The Crucifixion, Part 1
Journey to the Empty Tomb
The Crucifixion, Part 1
John 19:16-18, 23-24
 
I don’t suppose there is a more horrible death than death by crucifixion.  Even the Romans, who themselves employed it, regarded it as a horrible thing.  In fact, no Roman citizen, no matter how vile his crime could ever be crucified. It was used only upon foreign slaves and criminals. And so, Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God, is sentenced to die the death of a foreign criminal.
 
The public ministry of Jesus is over.  The trial is over. He has already been scourged and His back laid bare. The ribbons of flesh that are remaining are  covered with the blood that is gushing from His back.  He stands there in agony and pain as the crowd screams for His death.  The Jews are willing to bear responsibility for His death.
 
And the cross is the climax. It was for this hour He came into the world.  Redemptive history has now reached its apex and the combination of the sinful, vile, murder of men and the divine purpose of God are about to merge on a hill outside of Jerusalem.
He is to be crucified by the hate of men and by the will of God.
 
Now as we look at John's gospel, we need to keep in mind God’s purpose for John’s gospel. It is John's purpose to present Christ as God in all His majesty and glory.  Now when we come to the crucifixion, you would think that is an impossible task because the cross is so despicable and horrifying.
Certainly at this point there's no way that John is going to be able to proclaim the deity and the majesty of Jesus.  But that's not so because here as clearly, as graphically, as dynamically and as dramatically as you have ever heard it, you will see and hear the majesty of Jesus.
 
In fact, in crucifixion He shines even more brightly than ever before. And to help us see that, John selects those things around the cross that lend themselves to the majesty and the deity of Jesus. There are four of them I want to point out to you.  We’ll only have time to see one today and we’ll look at the other three next week.
 
He picks out four things, four features of the cross that speak of the deity of Christ that exalt Him to the skies. And true to his purpose, the Holy Spirit doing exactly what He wanted to do all along, glorify Christ, does it again.
 
And whereas some of the other gospel accounts would maybe major a little more on the humanity of Jesus and emphasize that, the point here is the deity of Christ.
 
So this morning as I talk about the crucifixion, I'm not going to talk about the emotion of it. I'm not going to try to paint you a vivid picture of the agony. I'm not going to major on the drama and try to stir your emotions. I'm going to attempt to do just what John did.  I'm going to present to you John's glorious portrait of majesty in death and of Jesus as God. And my prayer is it will help you to see and love and adore Jesus in a way you’ve never seen before.
 
 
To begin with, Jesus is glorified as God by
 
1. The Specific Fulfillments of Prophecy
 
that took place at His death. Now one of the ways, and I believe the greatest way, we know the Bible is true is through fulfilled prophecy.  In fact, the Bible is verified repeatedly by what was prophesied and later fulfilled.
 
And here in the death of Jesus Christ, John picks out some little, almost obscure prophecies and uses them to magnify the deity of Christ.
 
Now granted, they are just tiny little details.  But I would remind you, the smaller the detail, the more impact it has. The more minute the point, the more powerful it is when it's accurately fulfilled. And so John is going to move from one little tiny detail to the next and allow us to see how prophecy is fulfilled in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
 
John 19:16-18
 
Now there's the crucifixion from John’s point of view. He doesn't dramatize it. He doesn't portray the dripping blood and go into all the emotion of it.  He just gives this very basic sketch.  But keep in mind, John's purpose is not to show the human agony, John's purpose is to show the deity of Christ, the majesty of Christ in fulfilled prophecy. Let me show you how it works.
 
Notice again verse 16
 
Now remember, Pilate is a beaten man.  He has been through a most difficult morning.
He is panicked and fearful.  He’s unable to control the crowd.  He’s got a near riot on his hands.  He’s unable to defer the killing of this innocent man. He’s been warned by his wife to have nothing to do with Jesus.  So he washes his hands and says, “See to it." And they say, "Let His blood be upon us," and away Jesus is taken to be crucified.
 
