John 19


John 19:1 So then Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him.


Pilate found himself in a difficult political situation. Even though he knew Jesus was innocent, he allowed the Jewish people to influence him, which is why he ordered Jesus to be scourged. Scourging was normally done before a person was crucified, but Pilate was hoping the Jews would be satisfied with the scourging alone (Lk. 23:22). Scourging is one the most brutal punishments that has ever been invented.


Mr. Hester writes:


 The scourge was a whip with several thongs, each loaded with acorn-shaped balls of lead, with sharp pieces of bone or spikes.  Stripped of His clothes, His hands tied by a lictor, who plied these instruments of torture with severity almost to the point of the death of the prisoner. Each stroke cut into the quivering flesh, until the veins and sometimes the entrails were laid bare.  Often the scourge struck the face and knocked out the eyes and teeth.  Scourging almost always ended in fainting and sometimes even in death (H. I. Hester, The Heart of the New Testament (Liberty, Missouri: The William Jewell Press, 1962), p. 213.).


Mr. Lipscomb writes:


The scourge was made of rods or throngs with pieces of bone or lead fastened to one end. The condemned person received the blows while fastened to a post so as to have the back bent and the skin stretched. With the blows the back became raw and the blood spurted out. The punishment was so cruel that the condemned person very often succumbed to it immediately. (David Lipscomb, A Commentary on the Gospel by John (Nashville, Tennessee: Gospel Advocate Company, 1966).


It was not uncommon for people to die from being scourged, which explains why Jesus could not carry His own cross. Thinking about Jesus having to endure such a brutal beating makes me cringe and breaks my heart especially knowing He was innocent and endured it for us. Isaiah prophesied about this moment when he wrote, “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” (Isa. 53:5).  


John 19:2 And the soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe.  3 Then they said, "Hail, King of the Jews!" And they struck Him with their hands.


We are given more details about this event in Matthew 27:27-31 and Mark 15:16-20. All of this was done to mock Jesus and to humiliate Him. We do not know for sure what kind of thorns was used because there were many varieties available. It could have been a prickly plant, or one with bigger thorns. The main purpose for all of this was to give Him a crown, a robe, and a reed for His right hand so they could mock Him for being a king. They bowed down and worshipped Him and gave Him praises as a king, and they spat on Him, hit Him with their hands, and beat Him on the head with the reed. All this happened after He endured His scourging.


John 19:4 Pilate then went out again, and said to them, "Behold, I am bringing Him out to you, that you may know that I find no fault in Him."  5 Then Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them, "Behold the Man!"


Once again, Pilate faces these blood thirty Jews who wanted Jesus dead. Pilate knew Jesus was innocent, and he was hoping if he presented Him before them scourged and dressed in this ridiculous attire that it would suffice. Pilate wanted them to see that Jesus has no power and that He had suffered enough.


John 19:6 Therefore, when the chief priests and officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, "Crucify Him, crucify Him!" Pilate said to them, "You take Him and crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him."  7 The Jews answered him, "We have a law, and according to our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God." 


Pilate’s plan did not work. These Jews had no compassion, and they would not be satisfied until Jesus was dead. They shouted “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” Even though Jesus knew He would have to endure all this, it had to be difficult hearing these Jews hatred toward Him. While He was suffering from is scourging, beatings, and the hatred of these Jews, He still loved them and was willing to die for them.


These Jews made several accusations about Jesus and why He should die, but the real reason came out. They wanted Him dead because “He made Himself the Son of God” (Mk. 14:62; Jn. 5:18; 10:30-33). If Jesus’ claim was false, the Law of Moses states that He should be put to death:


Leviticus 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.


Notice, the death was to be done by the Jews with stones, but Jesus was not guilty of this because He is the Son of God, and He had proven it over and over again.


John 19:8 Therefore, when Pilate heard that saying, he was the more afraid,  9 and went again into the Praetorium, and said to Jesus, "Where are You from?" But Jesus gave him no answer.  10 Then Pilate said to Him, "Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?"  11 Jesus answered, "You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin."


Pilate was supposed to be in control, but He was starting to feel powerless, and he was afraid. If a riot broke out, he would have some explaining to do to Caesar, and if he went against the Jews, his new friendship with Herod would be in jeopardy. He also had the warning from his wife about Jesus to think about as well (Mt. 27:19).


Once more, he goes into the Praetorium to question Jesus, but this time Jesus is silent as Isaiah prophesied He would be at times (Isa. 53:7). Jesus already told Pilate everything he needed to know, and it would be pointless for Him to say anything else. But Pilate is surprised by Jesus’ silence. Apparently Pilate thought Jesus would do whatever He could to talk him out of putting Him to death. It is possible he was hoping Jesus might give him a valid reason not to succumb to this angry mob.


