Chapter 27: John 17–19

“Chapter 27: John 17–19,” New Testament Student Manual (2018)

“Chapter 27,” New Testament Student Manual


John 17–19

Introduction and Timeline for John 17–19

John chapters 17–19 contain John’s account of the events of the Atonement. The Savior’s prayer recorded in John 17 is often called the Intercessory Prayer because in His prayer, the Savior interceded on our behalf, praying to His Father for His Apostles and for all who would believe in Him—including us. Following the Intercessory Prayer, chapters 18–19 recount the arrest, trials, Crucifixion, and burial of Jesus Christ. John 17 provides valuable insight into the purposes of Jesus’s suffering. He prayed that those who believed in Him would be protected, have joy, be sanctified, be filled with the Father’s love, and truly know His Father and have eternal life. He prayed that His followers might be “one” with the Father, the Son, and one another. The word Atonement (at-one-ment) literally means “to make one,” or to reconcile. It was to bring about all these possibilities that Jesus Christ suffered, as described in John 18–19.

While you have already studied about the suffering and Crucifixion of Jesus Christ in the accounts in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the following commentary focuses on material that is unique to or emphasized in John.

New Testament Student Manual : Religion 211-212

Commentary for John 17–19

John 17. The Intercessory Prayer

Christ in Gethsemane

Christ in Gethsemane, by Harry Anderson

Unlike the synoptic Gospels, the Gospel of John does not give an account of the Savior’s prayers or suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane. But what John did record adds to and illuminates the meaning of the events recorded in the other Gospels. The Savior’s Intercessory Prayer, recorded only in John 17, provides valuable insight about the purposes of the Atonement. President Russell M. Nelson stated:

“[The Intercessory Prayer is] so named because the Lord prayerfully interceded with His Father for the benefit of His disciples. Picture in your mind the Savior of the world kneeling in prayer, as I quote from John chapter 17:

“‘These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, … glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee. …

“‘I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. …

“‘For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.

“‘I pray for them’ [John 17:1, 4, 8–9].

“From this prayer of the Lord we learn how keenly He feels His responsibility as our Mediator and Advocate with the Father” (“Lessons from the Lord’s Prayers,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2009, 47).

John 17:3. Eternal Life Is to Know God

The importance of coming to know God is taught repeatedly in the scriptures (see Jeremiah 31:31–34; Hosea 4:6; Alma 22:18; D&C 132:23–24). It is a theme of particular emphasis in the Gospel of John, which testifies that Jesus came to earth to reveal the Father to us (see John 1:18; 14:6–11; 16:25; see also the commentary for John 14:7–11; 16:25). Knowing God means more than believing that He exists or having an intellectual understanding about Him; it means becoming acquainted with Him through personal experience and living His teachings. Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles pointed out the difference between merely knowing about God and knowing Him:

“It is one thing to know about God and another to know him. We know about him when we learn that he is a personal being in whose image man is created; when we learn that the Son is in the express image of his Father’s person; when we learn that both the Father and the Son possess certain specified attributes and powers. But we know them, in the sense of gaining eternal life, when we enjoy and experience the same things they do. To know God is to think what he thinks, to feel what he feels, to have the power he possesses, to comprehend the truths he understands, and to do what he does. Those who know God become like him, and have his kind of life, which is eternal life” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 1:762).

John 17:4–8. The Savior Reported the Completion of His Mission to His Father

In His Intercessory Prayer, the Savior told His Father in Heaven that He had obediently completed His earthly mission (see John 17:4–5). Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained:

“Jesus ‘was like unto God’ (Abra. 3:24) before the world was; he had glory and dominion then; and he then became, under the direction of the Father, the Creator of this earth and of worlds without number. (Moses 1:31–33.) At the appointed time he came to this particular earth to work out both his own salvation and the atonement which would make salvation available to all men.

“In this prayer, speaking as though the atoning sacrifice had already been made, Jesus is certifying to the Father that the Son has done the appointed work, and asks that as a consequence he be given again the state of dignity and honor he once held” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:762).

