How do we save sinners? We don’t! Jesus saves them. Our responsibility is to confront them with the Gospel. The Gospel has power to save even the hardest of sinners. Observe the amazing responses to the crucifixion of Jesus.
Before Jesus died, the repentant thief was saved.
It doesn’t say so, but I expect to see Barabbas in Heaven. Imagine standing near the cross and watching One hanging there in your place! That’s how every Christian sees Jesus. He died in our place.
It wouldn’t surprise me to see Simon of Cyrene in Heaven. Remember, he’s the man who helped Jesus bear His cross to Calvary. You can read his story in an earlier article in this series.
After Jesus died, there were more positive responses.
Matthew 27:54 tells us that the Centurion and they (the soldiers) who were with him watching Jesus die, experiencing the sudden total darkness from noon until 3:00 PM and feeling the violent earthquake and graves opened and Old Testament saints rise from the graves and go into Jerusalem, feared greatly and were convinced that Jesus truly was the Son of God. I expect to see that Centurion and some of the soldiers who crucified Jesus saved and in Heaven.
The cheering crowd who welcomed Jesus as King a week earlier with waving palm branches, were suddenly influenced by the religious leaders to turn on Jesus and cry for His crucifixion. They too watched Jesus die on the cross and observed the terrifying events that accompanied His crucifixion. They responded by beating their chests in grief and guilt, as Luke 23:48 describes. Many of those Jews were saved a few weeks later when Peter preached to them at Pentecost, as recorded in Acts 2.
Acts 6:7 tells us that later, many of the priests were saved. Can you imagine the chaos in the temple that crucifixion afternoon as the veil in the temple was wrent down the middle from top to bottom, opening up the Holy of Holies to everyone’s gaze? Can you imagine what happened as the priests prepared to slaughter lambs for the Passover? I imagine everything came to a grinding halt in the temple that day and priests began to question what they were doing there. The Lamb of God had been slain on the cross. There was no more need for animal sacrifices and Passover observances. The temple worship was over! Seventy years later the Roman armies would invade and totally destroy that useless temple.
If you are among those who may be questioning the value of religion, and sacrifices and priests as your intermediary to God, I encourage you to read Hebrews 10 over and over again until the light dawns on you as to the meaning of the death and resurrection of Jesus. I Timothy 2:5 says. “For there is one God and One Mediator between God and men.” Who is that Mediator? “The Man, Christ Jesus.” Not Mary and not the saints; but Jesus Himself.
Will you trust Him as your Saviour? Do you understand that He died on the cross, shedding His blood for your sins? Do you understand that Jesus is alive now in His glorified body in Heaven and He is one day returning for His own. Are you His? Have you received Him by faith as your Saviour?
Find assurance of your salvation in the Bible. Read I John 5:11-13. That’s the little Epistle next to Revelation near the end of your Bible. Read that promise/check for salvation from God. Cash it by faith this moment and go on your way rejoicing that you belong to God for eternity. Heaven is your Home. It’s not for anything you did. It’s all a Gift of God’s free grace. Receive Him now and rejoice!
THE MATTER OF TIME
Before I get into what some would call the tragedy of Calvary; because there appears to be some confusion regarding the matter of time in this story; let’s get that settled first. As we read the story of the crucifixion of Jesus, we soon become aware of the seeming confusion of time. There are two methods of reckoning time: Roman time and Jewish time.
Most of us use Roman time. That is, the first hour is 1 AM. The sixth hour is 6:00 AM. etc.
Jewish time begins at six o’clock in the morning making it the first hour. The third hour would be our 9:00 AM and the sixth hour would be our noon. The ninth hour would be our 3:00 PM.
Both Roman and Jewish time are used to tell the Crucifixion story. When the story takes place in Pilate’s Hall, a Roman Hall, because he is the Roman governor of Palestine, Roman time is used.
Outside of Pilate’s Hall, Jewish time is used. So when Pilate is speaking from his judgment Hall in John 19:13-14, it says it was the sixth hour. That’s 6:00 AM, Roman Time.
In Mark 15:33, we read it was the sixth hour when darkness fell over the land of Palestine. This is noon Jewish time, or six hours since the first hour, 6:00 AM.
Now that we have that settled, let’s get on with the Calvary Tragedy. Though the world would call this a tragedy, we Christians see it as the great triumph of the ages. This was the time that God conquered sin and death through the death and resurrection of His beloved Son Jesus.
The Tragedy is divided into three acts. Act 1 is from the third hour until the sixth hour; that is, from 9 AM until noon.
Act 2 is from the sixth hour to the ninth hour; that is, from noon until 3 PM our time.
Act 3 describes what took place at 3 PM, the ninth hour and following, Jewish time.
Jesus hung on the cross the six hours from 9 AM until 3 PM. That is, from the third hour until the ninth hour, Jewish time.
This was from the third to the sixth hour Jewish time, or from 9:00 till noon.
This act is all about Jesus being crucified. It’s all about the cruelty of the Roman soldiers and the mocking and scorning of the people. The people appear to be in charge in Act 1.
