Category Archives: John

John 21 – Jesus says, “Do you love me more?”

Opening question

What are some of your favourite endings to movies or books? After the problem of the story is resolved, there is a closing scene before the credits roll – what are some favourites and why? Maybe think of the ending of Casablanca, or Back to the Future, or the Shawshank Redemption? What affect does the ending have on the story?


Everything that Jesus came to do on this earth has been finished. It was finished at the cross and proved right and effective through the resurrection. Peace has been brought to God’s people who will believe in Jesus Christ and trust in him. But there are loose ends. On the day Jesus was crucified, Peter denied Jesus three times. The disciples were scared and hiding indoors on the day of the resurrection – what will they do now? Before the credits roll on this story (and they do in verse 24), we want to know what happens after the most amazing day in the history of all time.


“Afterward” v1. John gives us no time period between the first week of the resurrection (20:26) and now. Only that this event was the third encounter between Jesus and the disciples post resurrection (v14).

“By the Sea of Galilee…going out to fish…but caught nothing” (verses 1-3). In these opening verses we are given a scenario of the disciples returning to things that they knew before they met Jesus. Their places of origin and old activities which gave them purpose before being affected by the life of Jesus Christ. Now, in his absence, they seem a little lost. Simon, the character with great initiative, suggests to do something they know and the rest follow. He has a personality to lead others. Jesus will take those gifts and direct them into kingdom work. Their attempt to do what they used to do for a living was fruitless. What they needed was for someone to give them a greater purpose in life. To lift their eyes and see that there’s more to life than work, or self-preservation. Jesus’ final mission in John’s gospel is to ignite Peter to step up and do what he has been transformed to do.

“The sons of Zebedee”(v2) were James and John according to Matthew 4:21. There were seven disciples together on that fishing trip. Why some were named and others not, I am not sure, but I suspect that the named disciples all had specific stories earlier in the book by John. Simon Peter (1:40-42). Thomas (11:16, 20:26). Sons of Zebedee (one of whom is John, the writer). Nathaniel (1:45-50). Two disciples (1:35-39?). If I am right, then this feeds into a good closing of John’s account where each of these key disciples, in John’s view, are called again by Jesus. He has no second thoughts about these men who he called to begin with. They are still to go and tell the world everything that they have witnessed. Jesus doesn’t call us and discard us.

“ Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some” v6. This story sounds similar to the one in Luke 5:4-7 but they are two separate events. Despite their  similarities, they also possess many differences. I won’t list them here because it’s fun to play that game for yourself (or your group if you think it’s worth it). Since it is an event that has happened once before, Jesus is giving them a little sense of deja vu. Jesus isn’t striving for a new sign but a familiar one. As if he is saying, nothing has changed. You are still my disciples. Don’t return to where you came from. The road goes one way and you have already started it with me. Remember who called you and what he has called you to do.

“The disciple whom Jesus loved” v7, 20, 24. See also John 13:23 and 19:26. John has kept himself anonymous throughout the book and only in the second last verse of the book does he say that the one writing this book is the one referred to as love by Jesus. John doesn’t name himself in the gospel but it is the widely held view that the writer is John. The writer was a) an eye witness b) one of the disciples c) close to Jesus d) unnamed in this book. It makes sense that John is the man. He is a perfect match. Tradition also tells us that he is the only disciple that died of old age and this fits with the words of Jesus in verse 23. Aside from this discussion of authorship and John’s apparent humility to remain unnamed, I take a more powerful lesson from the phrase: ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved.’ John described himself on each of these occasions as someone whom Jesus loved personally. Rather than being one of eleven other men who followed Jesus and saw amazing things, John knew that Jesus loved him. This is our challenge. I am not just a number to Jesus. I am not hidden from Jesus’ sight like thousands of coins in the same treasure-chest. I am loved by Jesus. Known by Jesus. He sought me and found me and called me to be a disciple – the disciple whom Jesus loved. John could say this of himself despite the attention that Peter seemed to get. John was able to write about all the encounters between Peter and Jesus without losing sight on the fact the he was loved by Jesus.