But I want you to catch just one fantastic thought out of this verse.  Notice the third word of the verse.  It is the word "delivered," "Then he delivered Him." Pilate delivered Jesus to be crucified. Hang on to that thought and while you’re pondering that, listen to what Romans 8:32 says.
 
Romans 8:32
 
So Who delivered Jesus up to be crucified?  You see it wasn’t just the governor of Judea, but also the governor of the universe. Does that mean Pilate and God are working together? That's exactly what it means.
 
And here’s what we need to take away from that:  In no way does the vileness, unbelief, cowardice or sin of Pilate alter the plan of God. As I've said to you earlier, and don't you ever forget it, God's plans are on schedule.  God is the author of history. And so God delivered over Jesus as well as Pilate.
 
That was just for free; just a little added gravy.  Let’s look more specifically at fulfilled prophecy.
 
First of all, let me offer just a couple of general thoughts regarding prophecy.  First, the very fact that Jesus died a redemptive death fulfills massive amounts of prophecy.
And I'm not going to begin on that because we could go on and on forever on Old Testament prophecy fulfilled in the death of Christ. But suffice it to say the whole mass of Old Testament redemptive promise is now fulfilled in Him. Every Old Testament picture of the final sacrifice, every type, every prophecy about one who would die, it's all resolved here in Jesus Christ.
 
Second, there are two types of prophecy to be aware of.  First there is
 
- Verbal Prophecy
 
Obviously, verbal prophecy is where a prophet declares something is going to happen and it does.
 
The other is
 
- Typical Prophecy
 
There are certain things in the Old Testament that are identified as types or pictures and they are illustration s of what Christ will do. For example, the sacrifice of a lamb in the Old Testament was a picture of Christ's sacrifice as the Lamb of God.
 
Now both kinds of prophecy are equally powerful and binding and what we discover as we study the life of Christ is He fulfilled both the verbal predictions and all the types to the letter.
 
Now with that in mind, look at verse 16 again.
 
Hang on to those last three words, "led Him away."
 
Now that’s a small little statement.  It’s very easy to just run right by it and not even notice it.  But here’s the thing to keep in mind regarding that statement:
 
According to historians, crucifixions were often so traumatizing, the victim very often had to be dragged to his execution. That was customary and expected and it makes perfect sense.  I don’t know there is a human being alive who would willingly and voluntarily go to his own crucifixion.
 
But that’s exactly what Jesus did.  It doesn't say they dragged Him away and it doesn't say they drove Him away.  It says they led Him away. That means He willingly without resistance followed.
 
There was no panic, there was no struggle. They led, He followed.
 
And that fulfills a very specific and very minute prophecy.
 
In Isaiah 53:7, hundreds of years before Jesus was ever born, when he didn't even know in his brain what crucifixion was, or if it existed, the prophet said, "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter."
 
Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Isaiah said when He goes to His death He will not be driven, He will not be dragged, He will be led. Jesus fulfilled that exactly.
 
By the way, since we are there at Isaiah 53, let me point something else out to you.  Jesus was executed immediately after His trial even though Roman law provided a two-day interval for any new evidence or for the man to put his affairs in order.
That was not allowed in this case. Jesus is nailed to the cross two and a half hours after His trial began.  They were in a hurry. They wanted Him dead and they wanted Him dead now and they weren't about to allow two days ago to go by and they weren't about to allow any time to go by.
 
So what?  Only this:  Isaiah 53:8 says, “He was taken from prison and from judgment."
 
Notice the order given there.  It says that when He dies, He'll go from prison to judgment to death. That was not normal. Normally He went from prison to judgment then back to to prison for two days and then to death.
 
But Isaiah prophesied He would go directly from His judgment to His execution.  Now the Romans never did that, but they did it this time because God said that's how it is to be done. And so, Jesus fulfilled that prophecy.
 
That’s why I have to laugh at the liberals and skeptics who try to explain away the idea of fulfilled prophecy.  "Well, Jesus just worked at it and figured out how He could fulfill all those prophecies." That is so stupid.
 
How do you get the Romans and the Jews and everybody else to fulfill them all? You think they're all Old Testament scholars going by a little sheet they've got hanging up in the deal there, saying let's see, next according to Isaiah we do this? There is no way that these events could ever happen, apart from the sovereign plan and design of God.
 
