April 15 Sermon Resource


Main Text: John 19:31-42

Accompanying Text: Psalm 31:9-18


“Jesus was put to death by crucifixion, a form of execution practiced in late antiquity, whereby a person was tied or nailed to a pole or cross.  To be crucified is, literally, to be ‘staked.’  Crucifixion was practiced in the eastern Mediterranean long before the Romans adopted the practice.  It was practiced by Persians (cf.Herodotus 1.123.2; 3.125.3) and other peoples, such as Assyrians, Scythians, and Thracians.  Alexander the Great is said to have crucified thousands (cf. Curtius Rufus, Hist. Alex. 4.4.17), and his successors continued the practice.  It is not surprising, then, that in time the Romans adopted this form of execution…

As a matter of custom, Roman authorities placed crosses along well-traveled highways, on tops of hills, and at city gates. The condemned man usually carried the cross-beam, or patibulum (cf Plautus, Carbonaria 2); Miles gloriosus  2.4.6-7 §359-360/ Plutarch, Mor. 554A-B), sometimes with a titulus around his neck declaring his name and punishment, later to be affixed to the upright cross (cf. Suetonbius, Caligula 32.2; Dio Cassius 54.3.6-7)”. [1]

“Darkness descends; this is probably not an eclipse but the result of gathering clouds and a brewing storm.  Jesus is given a sponge with vinegar (or soured wine) which is placed on a reed for him to drink.  A lance is plunged into his side to ascertain that he is dead for being removed from the cross.  There are many potential causes that may have contributed to Jesus’s death.  The earlier scourging would undoubtedly have led to a massive loss of blood and the effect of carrying the heavy crossbeam on his shoulders to Golgotha would also have brought about substantial dehydration and exhaustion.  Hence, it is not surprising that Jesus did not last very long on the cross, perhaps 3 to 6 hours at the most”. [2]

Thoughts re application today

“…Jews consistently believed the messiah would be the great and powerful ruler who delivered Israel from its oppressors. He would be a mighty general or a powerful cosmic judge come from heaven. Different Jews had different views of who or what the messiah might be, but all these views had one thing in common: they all thought of the messiah as a future figure of grandeur and might who would rule the nation with justice and power.

And who was Jesus? An itinerant preacher who got on the wrong side of the law and was arrested by the enemies of Israel, tried, and publicly tortured to death by crucifixion. This was just the opposite of what the messiah would be.” [3)

“He sees through bleary eyes.

He touches and feels with bloodied hands.
He stumbles and falls on rough sands, sharp stones.

Roman hands guide him to his feet.

He has his burden taken from him.

He walks with faltering feet.

Up to the hill

Humiliated, humbled by those he has created.

Nails plunge deep, breaking flesh.

He cries through cracked lips.

He breathes with laboured lungs.

He paints his blood on the doorposts of the universe,

as he dies to liberate the world.

                        ‘His Death’ by Jared Lovell (2009)” [4]

“REFLECT:  Imagine yourself standing with the crowd at the foot of the cross.  What do you see?  What do you feel?  What do you want to say or do? Make a prayerful response to Jesus”. [5]


Some other Scripture Resources

  • Mark 15:23-47
  • Isaiah 53
  • Galatians 2:20
  • Hebrews 9:14

Other GCI resources

Footnotes and references

  1. Craig A. Evans and Tom Wright, Jesus, the Final Days, published by SPCK, UK, in 2008:28,31.
  2. Shimon Gibson, The Final Days of Jesus: the Archaeological Evidence, published by HarperOne, UK, in 2009:123.
  3. Bart M. Ehrman, Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife, published by Oneworld publications, UK in 2020:112.
  4. Quoted by Cris Rogers in Practising Resurrection: The Church Being Jesus’ Hands, Feet and Heart, published by Authentic Media Limited in the UK in 2010:77.
  5. Andrew Ollerton, The Bible: A Story that makes Sense of Life, Hodder & Stoughton, UK, 2020, 2021:214.
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