“A fire of burning coals with fish on it, and some bread.” v9. Here’s another aspect of this story that reminds us of previous miracles of Jesus. Like the fishing trip miracle, the sight of Jesus serving a meal of fish and bread is a reminder of another event with Jesus and his disciples: the feeding of the 5,000. It’s another great picture of John closing this account of Jesus by calling his disciples to continue the mission. These two miracles in particular will remind the disciples to go and fish for men and to go and feed his sheep.

153 fish (v11). It’s a strange number to make note of since there doesn’t appear to be a clear biblical allusion here. If it were 144, we might talk about the 12 tribes of Israel, 12 times over! If it were 7 or 11 or 22, we might have things to say about this number. If I were crazy, I might try and join different numbers together to come up with 153 and therefore the meaning of this number. Seriously, I can’t even imagine what numbers go together to make it! But what about this: it was actually 153 fish (not 152 or 154) because this really happened and they counted them and this was the number. Secondly, it was a number large enough to say that the nets should have broken with the load. Logic says that this number was too much. But the reality is that Jesus directed them to catch more fish than they could possibly plan to carry. Jesus is sending these men out to make more disciples. How many should they try and get? One more each? Twelve each? How about as many as they can reach and trust Jesus that it will work. How big should our church get? How big should your Growth Group be? Is it right to put a ceiling on these things or should we just obey Jesus and make as many disciples as we can and trust God with the pragmatics? Or is it true that we don’t actually have our nets in the water? If knowing Jesus is a matter of life and death and we have the life raft, lets find as many people as we can and get them into the raft with us! It might get squishy and we may have to adjust what we do at church but this is about life and death, right?

“This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.” v14. See 20:19 and 26.

“Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Do you love me more than these?’” v15 By ‘these’, I think Jesus is talking about the fish. The question from Jesus is about where Peter’s first love is. Is it fishing, fish, the lake, eating food, or is it his Lord and Saviour? Good question.

“Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” v17. There’s a clear parallel between these three questions and the three denials of Peter. I bet it hurt Jesus to be denied three times. John was not the only disciple whom Jesus loved. He loved Peter too. He invite him to repent in a most personal way. This was Jesus’ relationship with Peter. I’m reminded that my salvation is not simply from ‘sin.’ My salvation is from my rebellion and my failings to love God with all my heart. Thank God that he is ready, able and willing to receive us back after we betray him.

“Feed my lambs… Take care of my sheep… Feed my sheep” v15-17. I find it interesting the Jesus uses a feeding metaphor rather than a fishing metaphor. He told the disciples, in Matthew 5, that he would make them fishers of men. Jesus could have repeated that here: if you love me more than these fish, then go and fish for men. But he focuses on the image of eating or being fed. Jesus asks Peter to feed others only after Jesus has fed Peter first. Not during the meal or before it but after. Just as Peter has been fed, so go and feed Jesus’ flock. Take care of them. You be the man now Peter. I’m promoting you from disciple only to disciple-maker. The close of John’s gospel is about Jesus calling his disciples again, but this time to lead the world toward Jesus.

“Lord, what about him?” v21. Peter took a moment to ask Jesus about another disciple who was clearly loved by Jesus. He wanted to compare himself with John and ask what will happen to him. Although it’s not a terrible question, the response from Jesus is clear: what is that to you? I’m telling you to follow me. Don’t worry about what I’m doing with him. That’s between me and him. What you need to concern yourself with is following me. Just follow me. Don’t be distracted. Don’t be envious or proud. Just love me and obey my commands – follow me.

“If every one of the things Jesus did were written down…” v25 It must have been a hard project to know what exactly to write about with Jesus. I can’t believe that these men spent three years with him and only wrote so little! Any biography written these days would have been massive. Probably the whole width of the bible. But John didn’t write a biography of Jesus. He wrote a paper to convince us that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that believing we may have life in his name.