Jesus is no victim.  This is not the tragedy of the life of Jesus.  This is the God-ordained, God-authored, God-planned and designed climax of His life and every tiny detail is in the plan of God from eternity past. Nothing's been violated.
 
So, just two little things hidden in verse 16 that show us the deity of Jesus Christ and His majesty as He moves toward the cross.
 
Let’s move on.  Notice
 
verse 17
 
Now it says there that He was bearing His cross, and it's very emphatic. It’s almost like John is underlining that thought.
 
Later on we find Him falling under the weight of the cross and Simon of Cyrene picking it up and carrying it for Him.  But to begin with, He was bearing His own cross.
 
Now there’s lots of discussion about the type of cross that was used to crucify Jesus.  Sometimes crosses were x-shaped.  Sometimes they were T-shaped and the prisoner would only carry the top cross member.
 
I believe it was the entire cross and is traditionally pictured and I'm led to believe that because Pilate put a name over His head, indicates that there would need to be a piece of wood up there to place it on and that is allowed for with an X or T. 
 
I think He was carrying the full weight of the full cross as He made His way up to Calvary.
 
Now as they would move a prisoner through the city, they would go into as many streets as possible. There would be a person out in front of the prisoner carrying a placard that described his crime.  They did that for two reasons.
 
First, it was a warning to everybody that crime doesn't pay. And I imagine it was fairly vivid illustration of that truth, especially if a man already been scourged and was bleeding as He was moving through the town.
 
The second reason they did it was because they had a great sense of fairness and it could be possible that a new witness or that a new evidence could be introduced into the situation and were someone to come up and stop the procession, and have legitimate new evidence, the case could be taken back and retried again. So they gave every opportunity for that. And so Jesus was undoubtedly led through the streets of Jerusalem on the road to the crucifixion and is carrying His own cross.
 
Again, we might be tempted to say, "Well that's no big deal.”  But there's a lot of importance to that.
 
There is a man in the Old Testament who is a type of Christ whose name is Isaac.  He pictures for us Christ because God instructed his father to offer him as a sacrifice on top of a mountain.
 
In fact, his story contains two pictures of Christ because not only Isaac, but the ram that is eventually killed are both types of Christ.
 
Listen to what we find in Genesis 22:6 and remember,  Isaac is a picture of Christ.
Genesis 22:6
 
Isaac carried his own wood to his own execution.  And Jesus did too or the type would have been destroyed, Jesus fulfilled it to the very letter. This is divine inspiration, my friends. This is how verbal and typical prophecy predicted to the very tiniest point the death of Jesus Christ.
 
There's another specific fulfillment found there in verse 17.
 
Notice the phrase “went out”.  What does that mean?  That means He was outside of Jerusalem to where?  They went outside of Jerusalem to the place of the crucifixion.  So what?
 
In Exodus chapter 29 we have a picture of Christ. Now all of the Old Testament offerings were pictures of Christ and all the epeated sacrifices were pictures of His final sacrifice.
 
Of particular interest is the sin offering because He died as an offering for sin.
 
Notice Exodus 29:14
 
In other words, a sin offering had to be taken outside the camp of Israel.
 
The same thing is indicated in
 
Leviticus 4:12
 
Later in chapter 16, verse 27 it is repeated.
 
 
Scripture is very clear that the sin offerings in the Old Testament were taken outside the camp. Who then was the ultimate sin offering? Jesus Christ. Where then in order to fulfill that typical prophecy did Jesus have to die? Outside the camp.
 
Did you know the Romans had a law that no one could be crucified within the city limits or the boundaries of the city?  The Jews had tried on several occasions to stone Jesus inside the city, there was no way that He could ever be stoned or executed within the city walls for God had designed Him to be the perfect fulfillment of every Old Testament sin offering and they were all taken outside the camp.
 
That’s exactly why the writer of the book of Hebrews say in chapter 13 verse 11, "For the bodies of those beasts whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin are burned outside the camp," then he said this, "wherefore Jesus also that He might sanctify the people with His own blood suffered outside the gate."
 
