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A Journey through the book of Genesiswith Willow Creek Community Church

Read John

DAY 23 // OUR PASSOVER LAMB

Willow Creek Community Church

 

It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon. 

- JOHN 19:14 

 

LISTEN


COMMENTARY

A fair amount of debate has taken place over the years concerning the exact chronology of Jesus’ final days in the book of John. John 19:14 tells us that Jesus was crucified on the “day of Preparation of the Passover.” Some believe this means Jesus was crucified on the same day that Passover lambs were slaughtered for the traditional Passover dinner. Others understand this to refer to the day of Preparation for the “Passover week.” In this case, Jesus was crucified on the day immediately following the Passover dinner. No matter how we understand the chronology, John makes it clear that Jesus’ crucifixion was far more than the unfortunate death of a man. Jesus’ crucifixion demonstrated that He is our Passover Lamb. 

A little background about Passover lambs can help us appreciate the significance of this. Many centuries prior to Jesus’ crucifixion, when God saved the ancient Israelites from their slavery in Egypt, God introduced the first Passover dinner. For this dinner, an unblemished lamb was slaughtered by each Israelite household without the breaking of any bones. The meat of this lamb was eaten during the meal, and the blood of the lamb was painted on the door frames of their homes to identify them as the people of God. Those whose homes had been marked by the blood of the Passover lamb were saved from the plague that struck Egypt that evening, and they were ultimately saved from slavery. 

From beginning to end, the book of John has been telling us that Jesus is the perfect Passover lamb. As early as John 1:29, Jesus is described as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” Here, near the end of the book, Jesus’ death occurs in the context of Passover, His bones are not broken (John 19:33), and we are reminded that He is innocent, like an unblemished lamb (John 19:4). The point we are to catch is that Jesus’ crucifixion was no ordinary execution. Like a Passover lamb, Jesus died to save us from our own slavery to sin and death. 


SCRIPTURE

JOHN 19:1–37  

JESUS SENTENCED TO BE CRUCIFIED 

1 Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2 The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe 3 and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face. 

4 Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” 5 When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” 

6 As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!” 
But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.” 

7 The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.” 

8 When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, 9 and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” 

11 Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” 

12 From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.” 

13 When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). 14 It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon. 

“Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews. 

15 But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!” 

“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked. 

“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered. 

16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. 

THE CRUCIFIXION OF JESUS 

So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. 17 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). 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.” 

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. 

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. 

THE DEATH OF JESUS 

28 Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. 

31 Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. 32 The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35 The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. 36 These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” 37 and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.” 


REFLECTION

1. Throughout Jesus’ trial, we see that Jesus was in control, not Pilate nor the religious leaders. Jesus remained composed because He knew that this was God’s plan and that there was a reason for His trial. In reality, it was Pilate and the religious leaders who were really on trial before God. Often, we feel we are on trial when we are questioned or ridiculed because of our faith, but we must remember that those opposing us are really the ones on trial before God. In what ways do you feel as though you are “on trial”? What can you learn from how Jesus handled this situation?

2. Today’s passage is about the torture, crucifixion, and death of Jesus. The slow and painful death that Jesus endured would have been pure agony. Take some time to journal on the power of this passage and what it means to you. Spend some time praying and thanking Jesus for the sacrifice He made for you.