The Eyewitness: John 19:28-37

Focus Passage: John 19:28-37 (GW)

28 After this, when Jesus knew that everything had now been finished, he said, “I’m thirsty.” He said this so that Scripture could finally be concluded.

29 A jar filled with vinegar was there. So the soldiers put a sponge soaked in the vinegar on a hyssop stick and held it to his mouth.

30 After Jesus had taken the vinegar, he said, “It is finished!”

Then he bowed his head and died.

31 Since it was Friday and the next day was an especially important day of rest—a holy day, the Jews didn’t want the bodies to stay on the crosses. So they asked Pilate to have the men’s legs broken and their bodies removed. 32 The soldiers broke the legs of the first man and then of the other man who had been crucified with Jesus.

33 When the soldiers came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they didn’t break his legs. 34 However, one of the soldiers stabbed Jesus’ side with his spear, and blood and water immediately came out. 35 The one who saw this is an eyewitness. What he says is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth so that you, too, will believe.

36 This happened so that the Scripture would come true: “None of his bones will be broken.” 37 Another Scripture passage says, “They will look at the person whom they have stabbed.”

Read John 19:28-37 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

If there is a phrase in the gospel of John that is connected with Jesus’ death on the cross that doesn’t seem to fit, it may be this one. Near the end of the Friday that Jesus died, we read the following phrase in John’s gospel, “The one who saw this is an eyewitness. What he says is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth so that you, too, will believe.” (v. 35)

While on the surface, there is nothing odd about this phrase, what intrigues me about it is that this seems like more of a statement that Matthew would include. Mark and Luke both assemble their gospel records from eyewitness accounts, but Matthew and John both had personal access to Jesus, and they were there at most of the events.

However, this phrase completely fits here. Of all twelve disciples who spent the most time with Jesus, only one was present at the moment when Jesus died. Only one was standing at the foot (or near the foot) of the cross. Other gospel writers include the women who were present, but with the women present was John.

Perhaps John includes this phrase because there were people who wanted to invalidate the testimony of the women who were present to see what happened, or maybe John includes it simply as a statement to support the validity of his eyewitness account.

The one who saw this is an eyewitness. What he says is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth so that you, too, will believe.” (v. 35)

John gives us the reason he includes this statement in the statement itself. The goal is to help your faith and my faith in Jesus. John saw what happened personally, and he chooses to share what he saw so that we will have evidence for our faith in Jesus. John’s experience can be a foundation for our faith in Jesus!

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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