Do you know why they executed Him outside the city? Jesus had to fulfill prophecy. God had to manipulate Roman law to make sure they had a law that said crucifixion happened outside the wall in order for Jesus to fulfill the significance of Old Testament types. And so He went outside the city. And so He fulfilled another specific detail of prophecy.
 
Verses 17 and 18 tell us that when they had reached Golgotha they crucified Him.
 
The prophecies regarding crucifixion go all the way back to Number 21.
 
The children of Israel have been sinning which was nothing new for them or for us, for that matter. So the Lord sent poisonous snakes to bite them.
 
Notice verses 6-9
 
Now what's the significant of a serpent on a pole? It's the idea that it was lifted up high so that all could see it. And they had to do was look and it was the look of faith, believing what they had been told that healed them.
 
The significant thing is this was a type of Christ among sin-cursed dying people.  He is lifted up and all may look on Him and be saved. So the brazen serpent is a beautiful type of Christ. And from that we can conclude that whatever kind of death Jesus dies, it must be a death where He is lifted up.
 
In fact, Jesus Himself acknowledged that this serpent on a brass pole represented Him in
 
John 3:14
 
Later on in chapter 12 He said the same thing in verse 32, "If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto Me. And this He said signifying what kind of death He would die."   Jesus had to be crucified.
 
Crucifixion is also seen in Psalm 22 where the psalmist describes what it’s like to be crucified.  Now he didn’t have any idea what crucifixion was or what it was like. But listen to what he wrote:
verses 14-16
 
In fact, the psalm begins with the very words Jesus says from the cross:  “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”
 
Now how in the world does the psalmist know about crucifixion and the most intense physical descriptions of what it was like?
 
Some would say, "Well the Romans knew it and they nailed him for that reason." There is a lot of ignorance running around in liberal circles.
 
The Romans didn't even know the Old Testament existed in terms of this particular passage. They were carrying out the divine plan of God. They had to crucify Him because that's what the Bible said would happen.  They lifted Him up and nailed Him to a tree. And the only way He could be lifted up and nailed would be crucifixion. It's the only kind of death Jesus could die. And indeed, He died a death of crucifixion, fulfilling prophecy.
 
And so, Jesus Christ already bleeding from the scourging and rapid loss of blood, was nailed and held to the cross by great wounds through His hands, as those nails were driven through the quivering flesh. And there He was to hang on a piece of wood.
 
That cross is lifted and dropped in a socket. The thud and the jolt rips and tears the flesh as it hits bottom and there He is to hang. There’s an ugly crown of thorns crushed into His brow.  His blood is running down mingled with the sweat and the grime.
The flies and the gnats are irritating Him.  He is so mangled and distorted He doesn’t even look like a man, this also fulfilling Scripture.  Isaiah said, "There is no beauty that we should desire Him. He has no form or comeliness.  He was despised and rejected by men.  They hid their faces from Him.”
 
So there He hangs, dying from severe inflammation, hunger, thirst, swelling of the wounds, unbearable pain from torn tendons, agony from the horrible weight of His body hanging by those nails, suffocating by the rearrangement of His internal organs with a throbbing headache beyond belief and bursting thirst.
 
Add to that the bearing of your sin and mine and all the sin and hell of every man who ever lived for all eternity and you’ve only begin to feel what He felt in those hours.
 
Then notice right at the end of verse 18 another fulfillment of prophecy.
 
Verse 18b
 
Jesus was crucified alongside the other common criminals who died that day. What's the significance of that?
 
The significance of that is that it found, again , in Isaiah 53.
 
Verse 9, 12
 
According to prophecy, Jesus was to die a criminal's death alongside other criminals.
 
Maybe the Romans intended that to be a further mockery of the man who claimed to be a king.  Just stick Him up there with other common criminals.  But in the design of God it was a glorious fulfillment of a detailed prophecy and don’t you know the thief who was saved that day was glad they did?
 
Because it just so happens that one of those thieves that Pilate stuck up there with Jesus was the first trophy of the grace of Christ won at the cross.
 
