The Gospel of John
(James J. Barker)

Lesson 49


(John 19:23-37)


1.     We left off last time at John 19:22.  Verse 23 begins with these solemn words, “Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus…” (Cf. 19:15, 16, 18, 20).

2.     Tonight we are going to look at the crucifixion of Christ.  You will notice the apostle John makes the same statement four times – “that the scripture might be fulfilled” (19:24, 28, 36, 37).

3.     Tonight, Lord willing, we will look at these fulfilled prophecies.


     AND CAST LOTS UPON MY VESTURE” (PSALM 22:18; cf. JOHN 19:23, 24).

1.     A number of years ago, the politicians in the state of Virginia were pushing to legalize gambling.  Many of the churches tried to stop it, but nevertheless the politicians were successful in convincing the people that gambling would provide a lot of money for the public schools.

2.     At that time I was a member of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Virginia Beach, and my pastor, Rod Bell, was interviewed by one of the gambling advocates on the radio.  I recall listening to the interview.

3.     The gambling man said, “What’s wrong with gambling?  It’s in the Bible.  Remember how the Roman soldiers gambled for our Lord’s garments?”  Pastor Bell replied by stating that rather than this being a good argument for gambling, it was really a good argument against gambling.

4.     Here we have a vivid picture of how sinners’ hearts can become so hard and calloused that they can gamble over our Lord’s raiment right under the shadow of the cross.  As our Lord hung there, nailed to a cruel cross, these hardened sinners gambled for his “coat.”

5.     HA Ironside wrote these words, “It is remarkable how the cross of Christ brings out all that is in the heart of man, shows men up as they really are.  In the light of that cross Pilate comes before us in all his cynicism and his lack of conscience.  In the light of that cross the chief priests were manifested in all their hypocrisy and bitterness and their hatred of the holy, spotless Son of God.  And as we follow the story, in the light of that cross we see the callousness, indifference, greed and covetousness of the soldiers who were gambling for the clothing of the crucified One at the foot of the cross” (John, pp. 834, 835).

6.     In contrast to these hardened soldiers and wicked religious leaders, four godly and courageous women stood by the cross (John 19:25).  Apparently John was the only disciple that stayed by the cross (19:26, 27).

7.     Another contrast: there were four women at the cross (19:25), and there were probably four Roman soldiers – “…and made four parts, to every soldier a part” (19:23).

8.     And yet another contrast: our Lord died between two thieves.   One repented and went to paradise.  The other did not repent and he went to hell.  The cross divides mankind.  Which side are you on tonight?



1.     “After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished…” (John 19:28).  Our Lord knew that all things up to that present moment had been accomplished, but there was yet one OT Scripture that had not been fulfilled (cf. Psalm 69:21; John 19:29).

2.     Psalm 22:15 says, “My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws…”  But after drinking the vinegar our Lord was able to cry out, “It is finished.”

3.     Some one put it this way:

“It is finished!” all is over,

     Yes, the cup of wrath is drained,

Such the truth these words discover,

     Thus the victory was obtained –

`Tis a victory none but Jesus could have gained (cited by Gaebelein, John)

4.     After drinking this bitter vinegar, which represented the hatred and malice of man’s heart, our Lord cried out, “It is finished: and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost” (19:30).  Matthew 27:50 says our Lord cried “with a loud voice” and then yielded up the ghost.

5.     Mark 15:37 says, “And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost.”

6.     It was a cry of triumph.  The Scofield Bible says in the margin, “It is the Victor’s cry.”

7.     Our Lord did not die from exhaustion.  “Gave up the ghost” or “yielded up the ghost” literally means He dismissed His spirit.  This means it was a deliberate act of the will.

8.     Luke 23:46 says, “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.”

9.     After our Lord cried out, “It is finished,” He died by His own volition.  Remember what our Lord said in John 10, “I lay down my life for the sheep…Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (John 10:15-18).

10. This “vinegar” (a bitter, sour wine) in John 19:29 should not be confused with the “vinegar…mingled with gall” (Matthew 27:34), which our Lord had earlier refused. 

