The Final Request: John 19:18-27

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For the past two episodes, we have focused in on Jesus’ time on the cross. First we looked at Mark’s gospel, which closely parallel’s Matthew’s gospel two episodes ago, and in our last episode, we spent some time looking at Luke’s gospel and what it shared. For this episode, let’s take the few minutes we have together and look at John’s gospel, and what we can learn from how it records this event.

Just as Luke’s gospel is similar while also different from both Matthew and Mark, John’s gospel is similar but unique from the other three gospels. Our passage for this episode is found in John’s gospel, chapter 19, and we will read it from the New International Version of the Bible. Starting in verse 18, John tells us that:

18 There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.

19 Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: jesus of nazareth, the king of the jews. 20 Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 21 The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.”

22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

Let’s pause for a moment because I want to highlight something fascinating I see in these first five verses. First, I find it interesting that this sign was written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek. This is interesting because these likely were the common languages of the Roman Empire. It’s also interesting because Hebrew was not one of the languages in the mix. Perhaps the Jews primarily spoke Aramaic during the first century, or perhaps Pilate intended this to be a subtle message for those traveling into Jerusalem at that time.

However, it’s also interesting that the chief priests disapprove of Pilate’s wording on this sign. While Jesus never claimed kingship towards the Jews or even towards anything on this earth, Pilate concluded from his conversation with Jesus that Jesus was not ordinary, and that Jesus probably did deserve the title of king. Pilate gives Jesus the title of king, which is what the religious leaders said was the charge against Jesus when they brought Him to Pilate. But the religious leaders want to distance themselves as far away from Jesus as they can, and Pilate can see this, but I believe Pilate also realizes that Jesus likely was the Messiah that they had been waiting for.

Pilate stood firm with his message declaring Jesus to be the king of the Jews, and with this declaration, comes the subtle jab towards the religious leaders that they were the ones who rejected the King God had promised and sent them.

Not only does John describe the religious leaders bickering with Pilate over the wording of the sign, John takes a few verses describing how pagan Roman soldiers fulfilled a prophecy they likely didn’t have any idea existed. Continuing in verse 23, John tells us that:

23 When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.

24 “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.”

This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said,

“They divided my clothes among them
    and cast lots for my garment.”

So this is what the soldiers did.

Pausing again, I am amazed that something like this could have been predicted centuries before Jesus walked the earth so amazingly accurately that it clearly is applicable for this event. Oddly enough, this scriptural prediction foreshadowed Jesus’ death more than a Jesus who would never die, because someone who is alive wouldn’t have their clothing divided or their undergarments gambled for. The first century Jews were looking for a Messiah who would last forever without tasting death; Jesus came as a Messiah who would face death, and ultimately defeat it.

But with all this emotional turmoil, John records a final request Jesus has before He takes His last breath. Picking back up in verse 25 and reading the rest of our passage, John concludes by telling us:

25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

While John’s gospel is one that names and identifies more disciples than not, there are several places where John intentionally avoids naming the disciple. The most notable times John does this are during the Last Supper, here at the cross, and again following Jesus’ resurrection. Tradition holds that this unnamed disciple is John himself, and I don’t have any reason to doubt this.

However, the last thing Jesus focuses on while He is hanging on the cross is the care of His mother. While bearing the weight of the sins of humanity, Jesus focuses on taking care of His mother. While I don’t know where any of the other siblings Jesus had were, or why none of them would have taken Mary in, John honors Jesus’ last request and takes Mary as his mother and cares for her like he would for his own mother. While Jesus wouldn’t stay dead, He also wasn’t staying present on earth either, so this request, while given during the darkest part of history, remained relevant through the triumph of the resurrection, ascension, and the expansion of the early church.

In John’s gospel, we discover that Pilate recognized Jesus in a way that the religious leaders were unwilling to see Jesus, we see an amazing prophecy predicted about the Messiah being fulfilled by a bunch of pagans who would have no idea the prophecy even existed, and we have Jesus remembering His mother during the darkest part of earth’s history. We can look at what John describes here and know that through the rejection, the darkness, and the pain, God has been there, and He will lead us through to the other side.