Paul writes of other occasions when Jesus met with people after the resurrection (1 Cor 15:3-8). Luke also writes of more encounters on the day of the resurrection (Luke 24). Matthew, Mark and Luke all contain events that were not described by John and John included events not mentioned by them.  We want to keep using the principle of listening to what John writes for John’s purpose. He has selected which events to write about. We have eternity to get to know Jesus better, but John has given us the way to receive eternal life!


The old has gone and the new has come. It is time for the disciples to put aside old things and begin their mission of raising the people of God. The age of doing our own thing for ourselves has gone and now is the age to feed others as Christ has fed us. It’s time to mature and lead others to Christ. Knowing that we are loved by Jesus, grow in his love, confident of his calling, and go and make disciples.


  1. Do you love Jesus more than…? What element of your life before Christ might you be putting ahead of Jesus? Are there goals, habits, passions that you have in this life which Jesus is asking you to put behind you now and follow him?
  2. Lord, what about him? Comparing ourselves to others is a dangerous thing. It can be good to model ourselves off others as Paul said on a number of occasions (1 Co 4:16, 1 Thess 1:6, 2:14, 2 Thess 3:9) but his is only when we see godliness in others which we want to pursue in ourselves. But comparing ourselves to others in a way that leads to pride or envy is to keep our eyes on our old selves and not see the new person that God is trying to create in you. Jesus said to Peter, “What is that to you? YOU must follow me.” In that sense, Jesus is asking us to put our blinkers on and pursue Jesus with all our heart. Do you see yourself as a back seat passenger of the faith, or in the front alongside you Saviour? Where is he calling you to go?
  3. How many fish do you think can fit in a net? John described 153 fish as too much for a net to bare and yet Jesus made it work. Jesus’ vision and capacity is always greater than ours. Our question should not be ‘how many can we reach?’ but ‘where should we cast our nets?’ Who knows how much we will grow but would you pray with me that our church will step out in faith, follow Jesus and be lead in his mission. Our churches are far from full. Perhaps we are focused in the wrong directions. Perhaps we are only faithfully waiting on the Lord when we ought to be (also) casting out nets.


Lord of all creation, awaken our hearts, drive our direction and raise our expectations. Take our hearts and make them love you and adore you. Help us to follow Jesus without distraction or fear. Grow us in maturity and faith so that we will go and find your lost sheep so they may call you Father and Jesus their friend. Amen.

John 20 – This I Believe

Opening question

What does it take for you to believe in something? In other words, why do you believe the things that you believe?(eg, the earth is round, Cathy Freeman one the women’s 400m in 2000, your place of birth was…, what makes your car go, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, who is risen from the dead).


It’s the end of the Gospel according to John. These last two chapters talk about what happens following the death of Jesus when the hour had come and gone and Jesus had finished the work that he came to earth to do. The entire Gospel of John has been outlining where Jesus came from, what he came to do and what the result will be for anyone who believes. John 20:31 gives us the purpose in John’s mind for writing everything that he wrote and why he chose to leave other things about Jesus out.

John 19:42, the final verse of the previous chapter, leaves us on the Friday of Jesus’ death and with the dead body of Jesus buried in a tomb.


The structure of this chapter is quite straight forward. It’s all narrative and so we only need to look for scene changes.

  • 1-10 – Disciples see an empty tomb
  • 11-18 – Mary Magdalene sees the risen Jesus
  • 19-23 – Jesus appears to the disciples
  • 24-29 – Thomas sees the risen Jesus
  • 30-31 – John  tells us why he writes

Each section reveals more and more the reality of the risen Jesus a bit like the rising of the sun reveals more and more of the details of the earth.

20:1-10 – The Disciples see an empty tomb and believe

“on the first day of the week” – This would be Sunday, the day after the Saturday Sabbath. At least 36 hours has passed since the death of Jesus. John 20 begins on the third day.

