The Evidence In The Tomb — John 20:1-10

So Mary Magdalene ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him” (John 20:2).

After Jesus’ friends took His lifeless body down from the cross and laid it in a tomb, they never expected to see Jesus alive on Earth again. They lost all hope, forgot His teachings about rising from the dead, and feared even more the enemies who crucified their Lord. Since Jesus’ disciples required convincing physical proof before they would believe that Jesus was alive again, their former hardheadedness is another good reason to believe that Jesus rose from the dead. When Mary Magdalene visited Jesus’ tomb and found His body gone, she assumed that someone had removed it; perhaps His enemies, who would bring more defilement and dishonor to His body. When Peter and the beloved disciple, most probably John, rushed to investigate, they saw Jesus’ grave clothes, but His body was gone. Who would defile themselves by removing a dead body from a tomb after first removing the grave wrappings? No one would. They did not know what could have happened to Jesus’ body, nor did they “understand the scripture that he must rise from the dead” (John 20:9). In order for Jesus’ disciples to believe that He lived again, Jesus had to meet them and convince them personally. Therefore, Jesus miraculously appeared in their midst. He spoke words of assurance to them. He showed them the healed marks in His nail-pierced hands and spear-riven side. Only after they saw Jesus alive and well, did they believe and rejoice that He had risen from the dead (John 20:11-31).

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by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

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July 4, 2021

Buried Like A King — John 19:28-42

Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds
(John 19:39).

Jesus died the day before the Sabbath, and according to the law His body needed to be removed from the cross before nightfall on Friday. Jesus gave up His spirit with enough time for Joseph of Arimathea to ask Pilate for permission to take Jesus’ body down from the cross and for Nicodemus to bring a hundred pounds of spices to a new tomb that had never been used. In John 12:32-33, Jesus prophesied, and John explained, “‘And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.” Joseph and Nicodemus were wealthy men who were secret disciples of Jesus. Joseph and Nicodemus were also respected members of the Jewish Council. After Jesus died on the cross, both were still so drawn to Jesus that everyone soon learned they wanted to honor Jesus as the King of the Jews. They did not know that Jesus would rise again, but they hurriedly made certain that after His death He would be buried as a king. Joseph provided an expensive new garden tomb with a stone that could securely close the entrance. Nicodemus provided a hundred pounds of spices, an amount provided only for the wealthiest and most important religious and political leaders. By doing so, they were some of the first to be drawn more closely to Jesus after the Romans lifted Him up on a cross. Pilate crucified Jesus as a king and Joseph and Nicodemus buried Him as the King that God sent to save the world.

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July 4, 2021

Everyone Is Important to God — John 19:17-27

Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek (John 19:20)

The Bible shows how God sometimes uses people who do not know Him to tell the truth about Him. God did no harm to Pilate and Pilate did no harm to himself when he put a placard on Jesus’ cross that read: “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Pilate might have done so with impure motives; that is, to insult the chief priests who wanted Jesus crucified, but God used it for good. From that day forward Pilate might have thought a great deal about what he wrote, for the chief priests wanted him to change the placard to read: “This man said, I am King of the Jews,” but Pilate refused. Throughout history Christians have been tempted to change the meaning of what they read in the Bible, but most refuse. God used Pilate to show how He wanted the truth about Jesus proclaimed to everyone, not just one nation or religion, for He inspired Pilate to write the truth in Hebrew (the official language of the Jews), in Latin (the official language of the Romans), and in Greek (the universal language at that time, which made it possible for people of all races to talk to one another). When Pilate used the three most widely known languages on the placard, God showed that He loved and wanted to help people of all languages, nations, and races by the death and resurrection of His Son. Many people saw the placard about Jesus, and when they returned to Jerusalem, they told others about Jesus—everyone is important to God.   

Thinking Further

1. In 8 to 10 words, how might you improve on this truth that Pilate put on the cross of Jesus: “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews”?

2. What does it mean to you today when you think about Pilate’s inscription written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek?

