Insights into the Gospel of John: Chapter 19

By Lloyd Ellefson

The tremendous humility of Jesus in His subjection to God becomes very evident as we see how He endured the terrible ordeal of His trial and crucifixion by ungodly rulers!

In v.11 Jesus said to Pilate, "You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin." What a statement! Jesus had allowed Himself to be taken captive, to be deserted by His own chosen disciples, and to be brought into the judgment hall of a godless nation. The Israelites who had been chosen and set apart for God, had given up on God, and were now demanding the crucifixion of Jesus Christ! Jesus, forsaken by all men, now stood before Pilate, the governor of the Roman nation which had conquered the Jews.

At that time only Jesus knew the meaning of His crucifixion and what God was accomplishing. No one else knew what was transpiring in the counsel of God! Jesus knew that mankind could not have any power over Him unless it was given by God, so He did not resist that authority, but submitted to it, even to the point of death. Unless God allowed it, Satan could not accomplish his work through Pilate!

It is good for us to know that this principle applies to us as well! Thank God that nothing is out of God's control! If we truly believe that God knows what is good for us, it will not be beyond our faith! We realize that the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has all power and is the source of all power! All other powers are subject to Him! So we know He has the power to keep His promise to freely give us all things which are good for us! In Him we also have the power to stand against all the spiritual powers of wickedness!

Jesus said that the Jewish people who had delivered Him to the world system to be crucified, had the greater sin. Pilate was an Idumean, a descendant of Esau - the twin brother of Jacob. Esau despised his birthright, took wives from the daughters of Canaan, and married the daughter of Ishmael whose mother was the Egyptian woman Hagar, the maid to Sarah, Abraham's wife. God's promise to Abraham was to be fulfilled through Sarah - not through Hagar. The ones who delivered Jesus to Pilate had the greater sin because they were a called-out nation! They were God's chosen people who had received the promises, the prophets, the adoption, etc. These were the people to whom Jesus had been sent - therefore they had the greater sin.

Christ's conflict was not with the Romans but with Israel. Israel claimed to have eyes to see and ears to hear, but actually it couldn't see spiritually. Isaiah's prophecy was fulfilled in them because they said they saw and heard, but they did not understand in their hearts. They were in total deception! They were hypocritical because they did not obey their own teaching!

The religious systems are crucifying the truth of Jesus Christ today, and are therefore worse off than the world. They crucify the truth by disregarding the unity Christ prayed for in chapter 17. They thus bring a separation between Christ and the believer. The holiness and power that Jesus Christ has promised and given to us, and which is our inheritance in Christ, are disregarded.

Those who have known the truth, but have disregarded it, are worse off than if they had never known truth. Peter used the illustration of a dog returning to its own vomit, and a sow, after washing, returning to wallow in the mire. So it is worse for the people who are backsliding, falling back and falling away, and creating the apostasy, than for those who are in the world.

The Jews cried, "We have no king but Caesar." What a terrible thing for the chosen people of God to say! Yet we may have thought or said something to that effect at one time too. Those who are anchored in the church system may well say that they have no lord nor king but the doctrine of their church. We must not serve anyone or anything outside of Christ, for we cannot serve two masters. We will either cling to one or the other! We cannot serve God and the riches of this world. Our commitment to Christ has to have a real foundation together with the conviction that there is no turning back. There can be no thought of turning back regardless of how difficult the way, for we have burned our bridges behind us, and there is nothing to turn back to. If we are good ground, that attitude will bear fruit in us.

Jesus said, "Take courage; I have overcome the world." It may not be apparent to our way of thinking, but He said, "I have overcome." Since He has overcome, we should be of good courage, because Christ in us has overcome the rule of the world system, and we can now be ruled by the Spirit of God. He overcame by knowing His relationship and union with the Father God who was within Him. He didn't try to overcome the rule of the world system by external force: He never took up arms, never entered politics, and never tried to gather people around Himself. He just declared the words the Spirit gave Him to speak! These words were spirit and life, the rule of God, the kingdom of God! This kingdom is within us; it is peace, love, righteousness and joy in the Holy Spirit - not only by the Holy Spirit!

As we continue in this chapter, we see how Old Testament prophecy is fulfilled. "They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots." (see Psalm 22:18)

As Jesus hung on the cross, He saw His mother, and He addressed her as "Woman" - not "Mother". At a different time when Jesus was busy, He was told that His mother and brothers wanted to speak to Him. He replied, "Who is My mother? Who are My brothers and sisters? They are those who do the will of My Father."

Gal. 4 and Rev. 21 clearly show that the New Jerusalem is our mother. It is a new covenant; it is a word or promise that has brought us into a union with God. When union takes place, reproduction begins. Since God is spirit, He has to reproduce after His own kind; He is not the Father of flesh. The flesh of Jesus Christ was formed out of the Word; it came out of Mary and took on the likeness of sinful flesh. It was made as an image of sinful flesh, but it was not joined to it. It came out of the promise given to Abraham. There is a difference between those born of the promise (Isaac) and those born of works (Ishmael). We are children of the promise, and the Seed has produced a seed in us, giving us life and sonship.