Pilate pronounces his authority over Jesus’ life or death. Jesus tells Pilate the only reason he has any authority is because God had allowed him to have it. This same principle is taught throughout the Bible (Job 12:23; Dan. 5:17-28; Rom. 13:1).


Who delivered Jesus to Pilate? Was it Judas, Caiaphas, or the Jewish nation? Judas certainly had his part in handing Jesus over to Pilate, and so did Annas because he sent Jesus to Caiaphas who was the high priest that represented the Sanhedrin council. Caiaphas’ decision made him guilty of this sin as well, but the chief priests and elders were also responsible for handing Him over (Mt. 27:1). So, I believe all of these people involved were guilty of a greater sin especially Caiaphas because he knew the Law of Moses and should have known that Jesus was the Messiah.


While sin in general will separate us from God and should be avoided, Jesus implies there are different levels of sin. We are not given many details about this, but Jesus also implies various degrees of punishment in hell:


  • It will be more tolerable for Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom (Mt. 11:20-24; 10:15).
  • The one who knows the master’s will will be beaten with many stripes (Lk. 12:42-48).
  • Those who trample on the Son of God deserve a worse punishment (Heb. 10:26-31).
  • Those who know the truth and turn from it, their sinful state will be worse (2 Pet. 2:20-22).
  • Those who teach will be judged with a stricter judgment (Jam. 3:1).


The greater the sin, the greater the punishment will be. While we do not know the specifics, one thing we do know is that sin separates us from God whether it is small or big.  


John 19:12 From then on Pilate sought to release Him, but the Jews cried out, saying, "If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar's friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar."  13 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus out and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha.


No one every found Jesus guilty of deserving death, and Pilate tried to find a way to release Him. Earlier, Pilate proclaimed Jesus’ innocence before them all.


Matthew 27:24 When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, "I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it."


These opposing Jews knew exactly how to back Pilate into a corner because they knew it was against Roman law for anyone to proclaim themselves a king. If someone did this, it was punishable by death. If Caesar found out that Pilate let a self-proclaimed king go, it would be the end of his career. So, Pilate sat in his official judgment seat and pronounced Jesus’ death by crucifixion. Even though Pilate proclaimed His innocence and the Jews said let Jesus’ blood be on us and our children (Mt. 27:25), Pilate was still guilty of allowing this innocent man to be murdered.


John 19:14 Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, "Behold your King!"  15 But they cried out, "Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar!"  16 Then he delivered Him to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus and led Him away.


Once again, we have a reference of the Passover being on that Friday and being the Preparation Day. Some might think this refers to preparing for the Passover meal, but as we examined John 18, the Passover can refer to lamb, the meal, or the feast of unleavened bread.


The Passover meal preparation took place the day before on Thursday, and at twilight (between the two evenings) the Pascal lamb would have been killed. That night, which would be the next day according to Jewish time, is when the Passover meal was eaten (Ex. 12). So, Friday was not the preparation for the Passover meal, it was the preparation for the feast of the unleavened bread in which all leaven had to be removed from their homes (Ex. 12).


Guy N. Woods explains:


The `preparation day' was the day preceding the beginning of the seven days' feast of unleavened bread Friday. `Passover' signifies the entire period of the feast, the first day of which was the sabbath (John 19:31,42; Mark 15:42; Matt. 27:62; Luke 23:54).  The `sixth hour' was 6 a.m., according to Roman reckoning which John followed, and is in complete harmony with Mark's statement (Mark 15:25), that Jesus was crucified at the third hour, by Jewish computation (which Mark followed), was 9 a.m.  Under Roman law, sentence could not be pronounced earlier than 6 a.m.; it is probable than an hour or so elapsed before the court proceedings were completed and Jesus was delivered up to be crucified.  The painful trip to Calvary was to occur before the crucifixion would begin (Guy N. Woods, A Commentary on the Gospel according to John (Nashville, Tennessee: Gospel Advocate Company, 1981), p. 397-398).


In verses 14 and 15 Pilate seems to be taunting these Jews by saying Jesus is their king and asking them if they are sure they want him to crucify their king. They did not like these comments at all, so they said crucify Him. They even called Caesar their king. It is amazing how people will change their loyalties to bring about their own desires.


John 19:17 And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha,  18 where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center.


