John 19:17-27: Look at the Cross
December 17, 2021
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Jesus is crucified. Could it be? What kind of world do we live in where the most righteous, the most humble, the most glorious, the most extraordinary person who ever was, is killed for being who he was? The answer: the kind of world that needs saving through the sacrificial death of the Son of God. Any theology of humanity that does not take into account the depravity displayed by the necessity of the cross is failing to take into account who we are at our most terrible: lost.
At the same time, any kind of theology that fails to take into account the wondrous person of God revealed at the cross is failing to take into account who God is at his most glorious: love. At the cross, who we are is never more clearly revealed. And, at the cross, who God is also is never more clearly revealed. He is loving, yes, and just, and at the cross, love and justice meet in the event of divine salvation.
Pilate, an unwitting partner in this devastating event, saves his last ironic touch to the end. He has put on the cross the phrase for which Jesus was condemned: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” (19:19). The chief priests want Pilate to amend this title to say that Jesus claimed to be the King of the Jews (19:21). But Pilate, now fed up with capitulating to these troublesome priests, replies “what I have written, I have written” (19:22). Jesus is indeed the King. And in his death he is shown to reign over all nations as the Messiah King so long ago predicted in the Jewish Old Testament Scriptures. Even the way the soldiers divide his garments among themselves (19:23-24) confirms this fulfillment event that resonates with the sound of “Messiah” in every moment at Golgotha.
The Son of God is crucified—and yet also the Son of Man. Seeing his mother and the disciple “whom Jesus loved” (presumably John, the author of the Gospel), he puts his mother into the safekeeping of John, and John into the safekeeping of his mother (19:26-27). What man is this who in his hour of death is ensuring that his mother is well cared for? A great man, a godly man—and far more than a man.
The great remedy for all spiritual ills is the cross. Think you pridefully of yourself? Look at the cross. Think too little of yourself? Look at the cross. There you will see enough to humble the biggest head there ever was, as well as to lift high the head of the most broken. God loved us. He loves us this—this cross—much. That means that we have no reason to think well of ourselves because we needed to be rescued; and we have no reason to be insecure because we were rescued. The love of God loves us because he is love, not because we are lovely. And so pride is defeated, as well as self-hate.
Wrestle with a sin that you cannot kill? Look at the cross. For he who hung dead for you, can you not put off that habit! Resist an uncomfortable duty or an inconvenient vocation? Look at the cross! He who saved you has command of you, and our response to his call is to be that we hear and we obey. Find it hard to discover joy? Look at the cross! All your sins are gone, all your future is secure, all your eternal needs are established—and you are free! Free from sin, and free to serve!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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