3. What is one way John shows that the Bible is important and Jesus’ coming the way He did is important?

4. Who stood near the cross of Jesus? What do you think their presence meant to and did for Jesus?

5. As He hanged on the cross, in what ways did Jesus show His love?

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Where Loving Wealth Can Lead — John 19:8-16

They cried out, “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but the emperor” (John 19:15)

Though Pilate did not know the full meaning of what he said when he presented Jesus to the chief priests, he announced, “Here is your King!” Jesus was their true King, the Messiah that in the Bible God promised to send. In reply, the chief priests demanded Jesus’ crucifixion, and declared they had no king but the Roman Emperor. They spoke a partial truth. Long before Jesus began teaching the truth about God, the chief priests had turned from serving God to serving money; so, to increase their wealth, they helped the Romans. Money had become their king. Their actions proved the truth of Jesus’ words: “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth” (Matthew 6:24). Because Pilate and the chief priests did not love and serve God, they served what they loved — money. They lived in fear of losing what they loved and served. They feared losing the powerful positions that led to their wealth. Pilate feared losing his position as a Roman governor if he did not do what the chief priests demanded, for they would report him to the emperor. The chief priests feared losing their powerful positions and increasing wealth if Jesus took their place as Messiah and King. Because they loved and served money, they came to hate and fear God and Jesus. They served whoever promised them wealth, and they feared whoever threatened to take it from them.

Thinking Further

1. Why do you think Pilate was “more afraid than ever”?

2. Why do you think Jesus refused to answer Pilate?

3. Why do you think Jesus finally chose to answer Pilate?

4. What did the Jews (the chief priests and the police) cry out when Pilate tried to release Jesus?

5. When Pilate asked them, “Shall I crucify your King?” what did the chief priests say and what did that reveal about their relationship with God?

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by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

How Jesus Had to Die — John 19:1-7

When the chief priests and the police saw Jesus, they shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him” (John 19:6)

Pilate, the Roman governor, declared three times that he found no criminal case against Jesus. If Jesus had broken any Roman laws, the chief priests would surely have added these specific legal charges against Jesus. Perhaps Pilate hoped that after they saw Jesus severely flogged and bloodied that would satisfy His accusers. However, having failed at least twice to stone Jesus to death (see John 8:58-59 and John 10:31-33), the religious authorities were so intent on murdering Jesus they shouted back to Pilate, “Crucify him!” The Jewish law dictated specifically how to convict someone of a crime and how to punish them. A legal trial must have at least two witnesses who saw or heard the crime. The witnesses knew that God would punish them if they lied to convict someone of a crime. Jesus’ trial before the chief priests and council was illegal. But unknowingly, the priests fulfilled Biblical prophecy. The King of the Jews was to be hanged from a tree and die. The Romans hanged criminals from a wooden cross (a tree). Quoting Deuteronomy 21:23, the Apostle Paul explained in Galatians 3:13: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.’” The prophets foretold the method of Jesus’ execution; still, those who hated Jesus bore responsibility for their thoughts and actions. Before or after the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, God punished those who conducted an illegal trial of Jesus and told Pilate, “We have no king but the emperor.”

Thinking Further

1. What did Pilate tell the Roman soldiers to do to Jesus? What did they do to Jesus?

2. What did the Roman soldiers call Jesus? How were they wrong when they spoke the truth?

3. What did Pilate tell the Jews after he brought Jesus out to the religious leaders? How did Jesus look when Pilate brought Him out?

4. What did the religious leaders want done with Jesus and why?

5. Who had Jesus claimed to be that infuriated the chief priests?

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Why Jesus Came as King — John 18:37

Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice” (John 18:37)

If you asked people why Jesus was born, probably few would include the answer, “To testify to the truth;” however, Jesus told Pilate that He came into the world to communicate and demonstrate the truth. Jesus focused on teaching the truth, but He also claimed to be the truth (John 14:6). Believers may give a variety of reasons for why they became Christians, but they need to include, “Because Christianity is true.” Jesus always told the truth, and He spoke rightly when He declared, “My kingdom is not from this world” (John 18:36). Unfortunately, too many of those who want to rule in this world do not care about the truth or focus on always telling the truth. Too many who seek leadership in the kingdoms of this world unfairly characterize or misrepresent the ideas of their opponents. Whether they themselves live truthfully or not, most people want to hear the truth from their leaders and those who keep them informed about their government and their rulers. Some who concern themselves mostly with the kingdoms of this world think believing in Jesus and His moral values should disqualify a person from holding public office. Yet, King Jesus steadfastly refused to use unrighteous means to acquire political office or spiritual influence in the world. He consistently told the truth and trusted in His heavenly Father regarding the consequences. Furthermore, Jesus declared that those who belong to the truth will listen to His teachings and obey Him.

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The Medical Aspects of the Crucifixion

In November 1979, I met Dr. Francis Schaeffer in Rochester, MN, where he was receiving treatment for cancer at Mayo Clinic. Through Francis and Edith Schaeffer, I met the artist, Floyd Hosmer, who at the time was a medical illustrator for Mayo Clinic. Later, Floyd and I compiled and edited Edith Schaeffer’s book, The Art of Life, with Floyd providing all the art work.

