The Crucified King

Peter Barnes: John 19:14-24

(25 August 2019)


1. Pilate’s weak mockery.

– 19:14. Mark 15:25 has the crucifixion at the third hour. Bishop Westcott said that Mark used the Palestinian method of computing time (where the day began at sunrise) while John used the Roman method (where midnight was the starting point). More likely, the ancients were simply rather indefinite about time. They thought in lots of three hours. Armed with only a sundial, a time of 10.30 a.m., for example, could easily be attributed to the third hour or the sixth hour. Also, it seems that it was the day of preparation, not for the Passover but for the Sabbath of Passover week.

– 19:15-16. This is the exasperation of a weak man. So too in 19:19-22. Pilate had had enough, and he was seeking to humiliate those who had humiliated him.

2. The chief priests’ betrayal of God.

– 19:15. God was the true king of Israel – Judges 8:23; 1 Samuel 8:6-7. Nathanael recognised Jesus as the king of Israel – John 1:49. These chief priests opt for Tiberius, the paranoid pagan emperor in Rome – who thinks he is a god, and who worships many gods.

– they cannot let anything go – 19:19-21.

3. The humiliated Messiah fulfils Scripture.

– 19:17-18. Plutarch: ‘Each criminal as part of his punishment carries his cross on his back.’ Mark 15:21 adds some detail.

Yet we see God at work – 19:23-24; Ps.22:16-18. Pilate mocks to cover his weakness. The chief priests convince themselves that Jesus must be worse than Tiberius in Rome. And God in heaven achieves His purposes. The King dies, but not for Himself, only for sinners.