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Devotion: The Death of a Hero

Today in the Word
Read John 19:28-42
The Death of a Hero

Most people would define the word hero as “champion and victor,” and in our text today Jesus does not appear to be victorious. No doubt Jesus’ family and followers were bewildered and distraught as they watched Him die. Had they been wrong? Was He not the Messiah they had longed for?

There can be no doubt that Jesus experienced physical death. The disciples watched during those final moments as He gave His mother into their care (v. 27). Since the next day was a special Sabbath (v. 31), the Jewish leaders were concerned about bodies left to die on the hill. What a sad irony that His accusers were more compelled by keeping the letter of the Law than by preserving the life of an innocent man.

To hasten the death of those being crucified, the soldiers were ordered to break the legs of the two thieves. But when they came to Jesus, He was already dead. To confirm His death, a soldier pierced His side (v. 34). While the guards may have done this for their own logistical reasons, once again Scripture was fulfilled (see Ps. 34:20; Zech. 12:10). In addition, this act of physical execution offered indisputable evidence that Jesus had indeed died, providing further evidence for the Resurrection to come (v. 35). All of this was done that the “scripture would be fulfilled” (v. 36).

After the bodies were removed, two men stepped forward to claim and care for Jesus. Joseph of Arimathea, described as a secret disciple of Jesus, took the body for burial (v. 38). Nicodemus also helped to anoint Jesus’ body with spices. These two men placed Him in a new garden tomb (v. 42). It appeared to be the end for the one they had hoped would be the Messiah.


We’d much rather skip to the end of the story, but it’s important to contemplate the death of our Savior. He was willing to bear the pain of our sin, dying a humiliating death as a criminal so that we could have eternal life. The words of the spiritual, “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?” walk us through the moments of Jesus’ death.

Today in the Word is a production of Moody Global Ministries