John 19:23-27-After crucifying Jesus, the four soldiers divided up His clothing among themselves. The last item was His “tunic”…a one-piece outer garment that was worth more than the rest…so they decided to gamble for it. John says that this was a fulfillment of Psalm 22:18. But there is an even greater significance to this simple item of clothing…
The “tunic” of Jesus…
John says that they divided His garments into four parts, a part to every soldier. Typically, we assume that this means that they cut his garments into pieces, but that is not likely the case. The typical attire of a first-century Jewish man consisted of five pieces: the robe, the belt, the head covering, the sandals, and the tunic (which was an undergarment worn next to the skin). So, it is likely that each soldier took one article of clothing, leaving the tunic to be awarded to the winning gambler in the casting of the lots. They didn’t want to cut it up into pieces for equal shares because it was a fine garment. It was “seamless, woven in one piece.” Now, as Jesus watches the soldiers at His feet gambling for this final item, His heart turns to His mother. But why? It was a custom for Jewish mothers to make this garment for their sons to be given as a gift to commemorate their coming of age. Could it be that this was true of the tunic that Jesus had worn throughout His adult life? It may well be the case. And if so, it is not hard to fathom that, as Jesus witnesses the fulfillment of Psalm 22:18, His thoughts turned to Psalm 22:9-10. In those verses, the prophesied Messiah speaks to the Father, saying, “You are He who brought Me forth from the womb; You made me trust when upon My mother’s breasts. Upon You I was cast from birth; You have been My God from My mother’s womb.” Charles Swindoll says, “His outer garments were insignificant. …But when they touched the tunic, they touched something very near to His heart—the garment made for Him by His mother.” Now His thoughts are filled with memories of His childhood, the love of His mother, the pain and grief she must feel now, and her fears for the future. Though no sword would touch that tunic, a sword was piercing the soul of His mother, in fulfillment of the prophecy of Simeon in Luke 2:35. And it is at this point that He speaks to her, and He speaks to His friend John about her. The words He speaks, though brief, are profound. They speak to Mary and to John a word of compassionate concern, a word of revolutionized relationships, and a word of glorious grace. And these are words that we need to hear as well.
Here at the foot of the cross, Mary must no longer view Jesus as her son. He must become Her Savior. John must no longer view Jesus as his friend. He must become His Lord. Mary must become a mother and a sister to John, and John must become a son and a brother to her if they will have a part in the family of God. And the same is true of all of us as well. For some, these words are inviting and irresistible.
But there is something half-hidden here. Jesus' tunic is described as being without seam, and woven in one piece from top to bottom. That is the precise description of the linen tunic which the High Priest wore. Let us remember the function of the priest. The function of the priest was to be the liaison between God and man. The Latin for priest is pontifex, which means bridge-builder. The function of the priest was to build a bridge between God and man. No one ever did that as Jesus did. He was the perfect High Priest through whom men come to God. Again and again we have seen that there are two meanings in so many of John's statements, a meaning which lies on the surface, and a richer and a deeper inner meaning. When John tells us of the seamless tunic of Jesus it is not just a description of the kind of clothes that Jesus wore; it is something which tells us that Jesus is the perfect priest, opening the perfect way for all men to the presence of God.
(The Daily Bible Study Series, The Gospel of John, vol. 2, pp. 296-297, William Barclay)
There were a number of Jesus’ followers standing nearby, watching. This group included His mother, Mary, her sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw His mother, He called to her and told her that John would take care of her.
Why did Jesus refer to His mother as “woman”?
According to A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament by G. Abbott-Smith, using the word woman to refer to a female was "a term of respect and endearment." Bullinger's Companion Bible notation for verse 26 refers the reader to John 2:4 where Jesus also uses the term "woman." In the notes pertaining to this verse, "woman" is "a respectful form of address."
Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible for this verse makes an interesting comment as to WHY Jesus might have used the term "woman." It states he did so to possibly spare his mother's feelings, as the very mention of her name (given her firstborn son was being brutally killed though he was innocent) would have wrung more sorrow out of her heart…
But one thing she heard must have tortured Mary’s heart. You remember the story. Mary and Joseph had brought the infant Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem. And they were startled, surely they were startled, when this old man, bent, gray and long in beard, reached toward them, gesturing his request to hold the infant. They hesitated at first, then carefully placed the child in the old man’s arms, as he gazed in wonder at the child, then lifted his eyes in worship, praising God and calling their baby “a light to the Gentiles and for glory to God’s people"! Then Simeon looked at Mary and Joseph, still holding their baby in his arms, and he blessed them and said, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed.” He looked at Mary, he looked right at Mary, deep into her eyes, and said to her and her alone, “And a sword will pierce your soul” (Luke 2:34-35).
“A sword will pierce your soul.” How many times did those words come back to haunt Mary…as she watched her son grow into adulthood…as he amazed the priests and teachers, talking with them about the things of God…when he left his father’s carpentry shop to venture out as an itinerate preacher…when she learned of the crowds, how Jesus was healing, feeding and touching lives? Did she understand, could she possibly have any idea what was ahead?
John 19:28-37-Jesus knew that everything that had been prophesied about Him had now been accomplished…with one exception. Psalm 69:21 (NASV) said, “…they gave me vinegar to drink…” Sovereign God…in charge even through the end of His human, physical life…He maintained absolute, total control over the most minute of details…nothing left out, nothing left unfinished. Here, with His last breath, He was demonstrating that Jesus was supreme over all circumstances. Why? So that when we face the darkest hours of our lives…we will remember, that He’s still in control. Jesus asked for something to drink and He was given sour wine (vinegar). He then said, "It is finished" (:30), and He died. The soldiers broke the legs of the other two men, but not Jesus, because He was already dead...this was to fulfill prophecy.
The meaning of “It is finished”
Literally translated the word tetelestai means, “It is finished.”…
The word tetelestai was also written on business documents or receipts in New Testament times to show indicating that a bill had been paid in full. The Greek-English lexicon by Moulton and Milligan says this:
“Receipts are often introduced by the phrase [sic] tetelestai, usually written in an abbreviated manner...” (p. 630).
The connection between receipts and what Christ accomplished would have been quite clear to John’s Greek-speaking readership; it would be unmistakable that Jesus Christ had died to pay for their sins.
John 19:38-42-Joseph of Arimathea (a secret follower of Jesus, :38) took the body of Jesus and placed it in a tomb in the garden near where He was crucified. Nicodemus helped him by providing spices to wrap the body in. They only partially finished the burial procedure because the Sabbath was about to begin.
Prayer: Lord, I think of all that You were going through on the cross, and yet, at that very moment You were thinking of Your own mother's benefit. Please help me to have this same attitude towards others. Help me to be more concerned for the welfare of other people than for my own.