It’s in this first Act that Jesus prays for forgiveness for His enemies. It’s in this act that the repentant thief finds forgiveness of sin and assurance of Heaven shortly before he dies.
It’s in this act that Jesus speaks to his mother, Mary and the disciple John; turning over the care of His mother to John. It’s at this time a little before noon that John took Mary home to His house so that both of them could be spared any further grief watching Jesus die.
This was from Noon until 3 PM our time, the sixth to the ninth hour Jewish time.
Precisely at Noon the sun ceased shining and it became pitch dark all over the land. It was so dark one could feel it. It was as dark as it would be in a mine or a cave with no candles or flashlights or electric lights.
During these three hours the Roman soldiers and the murderous Jewish mob had absolutely no control of the situation. Also during those three hours of darkness, the mocking and scorning of Jesus ceased. God Himself was now in charge. The people were terrified into silence. Whereas the first three hours were all about man’s cruelty and hatred; the next three hours were all about the wrath of God being poured out on His beloved Son, Jesus. as well as the people around Him, were feeling the terror of God.
It was the wrath of God being poured out on Jesus that makes His crucifixion a saving event for us. You see, salvation is deliverance from the wrath of God that we sinners deserve because of our sins. The reason we are saved from that wrath is because it has been poured out on Jesus. Romans 5:8 says that God shows His love to us by executing His holy, sinless Son in full payment of the penalty for our sins.
Throughout the Old Testament, God showed His wrath by bringing thick darkness on people. You may remember that thick darkness was one of the plagues on the Egyptians when God was getting ready to deliver Israel from slavery. All though the Prophets, we read of the darkness of God’s judgment in the Day of the Lord.
In those three hours from the sixth through the ninth hours, the infinite Son of God was experiencing not only the cruelty of man; but the wrath of God, separated from His Heavenly Father. He was experiencing in three hours the Hell that the lost will experience throughout eternity. God the Father literally forsook His beloved Son through those hours so that we could be saved by trusting in His substitutionary sacrifice for our sins.
3 pm our time or the ninth hour Jewish time.
At three o’clock the sun immediately resumed shining and the sunlight once more flooded Palestine and the crucifixion scene.
When the three hours of darkness were over, Luke 23:48 describes the Jews as smiting their breasts in grief and terror.
Having experienced hell for three hours, Jesus cries to God, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” Now that He had consciously experienced Hell those three hours, perhaps Jesus, as a man, expected the comforting presence of God, His Father. That presence was not felt. Perhaps this is one of final horrors of Hell. God will NEVER be there to comfort. Jesus must feel this fully: the everlasting torment of Hell and the eternal absence of God’s comfort in those six hours on the cross.
Would you also note that this is the only time in the Gospels when Jesus referred to God in any other way but, “Father”?
In John 19:28 Jesus knowing that He had accomplished His work on the cross, said, “I thirst.” The soldiers soaked a sponge in vinegar and wet his lips and throat. Though Jesus had been slowly suffocating to death as He struggled to breathe; suddenly with supernatural strength He raised up on the nails one more time, and shouted at the top of His lungs, “FINISHED!” That shout reverberated throughout the area and everyone heard it. Then He bowed His head in death and committed His Spirit to His Heavenly Father.
What was finished? The full payment for all the sins of the world throughout all the ages was paid in full. Anyone going to Hell, does so because in their pride and self-righteousness, they feel that they are not so bad as to need a Saviour; and thus, they reject God’s gracious Gift of Salvation which has already been paid in full through Jesus’ shed blood on the cross.
What was finished? The Old Testament temple and its sacrifice of animals for sin. At the same instant, the veil in the temple was supernaturally ripped from top to bottom, opening our way into the very presence of God. Can you imagine how the priests reacted to this as they were preparing to sacrifice the Passover Lambs? Can you imagine them looking into the Holy of Holies, a place they had been forbidden to look upon pain of death up to this time?
This was the end of the Old Testament Ceremonial Law system with its laws concerning Sabbaths and Ceremonial Feast Days. No more would the Passover ever have to be observed, for now Christ is our Passover Lamb slain once for all for our sins. See I Corinthians 5:7 on this.
This was the end of the temple worship system. It was the end of the animal sacrifices for sin. Access to God was now directly open through the shed blood of Christ. I encourage you to read and reread Hebrews 10 and let this wonderful truth soak in until you understand it.
One other amazing event took place at 3:00 that afternoon. A great earthquake occurred which broke up giant rocks and boulders. Graves were opened and Old Testament saints rose from the dead and appeared in the streets of Jerusalem. It doesn’t say, but I believe they later ascended to Heaven, a little foretaste of the great resurrection that takes place at the time of our awaited Rapture spoken of in I Thessalonians 4:13-18 and I Corinthians 15:51-58. Ephesians 4:8 may refer to that ascension of Old Testament saints with Jesus.
What took place at Calvary ought to convince any sinner that there is no sin against God that cannot be forgiven. If God could save the thief on the cross and the Centurion and some of his soldiers involved in the crucifixion, as Matthew 27:54 states and if God could save some of the priests later on, according the Acts 6:7; you are not too great a sinner for God to save.