When we look at the nature of Jesus Christ we realize that He had to be fathered by the Spirit. Mary was the mother of Jesus in His earthly manifestation; but the reality of Christ was spiritual because His Father is spirit. Jesus Christ is called the Seed of the promise. "Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, `And to seeds,' as referring to many, but rather to one, `And to your seed,' that is, Christ." (Gal. 3:16)

A seed always produces a body, and it reproduces after its kind. We are now in the body of Christ. We are formed into a body that has nothing to do with our natural body, locality or visibility. Since every seed produces a body, the word of Christ produces the spiritual body of Christ. We are members of this body, because it came out of Jesus Christ and is a reproduction of Him. As we are conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, He is being reproduced in us. The body of Christ is a body of the things Christ confessed. He said, " I AM the way, the truth, the resurrection, the life. These are all spiritual. Since He brings many sons into glory, He is being reproduced in the Spirit; He never reproduces Himself in the flesh. Therefore everyone who is born of Christ, has His nature!

Of the three men who were crucified, Jesus was the first to die! He did not cling to natural life. He knew that He had accomplished the purpose for which God had sent Him; He had fulfilled all that the scriptures said about Him, so He gave up His life; the other men struggled to keep the only life they had.

It is interesting to see how prophecy is fulfilled in a seemingly natural way. Though the soldiers had no knowledge of the prophecy that none of the bones of Jesus would be broken, they pierced His side instead of breaking his legs, because they saw that Jesus was already dead. Blood and water flowed from His side. Later, in his epistle, John refers to water and blood. We know that water symbolizes judgment, and that blood symbolizes the soul. The waters of baptism, of the flood, and of the Red Sea pertain to judgment. The water of the Spirit also contains judgment, because it contains truth, and truth is always a purveyor of judgment. Truth constantly judges error.

Jesus Christ died for all our sins, past, present and future, and for the sins of the whole world! This is hard for us to believe because the world is still full of sin, and people are becoming more sophisticated in sinning! Jesus Christ overcame the devil, crucified the old man, and dealt with sin, yet evil and lust are still rampant! Hatred is intensifying and evil is growing worse! This is the result of living in the natural man!

Can the historical cross and the sacrifice of a physical man legally take care of all our sins? The physical death on the cross was the culmination of the hatred that had been present from the disruption of the world. Jesus was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. That which happened on the cross had been going on from the beginning of the world. While the world crucified the true concept of God, God was accomplishing something spiritually.

"Before Abraham was, I am," Jesus said. Everything was created by Him. Eastern religions boast that their Buddha lived long before Jesus was born, but we beg to differ! We are talking about the Christ who existed before the foundation of the world; He existed long before there was a Buddha; long before Eastern religions conjured up their ideas of God! None of their great men rose from the dead and appeared visibly to people as Jesus did. If these religions had really found God, they wouldn't have any trouble with acknowledging Christ, because He came out of God. Israel disagreed with Christ because they did not know God; their thinking was still in agreement with the thinking of their father, the devil. It is very gratifying to know that Christ was before all things. He was the firstborn of all creation.

After Jesus died, the disciples took His body and placed it in the tomb. He was viewed as being dead and having gone to the place of the unseen. This is very significant because it is symbolic of entombing Jesus in our earthy concepts. To the natural mind, the concept of what happened to Jesus on the cross is only historical and physical, and has no spiritual significance. It does not realize that in Christ's resurrection He was released from His individual physical body, and now comes to us in the Spirit.

Many of the words which have been translated as coming in the King James Version and other versions, should have been translated presence. If the presence of the resurrected Christ has not come to us, we will not realize that He is with us and in us! Then we will expect Him to come again physically. Christ now comes to us in the presence of His Spirit! The fact that He said, "It is expedient that I go away," shows that it is advantageous for us that He is not here in a physical body, but in His omnipresent Spirit! The only way He can really come and go, is in our realization of Him.

What does the cross of Jesus Christ mean for us spiritually? As we look at the crucifixion and death of Jesus, we see that humanity was crucifying its image of God, and on the cross Jesus was dying for humanity's image of God. In other words, Jesus died TO SIN, and they were crucifying Him BECAUSE OF SIN. So we see two deaths taking place on the cross.

We are baptized into the death of Jesus Christ. The light that was in Christ did not allow sin to take root in Him. This constituted His death to sin. He died to sin, but we have been dying because of sin. An exchange takes place when we receive the mind of Christ. It ushers out the things that have been conceived and anchored in our minds and gives us spiritual realities. The carnal mind functions in death and cannot obey the law of God; it is beyond its ability to please God. The Spirit of truth releases truth, life, and sonship; He brings a true revelation of God to us! Our minds are renewed to spiritual things.

We won't elaborate on the crucifixion, the events that transpired there, and on the deaths that took place on the cross, since we already have tapes and writings on these subjects which are available upon request.

God bless you! Amen.

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