John 17:9–10. Jesus Prayed That the Father Would Purify His Followers

While Jesus Christ was among the Nephites, He offered a prayer to the Father similar to the prayer recorded in John 17:9–10: “Father, I thank thee that thou hast purified those whom I have chosen, because of their faith, and I pray for them, and also for them who shall believe on their words, that they may be purified in me, through faith on their words, even as they are purified in me. Father, I pray not for the world, but for those whom thou hast given me out of the world, because of their faith, that they may be purified in me, that I may be in them as thou, Father, art in me, that we may be one, that I may be glorified in them” (3 Nephi 19:28–29).

John 17:11, 14–16. The Savior’s Followers Are to Be “in the World” but Not “of the World”

In the Intercessory Prayer, the Savior stated that His disciples were “in the world” (John 17:11), but were “not of the world” (John 17:14). President M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles examined what each of these statements implies for followers of Jesus Christ:

“In the Church, we often state the couplet: ‘Be in the world but not of the world.’ …

“Perhaps we should state the couplet … as two separate admonitions. First, ‘Be in the world.’ Be involved; be informed. Try to be understanding and tolerant and to appreciate diversity. Make meaningful contributions to society through service and involvement. Second, ‘Be not of the world.’ Do not follow wrong paths or bend to accommodate or accept what is not right. …

“… In spite of all of the wickedness in the world, and in spite of all the opposition to good that we find on every hand, we should not try to take ourselves or our children out of the world. Jesus said, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven,’ or yeast. (Matt. 13:33.) We are to lift the world and help all to rise above the wickedness that surrounds us. The Savior prayed to the Father:

“‘I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.’ (John 17:15.)

“Members of the Church need to influence more than we are influenced. We should work to stem the tide of sin and evil instead of passively being swept along by it. We each need to help solve the problem rather than avoid or ignore it” (“The Effects of Television,” Ensign, May 1989, 80).

John 17:11, 20–23. “That They May Be One, Even as We Are One”

On an earlier occasion, the Savior had stated, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). The Intercessory Prayer provides further understanding of what that means, for the Savior prayed to His Father that His followers too “may be one, as we are” (John 17:11; italics added; see also verses 21–23). He made clear that He was praying not only for His followers but “for them also which shall believe on me through their word” (John 17:20). The unity that exists between the Father and the Son is something that all those who follow Jesus Christ may experience. President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) explained that the Father and Son are “one” in bringing to pass the salvation of the children of God, and They desire that we be one with Them:

“They are distinct beings, but they are one in purpose and effort. They are united as one in bringing to pass the grand, divine plan for the salvation and exaltation of the children of God. …

“It is that perfect unity between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost that binds these three into the oneness of the divine Godhead” (“The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 51).

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught about the process of becoming “one” with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ:

“How glorious it is to contemplate that we have been invited into that perfect unity that exists with the Father and the Son. How can this happen? …

“Jesus achieved perfect unity with the Father by submitting Himself, both flesh and spirit, to the will of the Father. … Referring to His Father, Jesus said, ‘I do always those things that please him’ (John 8:29). …

“Surely we will not be one with God and Christ until we make Their will and interest our greatest desire. Such submissiveness is not reached in a day, but through the Holy Spirit, the Lord will tutor us if we are willing until, in process of time, it may accurately be said that He is in us as the Father is in Him. At times I tremble to consider what may be required, but I know that it is only in this perfect union that a fulness of joy can be found. I am grateful beyond expression that I am invited to be one with those holy beings I revere and worship as my Heavenly Father and Redeemer” (“That They May Be One in Us,” Ensign, Nov. 2002, 71–73).