If your trust is in the sacrifice of Christ for your sins, you will never face the wrath of God, for Jesus has already taken that wrath for you. His blood was shed in full payment for your sins. Will you trust Him right now?
If you will go to the category Jesus, you will find a medical doctor’s description of Jesus’ crucifixion. This article will not be a repeat of that description; rather some thoughts from the Biblical account of His crucifixion.
SIX HOURS ON THE CROSS FOR JESUS, THE INFINITE SON OF GOD, EQUALS ETERNITY IN HELL FOR THE ENTIRE HUMAN RACE SINCE ADAM.
What amazing grace and infinite loving condescension of God to pour out His wrath on His own beloved Son in order to pay the penalty of our sins. What is God’s love? How is it shown to us? Here it is according to Romans 5:8. God shows His love to us by sending His Son to die, thus paying the price of eternal damnation in Hell for all repentant sinners who would trust Him. The infinite Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, paid the price of sin, eternity in Hell for the entire human race since Adam to this present time; and He accomplished it in six hours on the cross. His six hours on the cross is equivalent to eternity in Hell for all mankind!!!
Read Psalm 22 for a detailed prophecy of Jesus sufferings and death on the cross written a thousand years before it happened. Note the details of Jesus’ sufferings and some of the words that He uttered on the cross.
THE SIGN ABOVE THE CROSS
Pilate had the sign written, JESUS OF NAZERETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. It was written in Hebrew, Greek and Latin so all the known world would know who it was on that middle cross. Pilate was convinced that it was true and he was convinced that Jesus was innocent of any crime worthy of execution. He repeated that at least three or four times.
Yet, to save his position as the Roman Procurator of Palestine, he gave in to the insistent demands of the Jewish leaders that Jesus be crucified. It made Pilate furious. To get back at the Jews He had this sign made to fasten to the top of Jesus’ cross.
When the Jews saw it, they were furious. They demanded of Pilate that he change the sign to read that it was Jesus’ claim to be King of the Jews. Pilate had given in to the Jews as far as he would go. With his teeth gritted in determination and anger, he announced to the Jews, WHAT I HAVE WRITTEN, I HAVE WRITTEN. (Like it or lump it!!!) So the sign stayed as it was and was nailed to the top of the cross so all could read it.
THE CRUCIFIXION ITSELF
Before they began, the soldiers offered Jesus a drink of vinegar and bitter gall as a sedative to make it a little easier for Him. Jesus tasted it and spit it out. He wanted nothing to dull or ease the suffering He was enduring for our sins.
A quaternion of four Roman soldiers, who were calloused to suffering and death and who were adept at the job, quickly nailed Jesus to the cross with spikes in his wrists (which is considered part of the hands) and a spike through his two feet placed one on top of the other. These were large iron spikes perhaps 8-12 inches long.
The two thieves were nailed to crosses on either side of Jesus. Then the soldiers sat down to watch him die. It was then that they heard Jesus pray for them, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
As was the custom of the soldiers, they divided his clothing among them: His outer cloak, His sandals, His head piece and his sash or belt. When it came to His beautiful seamless robe some loving person had made for Him, the soldiers decided to cast lots for it rather than cutting it into four parts. In so doing they were unknowingly fulfilling the prophecy in Psalm 22:18.
NAKED ON THE CROSS
With all His clothes taken by the soldiers, Jesus was left naked on the cross. If any clothes at all, it would be only a loin cloth. Hanging there, the crowds stared at Him.
That brings my thought back to the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve lived together in nakedness and unashamed. After they sinned by eating of the forbidden fruit tree in the midst of the Garden, they became aware of their nakedness and sowed fig leaves together to cover their nakedness.
You can read the story in Genesis 3. God found them attempting to hide from Him. After confronting them with their sins, God killed animals, probably sheep, shedding innocent blood as a covering for their sins. Thus began the Old Testament shedding of blood for sin and it continued for 4000 years. After the animals were slain, God took the skins and fashioned clothing to cover their nakedness.
God’s Word reveals the sinful nakedness of our hearts. But God went further than that. In the fullness of time, He sent His Son, the Lord Jesus, to die on a cross in nakedness and shame and pay for our sins with His shed blood. Then He took Christ’s righteousness and clothed us in it. Today, all those whose trust is in Christ, stand covered in the robes of Christ’s righteousness.
One day sinners will stand before the Great White Throne Judgment of Christ, described in Revelation 21. Naked in their sins, they will be cast into the eternal Lake of Fire. Why? Because they refused to accept by faith the robes of Christ’s righteousness.
For any sinner to attempt to refuse to trust in God’s righteousness, is to stand clothed in the fig leaves of our own miserable self- righteousness, which according to Isaiah 64:6 are as filthy, stinking rags in God’s nostrils.