In 1986, Floyd Hosmer provided the medical illustrations for the article “On The Physical Death of Jesus Christ,” written by William D. Edwards, MD; Wesley J. Gabel, MDiv; Floyd E Hosmer, MS, AMI.

If you are interested in the medical aspects of the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ, you can find a reprint of the article by clicking on: On The Physical Death of Jesus Christ.

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Why Murder a Righteous Man? — John 18:30

They answered, “If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you” (John 18:30).

In John 18:29, Pilate asked the religious leaders, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” His accusers knew Jesus had not really done anything wrong they could legally prove. They knew that if they charged Jesus with specific wrongdoings that He could outthink them and prove He was not guilty of breaking the Law of God, the Law of Love. So, they simply called Jesus a “criminal,” “malefactor,” or “evildoer.” Even today, we hear more name-calling than we hear clear thinking and rational discussion. Why did the religious elite really want Pilate to order Jesus’ death? First, other than the Romans, these religious leaders were the most privileged people in Israel. They wanted to maintain absolute control over the people, and with Jesus attracting large crowds He threatened their power. Second, they were the richest people in Israel. Because these leaders controlled the temple, they controlled the money-changing in the temple. If someone brought a sacrifice to the temple that they had not sold them, they could find some blemish and force them to buy their sacrifices from them at exorbitant prices. Jesus had cleansed their temple at least once, and they could not allow Jesus to interfere with their lucrative source of riches. Third, they wanted Jesus to suffer in the most cruel and degrading way possible, so they convinced Pilate to order Jesus’ death on a cross. Though they appeared to fear God, Jesus rightly said that inside they were “full of greed and self-indulgence.” Jesus also quoted Isaiah’s prophesy, “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (see Matthew 23:25, Mark 7:6).

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What Jesus Taught in Secret — John 18:20

Jesus answered, “I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret” (John 18:20).

When on trial before the chief priests, Jesus could have called Peter and John, two of His most faithful disciples, to testify on His behalf. They watched His trial from the courtyard. But Jesus had prayed and promised them that the Father and He would protect them so none of His disciples would be arrested or harmed. Jesus kept His promise, so He testified in His own defense. He testified that He had always spoken openly to the world. In the most prominent places, Jesus had given everyone the opportunity to hear everything He taught. John did not repeat everything the other gospel writers recorded, so in Mark 14:56, we learn, “Many gave false testimony against him, and their testimony did not agree.” Perhaps most importantly for people today, we learn from John that Jesus spoke openly to the world. Everything Jesus taught would benefit everyone in the world, if people believed and lived based on what Jesus taught. Perhaps more importantly, Jesus said that He taught nothing in secret. No ancient secret book or ancient secret society exists that truly tells what Jesus taught in secret, for Jesus never taught anything in secret. Jesus did explain His parables to His disciples, for they had “ears to hear” (an open mind and heart to learn the truth). As Jesus told Pilate in John 18:37, “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Jesus’ disciples still listen to His voice as recorded in the Bible, for His first disciples wrote everything the Holy Spirit inspired them to remember.

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The Night They Arrested God — John 18:6

When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they stepped back and fell to the ground (John 18:6).

The religious authorities tried to arrest Jesus at various times during His ministry. In John 5:18, we learn they wanted to kill Jesus because “he was calling God his own Father, thereby making himself equal to God.” Using the divine name “I Am” to refer to himself, in John 8:58, Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.” In John 7:30, we learn they failed to arrest Jesus because His hour (or time) had not yet come. In John 7:45-46, when the chief priests and Pharisees asked the temple police why they had not arrested Jesus, they replied, “Never has anyone spoken like this!” In John 10:38-39, after Jesus said, “the Father is in me and I am in the Father,” they tried to arrest Him again, but they failed. In John 11:27, the religious authorities ordered that anyone knowing where Jesus was should tell them so they could arrest Jesus. Because His time had finally come, Judas betrayed Jesus and led Roman soldiers and temple police to the garden where Jesus could be found. On the one hand it was easy to arrest Jesus, for Jesus stepped forward to tell them who He was. On the other hand it was difficult, for when they asked for Jesus of Nazareth Jesus told them that He was Jesus of Nazareth, but He again referred to himself using the divine name “I Am.” Then, they experienced so much of His glory they stepped back and fell to the ground. [Note: some translations of John 18:6, add “he” in italics or in a footnote indicating “he” was added to the verse.]

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by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.