Robert E. Surgenor
John Standing - His Courage
The first occasion of anyone standing is in Genesis 18:2, where we notice three men standing by a mighty princeís tent. However, we want to move on almost two thousand years and consider a man standing by a Mighty Princeís tree. Consider his penmanship in the record that he gives. "Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his motherís sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home" (John. 19:25-27).
It seems that the intimacy of John with the priestly family in Jerusalem was greater than the other disciples of the Lord. My reason for stating this is because only John mentions the high priestís servantís name, Malchus. He also mentions the high priestís name and his father-in-lawís name. So intimate was the relationship, that when they led Jesus into the palace of the high priest, John had no problem entering in also, for he "was known unto the high priest." "Peter stood at the door without," but John, "spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter" (John. 18:10-16). John is the only one who tells us who the last questioner was (18:26). He only seems to be acquainted with the motives and reasonings of the priests. Not only this, be he also is the only one who gives us descriptions of private meetings of chief priests (7:45-53; 11:47- 53). Consequently, his public association with a crucified Christ must have cost him much, for it was the priests, his close acquaintances, that so hated the Christ.
In writing, John entirely omits seven great events associated with his Lord. His birth; baptism; temptation; transfiguration; institution of the supper; agony in the garden; and His actual ascension. However, he is quite careful to mention eight things in chapters 18 and 19, that no other writer cites. They are as follows:
(1) COUNCIL (18:14), The necessity of His death. (2) CONFESSION (18:36), The nature of His kingdom. (3) CONTROL (19:11), The absolute powers of God. (4) COAT (19:23), The lowly pilgrimage of the Lord. (5) COMPLETION (19:28), The final fulfillment of scripture. (6) CRY (19:30), Divine accomplishment. (7) CONSIDERATION & CLEAVAGE (19:33,34), Restraint not to break His legs. Constraint to pierce His side.
At the commencement of our Lordís earthly journey in the temple at Jerusalem, a godly man took Jesus, acknowledging the Lord as his salvation. As John opens the final account of the Saviourís humble sojourn here, he portrays in the palace, located in Jerusalem, an ungodly man who took Jesus, only to scourge Him. At the beginning of our Lordís ministry, John records, "But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name." This word "received" is employed again by John, in relation to Pilate, and is translated, "took" (19:1). It is tragic that Pilate did not receive Him for salvation rather than for scourging. Johnís particular word for "take," or "receive," is only found five times in chapter nineteen. (1) Pilate took Jesus, vs. 1; (2) The soldiers took His garments, vs. 23; (3) John took Mary, vs. 27; (4) Jesus received the vinegar, vs. 30; (5) Joseph and Nicodemus took the body, vs. 40.
Pilate had sought to release Jesus by appealing to their custom (18:39), but this had failed. Now he tries to appeal to their pity by presenting to them a Man Who had endured the sufferings of the cruel Roman scourge. Certainly one look at such an abused individual would melt their hardened hearts. Not so! Instead they cried out, "Crucify Him, crucify Him." His little plan failed again. He tries a third time, by committing Him to their helpless hands, for he knew they did not have the power to crucify Him. "Take ye Him and crucify Him: for I find no fault in Him." However, that plan failed too. How could it be otherwise? for He was "delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23). As the high priest had prophesied, "it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself... but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation" (11:50, 51).
There is another word translated, "took," found in verse 16, "And they (the soldiers) took Jesus and led Him away." It is used of John only three times. (1) The Messiah rejected. "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not" (1:11). (2) The Bridegroom receiving. "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself that where I am, there ye may be also" (14:3). (3) The Lamb removed. "Then delivered he Him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led Him away" (19:16).
The exclamations recorded are equally interesting. (1) Behold the Man!, vs. 5. (2) Behold your King! vs. 14. (3) Behold thy son! vs. 26. (4) Behold thy mother! vs. 27. The first time we have that expression, "Behold the man," is found in a garden and it is God Who is speaking. "Behold, the man is become as one of us" (Gen. 3:22). A disobedient man seeking to become as God. What a contrast here, for we see a sinful man speaking about an obedient Man Who was God! The last instance of this expression in the O.T. is seen in Zechariah 6:12, 13. "And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD: Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne." What a day of exaltation for our Lord when He shall rule from the River unto the ends of the earth and He shall have dominion from sea to sea!
Matthew mentions His "accusation" (claims against Him). Mark takes note of the "superscription" of the "accusation" (the title in black letters on a white tablet). Luke simply emphasizes the "superscription." However, John goes farther. He alone tells us who actually wrote the accusation. It was Pilate himself! Not only this, John alone tells us that this white tablet with black letters was a TITLE. In other words, it was a Roman Government, placard notice. John uses the Roman technical term. So Pilate writes the offence on an official tablet. This tablet was usually either carried by the criminal or carried in front of him by another. Pilate writes words to mock and irritate the Jews, ĎJESUS OF NAZARETH. THE KING OF THE JEWS." The chief priests object, but to no avail. Pilateís writing remained. How suggestive is the writing, ĎJESUS." His humanity! "OF NAZARETH," His lowliness! "THE KING OF THE JEWS," His power and future glory!
Having noticed these peculiarities in Johnís testimony, well may we consider the unique workings of God, prior to the death of the Lord. Nothing was by chance, all was planned by the divine, omnipotent hand, for our ultimate, eternal blessing and good. The intimacy of John with the priestly family; The omission of seven very important events in the life of our Lord, yet the exposure of eight things omitted in the other gospels; The various receivings in the chapter; The three failed plans of Pilate to release Jesus; The four exclamations prefixed with the word, "Behold!" and the description of the accusation being a "title." We exclaim, "0 the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" (Rom. 11:33). Having laid the foundation, next month we shall consider Calvary itself, and a man with courage, standing by the Cross. Until then, may the Lord preserve us all and give us a greater thirst to search more diligently for gold, silver and precious stones, hidden in His word.