“…the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first…He saw and believed.” Well, this unnamed disciple who is probably John the writer, loves the fact that he can beat Simon in a race. But he is also listed as the first disciple to have believed as a result of seeing. What did he see? An empty tomb with discarded tomb clothes. Why would anyone steal the body of Jesus and leave the linen and cloth there? That makes no sense unless they wanted it to look like there was a resurrection! So, John saw signs of the resurrection and he believed. See John 2:22.

20:11-18 – Mary Magdalene sees the risen Jesus and believes

Mary is in grief and distress but she has not understood what John now understands. She is still picturing Jesus as dead. Jesus speaks to her three times before she recognizes his voice. It isn’t until he says her name, perhaps affectionately, that her eyes are open and she now knows that Jesus is risen. While John saw an empty tomb and put the pieces together, Mary needed a personal interaction with Jesus. I don’t want to take this too far, but there are different ways to come to faith and some people respond on the logic more than the relationship. Neither is more right but both are important. After all, Mary still responds to solid evidence rather than simple minded persuasion. She is responding to facts just as much, even more, as John. Both came to a point of conviction that Jesus was risen.

“I have not yet ascended to the Father.” I believe is referring to ascending to the Father in the bodily sense. After his death on the cross, Jesus dead body remained in the tomb until Sunday morning. His spirit was with God the Father in Paradise. Now, his resurrected body is to ascend to the Father. Why couldn’t Mary “hold on” to him? This is only to urge Mary not to hold him back from returning to the Father. He has not risen in order to remain on earth physically, but to be the first fruit of the resurrection.

Mary says, “I have seen the Lord.” This is her statement of faith and she now believes because she has seen Jesus. Not simply signs to a resurrected body, she has seen the living body of Jesus.

20:19-23 – Jesus appears the disciples and anoints them

This is the trickiest section of this chapter but it is all about the anointing of the disciples to continue the mission of Jesus throughout the world. It is John’s way of describing the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20 (I am not saying they are the same event but that they serve a similar purpose).

Notice firstly, how Jesus immediately addresses the disciples. He says, “Peace be with you!” Remember that Jesus had spent 5 chapters before the cross preparing them for the cross and his departure. Now he returns with the great gospel truth that there is PEACE. God’s message to mankind is now: peace. But only because of Jesus. Think of all the times in the Old Testament and in the entire gospels where God’s word came through a prophet with a simple message of peace. I can’t think of any. Warnings, threats, preparation for danger, promises for a future day – but now the day has come. And the message we have is: peace from God.

Notice that he just appeared without going through any doors? I think it is good to note that a miracle took place and then move on. Does it say something about his risen body? Maybe, but Philip also moved instantly from one place to another by miracle and he had not yet died (Acts 8:39).

Notice thirdly, that “the disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.” Moving from fear to joy is a great thing – especially when Jesus predicted this would happen. See John 16:20, 22. Their time of grief is over. Time to rejoice because Jesus is risen!

Next, we have the anointing of the disciples to continue the mission on earth. Just as the Father sent Jesus into the world to seek and save the lost, Jesus is now sending the disciples for the same end. The breathing of Jesus on them reminds us of Genesis, and the creation of mankind. Just as John begain his gospel with a reminder of the beginning (John 1:1), he ends his gospel with a new beginning. New life (John 3) is brought into the world.

“Receive the Holy Spirit.” This event is not to contradict Acts 2 which tells us that the Holy Spirit had not come yet. The two events serve different gospel purposes. In John 20, Jesus is re-establishing his 11 disciples (although Didymus wasn’t there) after they had all deserted him. Jesus is also enlightening them through the Holy Spirit about the interpretation of Old Testament scripture.  See John 7:38-39 to hear John’s promise that the Spirit would come after Jesus was glorified. What occurs in Acts 2 is an outpouring of the Spirit into the world. This account in John is about illuminating the disciples for their task of taking the gospel into the world. It is paralleld in Luke 24:45 when it says that Jesus “opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.”

