The Final Request: John 19:18-27

Read the Transcript

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 is 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.

Share Your Response

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.