THE BLASPHEMOUS CROWD
As the crowds who had joyfully welcomed their King into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday; so now, led by the priests and the Sanhedrin who hated Jesus, they blasphemed God the Son as He hung on the cross, sneering at Him and wagging their heads back and forth in mockery. Jesus was a big joke to them. This was a comedy as far as they were concerned.
THE PATIENCE AND LONGSUFFERNG OF GOD
As we read this heart rending account of Jesus’ crucifixion, we have to be impressed with the patience and longsuffering of God as He watched them mistreat His beloved Son.
The martyred souls in Heaven cry out for vengeance and vindication, as we read in Revelation 6:9-11.
We must patiently endure whatever the world wants to dish out to us as Christians. II Peter 3:9-11 speaks of the patience and long-suffering of God in this present age. One day He will return and avenge His own and put down all rebellion by force.
CURSED BY GOD
Jesus was cursed by His Heavenly Father for our sins. Paul wrote in Galatians 3:13 that Jesus was made a curse for us as He hung on the cross.
Those who reject His Son as Saviour will one day feel the wrath of God’s curse on them in Hell. Will you receive the love of God by receiving His Son as your Saviour. Again, I remind you that Romans 5:8 shows us that this is the way God shows His love to us, by sending His Son, the Lord Jesus, to die in our place on the cross. Have you received Him as your Saviour? Will you do it right now? Read John 1:12 and make your decision. Receive Him or reject Him. There are no other options.
The main story of the conversion of the thief on the cross is found in Luke 23:32-43. Parts of the story are also mentioned in Matthew 27:38,44, and Mark 15:25-28. As you read all the passages, you get the full story.
You, no doubt, remember the story. Jesus was crucified with two thieves: one on his left and one on His right hand. Matthew informs us that both thieves were joining with the crowds in scorning and mocking Jesus, as all three of them were suffering and dying. Imagine, in your dying agony, using your last ounce of strength to pour out your venom on the Holy Son of God.
Then something amazing happened to one of the thieves. While the other continued to spew his hateful venom on the Jesus, the other thief became very quiet and thoughtful. You would expect that as he approached death, that his mind would become foggy with the excruciating pain.
Instead, as he watched and listened to Jesus, his mind became crystal clear and he began to perceive truth he had never considered before. The light of the Gospel turned on in his mind and heart. He turned to the other dying thief and rebuked him for mocking and railing on Jesus- the same thing he had been doing a few minutes earlier.
The overpowering, sovereign miraculous work of God turned this sinner around 180 degrees in his tracks. He turned from blaspheming God to rebuking the other thief who was continuing to blaspheme God. His attitude towards Jesus was completely, instantly changed. As Saul of Tarsus, a few months later, he turned from blaspheming God to reaching out with the Gospel to his dying friend.
How did the repentant thief evidence a transformed heart?
Salvation is nothing short of a divine miracle and it manifests itself primarily by a changed attitude towards Jesus. He became aware of God and feared Him. He openly acknowledged his sinfulness and the sinlessness of Jesus. He spoke to the other thief.
“Don’t you fear God?”
“Don’t you realize we are getting what we deserve?”
“Don’t you see that Jesus is righteous?”
He was not primarily seeking justice or seeking for a better life of happiness and fulfillment. He was not asking Jesus to take him off the cross. He knew he was a violator of God’s Law and deserving of judgment. His only plea was for mercy and to be saved from Divine judgment.
In contrast, the unrepentant thief evidenced:
No fear of God,
No fear of judgment,
No sense of sinfulness,
No sense of justice,
No sense of guilt,
No desire for forgiveness,
No desire for righteousness,
No desire for reconciliation to God.
When we evangelize the lost, we must move from lesser issues to the issue of divine judgment. Salvation is not simply seeking a purpose in life, or seeking to be a better person. Those are peripheral issues. Rather, salvation is deliverance from God’s wrath, divine judgment and Hell. Peace with God was his primary concern. A sinner is close to salvation when he recognizes his guilt before a holy God of wrath on his sin.
He believed Jesus was sinless. He recognized that he deserved the punishment he was getting. He believed Jesus was hanging on the cross for sins He had never committed. He had heard Jesus ask for God to forgive those who were crucifying Him. He knew His name was Jesus and that the name meant “He shall save His people from their sins.”
Earlier, he had heard the crowd mocking Him about rising from the dead. See Matthew 27:39-43. He understood that when Jesus died, He would rise again; so he asked Jesus to be remembered when He entered His Kingdom. He put his trust in Jesus as his Saviour.
The thief’s assurance of his salvation
The thief had no Bible to teach Him salvation or assurance. Even if he had a Bible, in his condition on the cross, it would have been impossible to read; so Jesus, in His kindness, gave the dying thief assurance of his salvation. It came right from the mouth of Jesus. “Truly, TODAY you will be with me in Paradise ( Heaven), Luke 27:43
If you are convicted of your sins, and reach out to Jesus by faith, believing that He died and shed His blood to save you from your sins, He will speak to you through His Word and give you assurance of your salvation. Read it in John 3:16, I John 5:11-13,
If you are still confused or uncertain of your standing with Jesus, go to my SALVATION link and keep reading it until the matter is settled in your heart. By God’s grace, you can go to bed tonight, knowing for certain that if you die, you will be in Heaven.
