In the closing hours of Jesus’ life, John offers us insights we do not find in the other gospels.
Only John tells us the Jews abandoned the rule of God for the rule of Caesar (19:1-15). Only John tells us the Jews’ objected to the sign on Jesus’ cross: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” (19:20-25). Only John tells us about the spear stuck in Jesus’ side and the extravagant anointing of Jesus’ body by Joseph and Nicodemus (vss. 39-42).
Three points stand out to me about John’s account.
First, the whole scene was scripted by God. You see it in the four times John refers to the events and tells us scripture had already foretold of the events (vss. 24, 28, 36-37). You see it in Pilate’s fear when he hears Jesus has called himself the “son of God” and when Jesus rather rebukingly tells him the only power Pilate has is the power given to him “from above.” You see it also in Pilate’s continued desperate attempts to release Jesus.
There is, secondly, the persistent theme that Jesus is king. Pilate, though for him, tongue-in-cheek, ironically confessed the kingship of Christ with his sign above the Lord’s head. And notice the spices Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea used. The amount they brought is an amount befitting a king. In fact, an amount befitting a hundred kings.
Third, there is the denial of Jesus’ kingship – a denial that remains in our own world but never mind the world. The persistent denials in John’s gospel are from those who claim to be God’s people. Which do you think is of less importance: that the Jews verbally denied the kingship of Jesus in their lives by their words, or our own denial of Jesus’ kingship in our unwillingness to submit and be obedient to him?