John 17:12. “The Son of Perdition”

The Greek word from which “perdition” is translated (apōleia) indicates a condition of being lost or destroyed. Elsewhere in the New Testament, apōleia is translated as “destruction” (Matthew 7:13; Romans 9:22), “waste” (Matthew 26:8; Mark 14:4), and “damnation” (2 Peter 2:3). These terms seem appropriate as applied to Judas Iscariot. Speaking of the condition of Judas Iscariot, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said:

“We know the divine plan required Jesus to be crucified, but it is wrenching to think that one of His special witnesses who sat at His feet, heard Him pray, watched Him heal, and felt His touch could betray Him and all that He was for 30 pieces of silver. Never in the history of this world has so little money purchased so much infamy. We are not the ones to judge Judas’s fate, but Jesus said of His betrayer, ‘Good [were it] for that man if he had not been born.’ [Matthew 26:24]” (“None Were with Him,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2009, 86).

President Joseph F. Smith (1838–1918) wrote about whether or not Judas is a son of perdition, after first referring to Doctrine and Covenants 76:31–37, 43, which describes the knowledge that must be understood and then rejected by those who become sons of perdition: “That Judas did partake of all this knowledge—that these great truths had been revealed to him—that he had received the Holy Spirit by the gift of God, and was therefore qualified to commit the unpardonable sin, is not at all clear to me. To my mind it strongly appears that not one of the disciples possessed sufficient light, knowledge nor wisdom, at the time of the crucifixion, for either exaltation or condemnation; for it was afterward that their minds were opened to understand the scriptures, and that they were endowed with power from on high; without which they were only children in knowledge, in comparison to what they afterwards became under the influence of the Spirit” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. [1939], 433).

John 17:17, 19. “I Sanctify Myself, That They Also Might Be Sanctified”

To “sanctify” means to make holy and pure. Jesus Christ lived a sinless, holy life and then took upon Himself the sins of the human family so that we could be sanctified if we follow Him. Our sanctification is “the process of becoming free from sin, pure, clean, and holy through the atonement of Jesus Christ” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Sanctification”;

John 17:26. “That the Love Wherewith Thou Hast Loved Me May Be in Them”

Jesus Christ concluded His Intercessory Prayer with a plea that His disciples of every age may be filled with the love of God. While serving in the Presidency of the Seventy, Elder John H. Groberg taught of the blessings that come into the lives of those who are filled with the love of God:

“When filled with God’s love, we can do and see and understand things that we could not otherwise do or see or understand. Filled with His love, we can endure pain, quell fear, forgive freely, avoid contention, renew strength, and bless and help others in ways surprising even to us.

“Jesus Christ was filled with unfathomable love as He endured incomprehensible pain, cruelty, and injustice for us. Through His love for us, He rose above otherwise insurmountable barriers. His love knows no barriers. He invites us to follow Him and partake of His unlimited love so we too may rise above the pain and cruelty and injustice of this world and help and forgive and bless” (“The Power of God’s Love,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2004, 11).

John 18:1–6. When Jesus Said “I Am He,” His Captors “Went Backward, and Fell to the Ground”

Israel. Jerusalem

Aerial view of Jerusalem, showing the shaded Kidron Valley to the right of the Temple Mount

Photograph by Richard L. W. Cleave

John recorded that after the Savior’s Intercessory Prayer, Jesus “went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron [Kidron], where was a garden” (John 18:1). The Kidron Valley contained tombs in Jesus’s time, as it does today. The walk Jesus and His disciples would have taken through this area the night before He died evokes the scripture, “I walk through the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4).

After Jesus’s suffering in the garden, Judas, along with “a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees” (John 18:3), found Jesus in the garden. Jesus, “knowing all things that should come upon him,” stepped forward and asked, “Whom seek ye?” Jesus was not a passive participant in His own arrest. When the men asked for Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus answered, “I am he” (John 18:4–8). These words are translated from the Greek phrase egō eimi, used in many other places in John in reference to the divinity of Jesus Christ (see the commentary for John 8:53–58). After the Savior said these words, the men and officers “went backward, and fell to the ground” (John 18:6), “apparently unable to exercise power over Jesus unless permitted to do so” (Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:780). “The simple dignity and gentle yet compelling force of Christ’s presence proved more potent than strong arms and weapons of violence” (James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. [1916], 615). This detail shows that the Savior had the ability to overpower his captors but voluntarily submitted to arrest and crucifixion. To read about similar details recorded elsewhere in the scriptural record, see the commentary for Matthew 26:51–54.