John focuses on what Jesus did during this time, but the other accounts give us more information of what happened as Jesus made His was to Golgotha. Jesus started out carrying His cross, but as some point during His journey He could no longer bear it. So, a man named Simon was forced to carry the cross for Him by the Roman soldiers (Mk. 15:21; Lk. 23:26). While we do not know for sure, it is believed that Jesus was not carrying the entire cross, but the cross bar. It is estimated that the crossbar weighed around 75 lbs and was put across the shoulders of the victim with their arms stretched out and their hands tied.  Next, Luke records:


Luke 23:27 And a great multitude of the people followed Him, and women who also mourned and lamented Him.  28 But Jesus, turning to them, said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.  29 "For indeed the days are coming in which they will say, 'Blessed are the barren, wombs that never bore, and breasts which never nursed!'  30 "Then they will begin 'to say to the mountains, "Fall on us!" and to the hills, "Cover us!" '  31 "For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry?"


A great number of people were following Jesus as He made His way outside the city. The women that followed were beating their chest in grief and wailing for Jesus. Even though He was not strong enough to carry His cross, He managed to speak to these women and tell them not weep for Him. Instead, He wants them to weep for themselves and their children and even states that those who are barren and have no children will be blessed. The reason He is saying this is because Jerusalem would be destroyed and many Jews would lose their lives as He predicted in Matthew 24.


Of course His prediction came true because starting around A.D. 66, the Romans began to attack the Jews, and in A.D. 70, they surrounded the city of Jerusalem for about five months. According to Josephus, starvation became so bad in the city that a woman killed and ate her own baby (The War of the Jews 6.3.4).


Verse 31 is a proverbial saying, and I believe Mr. Coffman explains it best:


This proverbial expression has been variously interpreted; but it would appear that Farrar's explanation is correct: "If they act thus to me, the Innocent and the Holy, what shall be the fate of these, the guilty and the false?" There is here a dramatic prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem, in which women especially would be deprived and suffer tribulations.

The green tree represents the innocent and holy Saviour in the spirituality and vigor of his life; the dry tree represents the morally dead and sapless people, typified by the fig tree, blasted by his word, four days earlier.

Thus, by this prophecy, as Jesus left the city for the last time, he prophesied its doom no less than he did upon entering it (Luke 19:41f). Not even the prospect of immediate death took the Saviour's mind away from the awful penalties that would fall upon Jerusalem for his rejection. The fires of suffering consuming Jesus (the green tree) would be nothing to compare with the fires of destruction that would burn up the dead tree (Jerusalem, judicially and morally dead) (Coffman’s commentary on Luke 23).


Jesus is taken to Golgotha, which is called the place of the Skull. No one knows with certainty where this place of execution took place, but many favor a hill located outside city that looks like a skull.


Before He was crucified, He was offered sour wine mingled with gall (Mt. 27:34). Gall is “a bitter substance made from wormwood, a plant yielding a bitter-tasting dark-green oil that is alcoholic in its effect” (Friberg Lexicon).  Mark’s account says it was mingled with myrrh (Mk. 15:23), which was “a transparent, brown, brittle, odorous substance, with bitter taste” (Fausset’s Bible dictionary). Some believe that both of these accounts are talking about the same substance while others believe both gall and myrrh were mixed with the sour wine. One thing we know for sure is this drink was designed to help sedate a person so he would have some relief from the pain, but when Jesus tasted it, He refused to drink it. He would endure all the pain of His crucifixion with a clear mind.


Jesus was not alone that day because two unnamed thieves called evildoers by Luke (Lk. 23:32) were being crucified as well. These two thieves deserved the punishment they received, but Jesus was innocent. Isaiah prophesied that He would be “numbered with the transgressors” (Isa. 53:12).  At 9 A.M., they crucified Him (Mk. 15:25).


The Romans were experts at crucifixion, and they executed in different ways using different crosses. According to Nelson’s Bible Dictionary there were four different types of crosses used:


  1. The Latin cross (shaped like a lower case “t”).
  2. The St. Anthony’s cross (shaped like a capital “T”).
  3. The St. Andrew’s cross (shaped like a capital “X”).
  4. The so-called Greek cross (shaped like a plus sign).

            (Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary p. 315)


It is believed that Jesus was crucified with either the Latin cross or St. Anthony’s cross. Since Matthew’s account says that a written accusation was placed above Jesus’ head (Mt. 27:37), this suggests the Latin cross was used because there had to be enough space for this sign to be attached that was written in three different languages (Jn. 19:20). Sometimes they would also have a crude seat about halfway down the cross, which was not designed for comfort, but to prolong the agony of the victim. Depending on the severity of the scourging the victim would live anywhere from three hours to three or four days. Notice what Mr. Hester says about this:


When the Romans conquered Palestine they continued the use of this form of punishment, but only in the case of slaves and the most vicious criminals.  Thus crucifixion carried with it a stigma.  It was a part of the humiliation of Jesus that he should be made to suffer this particular form of death.  It identified him with the lowest class of criminals. Crucifixion was an unspeakably horrible means of death.  Cicero in condemning it said, `"Let it never come near the body of a Roman citizen; nay, not even near his thoughts, or eyes, or ears."  Victims of crucifixion were suspended on a cross placed well above the ground....  It consisted of two rough beams or logs nailed together near the top of the upright beam which was placed in the ground.  The victim was usually stripped of all clothing, these garments falling to the lot of the executioners.  The upright was placed securely in the earth standing some ten feet above the ground.  The horizontal beam was placed on the ground, the victim was laid down with arms extended on this crossbar to which they were fastened with cords and afterward by nails driven through the palms.  The bar was then raised to its appointed place near the top of the upright where it was securely fastened.  The body of the victim was left suspended by the arms. The feet were then fastened to the upright by the use of long spikes driven through the balls of the feet.  Thus suspended the victim was left to hang in physical agony until death mercifully released him from suffering ... Since no vital organs were affected the poor victim lingered in the throes of the most excruciating pain.  Death came slowly; the victim often lived as long as two or three full days.  Throbbing with pain, burned with fever and tortured by thirst, these unfortunate men often prayed for the relief which only death could furnish (H. I. Hester, The Heart of the New Testament p. 214-215 – The Annual Denton Lectures – Studies in John Electronic Version).


The first thing they would do to Jesus was throw Him down on His back and stretch His arms out on the cross beam. While this was happening dirt would be getting into open wounds on His back making his back hurt even more. Based on a crucified body dating around the first century that was found in an ossuary near Jerusalem, the nails that were used were about 5 to 7 inches long, and they were tapered iron spikes with a square shaft about 3/8 inch across (On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ – William D. Edwards, MD).


 They would drive these tapered spikes through hands of Jesus. While we do not know if they ran the spike through His palm or His wrist, both were considered part of the hand. Based on the evidence we have today, the spike was probably driven through the wrist because the ligaments are strong enough to hold the weight of a person, but a spike through the palm would almost always tear through the hand.


A spike driven through the wrist would cause even more intense pain to the victim. According to a physician:


Furthermore, the driven nail would crush or server the rather large sensorimotor median nerve. The stimulated nerve would produce excruciating bolts of fiery pain in both arms. Although the severed median nerve would result in paralysis of a portion of the hand, ischemic contractures and impalement of various ligaments by the iron spike might produce a claw like grasp (On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ – William D. Edwards, MD).


Next, Jesus would have been hoisted up on the cross and His feet would be nailed to the cross. There are different opinions on how His feet were nailed. Some believe His feet were nailed to the sides of the cross, while others believe they were nailed together on the front of the cross with one nail. There are also two possibilities of how they could have nailed the two feet together. The legs could have been together with the knees bent to one side, or the legs could have been in an open position with the legs spread out with the knees bent.


The only archeological evidence we have of a first century man being crucified was discovered by Vassilios Tzaferis in 1968. Kyle Butt writes:


In 1968, Vassilios Tzaferis found the first indisputable remains of a crucifixion victim. The victim’s skeleton had been placed in an ossuary that “was typical of those used by Jews in the Holy Land between the end of the second century B.C. and the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70” (McRay, 1991, p. 204). From an analysis of the skeletal remains of the victim, osteologists and other medical professionals from the Hadassah Medical School in Jerusalem were able to determine that the victim was a male between the approximate ages of 24 and 28 who was about 5 feet 6 inches tall. Based on the inscription of the ossuary, his name seems to have been “Yehohanan, the son of Hagakol,” although the last word of the description is still disputed (p. 204). The most significant piece of the victim’s skeleton is his right heel bone. A large spike- like nail had been hammered through the right heel. Between the head of the nail and the heel bone, several fragments of olive wood were found lodged. Randall Price, in his book, The Stones Cry Out, suggested that the nail apparently hit a knot in the olive stake upon which this man was crucified, causing the nail and heel to be removed together, due to the difficulty of removing the nail by itself (1997, p. 309) (Apologetic Press Archaeology and the New Testament).


There should be no doubt that people were crucified with nails during the first century. Once He was crucified, He would experience excruciating pain no matter what position He was in.


Dr. C. Truman Davis notes:

As He slowly sags down with more weight on the nails in the wrists excruciating pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain -- the nails in the writs are putting pressure on the median nerves. As He pushes Himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, He places His full weight on the nail through His feet. Again there is the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the metatarsal bones of the feet.