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

Be sure to always seek God first and put your faith in Him. Trust that God knows what will happen and that His goal is focused on saving you for eternity. While our world is filled with pain, trials, and rejection, we know that because Jesus triumphed over death, God will protect His people and save them for eternity.

Also, always pray and study the Bible for yourself to grow closer to God and to discover what God wants to teach you through His Word. While pastors, authors, speakers, or even podcasters can give you ideas to think about, filter everything you hear or read through the pages and truth in God’s Word.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or fall away from where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year of the Cross – Episode 46: John’s gospel describes the religious leaders’ final request of Pilate, one of the last prophecies about Jesus’ ministry being fulfilled by a bunch of pagans, and Jesus’ last request to John regarding His mother. Discover how all these things summarize what God wants to help each of us with in our lives 2,000+ years later.

Join the discussion. Share your thoughts on this passage.

Valued By God: John 10:1-21

Focus Passage: John 10:1-21 (CEV)

    1 Jesus said:

   I tell you for certain that only thieves and robbers climb over the fence instead of going in through the gate to the sheep pen. 2-3 But the gatekeeper opens the gate for the shepherd, and he goes in through it. The sheep know their shepherd’s voice. He calls each of them by name and leads them out.

    4 When he has led out all of his sheep, he walks in front of them, and they follow, because they know his voice. 5 The sheep will not follow strangers. They don’t recognize a stranger’s voice, and they run away.

    6 Jesus told the people this story. But they did not understand what he was talking about.

    7 Jesus said:

   I tell you for certain that I am the gate for the sheep. 8 Everyone who came before me was a thief or a robber, and the sheep did not listen to any of them. 9 I am the gate. All who come in through me will be saved. Through me they will come and go and find pasture.

    10 A thief comes only to rob, kill, and destroy. I came so that everyone would have life, and have it in its fullest. 11 I am the good shepherd, and the good shepherd gives up his life for his sheep. 12 Hired workers are not like the shepherd. They don’t own the sheep, and when they see a wolf coming, they run off and leave the sheep. Then the wolf attacks and scatters the flock. 13 Hired workers run away because they don’t care about the sheep.

    14 I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, and they know me. 15 Just as the Father knows me, I know the Father, and I give up my life for my sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not in this sheep pen. I must bring them together too, when they hear my voice. Then there will be one flock of sheep and one shepherd.

    17 The Father loves me, because I give up my life, so that I may receive it back again. 18 No one takes my life from me. I give it up willingly! I have the power to give it up and the power to receive it back again, just as my Father commanded me to do.

    19 The people took sides because of what Jesus had told them. 20 Many of them said, “He has a demon in him! He is crazy! Why listen to him?”

    21 But others said, “How could anyone with a demon in him say these things? No one like that could give sight to a blind person!”

Read John 10:1-21 in context and/or in other translations on!

In this passage, Jesus gives one of His more profound and perplexing statements.

It is our tendency when we read this that Jesus is talking to a select group of people, but this teaching was to a crowd where every group and class of people were represented.

John 10, verse 10 is the verse that holds this statement: “A thief comes only to rob, kill, and destroy. I came so that everyone would have life, and have it in its fullest.

In this short verse, Jesus contrasts the mission of His ministry with all other “ministries” that would come before and after. In this verse, Jesus challenges the notion that He came to “steal” people away from earth. That idea goes against what Jesus says here. A “thief” steals from the places they have targeted, and Jesus positions Himself on the opposite side of this idea.

Jesus sets Himself on the platform that He came to help everyone have a full life.

This is where things can get a little uncomfortable for some. Jesus clearly says “everyone”. This is not Jesus saying, “Only those who follow Me can have the full life.” That might make sense, but this is not Jesus’ words. Jesus wanted everyone in the crowd to live a full life – regardless of their past, and regardless of where they were in the moment He spoke those words.

The same is true today. Jesus wants you and I, regardless of our past or where we are in the present, to have a full life. His statement is 100% inclusive and not exclusive to anyone.