The torturous journey of over half a mile from Pilate’s Judgment Hall to the execution hill, Golgotha (Hebrew) Calvary (Latin) has begun. Jesus, led by the Romans soldiers, is bearing His cross; either the entire 300 pound cross or at least the 100 pound cross piece. Perhaps the upright piece of the cross is already in the ground. We do not know, but probably it is the cross piece that Jesus is bearing. In either case, the weight of that cross on His exhausted, lacerated and bruised body is almost beyond human endurance. As He begins his painful journey, He stumbles and perhaps falls beneath the load.
SIMON OF CYRENE
The Roman soldiers see a strong, muscular black man coming into the city as they are leaving the city towards Golgotha. Simon has no idea of what is going on. They commandeer Him to help Jesus carry His cross. It may appear to be a random draw on the part of the soldiers, but there is nothing random about God’s will.
Simon of Cyrene is from the area of Lybia in North Africa. His name is Jewish, so he is probably a Jew coming to Jerusalem to observe the Passover. Mark 15:21 further identifies him as the father of Alexander and Rufus, implying that the reader should know his sons.
Mark wrote his Gospel in Rome about 50-60 AD. Romans was written by Paul about 56 AD. So the readers of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans would know who Rufus was when he is mentioned by Paul in his greetings in Romans 16:13. “Greet Rufus, an elect, choice man in the Lord. Also “greet his mother and mine,” Paul adds. That would be Simon of Cyrene’s wife who was like a mother to Paul.
What happened to Simon who carried that cross for Jesus that day? Let me surmise. Having carried Jesus’ cross, Simon was transfixed by this man. He, no doubt, stood close by and watched as Jesus was nailed to the cross. He stood there, taking in everything He said and watching Him die. I have no doubt that by the time Jesus died; Simon, as well as the Centurion who directed the execution, had both come to know and receive Jesus as the Son of God and as the Saviour of the world who had come to die for sinners, Simon went from there a changed man.
Later Simon was, no doubt, among the Christians who came from Cyrene to Antioch with the Gospel, as recorded in Acts 11:19-21. No doubt, he was among the Christians who fasted and prayed and sent out Paul and Barnabas as missionaries in Acts 13:1-2. Simon had not only borne the cross of Jesus, but now he was taking up his own cross and following Jesus.
If the Rufus and Alexander of the New Testament were the sons of Simon, as mentioned in Mark 15:21, then those two sons responded differently to the Gospel. Though both sons had the same godly influence of their parents, Rufus became a devoted follower of Christ. Alexander became an enemy of the Gospel and was an enemy of the Apostle Paul, we read in I Timothy 1:18-20 and II Timothy 4:14-15.
THE DAUGHTERS OF JERUSALEM
Let’s return now to the people who followed Jesus as He agonizingly walked to Golgotha, carrying His cross. In the procession were the daughters of Jerusalem, mourning His impending death. These were not just Mary and the other female friends of Jesus; they were the professional mourners who took part in events such as this, mourning those who were going to be crucified. They probably had sympathy and respect for Jesus as they recognized and appreciated His moral beauty. They followed behind Jesus, beating their chests and wailing in sympathy for Him.
Jesus does not want their sympathy and He does not thank them for it. Instead, He turns to them and commands them to stop weeping for Him. He tells them in Luke 23:28-31 to “weep for yourselves and your children.”
Jesus was making it plain that He was not the victim, but they were. Jesus had wept over them many times through His ministry. Now He tells them to weep for themselves for judgment is about to fall on them. Less than forty years later in 70 AD, the Roman armies surrounded Jerusalem and burned it to the ground and killed most of the population, including the women and children.
He tells them that those women who were barren will be better off than the mothers, as they see their children massacred.
He also prophesies that there is coming a time, even worse than the Roman invasion of Jerusalem, when at the end of the Great Tribulation the judgment will be far more severe than what took place in 70 AD. He is talking about the coming judgment on the world when He returns at the end of the Tribulation, as described in Revelation 6:12-17.
THE CROSS WE MUST BEAR
We have considered the cross of Jesus that Simon bore. Let’s consider the cross that we Christians are called to bear today. The cross is not our pain or misfortune that everyone, saved and unsaved, are called to bear. That is not our cross. Trials and trouble come to all of us, at one time or another as human beings, saved or unsaved.
Ladies, the cross you are called to bear is not simply that beautiful piece of jewelry that you wear around your neck. It is much more than that for both men and women.
The cross that Jesus is calling us to bear is our public identification with Him as our Saviour and Lord. Every true Christian is crucified with Christ. Read Romans 6 and Galatians 2:30 in regards to this. In Luke 14:25-27 Jesus calls all who belong to Him to take up their cross of identification with Him daily and follow Him.
Our cross involves denying ourselves, our preferences, our desires, our wills and welcoming a life of self denial for Him. Read Luke 9:23, Matthew 16:24, 10:32-39 and I Corinthians 4:9-14. Paul welcomed the privilege in Philippians 3:10.