Well, skip down to verses 23 and 24 and I’ll show you the other prophecies and we'll look at the section in between next time we meet.   And remember, we are looking at specific fulfillment of prophecy.
 
Now in Psalm 22, the same Psalm we looked at a moment ago there is a very specific prophecy concerning the clothing of Jesus.
 
Verse 18
 
That's a prediction that when Messiah dies, whoever it is who is responsible for His death is going to do two things in regard to His clothing. 
 
First they're going to divide His garments, and then they're going to gamble for His clothing.
 
In other words, they're going to parcel some of it out among themselves, and then they're going to gamble for another piece of it. Now that's a pretty specific prophecy. It better come to pass or you can throw away the Old Testament and disregard Christ.
 
Look at verses 23-24
Isn’t that interesting?  Obviously one of them had a copy of the Psalms and said, “Now here’s what we are supposed to do next.  We have to divide up his clothes, then gamble for the tunic.”
 
No, look at the end of verse 24
 
They did what they did because the Scripture said they would they would do it.  You say, "But they didn't know the Scripture." That's okay, God knew it and God knew every move and God made every man make the move to fit the plan including having Jesus dressed in a five part suit that day. God worked every detail out.
 
Let me show you one more and we’ll quit.
 
It says in verse 23 that his tunic was without seam and it was woven in one piece from the top. Again, there is a tendency to say, “So what?”  I hope you know better than to say that by now!
 
After all, we certainly don’t need a fashion note at this particular place in history. So what's the point of putting that in there? Who cares whether it's woven up, down or inside out? What's the difference?"
 
The difference is extremely significant because the Old Testament made it clear that the garment of a high priest had to be made of linen and without any seams.
 
It was a symbol of the purity of the office and the man in the office. Now the high priest was a liaison between God and man. In fact, the Latin word for priest means “bridge builder”. The priest's job is to build a bridge from man to God.
And here was Jesus Christ, who is the final and faithful high priest, like no other priest had ever done before Him, building a bridge to God for men. And even in His clothing, Jesus fulfills a beautiful type of the great high priest.
 
But notice also it is woven “from the top in one piece.”  The word “top” comes from a Greek word that means “from above or from a higher place
of things which come from heaven or God”.     
 
I find it interesting that the same word is used in two other places in John’s gospel.  One of them is John 3:7 where Jesus says to Nicodemus, “You must be born again or from the top”.  Then later in John 3:31 Jesus uses the same word to describe himself when He says, “He who comes from above is above all.”
 
And when you get saved, you have the privilege of slipping into His seamless robe.  It is woven from the top down.  In other words, your salvation begins with God and it is absolutely dependent upon Christ and Christ alone.  It is without seam.  That’s because there is no irritation there.  Nothing needs to be added to it to get you into heaven.  It is absolutely pure and spotless.  And in it you stand holy before the Lord.
 
No wonder the song writer would pen:  Dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless I stand before the throne.  On Christ the Solid Rock I stand.
 
Someone has calculated that there are 322 distinct verbal prophecies in the Old Testament that are fulfilled in Christ. We can add to that all of the types and pictures and symbols that point to Him as well.
 
Now I'm no mathematician but one Bible scholar figured the mathematical probability of 322 specific prophecies all coming to pass in one man and the probability was one in eighty-four with a hundred zeroes after it. There isn't even a word for the number.  That's the chance probability of every one of those 322 prophecies coming to pass in Jesus.
 
You want to know something? Every one of them did to the very letter. Plus another hundred or so types.
 
Do you know why?  So you could be convinced that Jesus is God incarnate, the anointed Son of God, the lamb slain for the sins of the world.
 
I find it interesting that just below the cross, four soldiers gambled for the clothes of Jesus as specific Scriptural prophecies were being fulfilled all around them.  Only a fool would see all of that happening and reject it.
 
And yet all over the world there are those who will look at the evidence and reject Christ while playing childless games in the shadow of the cross. Today I invite you to make you profession of faith in Jesus Christ public as we extend this invitation.
 
Let’s pray.

 

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