John 19:1-22 The King: Crucified on the Cross

John 19:1-22      The King: Crucified on the Cross             WC McCarter

After looking at Isaiah 53, we now have a prophesy of what Jesus would do, we have a theology to understand the cross, and we have vocabulary with which we can discuss the crucifixion. Let us now turn to John’s description of the actual and historical suffering, crucifixion, and death of Jesus Christ and interpret it through the lens of Isaiah 53. A verse from the third servant song appears to be very relevant today. It comes from Isa 50:6.

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Scourged, But Innocent (1-4)
Jesus was flogged severely. Sometimes this was done as a punishment and then the man would be freed, and other times it was done as part of the crucifixion process. Men would sometimes die from the flogging. The Romans intended to take the person to the brink of death. The whip had pieces of bone and metal in the tips. Apparently Pilate had Jesus flogged in order to appease the Jews so that he could let Jesus go because He found Jesus to be innocent. Maybe the Jews would think it was punishment served, or maybe they would have sympathy on Jesus once they saw Him. Of course, they thought neither.

The crown of thorns, purple robe, and the repeated praise were to mock Jesus. Thorns were the punishment for sin in Genesis, and now we see thorns placed on His head (our punishment, as it were, placed on Him). The beatings continued even after the scourging as the soldiers continued to mock Him. Jesus suffered greatly.

It is interesting that Pilate says that he found no fault in Jesus although he had already had Him scourged. Pilate made a statement of innocence to the Jewish leaders all the way back in 18:38. The only explanation that works in my mind for why Pilate had Jesus scourged although he believed Him to be innocent is that Pilate was trying to release Him, but the Jewish pressure was mounting all the more.

We Have a Law (5-7)
Jesus was then presented to the crowd, surely in a horrible looking state. Pilate's words ironically sound like Zec 6:12, “Then speak to him, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, saying: ‘Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH!
From His place He shall branch out, and He shall build the temple of the Lord.’” Like the High Priest before him, Pilate is speaking truth that is beyond his own comprehension. He says more than he knows about Jesus.

Crucifixion was universally known as the worst and cruelest way to die. The Romans almost never put their own citizens to death this way. Pilate's statement to the Jewish leaders is probably sarcasm. They brought Jesus to him for trial, but they were not willing to accept his judgment. He says that Jesus is innocent, and if the Jews think He is guilty, then they ought to put Him to death themselves.

Their "law" must be Lev 24:16, “And whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall certainly stone him, the stranger as well as him who is born in the land. When he blasphemes the name of the Lord, he shall be put to death.” The charge against Jesus by the Jews is that of blasphemy.

This verse offers us an understanding of the term “Son of God.” To claim that title was to claim divinity, even the Jewish rulers knew this. They called Jesus blasphemous because they did not think He was divine. For those who say that Jesus never claimed to be divine, they are completely mistaken. He claimed this for Himself, and the Jewish rulers testified that He did. The real question is whether or not the claim is true. The Jewish rulers did not think so. Thus, they called Him blasphemous and had Him put to death. Christians throughout the ages have believed that the claim was/is true. Jesus is God.

You Are Not Caesar’s Friend (8-12)
Pilate was more afraid than ever at this point. This was an even bigger deal than he first expected. He hears that Jesus claimed to be the divine, and he meets Jesus face-to-face. He is really beginning to wonder about all of this. What does Pilate do? He tries to flex-his-muscles, as it were. The Roman official thinks he has a lot of authority, power to release and power to crucify, but he is not the ultimate authority. Honestly, I feel like Pilate is quite weak here. He is powerless in the face of the Jewish authorities. He will not be without sin, but his sin is far less than that of the Jews. Pilate was set up by them.

And, thus, the next phrase proves my point. Pilate tried to release Jesus, but the Jews backed him into a corner. They seem to blackmail him by saying that he was no friend of Caesar's if he released Jesus. They then make Jesus out to be a treasonous rebel who has set Himself up as a King opposed to Caesar.

Crucify Him: King of the Jews (13-22)
Pilate sits on the judgment seat to rule on this matter, and he basically has no options (from a worldly, political point of view). He had Jesus out there for all to see as well. This was Friday, the day of preparation of the Passover (meaning the day of Passover week to prepare for the Sabbath). Pilate mockingly says, Here is your king! The Jews reply, away with Him! Crucify Him! Pilate replies sarcastically, shall I crucify your king? And the high priests declare that they have no king but Caesar. (And, think, they accused Jesus of blasphemy!). So, Pilate delivers Jesus over to be crucified, thinking that he has no other choice but to appease the Jewish rulers or else face political consequences.

Jesus carries His own cross outside the city to the site called the place of the skull where He was crucified between two criminals with a sign above Him saying that He was King of the Jews. A placard fastened to the cross was common and stated the criminal's offense. From John's perspective, and ours, it is ironic because He is King, but Pilate probably did it to get back at the Jewish leaders who pressured him into this judgment. It was one last jab at the Jews from Pilate. The chief priests were not happy with the inscription, but Pilate did not change it.


(1) The people’s rejection of Jesus as Christ and as divine was clear and emphatic. They wanted nothing to do with Him. They wanted to rid the world of Him. They saw Him as a nuisance, instigator, blasphemer, and more. We now see the words of John chapter one play out: “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” and also John chapter three, “the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”

(2) Think of the theology and language we have from Isaiah 53 which we can use to interpret John 19: [A] “He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” [B] “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” [C] “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” [D] “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth.”

(3) The cross is the center of our life and faith. What happened at Calvary is our salvation. We must accurately understand that event and be able to explain it to those that are open to the Gospel message.