Day 19 // John 19

Then Pilate had Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip. The soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they put a purple robe on him. “Hail! King of the Jews!” they mocked, as they slapped him across the face.
Pilate went outside again and said to the people, “I am going to bring him out to you now, but understand clearly that I find him not guilty.” Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said, “Look, here is the man!”
When they saw him, the leading priests and Temple guards began shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
“Take him yourselves and crucify him,” Pilate said. “I find him not guilty.”
The Jewish leaders replied, “By our law he ought to die because he called himself the Son of God.”
When Pilate heard this, he was more frightened than ever. He took Jesus back into the headquarters again and asked him, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave no answer. “Why don’t you talk to me?” Pilate demanded. “Don’t you realize that I have the power to release you or crucify you?”
Then Jesus said, “You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above. So the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.”
Then Pilate tried to release him, but the Jewish leaders shouted, “If you release this man, you are no ‘friend of Caesar.’ Anyone who declares himself a king is a rebel against Caesar.”
When they said this, Pilate brought Jesus out to them again. Then Pilate sat down on the judgment seat on the platform that is called the Stone Pavement (in Hebrew, Gabbatha). 14 It was now about noon on the day of preparation for the Passover. And Pilate said to the people, “Look, here is your king!”
“Away with him,” they yelled. “Away with him! Crucify him!”
“What? Crucify your king?” Pilate asked.
“We have no king but Caesar,” the leading priests shouted back.
Then Pilate turned Jesus over to them to be crucified.
The Crucifixion
So they took Jesus away. Carrying the cross by himself, he went to the place called Place of the Skull (in Hebrew, Golgotha). There they nailed him to the cross. Two others were crucified with him, one on either side, with Jesus between them. And Pilate posted a sign on the cross that read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” The place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek, so that many people could read it.
Then the leading priests objected and said to Pilate, “Change it from ‘The King of the Jews’ to ‘He said, I am King of the Jews.’”
Pilate replied, “No, what I have written, I have written.”
When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they divided his clothes among the four of them. They also took his robe, but it was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. So they said, “Rather than tearing it apart, let’s throw dice for it.” This fulfilled the Scripture that says, “They divided my garments among themselves and threw dice for my clothing.” So that is what they did.
Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home.
The Death of Jesus
Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty." A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
It was the day of preparation, and the Jewish leaders didn’t want the bodies hanging there the next day, which was the Sabbath (and a very special Sabbath, because it was Passover week). So they asked Pilate to hasten their deaths by ordering that their legs be broken. Then their bodies could be taken down. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the two men crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they didn’t break his legs. One of the soldiers, however, pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water flowed out. (This report is from an eyewitness giving an accurate account. He speaks the truth so that you also may continue to believe.) These things happened in fulfillment of the Scriptures that say, “Not one of his bones will be broken,” and “They will look on the one they pierced.”
The Burial of Jesus
Afterward Joseph of Arimathea, who had been a secret disciple of Jesus (because he feared the Jewish leaders), asked Pilate for permission to take down Jesus’ body. When Pilate gave permission, Joseph came and took the body away. With him came Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus at night. He brought about seventy-five pounds of perfumed ointment made from myrrh and aloes. Following Jewish burial custom, they wrapped Jesus’ body with the spices in long sheets of linen cloth. The place of crucifixion was near a garden, where there was a new tomb, never used before. And so, because it was the day of preparation for the Jewish Passover and since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.
- John 19:1-42

The account of how the leaders of God’s people responded to encountering Jesus has always shocked and confused me. They judged him based on their perception and preconceived ideas of what he was and what he should be. Maybe if they had lowered their voices and put their agendas aside and listened to him there would have been a different outcome? Maybe their hearts would have been changed and their selfish agendas transformed into a greater mission of learning from and serving Jesus and ultimately serving his people. 

So now comes the hard part - the realization that my reaction to Jesus as a leader can sometimes resemble the Jewish leaders. Especially the fear that if I accept who he really is, my heart and my actions should reflect his heart and character. That would mean I would actually have to love people unconditionally. Not just the people I like that are easy to love, but also the ones that annoy me and are hard to love. That’s really hard for me. Can’t I just keep my own version of who Jesus is so I can stay in my comfort zone? Stepping out and following someone whose entire goal is to save the world is quite intimidating. Maybe that’s why the Jews in this text reacted the way they did. 

Or maybe it was because they didn’t want to lose control. I like being in control. Don’t you? It feels safe and powerful. But maybe when Jesus said to Pilate, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above” - anything and everything, God controls. So if that’s the case, then it’s pretty silly to think that anything I fear needs to be under my control. 

If I believe God’s word (and I do), then Jesus was assuring us that even in the darkest moments, when you are in a situation that feels out of control and you are afraid and feel like giving up, that he is always there and always in control. That makes me feel powerful and ready to take another step on the path of following my Father who loves me unconditionally and is in control. 

Prayer
 

Father, thank you for loving me unconditionally, even when I let my fear get in the way of following you and I try to control things myself. Thank you for sacrificing your son for me so that I could have the freedom and eternal life that only can be found through you.” 

Next Step

What people, things, or circumstances make you fearful? Does the idea of truly encountering and accepting Jesus cause you to fear what comes next? How can you begin to trust that Jesus is in complete control? What bold step will you take today as a result of your trust in him?