At this point, as the arms fatigue, great waves of cramps sweep over the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push Himself upward. Hanging by his arms, the pectoral muscles are paralyzed and the intercostal muscles are unable to act. Air can be drawn into the lungs, but cannot be exhaled. Jesus fights to raise Himself in order to get even one short breath. Finally, carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically, he is able to push Himself upward to exhale and bring in the life-giving oxygen. It was undoubtedly during these periods that He uttered the seven short sentences recorded (A Physician Testifies About the Crucifixion - The Review of the NEWS, April 14, 1976).

If the blood loss from the scourging did not ultimately kill the victim, he would either die from suffocation, exhaustion or even heart failure. I also want to point out that Psalm 22 prophecies around 20 different things that happened to Jesus during this time. Now that we know more about the physical details of our Lord’s death, let’s continue examining our text.

 19 Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.  20 Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.  21 Therefore the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, "Do not write, 'The King of the Jews,' but, 'He said, "I am the King of the Jews." ' "  22 Pilate answered, "What I have written, I have written."


Pilate had this inscription written as the crime Jesus was being punished for. When we examine all four Gospels, we discover the title read, “THIS IS JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” This is another instance where we have to look at all four Gospels to get the complete story because they each tell it from a different perspective. Most likely, Pilate came up with this title to chide these Jews, but these words were true.


According to verse 20, Golgotha was near the city, so everyone that passed by could see Jesus and the two thieves. The Romans did this on purpose so everyone would know that crimes will be punished. Jesus’ crime was written in three different languages. According to F.F. Bruce:


Hebrew (or Aramaic) was the vernacular of the Palestinian Jews; Latin was the official language of the Roman army; Greek was the common medium of culture and conversation in the eastern providences of the Roman Empire (F.F. Bruce, The Gospel & Epistles of John, p. 368).


The chief priests were not happy with this title, and they wanted Pilate to change it to Jesus claiming to be the king of the Jews, but Pilate would not change it.


John 19:23 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece.  24 They said therefore among themselves, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be," that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says: "They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots." Therefore the soldiers did these things.


When a person was crucified, his clothes became the soldiers property, so they took Jesus outer and inner garment. The outer garment was divided among them, but His inner garment was seamless, which indicates that it was an expensive garment. If they had torn it would lose it value, so they cast lots for it. Unaware to the soldiers, they were fulfilling prophecy (Ps. 22:18).

Before we examine our next verses, which records one of Jesus’ saying from the cross, I want to summarize the events that take place on the cross up to Jesus’ last saying:


  • Jesus is crucified at 9 A.M.
  • Jesus says, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Lk. 23:34).
  • The soldiers take Jesus’ garments and cast lots for His inner garment (Jn. 19:23-24).
  • As people walked by they were wagging their heads and mocking Jesus with the chief priest, scribes, and elders (Mt. 27:39-43).
  • The soldiers and thieves mocked Him as well (Mt. 27:44; Lk. 23:36-39).
  • One of the thieves rebukes the other one’s mocking and asks Jesus to remember him in His kingdom (Lk. 23:39-42).
  • Jesus says, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Lk. 23:43).
  • Jesus says to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother” (Jn. 19:26-27)!
  • At 12 P.M. there was darkness over the whole land, and it remained that way until 3 P.M. (Mk. 15:33).
  • About 3 P.M. Jesus says, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Mt. 27:46).
  • Jesus says, “I thirst” (Jn. 19:28).
  • Jesus is offered sour wine, and He receives it and says, “It is finished” (Jn. 19:30).
  • Finally, Jesus says, “Father, 'into Your hands I commit My spirit'” (Lk. 23:46), and Jesus breathed His last breath.


John 19:25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.  26 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, "Woman, behold your son!"  27 Then He said to the disciple, "Behold your mother!" And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.   


Only John mentions Jesus’ mother being at the cross. Jesus’ acquaintances and the women who followed Him from Galilee were at the cross as well (Lk. 23:49), but four specific women are indentified. Trying to identify two of these women is challenging because the information we have is vague. While I cannot be dogmatic about it, I will show the most logical approach to identifying these women.


Jn. 19:25

Sister of Jesus’ mother

Mary the wife of Clopas

Mary Magdalene

Mk. 15:40


Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses

Mary Magdalene

Mt. 27:56

Mother of Zebedee’s sons

Mary the mother of James and Joses

Mary Magdalene

Mk. 16:1


Mary the mother of James

Mary Magdalene


Based on our chart it easy to see that Mary Magdalene, whom Jesus cast out seven demons (Mk. 16:9), was one of the women there, and we know that Jesus’ mother was there.


In the middle of our chart John talks about Mary the wife of Clopas. “According to tradition, Clopas was the same person as Alphaeus, the father of James the Less and of Joses (Matt. 10:3; Mark 15:40)” (Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, p. 284). So, I believe a strong case can be made that  John is talking about Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses.