John 18:8–9. “Let These Go Their Way”

Jesus Christ offered Himself to His enemies if they would let His disciples go free (see John 18:8–9). This ensured the immediate physical safety of the Apostles, who would become the leaders of the Church following Jesus’s death. This small detail is a reflection of the larger event that was then taking place, a mirror of the Atonement of Christ. The Savior gave Himself so all of us could be set free from the eternal enemies of sin and death.

John 18:11. “The Cup Which My Father Hath Given Me, Shall I Not Drink It?”

For help understanding the symbolism of “the cup” spoken of in John 18:11, see the commentary for Mark 10:38–39 and for Mark 14:36.

John 18:13. Annas

Model City of Jerusalem

Historical sources indicate that the residences of Annas and Caiaphas were in the wealthy upper city of Jerusalem. This model of first-century Jerusalem shows the upper city, where the ruling class lived, with the poorer section below.

After Jesus was arrested, He was taken to Annas first (see John 18:13) and then to Caiaphas (see John 18:24). John is the only Gospel writer to mention that Jesus appeared before Annas. Annas had been the high priest in Jerusalem from A.D. 6 to A.D. 15. After Roman authorities removed him from office, he continued to exert considerable influence in Jerusalem. Five of his sons held the office of high priest at different times, and his son-in-law Joseph Caiaphas held the office at the time of the Savior’s arrest. Historical sources describe Annas’s family in terms of wealth, power, and greed. (To better understand the Savior’s movements through the streets of Jerusalem—from the upper room to Gethsemane, to Annas, to Caiaphas, to Pilate, and so on—see Bible Maps, no. 12, “Jerusalem at the Time of Jesus.”)

John 18:14. Caiaphas

For insights on Caiaphas’s statement that “one man should die for the people” (John 18:14), see the commentary for John 11:49–53. For more information about Caiaphas and the office of high priest, see the commentary for Matthew 26:57.

John 18:15–18, 25–27. Simon Peter Denied Knowing the Savior (see also Matthew 26:69–75)

John’s account of Simon Peter’s three denials appears to be an eyewitness account (see John 18:15); it provides insights not found in the synoptic Gospels. President Gordon B. Hinckley discussed what we can learn from the account of Peter’s denials:

“My heart goes out to Peter. So many of us are so much like him. We pledge our loyalty; we affirm our determination to be of good courage; we declare, sometimes even publicly, that come what may we will do the right thing, that we will stand for the right cause, that we will be true to ourselves and to others.

“Then the pressures begin to build. Sometimes these are social pressures. Sometimes they are personal appetites. Sometimes they are false ambitions. There is a weakening of the will. There is a softening of discipline. There is capitulation. And then there is remorse, followed by self-accusation and bitter tears of regret. …

Peter's Denial

Detail from Peter’s Denial, by Carl H. Bloch

“Now, if there be those throughout the Church who by word or act have denied the faith, I pray that you may draw comfort and resolution from the example of Peter, who, though he had walked daily with Jesus, in an hour of extremity momentarily denied the Lord and also the testimony which he carried in his own heart. But he rose above this and became a mighty defender and a powerful advocate. So, too, there is a way for any person to turn about and add his or her strength and faith to the strength and faith of others in building the kingdom of God” (“And Peter Went Out and Wept Bitterly,” Ensign, Mar. 1995, 2, 4, 6). For more insight on Peter’s denials, see the commentary for Matthew 26:69–75.

John 18:28–36. “My Kingdom Is Not of This World”

Model City of Jerusalem.

This model of first-century Jerusalem depicts the palace (foreground) that was probably “the hall of judgment” (John 18:28) where Pilate questioned Jesus. It also depicts the Antonia Fortress (background on right), another possible site of the trial before Pilate.

