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John 19:28-42 Study Guide: The Death of Jesus and the Secret Disciples

Community Group Study Guide — The Death of Jesus and the Secret Disciples
John 19:28-42

Study Information:
1 Corinthians 15:1–4
“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, (ESV)”

Core to the gospel message is that Jesus actually physically died. It wasn’t a metaphor or a hoax, God the Son incarnate experienced a real death. In John 19 we read a lot of detail about Jesus’s death, because in his death, Jesus took our place as a substitute for sin. Jesus was also highlighted as the passover lamb by whose blood we are saved and reconciled to God. Without the death of Jesus there would be no forgiveness of sin, no fellowship with God and we’d be stuck under the power of sin, death and the devil. As we continue to look at what took place on the cross we discover how Jesus’ death fulfilled scripture and how it demands a decision from any who’d follow Christ. 

In Our Place Jesus Died
John 19:28-37
From the cross Jesus declared “it is finished.” The plan that God had been working out since sin entered the world in Genesis 3 has found its fulfillment in Jesus as our substitute on the cross. The story of scripture opened with a loving and eternal God creating the universe to reflect his glory and goodness. He made a people to dwell with him in the garden and blessed them with his presence. However, they gave into temptation to sin and brought about the curse of sin and death into the world. In response to their sin God made a promise to send an offspring of Eve to crush the head of the snake and undo the power of sin, death and the devil. That promise gets worked out from Genesis 3 on in the scripture as we read of God making a people for himself with Israel and working through them to reflect his goodness and glory to the world. Israel failed at this mission and ended up in exile out of the land. But, God did not give up, at the fullness of time God sent forth his son (Galatians 4:4). The word became flesh and dwelt among us. As we read through the gospel of John we learned that God himself did what we could not do in perfect obedience to God’s Law, he fully displayed the grace and truth and glory of God, and on the cross he became our substitute who took our sin. 

One image John has used over and over again is that Jesus was the passover lamb. We first read this when John the Baptist first saw Jesus in the Gospel of John he declared “behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29).” And in this passage on the crucifixion, we see that passover imagery come back. 

Notice three things about Jesus death. First, it fulfilled scripture (John 19:28-29). Jesus understood that his death was fulfilling scripture and said from the cross “I thirst” which draws us back to connections to places like Psalm 22:15-16 and Psalm 69:21. The messiah would suffer so much and be poured out on the cross that his tongue would cling to the roof of his mouth and that he’d thirst and they’d offer him sour wine to drink. Jesus experience real agony in his death. 

Second, Jesus died as our substitute, the passover lamb (John 19:29-30, 33). John put two images together to show us this. First the attendant at the cross offered Jesus sour wine using a hyssop branch and second when the soldiers confirmed Jesus’s death they did so with a spear in his side rather than breaking any of his bones. At the passover feast the Israelites were to eat an unblemished lamb with no broken bones and use the lamb’s blood to paint their doorpost with a hyssop branch. This is John’s way of saying that Jesus took our place just like the passover lamb’s blood covered over the Israelites so they oddly not be touched by the angel of death (Exodus 12). Jesus’s death covered over our sin.

Third, God himself was our substitute. Jesus was not just some inspirational man, but God himself pouring our mercy and grace through his sacrificial death. John calls Zechariah 12:10 to our attention which prophetically says that “they will look on me, on him whom they have pierced…” God tells his people that he himself will be pierced and pour out mercy and grace to his people. 

The death of Jesus is good news because through his death we can find mercy, grace and reconciliation with God. It is important that we know and affirm that Jesus really did die in our place. His heart stopped beating and his lung ceased drawing breath. The death of Jesus was the fulfillment of God’s plan for redemption and what we see next in our text is that it demands a decision. 

Decisions of the Secret Disciples
John 19:38-42
The 12 close followers of Jesus had all scattered except for John. Peter denied being with Jesus, Judas betrayed him and the rest were gone. John highlighted two people who had been hiding their faith in Christ and were now called out of darkness and into the light. 

Joseph of Arimathea was a member of the Sanhedrin, the ruling group of religious leaders in Jerusalem, likewise he was a wealthy man and had been hiding his faith because of fear of the Jews. Likewise, John also highlighted Nicodemus who was the disciple “who came to Jesus by night.” Joseph and Nicodemus took the body of Jesus from the cross and gave him a royal burial in Joseph’s tomb.  

These two followers were hesitant to publicly follow Jesus because of fear and the cost of being associated, but the death of Jesus called them out of their hiding. When it became costly they rose to the occasion. Each of us has to wrestle with the cost that comes with being known as a Christian and living for Christ in our lives. As a follower of Jesus you may be able to keep it a secret for a while, but if you truly follow Christ you’ll be called out of hiding and have to embrace the cost that comes with belonging to him.

The wonder of the cross is that any can come to find life and salvation through faith, but Jesus does not say “I died so you can go and live on your own terms.” Instead we’re invited to come as we are but know that our lives will be forever changed because following him means taking up our cross and denying ourselves. 

At your community group:

Take 15-20 minutes to share about how God has been at work in your life, prayer concerns and pray for one another.

How did God speak to you through the scripture and the sermon this week? 

Discussion Questions:
Read John 19:28-37

Why does it matter that Jesus physically died and that it wasn’t just a metaphor or image or something else?

What does John help us understand about the significance of Jesus death on the cross?

Read John 19:38-42

How are Jospeh and Nicodemus examples of disciples who kept their faith a secret? What do you think brought them out of hiding? What are some encouragements you can share to someone who is curious about Jesus but is afraid of the cost that comes with following Christ?