Saint John – Chapter 19

The Bible – New Testament

Saint John

Chapter 19


1 Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged.


And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head, and clothed him in a purple cloak,


and they came to him and said, «Hail, King of the Jews!» And they struck him repeatedly.


Once more Pilate went out and said to them, «Look, I am bringing him out to you, so that you may know that I find no guilt in him.»


So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak. And he said to them, «Behold, the man!»


When the chief priests and the guards saw him they cried out, «Crucify him, crucify him!» Pilate said to them, «Take him yourselves and crucify him. I find no guilt in him.»


2 The Jews answered, «We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.»


Now when Pilate heard this statement, he became even more afraid,


and went back into the praetorium and said to Jesus, «Where are you from?» Jesus did not answer him.


So Pilate said to him, «Do you not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you and I have power to crucify you?»


Jesus answered (him), «You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above. For this reason the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.»


Consequently, Pilate tried to release him; but the Jews cried out, «If you release him, you are not a Friend of Caesar. 3 Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.»


When Pilate heard these words he brought Jesus out and seated him 4 on the judge’s bench in the place called Stone Pavement, in Hebrew, Gabbatha.


It was preparation day for Passover, and it was about noon. 5 And he said to the Jews, «Behold, your king!»


They cried out, «Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!» Pilate said to them, «Shall I crucify your king?» The chief priests answered, «We have no king but Caesar.»


Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. 6 So they took Jesus,


and carrying the cross himself 7 he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha.


There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus in the middle.


8 Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, «Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews.»


Now many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek.


So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, «Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that he said, ‘I am the King of the Jews.'»


Pilate answered, «What I have written, I have written.»


9 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four shares, a share for each soldier. They also took his tunic, but the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top down.


So they said to one another, «Let’s not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it will be,» in order that the passage of scripture might be fulfilled (that says): «They divided my garments among them, and for my vesture they cast lots.» This is what the soldiers did.


10 Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala.


When Jesus saw his mother 11 and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, «Woman, behold, your son.»


Then he said to the disciple, «Behold, your mother.» And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.


After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, 12 Jesus said, «I thirst.»


There was a vessel filled with common wine. 13 So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth.


14 When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, «It is finished.» And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.


Now since it was preparation day, in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath, for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one, the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken and they be taken down.


So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus.


But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs,


15 but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out.


An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true; he knows 16 that he is speaking the truth, so that you also may (come to) believe.


For this happened so that the scripture passage might be fulfilled: «Not a bone of it will be broken.»


And again another passage says: «They will look upon him whom they have pierced.»


17 After this, Joseph of Arimathea, secretly a disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus. And Pilate permitted it. So he came and took his body.


Nicodemus, the one who had first come to him at night, also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes weighing about one hundred pounds.


They took the body of Jesus and bound it with burial cloths along with the spices, according to the Jewish burial custom.


Now in the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried.


So they laid Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day; for the tomb was close by.