“If you forgive…” This is nothing to be scared about. Quite the contrary. When the gospel is preached and believed, the announcement that sins are forgiven can certainly follow. This is about assurance! Some have distorted these verses to think that priests can give specific absolution and announce forgivenenss for this or that sin. But Jesus is declaring that PEACE is offered to everybody now in the name of Jesus. This is the message that the disciples went out to preach, Acts 13:32, 38-39; 16:31; Romans 10:9. Jesus is not giving them special religious powers – rather, he is declaring peace where religion and the Jewish law previously was inadequate. Jesus words are about assurance.

20:24-29 – Thomas sees Jesus and believes

Just as Mary required some one-to-one attention from Jesus before she believed, Thomas demanded to see Jesus. The encouragement to us in these verses is that Jesus expects us to believe on the testimony of these first eye-witnesses and calls us blessed when we do.

Both Thomas (Aramaic) and Didymus (Greek) mean twin. He is famously remembered as Doubting Thomas – which is sad and unfortunate. He was also the Brave Thomas, prepared to go and die with Jesus back in chapter 11:16. He was also Clarrifying Thomas in 14:5 when he wanted Jesus to tell them where Jesus was going and how to get there. He calls on Jesus to declare: “I am the way, the truth, and the life!” He moves the disciples to go with Jesus to witness Lazarus’ resurrection. He is the clearest in all the scriptures to declare that Jesus is God. Poor Doubting Thomas for his sad reputation.

Notice that Jesus affirms Thomas’ conclusion about his deity. Never let anybody get away with saying that Jesus never claimed to be God. This is a very significant event. Rather than decades or centuries going by before people started to think of Jesus as more than a man, it was by the end of the day of the resurrection! A Jew who knows fundamentally that there is only one God (Ex 20:1-2; Deut 6:4, Mark 12:29). Something incredible happened that day that convinced 11 Jewish men plus the women with them to WORSHIP a man as God!

Blessed: joyful, favoured, happy and peace from God. Be happy and rejoice, everyone who believes that Jesus is LORD (Yahweh) because this is exactly what God wants from you – this is righteousness. Believe is more than imagine. I can believe that God is real and so are angels. But God is glorified in us when our hearts are turned to him and to Jesus Christ whom he sent. Thomas moved from wondering if Jesus might be risen to believing it and it changed his attitude toward Jesus and God. For a person to believe and be saved, it means to take the claims about Jesus seriously.

20:30-31 – the reason we believe

John wrote down all of the words of his gospel so that we might believe something. Many books and movies are written and produced so that we might think something, or experience something, or be moved and made aware of something. John’s hope and prayer is that everyone who reads his account would take him seriously and consider what has been written and then turn to Jesus to live. Why? 1) Because Jesus is the Christ. This is the greek word for the Hebrew word, Messiah, which means chosen one, anointed one, KING. He is the promised one that God had asked Israel to look out for. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promises. 2) Because Jesus is the Son of God. His relationship with God is that he is the Son. The eternal Son. John want us to know that Jesus’ existence didn’t begin in the manger (John 1:1-18). He is not simply the Son of David as the Messiah was said to be, but the Son of God. Jesus is more than a prophet. He is better than Moses, and David and any of the angels. He is in very nature, God. 3) Because if we don’t believe, we do not have life. John 17:3, “This is eternal life: that [we] know God – the One True God – and Jesus Christ who was sent from God.” Eternal life is not about avoiding hell (although this is important) but about embracing life and living it to the full. Without Christ there is no life. Remember this corny line: Know Christ – Know Life…No Christ – No Life.

Anyone who wants to get the most out of life and is serious about knowing the truth needs to read the book written by John, study it, get to know Jesus, believe that he is who he says that he is and then live.


The empty tomb, the physical appearance of Jesus, his words of peace and the testimony of the disciples give us reason to believe and put our trust in the risen Lord Jesus. He is God, come into the world, to give life to everyone who believes.