Now we are left with the sister of Jesus’ mother. When we compare Mk. 15:40 to Mt. 27:56, we can make a strong case that Salome is the mother of Zebedee’s sons James and John. If John is staying consistent with these other accounts, then Salome is the sister of Jesus’ mother, which means James and John are Jesus’ first cousins. Since we have no hard evidence that John’s account is only mentioning the same women as the other accounts I cannot be dogmatic about this. More women were there than these four, so it is possible the sister of Mary was some other woman than Salome, but it is also possible that she is her sister.


Next, Jesus says His 3rd saying from the cross, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” When Jesus called His mother woman it was not done in a disrespectful way, it was simply how He addressed her (Jn. 2:4). Please notice that Jesus did not call her mother of God or make her the mother of all Christians as the Catholic Church has done.  


Jesus committed the care of His mother to John when He said, “Behold your mother!” If Salome was Mary’s sister, then Jesus has asked His cousin to take care of her. What about Jesus’ brothers? How come they were not asked to take care of their mother? We can only speculate because the Bible does not tell us. Since His brothers did not believe in Him, perhaps Jesus wanted to leave His mother in the care of someone that did. Whatever the reason, John accepted this responsibility.


John 19:28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, "I thirst!" 29 Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth.


Jesus is getting closer to having relief from the severe pain He was enduring. Since death was close, He knew He had accomplished God’s will. At this point in the crucifixion, He would have been suffering from high fever and would be extremely thirsty, so He says, “I thirst!” Once again, Jesus was fulfilling Scripture (Ps. 22:15; Ps. 69:21).


This vessel of sour wine, which was a common drink among the Roman soldiers, was probably there for the soldiers to drink as they watched these men suffer. Based on the original Greek language this was either sour wine or vinegar and water mixed together. Someone ran up to the vessel and filled a sponge and put it on the end of a hyssop.


Hyssop is a species of marjoram and a member of the mint family. Hyssop was an aromatic shrub under one meter (three feet) tall with clusters of yellow flowers. It grew in rocky crevices and was cultivated on terraced walls. … (1 Kin.4:33). Bunches of hyssop were used to sprinkle blood on the doorposts in Egypt (Ex. 12:22), and in purification ceremonies (Lev. 14:4, 6, 51-52). David mentioned it as an instrument of inner cleansing (Ps. 51:7) (Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary p. 1005).


Since the Hyssop grows less than three feet high it gives us an idea of how high Jesus was on the cross. His mouth could not be reached without the aid of a stick. Both Matthew and Mark call it a reed (Mt. 27:48; Mk. 15:36), but John tells us what kind of reed it was.


John 19:30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.


Jesus receives the sour wine and says, “It is finished!” From the time Jesus was born in Bethlehem to this time on the cross, He fulfilled hundreds of prophecies. He did everything He could at this point to bring about our salvation and to fulfill the prophecies about Him. Jesus had finished His work on the earth. After He was raised from the dead He told His disciples:


Luke 24:44 "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me."  45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.  46 Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day,  47 "and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.  48 "And you are witnesses of these things.


Jesus’ perfect obedience to God’s will caused Him to accomplish everything He was supposed to do, and we benefit from His perfection because His sacrifice made it possible for us to receive the forgiveness of sin. Before Jesus died, He also said with a loud voice, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit. Having said this, He breathed His last” (Lk. 23:46). 


In this final saying, we can see that Jesus was in control of His life. As He said in:


John 10:17 "Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.  18 "No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father."


Jesus did not have to have to die. If He wanted to, He could have called on all the angels of heaven to come and rescue Him, but He did not because He wanted to die for us. He even knew when He would die because as soon as He made this last statement, His spirit left His body, and He put His faith in the Father to take care of His spirit. When our spirit leaves our body and returns back to the Lord, we become physically dead (Ecc. 12:7). When Jesus breathed His last breath, He bowed His Head.


Matthew’s account gives us more details of what happened next:


 Matthew 27:51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split,  52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised;  53 and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.  54 So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, "Truly this was the Son of God!"


Try to imagine what these people saw that day. It had been dark outside since 12 P.M., and now an earthquake happens and the rocks are split open. In the temple, the veil that separates the holy place from holy of holies, which is where the Ark of the Covenant used to be, was torn from top to bottom (Ex. 26:31-33). If man had torn it, it would have been torn from the bottom to the top. The tearing of this veil symbolized that God had made Himself available to all, and that the old covenant was nailed to the cross (Col. 2:14; Eph 2:14-15). All of these events proved that Jesus death on the cross was not an ordinary one, and it even caused the centurion and his soldiers to agree that He truly was the Son of God. In Luke’s account the centurion also said, “Certainly this was a righteous man!” (Lk. 23:47).