The hypocrisy of the Jewish leaders was put on display when they led Jesus to Pilate to be judged. They would not enter into the hall of judgment, which was a Gentile structure, because doing so would make them ritually unclean and they desired to eat the Passover meal the next day (see John 18:28). Yet at the same time, they were willing to falsely accuse Jesus before Pilate and seek His death (see the commentaries for Matthew 26:61–66 and for Matthew 27:11).

Pilate questioned Jesus about whether He considered Himself the king of the Jews, and the Savior answered, “My kingdom is not of this world.” Then in response to further questioning, He acknowledged, “Thou sayest that I am a king” (John 18:36–37). His statements are consistent with His refusal throughout His ministry to present Himself as an earthly king (see John 6:15), while openly declaring that He was the Messiah.

The Savior had stated that His followers were also “not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:14; see also John 15:19; 17:16). While serving in the Presidency of the Seventy, Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander taught that as followers of Jesus Christ and members of the kingdom of God, we are to be separate from the world and seek after that which is sacred and eternal:

“In answer to Pilate’s question ‘Art thou the King of the Jews?’ the Savior answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world’ (John 18:33, 36). With these few words, Jesus declares His kingdom independent and distinct from this world. The Savior’s teachings, doctrine, and personal example lift all who truly believe in Him to a divine standard that requires both eye and mind be single to the glory of God (see D&C 4:5; 88:68). The glory of God encompasses all that is holy and sacred. Our ability to seek, recognize, and reverence the holy above the profane, and the sacred above the secular, defines our spirituality. Indeed, without the holy and sacred, we are left with only the profane and secular” (“Holy Place, Sacred Space,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2003, 71).

Christ Before Pilate

Christ before Pilate, by Mihaly von Munkacsy

John 18:37. “For This Cause Came I into the World”

While serving as a member of the Seventy, Elder Alexander B. Morrison spoke of the Savior’s statement to Pilate, “For this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth” (John 18:37). Elder Morrison used this statement to describe the purpose of Jesus Christ’s mortal existence: “‘For this cause came I into the world.’ What was that cause? Why did Jesus, the Lord God Omnipotent who sits at the right hand of the Father, creator of worlds without number, lawgiver and judge, condescend to come to earth to be born in a manger, live out most of His mortal existence in obscurity, trudge the dusty roads of Judea proclaiming a message which was violently opposed by many, and finally, betrayed by one of His closest associates, die between two malefactors on Golgotha’s somber hill? … It was love for all of God’s children that led Jesus, unique in His sinless perfection, to offer Himself as ransom for the sins of others. In the words of the beloved hymn, ‘Jesus died on Calvary! That all thru him might ransomed be’ (‘’Tis Sweet to Sing the Matchless Love,’ Hymns, no. 176). This, then, was the consummate cause which brought Jesus to earth to ‘suffer, bleed, and die for man.’ He came as ‘a lamb without blemish and without spot’ (1 Pet. 1:19) to atone for our sins, that He, being raised on the cross, might draw all men unto Him (see 3 Ne. 27:14)” (“For This Cause Came I into the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1999, 25–26).

Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that just as the Savior came into the world for a specific cause, we too have a cause in our mortal lives: “As He began to feel the awful weight of the approaching Atonement, Jesus acknowledged, ‘For this cause came I into the world’ (John 18:37). We too, brothers and sisters, came ‘into the world’ to pass through our particularized portions of the mortal experience. Even though our experiences do not even begin to approach our Master’s, nevertheless, to undergo this mortal experience is why we too are here! Purposefully pursuing this ‘cause’ brings ultimate meaning to our mortal lives” (“Apply the Atoning Blood of Christ,” Ensign, Nov. 1997, 22).

