Easter Week 2 – John 19:12-37
On April 9 we had a Downtown Members’ Night, including Ryan Burger’s powerful story of God’s faithfulness in his life and important updates from Tyler.
Two things you need to keep an eye out for in John’s Gospel are pattern and repetition. John highlights certain things in certain orders or numbers, often in remarkable ways, to give them emphasis. It shows just how much effort he put into telling the Gospel story.
Prior to this our passage for this week John gives a set of three statements, all to the effect of, “this was to fulfill what Jesus had said.” These occur in 18:9, 18:27, and 18:32 (the middle one being a clear fulfillment of prophecy from John 13:38).
In our passage this week John includes three “fulfillments of scripture.” These are all references to the Old Testament: Psalm 22:18 in verse 24, Psalm 69:21 in verse 28, and Exodus 12:46 and Psalm 34:20 in verses 36-37. Notice how the third occurrence is a double reference, with some extra emphasis from John (quite a bit more than just “to fulfill the Scripture”). He’s shown three instances in which Jesus completed or fulfilled the Scriptural predictions of his death, with the third being the climactic example to drive the point home. He also tied these fulfillments of scripture to his own testimony. “He who saw it has borne witness–his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth–that you also may believe.”(John 19:35) John is lining up 1000-year-old scripture with what he saw with his own eyes, helping us see what is really True.
As an aside, if you go and read those four Old Testament references you’ll see that none of them are full blown prophecies; they don’t read, “and then the Messiah will thirst.” In fact, 3/4 of them are just lyrics from Psalms. What this can help us see is that Jesus both fulfilled the blatant prophecies of the Old Testament (ex. Genesis 49:10) and was the embodied fulfillment of scripture itself. In other words, all of Scripture points to and is completed in Jesus.
So first John gives us three instances of Jesus’ own predictions coming true. Then he shows us three ways that Jesus fulfilled Scripture in his death. He does this to show that Jesus had the same kind of predictive authority as God’s word (because John would like to reinforce the fact that Jesus is in fact God).
Along with these two sets of three comes a final set of three, this time from Jesus on the cross (admittedly with some overlap between in verse 28). In order, these show Jesus’ concern for his mother and obedience to the fifth commandment in 19:26-27, his own mortality in 19:28, and that the work of redemption was complete in 19:30. In your prep for discussion, consider reading over Psalm 22 and seeing just how much it anticipates about Jesus’ death on the cross. In looking at his final words, Jesus’ last phrase, “It is finished,” is the single most important thing that has ever been uttered by a human being. No other statement has had more ramifications for us than Jesus’ one word there: τετέλεσται. It is a light shining in the darkness, and for the believer, a constant reassurance that nothing needs to be added to what is already complete.
Questions for Discussion
• Can someone read John 19:12-37 for us?
• What stood out to you from the passage?
• This passage has three “to fulfill the scripture” comments. What can these tell us about Jesus’ death?
• What could we learn from Jesus’ comments on the cross?
• Why do you think it’s so important for us to know that Jesus’ work on the cross is “finished”?
• Look at verse 35. Why do you think John is concerned with whether you believe his testimony or not?
• Looking ahead to the weekend, how do you want to grow in your appreciation of Jesus this Easter?