  • Do you believe in the resurrection? Paul says that this is the most important part of our faith by far: 1 Corinthians 15. If you do not believe in the real resurrection of Jesus from the dead, then you are still lost in your sin and you have no hope. All four gospels end with this evidence. The sermons in the book of Acts all promote first and foremost, the risen Jesus. If you believe in the resurrection, then does your life show it? Ask yourself: is my life and lifestyle driven by my belief in the resurrection?
  • Do you believe in the confidence of life eternal? I’m talking about assurance. Jesus said: Peace be with you. He said, Go and tell people their sins are forgiven. He said, blessed by God are all who believe that Jesus is LORD. He finished his work on the cross so that we could be forgiven and be able to know our God in spirit and in truth. He has given us his Holy Spirit so that we will know the truth. Doubt and denial are enemies of our faith. Do you believe in the forgiveness of your sins and how has that affected your life?
  • Do you believe that life is all about Jesus?  If your life is not moving toward Christ-centredness then it is probably moving away from it.


Our Father in heaven, thank you for sending Jesus into this world to save us. We thank you for the resurrection and pray that we will be confident in the truth of the resurrection. We thank you for sending the disciples into the world and we pray that you will also send us. Fill our hearts with the joy of knowing peace through Jesus. Help us to live for the glory and honour of Jesus’ name. Amen.

John 19 – The King is dead


We are in the sentencing, death and burial chapter of Jesus’ earthly ministry from John’s account. Jesus has prepared his disciples for this hour and has gone ever so willingly to be put on trial. In 18:28-40, Pilate had interviewed Jesus and tried to release him to the crowd only to hear the crowd replay, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas the rebel!” Peter had shown bravery in the face of persecution to begin with but then succumbed to temptation and denied being one of Jesus’ followers. Jesus has willingly given himself over to people who hate him.


Verses 1-16 – Jesus is the King

The theme of Jesus being a king is carried throughout this section. He is mocked as a ‘so-called’ king in verses 1-5 while being jeered and flogged. The reason for his condemnation is on the basis of blaspheme – claiming to he the Son of God – in verses 6-7. Jesus belittles the power that Pilate has in verses 8-11. The crowd corner Pilate into sentencing Jesus on the basis that he claims to be a king in verses 12-16.

Notice how powerless the rulers of this world are over sin.

Firstly, the Jewish leaders have decided that Jesus needs to die on the basis that he is blaspheming. They cannot accept that he is actually the Son of God. The Word of God who has come into this world is being rejected by people. They have not believed Jesus, but have hate for him.

Secondly, the character in the story who thinks he’s in charge has very little control over what happens next. Verse 10, “Pilate said, ‘Don’t you realise I have power either to free you or to crucify you?’” Jesus’ reply is effectively: it is by God’s design that you are here sentencing me…the people have put me here before you…you are not in as much control as you think you are!

Thirdly, the crowd used a political angle against Pilate to force him to sentence Jesus to death. Verse 16 reads like Pilate surrendering to the only outcome that could happen. Of course, Pilate could have set Jesus free, but that would have been a miracle from God, and God has already decided that the cross will happen.

v1 “crown of thorns.” It’s interesting that the crown placed on Jesus’ head to mock him is made out of thorns. Not only is it a painful crown to wear but it is also one of the markers of the curse in Genesis 3 – that the ground will produce thorns and thistles. Now Jesus literally wears part of the curse on his head as he goes to the cross to pay for the sins of the world.

v7 “according to that law he must die.” See Leviticus 24:16. Remember that the Jews wanted Pilate to kill Jesus because it was the eve of the Passover and they didn’t want blood on their hands. So ridiculous. See also John 5:18 and 10:33 where they had previously tried to kill Jesus themselves for the same reason.