Matthew also mentions how the graves of the saints were opened by the earthquake that day and how they were raised from the dead. However, they did not come out of their graves until after Jesus’ resurrection, and they went into the city and appeared to many.


John 19:31 Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.  32 Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him.  33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs.  34 But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.  35 And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe.  36 For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, "Not one of His bones shall be broken."  37 And again another Scripture says, "They shall look on Him whom they pierced."


As I have already shown in this study, the Preparation Day was not the Preparation Day for the Passover, but for the feast of the unleavened bread. Since the feast of unleavened bread would begin on the Sabbath and it included a holy convocation (sacred gathering) (Ex. 12:16), it was considered a high or an important day. While the Jews had no problem breaking the Law of Moses to put Jesus to death, they still wanted to keep part of it because it was against the Law of Moses to keep a person on the cross overnight (Deut. 21:23).  


When a person’s legs were broken, they could no longer push themselves up to get air, so it would not take long for them to die by suffocation. Pilate sent some soldiers to break their legs. They broke the two thieves’ legs first, but when they got to Jesus, He was already dead, so they did not break His legs. Just as the Passover lamb’s bones were not to be broken (Num. 9:12), neither was Jesus’ bones broken because He is our Passover (1 Cor. 5:7). Once again, this fulfilled a prophecy about Jesus (Ps. 34:20).


One of the soldiers wanted to make sure that Jesus was dead, so he pierced Him in the side and out came water and blood. This event is only recorded by John, and it also fulfills a prophecy about Jesus (Zech. 12:10). Now we cannot say dogmatically what internal organs the soldier pierced or which side he pierced Him in. However, there are two possibilities that could produce what looked like water and blood.


1. It is possible they pierced His bladder, which would cause urine and blood to flow out. While this would produce the effect of water and blood it seems unlikely he pierced His bladder since he would have to pierce Him with a downward motion, which would have been difficult with Jesus being elevated on the cross.

2. Others believe he pierced Him through the ribs and broke the lining around the wall of the heart.


Mr. Halley notes:


Some medical authorities have said that in the case of heart rupture, and in that case only, the blood collects in the pericardium, the lining around the wall of the heart, and divides into a sort of bloody clot and a watery serum.  If this is a fact, then the actual immediate physical cause of Jesus' death was heart rupture.  Under intense pain, and the pressure of his wildly raging blood, his heart burst open (Halley's Bible Handbook, p.549).


This watery fluid that would have come out of the wound first could have been a combination of serous pleural which is found in the membrane around the lungs, and pericardial fluid, which is secreted by the serous membrane on the pericardious sac on the outside of the heart (


This second possibility is the more logical to me because it seems natural that the soldier would thrust upwards into Jesus side. These two possibilities give us a medical explanation of how the flow of blood and water from Jesus’ wound could happen. No matter where the soldier pierced Jesus’ side it proves the Jesus was dead.  When Pilate found out that Jesus was already dead is surprised him (Mk. 15:44). John served as an eyewitness for all of this.  


John 19:38 After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus. 


We can learn more details about this event by examining the four Gospels (Mt. 27:57ff; Mk. 15:42ff; Lk. 23:50ff; Jn. 19:38ff). They teach that Joseph was a rich man, a prominent member of Sanhedrin council, and was considered a good and just man. He secretly became a disciple of Jesus, and he was waiting for the kingdom of God. He did not agree with the council’s decision to put Jesus to death. He was from Arimathea, which was a city of the Jews.


Joseph was scared, but he found the courage to go before Pilate to request Jesus’ body. At first, Pilate was surprised that Jesus was already dead, so he asked a centurion if it was true. Once it was confirmed that Jesus was dead, Pilate gave Joseph permission to take the body. The synoptic Gospels only mention Joseph taking the body from the cross and wrapping the body in a clean fine linen cloth, which was an expensive cloth, but John’s account gives more detail.


39 And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds.  40 Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury.


Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a ruler of the Jews who had went to Jesus during the night wanting to know more about Him (Jn. 3). We find him defending Jesus in John 7:50-51, and now he is helping to bury Him. Since he bought almost a hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes, it indicates that he was a wealthy man as well. Jesus burial with all these spices was similar to that of a king (2 Chr. 16:14). Let’s take a closer look at Myrrh:


Myrrh – An extract from a stiff-branched tree with white flowers and plum-like fruit. After myrrh was extracted from the wood, it soon hardened and was valued as an article of trade. It was used … in anointing oil (Ex. 30:23), and was used as perfume (Ps. 45:8; Prov. 7:17; Song 3:6), in purification rites for women (Esth. 2:12), as a gift for the infant Jesus (Matt. 2:11), and in embalming (John 19:39). According to the Gospel of Mark (15:23), the drink offered to Jesus before His crucifixion was “wine mingled with myrrh.” (Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, p. 2006).  