However, not everyone wants a “full” life. Not everyone believes the truth about what leads to a full life. There are billions of people running across the planet who might say they want a full life, but then they act in ways that cheapens their value to others and themselves. God’s idea of a “full” life does not lead to anyone feeling less than how God feels about them, and if you don’t know what God thinks of you, simply look to the cross – the place where the Creator of the earth died. We see our value in how much God gave up to be with us.

When we get a glimpse of how valuable we are to God, we can begin to live life to God’s fullest!

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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A Congruent Life: Matthew 23:1-36

Focus Passage: Matthew 23:1-36 (NASB)

During Jesus teaching, Matthew describes a point where He shares His big issues with the religious leaders of that time period. While Mark and Luke include a brief summary couple of verses, Matthew devotes almost an entire chapter to this section of Jesus’ words.

In this teaching, Jesus describes one of the ways the scribes and Pharisees are hypocrites: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.” (v. 25-26)

Jesus then restates this idea with a different metaphor saying, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (v. 27-28)

With these two challenges and warnings, Jesus shares a principle that can help us be wiser. This principle says that our inner lives will ultimately, eventually reflect our outer lives. Applying this principle to these scribes and Pharisees tells us that even though they are putting on a good show and are currently fooling many people, the robbery, self-indulgence, hypocrisy, and lawlessness will eventually come out and taint their outwardly perfect looking lives.

But the challenge Jesus shares with them in this principle is that by fixing their inner lives and getting rid of the sin that his hidden right now, they will be able to keep an outwardly clean life.

It is the same with us living today. While it is easy to fracture ourselves, and show a different side of ourselves whether we are at home, at work, with friends, or sharing online, eventually all the facets of our lives will blend together. If any of the parts, facets, or sides of our lives do not go well together with the other parts, we will have a problem, and the negative parts of our character will bleed over and taint the positive image we are trying to portray.

Jesus’ challenge for everyone listening to Him (including us 2,000ish years later) is to focus on cleaning up our inner, hidden lives, because only by doing this first will we better able to keep the public sides of our lives congruent and clean.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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Flashback Episode — Intentional Surrender: Matthew 26:36-46

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On the night Jesus was arrested, all four gospels describe how He goes with His eleven remaining disciples to a place just outside of Jerusalem called Gethsemane. While there, during the last moments Jesus has before His arrest, and following His last big teaching opportunity with the disciples, Jesus does something that is worth paying attention to.

For our episode this week, we’ll be focusing in on Matthew’s version of this event, though the idea we’ll be focusing in on is found in more than just Matthew’s gospel. This event is found in Matthew, chapter 26, and for our time together, we will be reading from the Good News Translation. Starting in verse 36, Matthew tells us:

36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee. Grief and anguish came over him, 38 and he said to them, “The sorrow in my heart is so great that it almost crushes me. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

39 He went a little farther on, threw himself face downward on the ground, and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, take this cup of suffering from me! Yet not what I want, but what you want.”

40 Then he returned to the three disciples and found them asleep; and he said to Peter, “How is it that you three were not able to keep watch with me for even one hour? 41 Keep watch and pray that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

42 Once more Jesus went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cup of suffering cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 He returned once more and found the disciples asleep; they could not keep their eyes open.

44 Again Jesus left them, went away, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. 45 Then he returned to the disciples and said, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look! The hour has come for the Son of Man to be handed over to the power of sinners. 46 Get up, let us go. Look, here is the man who is betraying me!”

During the last hours, or maybe even minutes, before Judas Iscariot, the betrayer, arrives with the mob to arrest Jesus, Jesus spends the last moments in prayer regarding the mission and trial He is about to undertake. While some people might read Jesus’ prayer and believe that He is pushing back on God’s mission for Him to face the cross, I think that this is not the essence of Jesus’ prayer here. While the cross was coming up on the horizon not even 24 hours later, I believe Jesus was praying for something happening that was much more present than a fear of the cross.

In Jesus’ first prayer, found in verse 39, He prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, take this cup of suffering from me! Yet not what I want, but what you want.” Chances are that His prayer was a little longer than two sentences, but perhaps this was all these three disciples heard before falling asleep.

This prayer contains two important ideas for us to consider.