John 19:4–16. Pilate Sought to Release Jesus but Ultimately Delivered Him to Be Crucified

Pilate initially resisted the entreaty of Jewish leaders to get involved with the case against Jesus (see John 18:29–31) and thereafter sought repeatedly to release Jesus (see John 18:38–40; 19:4–6, 12–15). Pilate had a troubled history with the Jewish population he governed during an 11-year appointment in Judea—which included several violent clashes with the Jewish people and an official reprimand from the emperor. So his eventual capitulation to the crowd is no surprise. To quell a possible riot (see Matthew 27:24) and avoid allegations of political disloyalty (see John 19:12), Pilate consented to crucify Jesus of Nazareth. For additional insights about Pontius Pilate, see the commentary for Matthew 27:11.

John 19:11. “Thou Couldest Have No Power At All against Me, Except It Were Given Thee”

Neither Pilate nor anyone else had the power to take the Savior’s life, as President Boyd K. Packer (1924–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained:

“Pilate, now afraid, said to Jesus: ‘Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?’ (John 19:10).

“One can only imagine the quiet majesty when the Lord spoke. ‘Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above’ (John 19:11).

“What happened thereafter did not come because Pilate had power to impose it, but because the Lord had the will to accept it.

“‘I lay down my life,’ the Lord said, ‘that I might take it again.

“‘No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again’ (John 10:17–18)” (“Atonement, Agency, Accountability,” Ensign, May 1988, 69).

John 19:14–18. “It Was the Preparation of the Passover”

The first chapter of John’s Gospel contains the testimony that Jesus Christ is “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Now, at the end of the Savior’s life, John recorded that Jesus Christ was led away to be crucified at the sixth hour on the day of the preparation for the Passover (see John 19:14–18). Concerning this, President Russell M. Nelson said, “Pilate delivered the Lamb of God to be crucified at the same time Paschal lambs nearby were being prepared for sacrifice” (“Why This Holy Land?” Ensign, Dec. 1989, 18). At the very hour when the Passover lambs were being sacrificed, the “Lamb of God” began His journey to the cross to make the ultimate sacrifice for all mankind.

John 19:19–24. At the Cross

Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote the following about the sign that Pilate hung on the cross (see John 19:19): “In Hebrew, Greek, and Latin—as though to symbolize the fact that here was a message for all nations and tongues—Pilate bore a written testimony of the divine Sonship of our Lord, a testimony which he obdurately refused to change, a testimony which is true and so stands everlastingly” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:817).

The sign was read by many people because the Crucifixion took place “nigh to the city” (John 19:20). Crucifixion in the Roman Empire was for punishment and also for deterrence of crime. The Roman writer, Marcus Quintilian, explained why crucifixions took place where many people could see them: “Whenever we crucify the guilty, the most crowded roads are chosen, where the most people can see and be moved by this fear. For penalties relate not so much to retribution as to their exemplary effect” (cited in The Anchor Bible Dictionary [1992], “Crucifixion”).

The Savior’s clothing was divided among the soldiers (see John 19:23–24). Jewish men usually wore five articles of clothing—headdress, shoes, inner garment, outer cloak, and girdle or belt—which, according to Roman custom, became the property of the soldiers who performed crucifixions. In Jesus’s case, all of His clothing besides His coat was divided between the four soldiers at the cross. But His coat was seamless and too valuable to be cut up, so the soldiers cast lots to see who would get it. This episode fulfilled prophecy: “They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture” (Psalm 22:18).

John 19:25–27. “Woman, Behold Thy Son! … Behold Thy Mother!”

John’s Gospel preserves the moving account of Jesus Christ speaking to His mother while He hung on the cross (see John 19:25–27). His statement to the Apostle John, “Behold thy mother!” placed Mary in John’s care. Sister Elaine L. Jack, former Relief Society general president, taught about the love between the Savior and His mother:

Crucifixion of Christ, The

Detail from The Crucifixion of Christ

“We read in John, ‘There stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister’ (John 19:25). They were there as they had been throughout his life. My mind darts back to the early years as Mary and Joseph raised this most remarkable child. I can hear Mary comforting the baby Jesus with soothing words that come so naturally to us: ‘I’m right here.’ And then at this most dramatic moment of all time, there was the mother, Mary. She couldn’t soothe his pain this time, but she could stand by his side. Jesus, in tribute, offered those grand words, ‘Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother!’ [John 19:26–27]” (“Relief Society: A Balm in Gilead,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 93).

