The soldiers took Jesus outside the city to Golgotha (Aramaic) It translates into English as “Place of the Skull”. We often call the place “Calvary”, from the Latin word “calvaria”, to be crucified.
The Romans had likely set up this place for crucifixion to avoid inflaming the Jews by creating uncleanness inside the city. The writer of Hebrews picked up on this. He wrote:
We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. (Hebrews 13:10-14)
Jesus had to carry his own cross. Ever efficient, the Romans also crucified two others, one on each side. (17-18)
Pilate took a plaque and wrote “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” on it before having it attached to the cross. (19) It was the Roman practice that the crime of the condemned person be written on a plaque. It would be hung around the neck of the condemned man as he walked to the cross. Once there, after the prisoner was attached to the cross, the plaque would be attached to the cross. This plaque lets us know Jesus was convicted of sedition (rebellion against Rome).
Since the site of the crucifixion was close to the city, many Jews came to see it and read the inscription. (20) Since it was written in three languages (Aramaic, Latin, Greek), everyone could read it.
The Chief Priests told Pilate to change it to “This man said, I am King of the Jews”. (21) They did not want anyone to believe the charge was actually true since they rejected his claims.
But Pilate refused to change it. (22) He was likely disgusted with the Jews at this point. He taunted them one last time before his part of this charade is finished. You can tell that it bothered the Jews since they asked him to change it.
Despite the protest, the wording of the plaque is true. It declared to the world that Jesus really is the king the Jews. It was true in their own concept of the Messiah, the king who restores the kingdom and drives out the Romans.
It was true because God promised a Davidic king. (2 Samuel 7)
Ironically, the Jewish high priests who engineered Jesus’ death, become parties to the proclamation that Jesus reigns.
As Jesus was hanging on the cross, the soldiers divided his garments among themselves. There were four parts, once for each of the four soldiers. (23) These would have been his outer garment, similar to a robe, as well as his belt, sandals, and head covering.
Jesus would also have had an undergarment, as the NIV calls it. The ESV calls it a tunic. It would have been worn under his robe. His tunic, however, was seamless. It could not be divided four ways without damaging it.
So they decided not to tear it but to cast lots for it. The winner would get the whole tunic. That fulfilled Psalm 22:18, which John quoted from the Septuagint: “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots”.
Standing nearby and watching these events were some of the women who had followed him: his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. (25) It is remarkable that these women stayed close by when most of the disciples had scattered.
They also present a remarkable contrast to the soldiers: the women stand in devotion to Jesus while the soldiers are greedily taking his clothes.
John was standing with near Jesus’ mother. Jesus committed Mary’s care to John, saying “behold your son” and “behold your mother”. (26-27)
John took Mary into his home and cared for her. Jesus, as the oldest son, had an obligation in Jewish culture to care for his mother if she became a widow. Jesus’ actions indicate she was a widow. So, Jesus assigned his friend and follower the task.
He could have assigned this task to one of his half brothers. It would have been expected for the next oldest brother to be assigned. John does not explain, and may not have known, why Jesus did not do so.
Where did John and Mary live after this? John stayed in Jerusalem after these events. Acts 8:1 says the disciples stayed in Jerusalem even after persecution drove many Christians away. He was evidently still there when Paul and Barnabas arrived and appeared before the Council, which included the apostles and elders. (Acts 15:4) Galatians 2:9 also indicates that John was still in Jerusalems when Paul went there with Titus. This would have been about A.D. 47.
Catholic tradition holds that John later moved to Ephesus and that Mary went with him. There is no real documentation of this, only the supposed visions of a Catholic nun. We do know that John was exiled to the island of Patmos, where he received the Revelation. (Revelation 1:9)
After assigning Mary to the care of John, Jesus said “I thirst”. (28) John wrote that he did this knowing that all was finished and to fulfill Scripture. That Scripture appears to be Psalm 69:21, which says “for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink”. Sour wine would have been a cheap wine that was given to soldiers.
John again lets us know that Jesus knows exactly what is happening. He knew that all was now completed. His work was done and death was imminent. He also knew that, if he said he was thirsty, the soldiers would give him sour wine, thus fulfilling the scripture.
His last words were “it is finished”. (29) Then he gave up his spirit.
He gave it up - he was in control.
“No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” (John 10:18)
So, what was the work that Jesus finished? It was his life of perfect obedience to the Father and his death for our sins.