The first idea is that Jesus conditionally asks for a cup of suffering to be taken from Him – specifically only if it is possible. This implies that Jesus was already facing suffering of some kind. Never before in Jesus’ ministry do we get the idea that Jesus was fearful, but perhaps this was the moment fear entered His life. However, following the mob’s arrival and the trial, we don’t see Jesus display any fear, so this is unlikely to be a moment of fear.

Part of me wonders if the arrival of Jesus and His disciples to Gethsemane marked the start of the Father pulling His presence away from Jesus, while Jesus was emotionally and spiritually taking on the sins of everyone who had ever lived. If this were the case, I could see Jesus’ time in Gethsemane before His arrest being much more difficult than the road of pain and abuse leading to the cross.

However, there is a second idea in Jesus’ first prayer that deserves our attention. Jesus finishes off by saying, “Yet not what I want, but what you want.

In the midst of a trial so big that we cannot even begin to imagine it’s total size, Jesus asks the question about if there was another way, but He frames the response He wants to receive as simply God’s will being done and not His own. While God could have swept Jesus up to Heaven at that very moment, and wiped the universe clean to start over from that point, it wasn’t part of God’s plan to give up at the most difficult moment the Godhead had ever faced. We might think that it was difficult for Jesus but not for God the Father or the Holy Spirit for that 24-48 hour period, but that would be a mistake.

If God truly is known as a Father, watching His Son face death would be one of the hardest things He could do, especially knowing that while He could stop it from happening, any delay would progress the pain Jesus was in, and abandoning the mission would prove Satan’s case against God that said God was unfair and unrealistic.

In this prayer, we see Jesus submitting to God when the times get tough, and while I know the Father wanted to help Him, God knew that any help would validate Satan’s charge against the Godhead.

After Jesus returns, wakes the disciples up, asks them again to keep watch, He returns and prays a second prayer, which is similar to the first. In verse 42, Jesus prayed, “My Father, if this cup of suffering cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.

Jesus’ second prayer includes more courage and strength than the first. God the Father had probably answered Jesus’ prayers much more quickly than it appeared to be on this night, and because of this, I wonder if Jesus, who hadn’t seen or heard anything change following His first prayer, then shifted His prayers towards accepting the mission of suffering.

Both times Jesus frames that what He wants is God’s will do be done, and in both cases, Jesus says these words knowing that it will bring suffering into His life. While Matthew doesn’t quote Jesus’ third prayer, he tells us that it was similar to the first two prayers.

We can learn from Jesus in what we see in Gethsemane. While all the disciples were facing temptation in those hours with Jesus, I believe the greatest temptations were being pressed towards Jesus Himself.

The temptations likely centered on the ideas that Jesus’ sacrifice would not be worth it, it wouldn’t be accepted by God, no one on earth would care that He had died, and His life would ultimately be wasted.

In these moments of temptation, Jesus surrenders, but while we might surrender by doing whatever thing we are being tempted to do, Jesus surrendered into doing God’s will. It was not God’s will that Jesus would abandon humanity when things got tough, so regardless of Jesus’ prayers, as long as He framed Himself wanting to stay within God’s will and the plan they had set up, no help from Heaven would come.

When we face temptation, the best place for us to surrender is into doing God’s will. While this is clearly easier to say than it is to do, our prayers for help should always be prefaced with God’s will being done.

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I want to leave with you this week:

Continue to seek God first in your life and intentionally submit to His will. When temptation comes, choose to surrender to God and let Him direct and protect you as He sees fit. Sometimes relief will come, but other times, it may feel like we are facing temptation alone. However, God will not abandon us like He never abandoned Jesus. Jesus was raised from the dead at the perfect time, and this is proof that even if we experience feeling like God is silent, He is never truly absent.

Also, be sure to always study the Bible for yourself in order to strengthen your connection with God. While not every study time will be filled with insights or feelings of closeness with God, the only way to ever get any personal insights or to feel close with God is through intentionally drawing near to Him in personal study. Prayer and personal study are much more important for each of us than simply listening to a pastor or podcaster.

And as I always end each set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Season 3 – Episode 45: Cam discusses some things we can learn from Jesus praying in Gethsemane on the night He was arrested.

Join the discussion on the original episode's page: Click Here.