John 19:28–29. “I Thirst”

John recorded that on several occasions, Jesus taught that He offers “living water” to quench forever the spiritual thirst of all who follow Him (John 4:10–14; 7:37–39). But now, on the cross, Jesus declared His own thirst and was offered only vinegar, fulfilling ancient prophecy (see John 19:28–29; Psalm 69:21). Elder James E. Talmage (1862–1933) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said of this passage, “John affirms that Christ uttered the exclamation, ‘I thirst,’ only when He knew ‘that all things were now accomplished’; and the apostle saw in the incident a fulfillment of prophecy” (Jesus the Christ, 661).

John 19:30. Jesus Christ Fulfilled His Divine Mission

Two of the statements the Savior made from the cross may be understood in light of what Elder Robert D. Hales (1932–2017) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught about the Savior’s unwavering determination to accomplish His Father’s will: “From before the foundation of the world to the final moments on the cross, the Savior had been about His Father’s business. He completed the work He had been sent to do. Therefore, we do not wonder to whom He was talking when, upon the cross, ‘he said, It is finished,’ [John 19:30] and ‘cried with a loud voice, … Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost’ [Luke 23:46]. We know He was praying to His Heavenly Father” (“Gaining a Testimony of God the Father; His Son, Jesus Christ; and the Holy Ghost,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2008, 31).

Elder Hales also spoke about how the Savior’s example can show us the way to endure to the end: “Jesus chose not to be released from this world until He had endured to the end and completed the mission He had been sent to accomplish for mankind. Upon the cross of Calvary, Jesus commended His spirit to His Father with a simple statement, ‘It is finished’ (John 19:30). Having endured to the end, He was released from mortality.

“We, too, must endure to the end. The Book of Mormon teaches, ‘Unless a man shall endure to the end, in following the example of the Son of the living God, he cannot be saved’ (2 Ne. 31:16)” (“The Covenant of Baptism: To Be in the Kingdom and of the Kingdom,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 6).

The Joseph Smith Translation provides additional insight: “Jesus when he had cried again with a loud voice, saying, Father, it is finished, thy will is done, yielded up the ghost” (Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 27:54 [in Matthew 27:50, footnote a]).

John 19:26–30. The Seven Statements from the Cross (see also Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34; Luke 23:34, 43, 46)

Jesus Christ made seven statements from the cross that are recorded in the Gospels. The following chart identifies each of these statements, their scriptural location, and where you can find commentary for these statements:

Scripture Reference

Commentary in This Manual

Luke 23:34. “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

Luke 23:34. “Father, Forgive Them”

Luke 23:43. “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

Luke 23:42–43

John 19:26–27. “Woman, behold thy son! … Behold thy mother!”

John 19:25–27

Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34. “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34

John 19:28. “I thirst.”

John 19:28–29

John 19:30. “It is finished.”

John 19:30

Luke 23:46. “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”

Luke 23:46

John 19:31–37. Two Messianic Prophecies Fulfilled

While Matthew and Mark pointed out that the Savior’s death fulfilled certain prophecies (see Matthew 27:35; Mark 15:28), John mentioned two details that other Gospel writers did not:

First, not one of Jesus’s bones was broken. Soldiers sometimes broke the leg bones of crucifixion victims to hasten death, but they did not do this with Jesus. Without realizing it, they fulfilled an important part of the symbolism of Passover, for the Lord had instructed that the Passover lamb—which symbolized the Savior—was not to have any broken bones (see Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12). This also fulfilled the messianic prophecy found in Psalm 34:20: “He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.”

Second, Jesus Christ’s side was pierced with a spear. This fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah: “They shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn” (Zechariah 12:10).