John 19:31-42: Jesus: God’s Passover Lamb

Read: John 19:31-42

Crucifixion was a slow and painful death for the one being crucified. He would have to push up with his legs or pull up with his arms to breath. Breaking the legs of the prisoners on the cross would force them to use their arms to pull up while they were dying, thereby tiring the faster, and speeding up the process. The Jews wanted the prisoners to die faster so the bodies would not be left hanging outside Jerusalem while it was Passover. No Jew would defile himself by touching a dead body on the holiday or else he would not be able to celebrate the Passover. Jesus was already dead, so rather than break his legs, they stabbed him in the side. Jesus would certainly be dead as a result. John reckons this to be a fulfillment of the requirements for the Passover lamb that was slain every year for the feast and was eaten (Exodus 12:46). Jesus was elsewhere called the “Lamb of God” that takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29, John 1:36) and the “Lamb” all throughout the book of Revelation.  Peter comments on the matter, saying that Jesus was the Lamb and it was through the blood of the Jesus that men are redeemed (1 Peter 1:18-19). Up to this point, John notes the pseudo trials before Pilate and Caiaphas were Jesus’ guilt is never established. He is crucified not because he is guilty, but because Caiaphas and Pilate had ulterior motives. Jesus’ bones were not broken and he was a certainly without blemish. Through this sort of sacrifice, the law was fulfilled.

John also reckons that in the piercing of Jesus’ side, that Jesus also fulfilled Zechariah 12:10. The passage speaks of a pouring out of the Spirit of God and they will look on the one they have pierced with mourning. This outpouring came in Acts 2 when Peter preached a sermon at Pentecost. Luke records that those who heard Peter’s sermon were “pierced” in their own heart. Certainly, anyone who had just been told that they had just killed one sent from God would have been mourning such a deed because of the conviction that was laid on heavy and thick. One of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to convict people of their sins (John 16:8). The piercing of Jesus was noted here to point to when Jesus would start drawing all men unto himself, much like the fulfillment of Psalm 22 in which the world would turn and worship him.

Joseph of Arimathia asked Pilate for the body of Jesus because he was a follower of Jesus, but in secret. He was afraid of the Jews too. He, alongside Nicodemus prepared the body of Jesus for burial and put Jesus in a tomb in which no one else had laid. The tomb was apparently very close to the location of the crucifixion. This was apparently done in haste so that the body would not be left up and to fulfill the law requiring executions in Deuteronomy 21:33.

The sacrifice of Jesus is nothing to be taken lightly. Jesus gave his life so that others may live eternally. The good news about Jesus is that he did not stay dead and is able to receive worship because of this. Jesus’ resurrection is proof that resurrection is possible and that there is a real hope for those who believe. But even with this hope, one should never forget what it cost Jesus. Jesus gave Christians a vivid reminder of his sacrifice in communion. This symbol was a proclamation of the Lord’s death until he comes (1 Corinthians 11:26). His body was broken and his blood was spilled so that he would fulfill the law and make a way for mankind. Jesus was not the sacrificial lamb of a man that was required year after year, but God’s Lamb more perfect in every way than anything of this world. This one Lamb was the once and final sacrifice for all men (Hebrews 7:27). The appropriate response to this should be conviction because it was one’s own sin that put Jesus on the cross. One should mourn this and be sorrowful because of it, but at the same time, be joyful that God loves them and that in his mercy made a way. This is truly amazing love!

Lord, help me not forget what you did for me!

John 1:35-51: Bring People To Jesus

Read: John 1:35-51

“Behold the Lamb of God,” John declared. John had already declared this the day before in John 1:29. While it’s not explicitly stated, John could be referring to Jesus as the Messianic Lamb spoke about in Isaiah 53:1-12 because Andrew acknowledges Jesus as the Messiah (John 1:41). Isaiah describes a lamb that lead to the slaughter that would bear the sin of the people. 1 Corinthians 5:7 and 1 Peter 1:19-20 liken Jesus to the sacrificial Lamb and John explicitly calls Jesus a slain Lamb in Revelation 5:9 and Revelation 13:8. Undoubtedly, John knew that Jesus was the sacrificial lamb the law required as a sacrifice (Exodus 29:38, Numbers 28:1-13) and the significance of the lamb as Passover (Exodus 12:1-13). At the Passover Seder Jesus had with his disciples, he commissioned the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper which he use the elements of bread to signify a broken body and wine to signify blood spilled (Luke 20:14-20). The Lamb of God that takes of away the sins of the world is the ultimate sacrifice (Hebrews 10:1-14), and when John points to Jesus calling him this, they leave John to follow Jesus. Andrew was one of those two following John who left John to follow Jesus, and Andrew brought Peter to Jesus.

Nathanael’s conversion is rather interesting. After Phillip followed Jesus, Phillip calls to Nathanael and when Nathanael first hears about Jesus, he’s skeptical because of his origins in Nazareth. This was probably because many Jews felt that people from Nazareth were traitors of sort because many of the Jews in Nazareth worked for the nearby Roman encampment, the occupying army and enemy. When Nathanael comes to Jesus, Jesus makes a statement about him saying there is no deceit. Nathanael apparently had no problem speaking his mind per his statements about Nazareth and his question to Jesus, “How do you know me?” to one revered as a rabbi. Jesus says he saw (“ειδον” means “see” in the original Greek and can mean to literally see or perceive in one’s mind) him under a fig tree and then Nathanael declares that Jesus is the Son of God and King of Israel. Jesus seems surprised by this when Nathanael believes. What’s not clear is if this is because Nathanael was incredulous or if Nathanael believed based on a demonstration of Jesus’ omnipotence as there was something unsaid about Nathanael that was going on while he was under the fig tree. It’s probably the latter because Jesus knew the content of Nathanael’s character rather than his mere appearance. In any case, Nathanael believed in Jesus.

What’s interesting here is what’s going on with people bringing others to Jesus. John brought Andrew and Andrew brought Peter. Jesus called Phillip and Phillip brought Nathanael. Already, early in Jesus’ ministry, people were bringing others to Jesus so they could encounter Jesus for themselves. John declares Jesus is the Lamb and some turn to follow (John 1:36). Andrew calls him the Messiah (John 1:41) and some call to follow him. Phillip declares that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law and prophets (John 1:45) and some go and follow. In any case, they are declaring something about Jesus and people are coming to Jesus and having a personal encounter with him. When we declare Jesus, we should be as these early converts, point to Jesus as the one who takes away sin and the one who delivers us from our sin. This message is a quintessential part of the gospel. Romans 10:14-17 says that some are sent to preach, and that faith comes by hearing. This process of believing then bringing others to Christ is what is happening here in John and it continues to this day.

Lord, I believe. Help me declare you and bring others to you so they too can believe!