V13 Gabbatha – clearly this is Aramaic for Stone Pavement, or the name of the same judge’s seat. While the NT is written in Greek, the common language and often the first language for the Jews was Aramaic. The difference between Hebrew and Aramaic is, put simply, Hebrew was the ancient Jewish language which the bulk of the OT was written in while Aramaic overtook this as the common language by the time Jesus was on earth. John referred to Aramaic words in 5:2 and 19:17.

Verses 16-24 – What the soldiers did

This section begins and ends with the soldier’s actions. There appears to have been four of them (v23) escorting three prisoners (v18). Although we are told that the soldiers ‘take charge’, John describes it in a very different way!

Notice how well this event has been orchestrated by God.

Firstly, Jesus is being told where to go, what to carry and then pinned to the cross. His involvement is passive.

Secondly, Pilate makes one more statement about this situation as if to rub it in the Jew’s face. By organising a sign which is clearly aimed at biting back at the Jews for their sinister strategy, Pilate creates an image that has gone down in history – a man stripped naked and put to death on the most cruel and shameful method of the time is labelled “King of the Jews”. It’s like a modern day meme! This is how our world treats the King of Kings! The disciples didn’t put this sign there. Jesus didn’t either. But a malicious sneer from Pilate back at the Jews has told the world in three different languages, that they are crucifying their king.

Thirdly, and most profoundly, one aspect of Psalm 22 (a psalm that seems written entirely for the episode of Jesus on the cross) is played out and clearly understood. How can clothes be divided AND gambled for simultaneously? Well, John describes it perfectly.

Verses 25-37 It is finished

In these verses, Jesus speaks from the cross. Firstly, he talks to his mother and John and directs them to become family now. The mother who raised Jesus and the disciple whom Jesus loved are to comfort and support one another for the remainder of their lives. What love Jesus shows to others even when he is suffering. Secondly, Jesus says that he is thirsty and after he receives some wine vinegar, he declares that “it is finished.” Only then does he give up his spirit.

Notice how prepared Jesus was for this event.

Firstly, Jesus describes his death on the cross as a “finished” task. Something is finished, says Jesus, as he hangs there. Clearly, Jesus doesn’t feel like he’s in the wrong place or that his mission has failed. Anybody reading John’s gospel with their eyes and ears open would not conclude that Jesus didn’t mean to end this way. Lookup John 4:34; 5:36; and 17:4 to see that Jesus was concerned with finishing all of the work that his Father had sent him to do. This included his death on the cross.

Secondly, this was a work that the rest of the scriptures had been forecasting, see verses 24. 29, 36 and 37 in fulfilment of Ps 22:18 ; 69:21; 34:20 and Zech 12:10. God has had this moment planned for a very long time. The words of Jesus in John 16:2 become quite ironic as the people are killing him and thinking that they are offering a service to God. In killing him, they are doing exactly as God had predicted. Note, that this does not make them innocent of his blood since it is there own free will that has nailed Jesus to the cross. How interesting too that Zechariah 12:10 can be a prediction of a death on the cross!

About the water and the blood. Although John also uses this phrase in 1 John 5:6-8, the two phrases are better understood as unrelated. In John’s gospel, the author is giving eye-witness evidence that Jesus’ body was dead. If there are any medical students or practitioners in your group, you might allow them a moment to say something. The point, however, is to say that Jesus was dead. The words surrounding this make it clear that there was a witness to this and his words are true. Whether there is a scientific explanation to this, I don’t know. Is there a spiritual or fulfilment element to this, I am also unsure. It has been linked to Moses striking the rock in Exodus and to the water flowing out of the temple in Ezekiel. Personally, I am satisfied that the account makes it clear that Jesus didn’t die from the spear nor from crucifixion (in the normal sense). He gave up his spirit and was dead on the cross within only hours. Note John 10:18 “No one takes it fro me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

Verses 38-42 Jesus is dead.

It seems that the large crowd crying for Jesus’ death have no concern for him once he’s dead. Only two men with the will and ability to take care of Jesus’ body are at hand to provide Jesus’ body with a burial place.

