The Sixth Hour

So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus,” (John 19:13–16, ESV)

Why is John so careful to point out that sentence was passed on Jesus “about the sixth hour”? [There is a discrepancy between John and Mark here, who said it was the third hour.  Suffice to say that in an age when no one had watches and hours were not important, we may be expecting too much of the gospel writers to be exact on time].

John is definitely trying to tell us something by mentioning the hour.  It was at about the 6th hour of the day (noon…ish) that the Jews began to prepare for the Passover which would begin at sunset on Friday (this very day).

Gerald Borchert in the New American Commentary points out: ” The designation the “sixth” hour was absolutely crucial for John because this was the time on the Day of Preparation when the Jews began their preparations for Passover in earnest. Any leaven in the house had to be collected and burned; labor stopped at this time, and the major task of slaughtering the lambs in preparation for the Passover meal began. This would be an appropriate general time designation for the sentencing of the Passover Lamb in keeping with the way John has presented his major theme of the Lamb of God and Passover throughout his Gospel (cf. 1:29; etc.). The new Exodus, God’s deliverance, was about to begin. The sacrificial lamb was being sentenced.”

John had begun his gospel with John the Baptist saying of Jesus “Behold, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”  John was ending his gospel with the actual event.  Jesus was the once-for-all Passover lamb, who was given for the sins of the world.  After this day (c. 33 AD), there would no longer be a requirement for a Passover lamb.  Jesus was the Passover lamb.  John does not want us to miss that.

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