11. In Mark 15:23, this vinegar mingled with gall is referred to as “wine mingled with myrrh.”  Our Lord refused that vinegar because it would have drugged Him.



1.     Because it was the “preparation” for the Sabbath, the Jews wanted to take down the bodies off the cross (cf. Deut. 21:22, 23).

2.     Again we are reminded of the hypocrisy of unregenerate religionists.  The same men who had no qualms about bringing in false witnesses to lie about our Lord, and had no scruples about murdering an innocent man were very careful in carrying out the letter of the law regarding religious rituals.

3.     These religious leaders were blinded by the devil, and blinded by their hatred of Jesus and so they did not see that their rejection of Jesus was far worse than leaving His body on the cross beyond sundown.

4.     They had already committed the greatest sin ever committed – they crucified the sinless Son of God.   And the greatest sin anyone could ever commit is rejecting the Lord Jesus Christ (John 3:18).

5.     Regarding John 3:18, HA Ironside said, “Observe, it does not say he is condemned because he is a drunkard, because he is a thief, because he is immoral.  These things are wicked in God’s sight, but for all of these Christ died on Calvary’s cross, and he who turns to God in repentance and trusts that blessed Saviour for cleansing from every stain, stands cleared of every charge, but the sin that will never be forgiven is the final rejection of the Saviour whom God has provided.”

6.     Here at the foot of the cross we see crafty men who hated our Lord and yet were so strict and meticulous when it came to observing the letter of the law in less important matters (cf. Matthew 23:23).

7.     So they went to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, and asked that the Roman soldiers would break the legs of the three men on the cross, thereby hastening their deaths (John 19:31).

8.     The Roman soldiers came and broke the legs of the two thieves, but when they came to our Lord they were surprised to discover that He was already dead (19:32, 33).

9.     But just to make sure that He was dead, one of the soldiers took his spear and pierced the side of our Lord (19:34).  Undoubtedly the spear pierced our Lord’s heart, and that is why both blood and water came pouring out.

10. John makes special note of this, both here in John 19 and also in his first epistle (19:35, 36; I John 5:6-8). 

11.  Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.

12. Augustus M. Top­la­dy wrote that great hymn in 1776.  It was sung at the fun­e­ral of Will­iam Glad­stone in West­min­ster Ab­bey, in Lon­don, Eng­land.  It was sung at the fun­er­al of Pre­si­dent Ben­ja­min Har­ri­son be­cause it was his fa­vo­rite hymn.

13. Please note the order: first the blood, then the water (19:34). The blood speaks of cleansing from sin through the substitutionary death of Christ.  “Without shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22).

14. First John 1:7 says, “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”  Salvation must come first.

15. And the water speaks of cleansing by the Word of God.  This must follow salvation. “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word” (Ephesians 5:25, 26).

16. According to the Bible, the church is to be sanctified, cleansed, spotless, and holy by obeying the Word of God (Eph. 5:27). Our hearts and minds are to be purified by the Word of God.  Our thought life is to be cleansed and purified by the Word of God – “save from wrath and make me pure” (Rock of Ages).

17. Those Roman soldiers had no idea they were fulfilling an OT prophecy (Psalm 22:18) when they gambled for our Lord’s coat.  Likewise, they had no idea they were fulfilling several OT prophecies that day when they decided not to break our Lord’s legs (Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12; Psalm 34:20).



1.     Again, we will note that when this Gentile soldier pierced our Lord with his spear, he had no idea that he was fulfilling a prophecy recorded by the Jewish prophet Zechariah over 400 years before.

2.     I would like to point out something that is interesting and very important.  Notice when referring to the other fulfilled prophecies, John (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) writes, “that the scripture should be fulfilled” (19:36; cf. 19:24, 28). 

3.     But he does not use the same phrase when referring to Zechariah’s prophecy (19:37).  This is because Zechariah’s prophecy was only partially fulfilled at the cross.  It still has a future fulfillment (cf. Rev. 1:7).



1.     Have you met with Jesus at the foot of the cross?  If you have never trusted Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, now is the time to do it.

2.     At the cross, bow your head and confess that you are a sinner.

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