20. Journey to the cross: John’s perspective on his best friend’s death

John was Jesus’ most trusted friend. He did not write his gospel account in first person (using the word “I”). Instead, when referring to himself, he wrote “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23, 19:26, 20:2, 21:20).

John testified to what he saw and heard during the seder meal that the Twelve shared at the beginning of that fateful night. He wrote down many of the hopeful and encouraging truths that Jesus shared at that gathering. Here are a few of the highlights …

  • [Jesus speaking] “‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.’

    Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’

    Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.’”  (John 14:1-7, NIV)

  • [Jesus speaking]  “’If you love me, keep my commands.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him,because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.  Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.  Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.’” (John 15-21, NIV)
  • [Jesus speaking] “‘All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.'” (John 14:25-27, NIV)
  • [Jesus speaking] ““I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble.But take heart! I have overcome the world.'” (John 16:33, NIV)

John was the only disciple who was with Jesus during His mock trials. He actually stood at the foot of the cross and watched as his best friend was dying a horrific death. Jesus charged John with the care of his mother before He died. Not His half-brothers. Not His half-sisters. Not His mother’s good friend. But His disciple, John. (John 19:25-27)

Here is John’s account of what he witnessed …

“So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull(which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).  There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle….

“When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.

“’Let’s not tear it,’ they said to one another. ‘Let’s decide by lot who will get it.’

“This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said,

‘They divided my clothes among them
    and cast lots for my garment.’ [Psalm 22:18]

“So this is what the soldiers did….

Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips.  When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other.  But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.  The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.  These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: ‘Not one of his bones will be broken,’ [Psalm 34:20] and, as another scripture says, ‘They will look on the one they have pierced’ [Zechariah 12:10].”

(John 19:16-37, NIV)

 

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT: I have a plaque on my wall that I treasure. It reads: “Every prophecy of God that spoke about the coming Messiah was perfectly fulfilled in Jesus Christ.”  To that I say, AMEN!

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