1 [1] Luke places the mockery of Jesus at the midpoint in the trial when Jesus was sent to Herod. Mark and Matthew place the scourging and mockery at the end of the trial after the sentence of death. Scourging was an integral part of the crucifixion penalty.
2 [7] Made himself the Son of God: this question was not raised in John’s account of the Jewish interrogations of Jesus as it was in the synoptic account. Nevertheless, see ⇒ John 5:18; ⇒ 8:53; ⇒ 10:36.
3 [12] Friend of Caesar: a Roman honorific title bestowed upon high-ranking officials for merit.
4 [13] Seated him: others translate «(Pilate) sat down.» In John’s thought, Jesus is the real judge of the world, and John may here be portraying him seated on the judgment bench. Stone Pavement: in Greek lithostrotos; under the fortress Antonia, one of the conjectured locations of the praetorium, a massive stone pavement has been excavated. Gabbatha (Aramaic rather than Hebrew) probably means «ridge, elevation.»
5 [14] Noon: ⇒ Mark 15:25 has Jesus crucified «at the third hour,» which means either 9 A.M. or the period from 9 to 12. Noon, the time when, according to John, Jesus was sentenced to death, was the hour at which the priests began to slaughter Passover lambs in the temple; see ⇒ John 1:29.
6 [16] He handed him over to them to be crucified: in context this would seem to mean «handed him over to the chief priests.» ⇒ Luke 23:25 has a similar ambiguity. There is a polemic tendency in the gospels to place the guilt of the crucifixion on the Jewish authorities and to exonerate the Romans from blame. But John later mentions the Roman soldiers (⇒ John 19:23), and it was to these soldiers that Pilate handed Jesus over.
7 [17] Carrying the cross himself: a different picture from that of the synoptics, especially ⇒ Luke 23:26 where Simon of Cyrene is made to carry the cross, walking behind Jesus. In John’s theology, Jesus remained in complete control and master of his destiny (cf ⇒ John 10:18). Place of the Skull: the Latin word for skull is Calvaria; hence «Calvary.» Golgotha is actually an Aramaic rather than a Hebrew word.
8 [19] The inscription differs with slightly different words in each of the four gospels. John’s form is fullest and gives the equivalent of the Latin INRI = Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum. Only John mentions its polyglot character ( John 19:20) and Pilate’s role in keeping the title unchanged ( John 19:21-22).
9 [23-25a] While all four gospels describe the soldiers casting lots to divide Jesus’ garments (see the note on ⇒ Matthew 27:35), only John quotes the underlying passage from ⇒ Psalm 22:19, and only John sees each line of the poetic parallelism literally carried out in two separate actions (⇒ John 19:23-24).
10 [25] It is not clear whether four women are meant, or three (i.e., Mary the wife of Cl[e]opas [cf ⇒ Luke 24:18] is in apposition with his mother’s sister) or two (his mother and his mother’s sister, i.e., Mary of Cl[e]opas and Mary of Magdala). Only John mentions the mother of Jesus here. The synoptics have a group of women looking on from a distance at the cross (⇒ Mark 15:40).
11 [26-27] This scene has been interpreted literally, of Jesus’ concern for his mother; and symbolically, e.g., in the light of the Cana story in John 2 (the presence of the mother of Jesus, the address woman, and the mention of the hour) and of the upper room in John 13 (the presence of the beloved disciple; the hour). Now that the hour has come (⇒ John 19:28), Mary (a symbol of the church?) is given a role as the mother of Christians (personified by the beloved disciple); or, as a representative of those seeking salvation, she is supported by the disciple who interprets Jesus’ revelation; or Jewish and Gentile Christianity (or Israel and the Christian community) are reconciled.
12 [28] The scripture . . . fulfilled: either in the scene of ⇒ John 19:25-27, or in the I thirst of ⇒ John 19:28. If the latter, ⇒ Psalm 22:16; ⇒ 69:22 deserve consideration.
13 [29] Wine: John does not mention the drugged wine, a narcotic that Jesus refused as the crucifixion began (⇒ Mark 15:23), but only this final gesture of kindness at the end (⇒ Mark 15:36). Hyssop, a small plant, is scarcely suitable for carrying a sponge (Mark mentions a reed) and may be a symbolic reference to the hyssop used to daub the blood of the paschal lamb on the doorpost of the Hebrews (⇒ Exodus 12:22).
14 [30] Handed over the spirit: there is a double nuance of dying (giving up the last breath or spirit) and that of passing on the holy Spirit; see ⇒ John 7:39 which connects the giving of the Spirit with Jesus’ glorious return to the Father, and ⇒ John 20:22 where the author portrays the conferral of the Spirit.
15 [34-35] John probably emphasizes these verses to show the reality of Jesus’ death, against the Docetist heretics. In the blood and water there may also be a symbolic reference to the Eucharist and baptism.
16 [35] He knows: it is not certain from the Greek that this he is the eyewitness of the first part of the sentence. May [come to] believe: see the note on ⇒ John 20:31.
17 [38-42] In the first three gospels there is no anointing on Friday. In Matthew and Luke the women come to the tomb on Sunday morning precisely to anoint Jesus.