Notice how neatly the body of Jesus is given a tomb.

Firstly, there doesn’t appear to be a fight for the right of Jesus’ body. Since it is the eve of the Passover and the special Sabbath day, almost all of the Jews are concerned to keep clear of any dead bodies or else they will be unclean (John 18:28).

Secondly, two Jews who are followers of Jesus have the means and ability to deal with Jesus’ body. We know Nicodemus from chapter 3 and since he and Joseph of Arimathea are working together now, it is possible that they had talked much about Jesus and his claims prior to this.

Thirdly, the tomb appears perfect for Jesus. It is close to the site of the crucifixion. It is a brand new tomb. It is not being used by anybody else.

The arrangements for Jesus body seem too perfect to be an accident.

Notice too, I know it sounds obvious, but that Jesus is dead.

He had given up his spirit (v30), confirmed dead (v34) and then laid in a tomb by two intelligent men. Pilate was aware that Jesus was dead. Jesus…was…dead. This is the eternal Word (John 1). The one who came from the Father’s side (John 16:28) and who prayed that God would bring him glory like he had from the beginning (John 17:1-5). He died. Human beings killed him.

At this point, I imagine a movie of Joseph and Nicodemus taking, preparing and laying Jesus’ body in the tomb and the tomb closing. The whole sequence is shot in slow motion. And over the top of some celtic choir comes the very words of Jesus himself as he spoke about death in John. “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” (5:24) “Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.” (8:51) “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” (11:4) “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” (11:11) “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself” He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die. (12:32-33) The tomb closes. the camera stays there a little longer as if to expect Jesus to burst out. But then the camera fades to black. We have to wait.


The true King of the world has fulfilled the mission that he came to earth to do while the fake rulers of this world shout and scream as if they are getting worthwhile things done too. The wisdom and strength of the world is foolishness and weakness to God. The strength and might and power of this world is nothing compared to the mighty work completed by God. Who would have known, looking on that scene at the cross, that Jesus was carefully completing his mission on earth.

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:

‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
    the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.’

20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.


  1. Walk by faith and not by sight. God’s plans are long and he is patient but sure. Man’s plans are shallow, short-term, impatient and fickle. Stand firm on the rock and not upon the sand. Like Jesus said: this is eternal life (this is what’s foundational and fundamentally important for you): that we know the one true God and Jesus Christ whom he sent. Giving our attention, effort, time and commitment to things of this world is to deny the eternal plans and steadfastness of God. So, keep close to God. Allow God to shape your thinking. Put to death the things of this world. Embrace the new creation that God is working in you and put to death the old self.
  2. Jesus is the absolute King. The theme of kingship is strong in John 19 and while Jesus is mocked as being the king, all other characters in the passage are working to his plans rather than their own. Don’t worry if Jesus appears to be weak in this world. Don’t be discouraged if the words and plans of people put Jesus down. Be sure that you stand up for Jesus. You create in your heart a throne for Jesus. In all of your thoughts and plans, acknowledge Jesus as King. What do you think King Jesus would say to you at the moment?
  3. All of God’s promises are YES in Christ (2 Cor 1:20). The passage was full of fulfilment type moments as Jesus died on the cross. All of the OT points to Jesus and his ministry of salvation. That is, the work of Christ is not a small thing for God. It is not a last minute plan. It is not a plan B. And neither are the future plans of God. Jesus said that all who believe and put their trust in him will not die but will live. Jesus calls us to follow him and live. So let’s take up our cross and follow him.


Father God, thank you for keeping to your plan of salvation which is found in Jesus death resurrection. As we linger between the moment of Jesus’ death and his victorious resurrection, we give humble and hearty thanks for his sacrifice for us. Please help us to bring glory to you with the joy that comes from knowing you through your beloved Son. Please forgive us for our betrayal of you. Thank you for your love which seeks us before we seek you. As we wait for our own death and resurrection, please help us to be bold followers of Jesus. Amen.