Unlike Simon of Cyrene, no one is going to compel or force you to bear the cross of Christ. It is a choice that you must make. Simon’s son, Rufus, chose to carry that cross. His other son, Alexander, chose to reject the cross and live his own selfish, rebellious life, being a burden to those who loved him.
May God help you to trust Christ and choose to bear the cross of Christ by publicly identifying yourself as a Christian.
Though you and I have not yet seen Jesus in His glorified body, there is no question in my mind that His beautiful, holy character shines through His eyes and countenance. I have enjoyed His spiritual presence throughout my life on earth and I long to be with Him in His physical presence throughout eternity. I long to reflect that beauty through my own personality as I continue to spend time in His presence.
However, the night Jesus was arrested and put on trial before a kangaroo court from midnight until about 9 AM; He was punched and slapped and spit upon and had His beard pulled out. Then He was mercilessly flogged by Roman soldiers almost to the point of death.
Isaiah in Isaiah 52:14 prophesied that He “would be marred more than any man.” Anyone of us would have been absolutely shocked to have looked on His face that morning. In Isaiah 53:1-2 the prophet states that “there was no beauty that we should desire Him.” Personally, I believe that throughout His short life on this earth as a young man, that though His character was absolutely beautiful; there was nothing particularly attractive about His physical features.
That night when He was arrested, He was taken before the Sanhedrin for His mock trial. There they blindfolded Him and punched Him in the face and slapped Him repeatedly and then mocked Him by asking Him to prophesy which of them hit Him.
In the morning He was taken before Pilate for trial. Pilate examined Him and found Him innocent of any charges they had made. Then He was rushed off to Herod, who also found Him innocent; then back to Pilate for further questioning and sentencing. Pilate continued to find Jesus innocent of any charges worthy of execution. Pilate wanted to free Him, but feared the people and feared being reported to Caesar and being removed as governor of Palestine.
Therefore, though he did not want to do so, He ordered Jesus to be flogged by the Roman soldiers to satisfy the fury of His accusers. Repeatedly they swung their flagrums of short sticks with long leather thongs with pieces of broken bones and lead balls tied to the end of each thong skillfully into His back ripping the skin off His body and no doubt, exposing some of His internal organs. By the time this was over He had lost much blood and was almost to the point of death.
Pilate hoped that perhaps a severe flogging would satiate the appetite of His accusers who were clamouring for His crucifixion; but to no avail.
The Romans soldiers saw this as a comedy. As a big joke. After being flogged by the Roman soldiers, they formed a crown of thorns and pushed it into His scalp and put a reed in His hand and clothed Him in a royal robe, mocking Him as King of the Jews. Then taking the reed from His hands, they smote Him on the head with it, pushing the thorns deeper into His scalp.
By the time they were finished with Him His appearance was grotesque. Blackened eyes, bruised and skin torn from His body, His appearance was beyond description. His face of love and compassion that attracted little children was so disfigured that adults as well as little children would have recoiled in horror to see Him now.
Earlier, Pilate after his conversation with Him had brought Him out to the people and had announced Him, “Behold the Man!” I believe Pilate, as well as Pilate’s wife, were deeply impressed by the virtue and strength of character of this righteous man.
After the flogging, He took Him once more into His Judgment Hall and questioned Him and again was convinced of His innocence. This time as he brought Him out to the people, He announced to the Jews, “Behold your King!”
In the articles to come we will follow Him as He carried His cross to Calvary and then watch Him die as the Lamb of God slain for our sins.
Dear friend, He endured this agonizing death to pay for the sins of the whole world. Have you put your trust in Him, as the One who paid the full penalty for all your sins? Have you received Him as your sin bearer? Have you by faith received His righteousness which is imputed to all who trust Him?
Listen to the Prophet Isaiah in Isa. 53. “He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities…. All we like sheep have gone astray. The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
Look on this Saviour, beaten to a pulp, grotesque and ugly to look upon. Trust Him as your Saviour and He will become the most beautiful Person you have ever known. You will love Him and bow to Him as your Saviour and Lord. If His death means nothing to you, I fear for your eternal destiny. To reject Him as Saviour now is to one day face Him as your judge and be condemned to eternal Hell.
After Jesus’ mock trial in which the religious leaders had brought Him before Pilate to be judged and executed and Pilate had found Him innocent of any charges requiring execution; Pilate, to satisfy the Jews and to try to protect his position as the Roman Procurator of Palestine, turned Jesus over to the Roman soldiers for execution.
Luke 23:26 says, “They led Him away.” The question before us in this message is WHO led Him away?
GOD LED HIM AWAY
First and foremost, God the Father led His Son, the Lord Jesus, up Calvary Road to be tortured and executed on a cross as the only suitable, perfect sacrifice for our sins. Nothing less than the blood of the sinless, holy Son of God would suffice.
According to Revelation 13:8 God determined from before the foundation of the world that He would send His Son, Jesus, into the world to live among men and then be crucified, shedding His innocent blood as the only atonement for the sins of mankind.
