the outward manifestation of God, so Christians are the outward manifestation of Christ. Though I will refraim from over-allegorizing the verses to death. But the impression is that Christians will also face persecution being treated contemptuously by the unbelievers.
vs 25-27 A couple of verses relevant to this section:
1 Timothy 5:8 But if anyone doesnít provide for his own, and especially his own household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.
From then on the apostle John took care of his mother. This being the case he may have had more contact with the other women who would visit Mary, which also may explain some of the additional accounts in John's gospel, such as the wedding feast in John 2 where Mary was present, and the resurrection account emphasizing Mary Magdalene's account, and the account concerning the sisters of Lazarus.
Concerning Jesus calling his mother "Woman", John Gill comments, "Christ calls her not mother, but woman; not out of disrespect to her, or as ashamed of her; but partly that he might not raise, or add strength to her passions, by a tenderness of speaking; and partly to conceal her from the mob, and lest she should be exposed to their rude insults; as also to let her know that all natural relation was now ceasing between them; though this is a title he sometimes used to give her before."
vs 28-30 Jesus was playing out Psalm 22 which states for example, "I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet." Ps 22:14-16 See also the Psalm 22 study to gain further insight into Jesus' thoughts and feelings while on the cross. Interesting also that "it is finished" is similar to the last phrase of Psalm 22 "he has done it."
The emphasis we see in John of Jesus' attitude towards his death was that it was a mission to accomplish and that it involved more than simply suffering in dying. For all through the trial and crucifixion he continued to teach to the end. What was really finished was his earthly ministry in fulfilling the prophecies, in raising up disciples, and most importantly in his atoning work on the cross paying for the sins of the world.
vs 31 That Sabbath (Saturday) was a special one in that it was also the Sabbath of the feast of Unleavened Bread. Friday is always a preparation day, preparing for the coming Sabbath. Thus even to this day orthodox Jews make special preparations on Friday in order to fulfill their obligations to Sabbath Law.
vs 32-37 The crucified normally die not by bleeding to death, but by suffocating. This is hastened by breaking their legs in that they can't lift themselves up to expand their lungs. Jesus on the other hand did not die by suffocating. He died quite literally of a broken heart in accordance with the prophecy of Psalm 22 My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me. This is confirmed also when the soldier pierced his side and out came blood and water. For the heart is surrrounded by a sack of water which when under great stress can break. The blood being separate from water indicates also that his heart had stopped.
"he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed." Isaiah 53:5Verse 36 seems out of context in that he is quoting Psalm 34:20. But in that Psalm David is praising God for his deliverance from death. In the context "Not a bone being broken" implies deliverance from all harm. But Jesus was not delivered from harm in that he was put to death unjustly. But here is where the perspective changes from the Old Testament to the New. For the Old speaks much of earthly matters and much is symbolic whereas the New is the substance and speaks of spiritual and heavenly things. For though dying physically yet he was not harmed spiritually, as his resurrection from the dead also reveals the new reality - that death is no longer to be feared.
vs 38-42 More information on Joseph is found in Luke 23 saying "Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and he was waiting for the kingdom of God. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesusí body." Thus we see that there was not a unanimous consensus among the ruling council, but that Nicodemus and Joseph were two members favoring Jesus. Another perspective on this is that believers often turn up among the most unlikely candidates. Earlier it was among the outcast of Jewish society and among the Samaritans, those despised by the Jewish elite that many became believers. Now the categories will change as we can see through the book of Acts. The religious elite will be looked down upon by the Christian community, but then God does the unexpected and converts Paul. There is no category of people that cannot produce Christians.
Despite the fact that the Sabbath was approaching Nicodemus had the foresight to prepare quickly for the burial. For he had to be buried before 6:00 pm, which from the Jewish time table was the beginning of the next day. He was buried in Joseph's tomb, a rich man, in accordance with the prophecy: "He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death." Is 53:9 The wicked were the thieves on the cross beside him, and the rich man was Joseph in whose tomb he was laid.