John 19:23-30

Jesus Is the Savior

Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall

John 19:23 (Holman) When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took His clothes and divided them into four parts, a part for each soldier. They also took the tunic, which was seamless, woven in one piece from the top.

Soldiers who served as executioners received the clothes of crucified criminals as compensation for their effort. These garments were all Jesus possessed of this world’s goods. He gave them up for us. The mocking crowd gazed on God’s Son, who was clothed only in total humiliation. Our Master allowed Himself to be undressed that we might someday be dressed in white robes (Revelation 3:18).

Jesus’ robe, instead of being made of separate cloths sewn together, was woven in one piece, without seam. The Old Testament specified the High Priest’s robe had to be woven (Exodus 39:22). The historian Josephus described the High Priest’s robe in the same way as presented in our text. John wanted us to see Jesus is our High Priest, the One who offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice in our behalf.

John 19:24 So they said to one another, “Let’s not tear it, but toss for it, to see who gets it.” They did this to fulfill the Scripture that says: “They divided My clothes among themselves, and they cast lots for My clothing.” And this is what the soldiers did.

The robe’s intricate weaving made it of some value. Tearing the robe would have made it useless. Hence, four soldiers gambled to decide who would receive it.

By deciding to keep the garment in one piece, the soldiers unknowingly pointed to another “High Priest” symbol. In addition to being woven, the High Priest’s robe was not to be torn (Lev. 21:10). Caiaphas had earlier disregarded this precept, and ripped his garment (Matthew 26:65), thereby unwittingly symbolizing the end of the Aaronic priesthood. Clothes are torn only if there is no more use for them. Jesus, the one whose robe is in one piece, is now our High Priest.

These soldiers knew nothing of the Jewish Bible, but fulfilled an Old Testament prediction (Psalm 22:18). Since they were pagan, no one could accuse them of collusion or “stacking the deck” in order to fulfill a Bible prediction.

The soldiers did their duty callously, as if nothing special was happening. “While they played with dice, He made His sacrifice” (Studdert Kennedy). These soldiers are a classic example of the world’s indifference to God’s love demonstrated in Jesus. The world acts as if Jesus’ death does not matter. Many people in our age would rather have nice clothes than God, and prefer gambling for this world’s goods over receiving this world’s God, the Christ of the cross.

John 19:25 Standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

Jesus was surrounded with contempt and apathy, but also with love. Eleven of the disciples and the four soldiers were a stark contrast to these four women.

Judas had betrayed, Peter had denied, nine other disciples had scattered. John was the only disciple bold enough to stand beneath the cross. The men had disappeared, but these women were there. Heroism knows no gender distinction.

John 19:26-27 When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple He loved standing there, He said to His mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then He said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

Suffering usually makes us selfish, but not in the case of Jesus. Even in pain, He showed compassion for others. At Calvary, the Lord honored not only His Heavenly Father, but also His earthly mother. By taking care of His mother, Jesus set an eternal example of the proper way for us to live out the fifth commandment.

Jesus, dying a substitute for the world, asked John to be His substitute as a son to Mary. Giving this awesome responsibility to John shows how much confidence Jesus had in His beloved disciple. Jesus passed over His brothers and chose John as His mother’s guardian. His brothers would not receive Jesus till later. Their hearts were not yet knit spiritually with their brother and mother.

John 19:28-29 After this, when Jesus knew that everything was now accomplished that the Scripture might be fulfilled, He said, “I’m thirsty!” A jar full of sour wine was sitting there; so they fixed a sponge full of sour wine on hyssop and held it up to His mouth.

Thirst can occur in people suffering from open wounds. As body fluids are lost, cells dehydrate, and the body craves water. On battlefields, other agonies are soon forgotten in this one. It is the cry that encompasses every other cry.

Jesus, the One who made rivers and sends rain let Himself reach this depth of affliction. Had He but spoken a word, clouds with rain would have appeared to refresh His body, and rivers would have flowed to His cross. Instead, He thirsted in order to give us the water of life that we might never spiritually thirst again.

John 19:30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!”

Our bodies come from dry dust. On the cross, Jesus’ body seemed to be rapidly returning to dry dust. He drank vinegar at Calvary so that you and I could in Heaven drink from “the river of living water, sparkling like crystal” (RV 22:1).

Once Jesus’ dry mouth was moistened, He could clearly speak a cry of conquest. John, near the cross, could make out the word Jesus spoke, “Tetelestai!”

The words of dying people arrest attention. Never was this truer than in the case of Jesus. His final word spoken from a cross reverberated through the whole universe, and shall for all time. While He was winning, Jesus posted a victory bulletin from the battlefield, dying with not groans of defeat, but a cry of triumph.

To us, Jesus is Prince of Peace. To Satan, Jesus was a man of war who came to fight the evil one in his own territory. Jesus let the cruelties and guilt of sin be sheathed in His own body. This inner spiritual struggle was Jesus’ worst suffering at Calvary. The pains of Hell, evil, and death penetrated His innermost essence.

Despite the strain, our Champion did not falter. Heaven’s Lamb withstood Hell’s Serpent. Fiends of perdition hurled themselves against Him. They could hurt, but not destroy, Him. They could at worst only bruise His heel. He, on the other hand, crushed their heads (Genesis 3:15). He dealt them a fatal blow.

Satan and his co-conspirators did their worst to Jesus at Calvary. The cross appeared to be their ultimate victory, but proved to be their ultimate defeat.

On Calvary was conducted the funeral of Satan’s hope to vanquish God. The Savior broke all His enemies’ weapons to pieces, and overturned their ranks.

Evil poured Hell’s darts into Jesus’ heart, all for naught. Christmas Evans preached, “Death struck its fiery dart deep into the heart of Jesus, but when Death tried to pull the dart out again, its sting was left behind.” While sin was nailing Jesus to the cross, Christ was nailing sin to the same tree. Sin and sin’s destroyer were both nailed there. Sin was defanged, but sin’s destroyer arose victoriously.

Having drained the cup of our condemnation dry, Jesus held it upside down when He said, “It is finished!” Not one drop trickled down the edge. The Hell we deserve was in the cup. Jesus drank it dry at the cross.

Jesus bore Hell’s condemnation, and can bear the condemnation of every sinner on Earth if they will throw themselves on Him. To be saved, we must acknowledge our need for Jesus, and lean totally on Him for salvation. Do not try to win God’s favor by adding to the finished work of Jesus. He did all that God requires. The only thing left to do is for us to appropriate what Jesus accomplished.

Jesus’ cry from the cross was the consolation of sinners. The fact Jesus carefully enunciated the word, and the fact the Holy Spirit recorded it in His Holy Word, prove it is a message God wants people to hear. For us, Jesus conquered sin and Satan at the cross that He might also conquer both in us. He is our Savior.