Isaiah 53:4 and 10 makes it clear that it was God Himself who led His beloved Son Jesus up that Calvary Road to be tortured and executed on a Roman cross for our sins.
GOD’S ETERNAL PLAN
This event did not catch God by surprise nor unprepared. It resulted in His ultimate glory according to Philippians 2:1-11 and Revelation 5:11-14.
So none of this has been a bad dream or God’s plans gone awry. It was all according to His sovereign plans.
Simeon, the elderly man who held the baby Jesus in his arms in the temple prophesied of His future sufferings for sin, we read in Luke 2:21-35.
Jesus had warned His disciples throughout His ministry of His coming trial and crucifixion. Follow these prophesies of Christ in Luke 9:22-24, 12:50, 13:34-35, 17:22-25, 18:31-34 and 19:14. Note the details that are prophesied concerning Jesus’ arrest, including: being scourged, spit upon, crucified and raised from the dead. Warned repeatedly by Jesus, His disciples never quite understood. It was beyond their imaginations and, no doubt, they just didn’t want to think of such a horrid thing, so they just shut it out of their minds.
In the final moments of Jesus life as He traveled up the Calvary Road, we meet some people, who for better or for worse, help us better understand God’s purpose in all this seeming tragedy.
But we do not see His disciples. They have scattered in fear and dismay, as prophesied in Zechariah 13:7. The Apostle John will reappear at the cross with Mary, the mother of Jesus in the final moments of Jesus’ life. But the rest of His disciples are gone or are watching from a safe distance.
THE TREACHEROUS PRIESTS AND SANHEDRIN
Humanly speaking, they are behind the arrest and execution of Jesus. True, we are all guilty. It was our sins that sent Jesus to the cross. However, the chief priests and the Sanhedrin, (the Jewish court system), with the help of the traitor, Judas Iscariot, were the arch villains responsible for plotting Jesus’ death.
PILATE, THE ROMAN GOVERNOR OF PALESTINE
Pilate, according to John 19:10-11, vainly thought that he had Jesus life and future in his hands when in reality, Jesus was in His Father’s hands. Both Pilate and his wife were convinced that Jesus was innocent. However he sold out Jesus to keep his political position in Palestine.
This wicked king also found no guilt in Jesus according to Luke 23:7-16.
Barabbas, the insurrectionist and murderer lay in a cell awaiting crucifixion that day. The amazing fact, found in Matthew 27:15-26, is that when Pilate gave the Jews a choice as to who should be released, they with one accord chose Barabbas and cried for Jesus to be crucified.
In this, Barabbas is the proto-type of every sinner. He who deserved to die that day, was freed as Jesus took His place dying on the cross on which Barabbas should have hung. Can you imagine the amazement and gratitude Barabbas had for Jesus as He understood that Jesus had taken His place? That’s exactly what salvation is all about: Jesus taking my place and dying for my sins. See it prophesied in Isaiah 53:5-6 and explained so well in II Corinthians 5:21.
JESUS, MY SUBSTITUTE; NOT MY SELF EFFORTS
Get this please and never forget it! Salvation is all about Jesus, my substitute, taking the hell that I deserved. It has absolutely nothing to do with me being saved through my self efforts. When you grasp this simple, but profound truth, and receive Jesus as your substitute you will pass from death to life. Your future will no longer be Hell, but Heaven!!! God help you to understand this and receive it by faith. You’ll never be the same!
FINALLY, THE FICKLE, MANIPULATED CROWD
The crowd shouted and roared for His crucifixion and took part in the procession that led Jesus to Calvary. Yes, it was the same crowd that less than a week earlier had shouted “Hosanna” to Jesus, lauding Him as their Messiah and King.
How easily mindless crowds, can be swayed and turned from honoring and praising one, into hateful mobs who cry for that one’s death. I challenge and encourage you, especially young people, who so desire the approval of the crowd. Don’t follow the crowd. The crowd is always wrong. Like mindless zombies, the crowds roared for Jesus’ crucifixion. Will you stand against the crowd and this day stand with Jesus your Saviour and Lord, who went through the agony of Calvary for your salvation?
Before the Sanhedrin, Jesus said nothing in His defense. Matt. 26:59-68 nor did He defend Himself before Pilate. Matthew 27:11-14, nor before King Herod Luke 23:8-9 “As a lamb is dumb before his shearers,” Isaiah 53:7 prophesies, “so He opened not His mouth.”
Jesus was not only silent before His accusers; but as far as His enemies were concerned, He was considered a nobody.
He who is the “Holy One,” Isaiah 1:4, Acts 3:14
He who is the “Prince of Life,” Acts 3:15
He who is the Creator of all things, John 1:1-5
He who is the “God of glory, full of grace and truth”, John 1:14
He “before whom every knee shall bow” Philippians 2:5-11 was considered a nobody.