The other accounts say that Jesus was wrapped in fine linen sidon (Mt. 27:59; Mk. 15:46; Lk. 23:53), but John says His body was bound in strips of linen othonion with the spices. Some might view this as a contradiction, but it is not because both things happened. The synoptic Gospels tell us that Joseph wrapped Jesus’ body in a clean fine linen cloth when He was taken down from the cross. John’s account tells us that they took the body, which means they left that place. We know that they took Jesus to the tomb, but how they took Him we do not know. Most likely they carried His body on a bier. When or where they prepared His body per the custom of the Jews is unknown, but as some point they started wrapping His body with strips of linen. We do not know if they already had some premade strips of linen or if they made these strips out of the linen cloth they initial wrapped Him in. In either case, they would wrap His body from His toes to His neck with His arms secured to the side of his body. As they wrapped Him, they would pour the mixture of spices in the fold of the bandages, which would become hard and cause the bandages to stick together.


Mr. Gower states:


Exceptionally, a body was covered in spices and in paste, and these were tied to the body by layers of white “roller bandage.” The paste hardened and impregnated the bandages until a hard preservative mound or cocoon was formed about the body (The New Manners & Customs of Bible Times,  p.73).


After the body was wrapped up, they would cover the face with a cloth handkerchief. Lazarus was buried in a similar way (Jn. 11:44). If the original linen cloth that wrapped Jesus’ body was not torn into strips, then it was probably discarded, but what happened to it is unknown. If it was used as an additional covering over the strips of linen, the Bible does not mention it. It only mentions the strips of linen othonion and the cloth handkerchief being His grave clothes (Lk. 24:12; Jn. 20:5-7).


41 Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.  42 So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews' Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby.


They did not have much time to prepare and bury Jesus because the Sabbath was about to start around 6 P.M. So, they took Jesus to a garden that was close by where Joseph had a new tomb (Mt. 27:59). This event fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, “And they made His grave with the wicked -- But with the rich at His death” (Isa. 53:9).


If Joseph had not requested the body of Jesus, He would have been buried with the two thieves, which is what is meant by “they made His grave with the wicked.” It was unusual that Pilate let someone other than a family member take Jesus’ body, but he did, and in doing so, the second part of Isaiah’s prophecy came to pass “But with the rich at His death.”


Since they were rushed with the preparation of Jesus’ body, we learn that the women who followed Him from Galilee planned to come back the next day to add more spices and fragrant oils (Lk. 23:55). Matthew gives us some additional information:


Matthew 27:59 When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,  60 and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed.  61 And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the tomb. 


While there were other women there (Lk. 23:55), including a woman named Joanna (Lk. 24:10), Matthew only mentions two women named Mary. Not only did they see where the tomb was, they saw how Jesus’ body was laid (Mk. 15:47; Lk. 23:55). Our verse says that Joseph rolled the stone over the entrance of the tomb. Since Nicodemus was with him, it is possible that he helped him with the stone because these stones were heavy and hard to move. The stone itself was usually round and it would be pushed into a dug out slot in front of the tomb. Once it was in place it would be even more difficult to move, which is why the women wondered who would roll the very large stone out of the way for them on Sunday morning (Mk. 16:1-4).


Matthew 27:62 On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate,  63 saying, "Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise.'  64 "Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, 'He has risen from the dead.' So the last deception will be worse than the first."  65 Pilate said to them, "You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how."  66 So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard.  


We are not told when on the next day they made their request to Pilate, but it was probably early because they would not want Jesus’ disciples to have a chance to steal His body and fool the people, so Pilate granted them a guard. A guard was a group of Roman soldiers, and they secured the tomb and sealed it.


 Mr. Leeper writes:


The sealing would have been accomplished by placing a large piece of clay at the joint of the stone and the wall.  An official insignia of some type would have been pressed into the soft clay leaving an imprint which could not be duplicated.  The clay would then have hardened, providing a seal that would be broken if the stone were moved.


Sealing the tomb would serve a three fold purpose.  First, there would be evidence if anyone moved the stone.  This would prevent someone from removing the body and then claiming he had been raised.  Second, it would provide a guard of Roman soldiers to ensure no one could tamper with the tomb.  Third, because it was a criminal offense to break a Roman seal, it would serve as an effective deterrent to anyone inclined to steal the body. Getting caught in the attempt would mean time in prison if not worse (Wayne D. Leeper, Prelude to Glory, p. 171).


Even though these were trained Roman soldiers that knew they would be severely punished or put to death if they failed their post, but they would not be able to stop Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.