At His trial before Pilate and the Jewish crowds, He was considered a nameless nobody. Repeatedly they referred to Jesus as “this man”. He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”
But even worse, they considered Jesus even less than a nameless, anonymous man. He was treated as “the scum of society”. Psalm 22:6 and Isaiah 53:3 prophesied Him as “a worm and no man”.
This fickle crowd who called for Jesus’ crucifixion; just a week earlier were lauding Him as their coming King as He rode on a colt, the foal of a donkey in His triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
From midnight when He was betrayed and arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane until AM, He had endured a six hours of blasphemy, beatings, hard punches and slaps, leaving Him bloody and, no doubt, with blackened eyes and spittle on His face.
But don’t lose sight of this amazing fact. God, through the blasphemy and murderous desires of the people, was accomplishing His goal of crucifying His beloved Son as His required blood sacrifice for the sins of the world, just at the day and hour that lambs were being slaughtered throughout Palestine for the Passover Feast. Read Isaiah 53:10
They all knew His name, Jesus. the name that means, “He shall save His people from their sins.” But they rejected Jesus as their Saviour from sin and thus refused to acknowledge Him by that precious name. Instead, they continually referred to Him scornfully as “this man”.
It was about 6:00 o’clock in the morning. The crowds were gathering at the Judgment Hall of Pilate. The cry of the people of “Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!” has changed to a growing thunderous roar of “Crucify Him!”
Do you see the fickleness of crowds? How easily they are manipulated by Satan’s henchmen! How wrong they are!
Young people, understand that crowds are always wrong! They are wrong concerning values. They are wrong regarding music and entertainment. The masses of humanity are on the road to Hell, Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14. To stand for Jesus and do right, you will always have to buck or go against the crowd.
The crowd hated Jesus. They did not cry for Pilate to kill Him. They cried out to Crucify Him, that is, torture Jesus. Crucifixion is probably the worst form or torture man has ever devised. The prisoner, naked or clothed with a loin cloth, is stretched out on a cross on the ground. Huge spikes are driven into his stretched out wrists and feet. Then the cross is raised upright and dropped into a hole in the ground with a thud. We cannot even begin to imagine the torment.
Stretched out on that cross for hours, the victim strains on the nails to raise his body up so he can grasp some air in his lungs. Finally the victim has no more strength to rise up on the nails and he gradually suffocates.
That’s what this crowd wanted for Jesus. Led by the venomous religious leaders, their admiration for Him has turned to vile hatred and they want Him tortured and crucified.
How about you? Have you by faith received Jesus as your Saviour or do you still reject Him? We all had a part in the crucifixion of Christ. It was because of our sins that He suffered and died on the cross. If you are still rejecting Him Hebrews 6:4-6 explains that you are as guilty of crucifying Jesus as those who called for His crucifixion 2000 years ago. On the other hand, if you receive Christ as your Savior, Peter in Acts 3:11-19 teaches that He will forgive your sins and save your soul.
What will you do with Jesus? We cannot be neutral. We either receive Him as Saviour, or reject Him and face His condemnation. That condemnation is described in Revelation 20:11-15. Will you trust Him this moment? There’s no promise of any future opportunity to be saved. Now is the day of salvation!
There never has been such a travesty of justice in all of history as the trial of Jesus. Betrayed in the Garden of Gethsemane by Judas, His disciple; Jesus was arrested by the Sanhedrin and the temple guards and whisked off to the temple court of Annas the High Priest and his son-in-law, Caiaphas, to be tried in the middle of the night, even though the Law of Moses required trials to occur only between sun up and sun down.
It was a mockery of a trial that Jesus faced before the murderous Sanhedrin, who mocked Him and slapped Him and punched Him and spit in His face, treating Him with utter contempt.
The decision to execute Jesus had already been determined by the Jewish religious leaders a week earlier after Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead. That miracle catapulted Jesus to fame throughout the region and the Jews were ready to make Jesus their King.
The chief priests and Pharisees hated Jesus for His public exposure of their hypocrisy. They wanted Him dead. Their main concern was to present to Pilate, the Roman governor of Palestine, a capital charge against Jesus that would insure His execution. They quickly settled on a charge that Jesus was guilty of blasphemy for claiming to be the Son of God. However, knowing such a charge would not concern Pilate, the Roman governor of Palestine; they switched the charges to insurrection against the Roman Empire for stirring up the people. Pilate surely would be concerned about that since it was his responsibility to keep peace in Palestine.
Pilate interviewed Jesus and quickly became convinced that He was innocent of the charge of the Sanhedrin. As they pressed their charges, they let it slip that He had ministered in Galilee. Pilate, knowing that Herod had jurisdiction there, immediately took the opportunity to pass off his responsibility to Herod, who happened to be in Jerusalem at the time.
Jesus was rushed to King Herod who also attempted to try Him by asking questions. Jesus answered him nothing and refused to perform miracles for him as he had requested. Finally, Herod became disgusted and sent Jesus back to Pilate, mocking Him as “King of the Jews”, clothed in one of his royal robes
All of this we have discussed in the previous three articles in this series. Let’s move on now to Jesus’ second appearance before Pilate. As Jesus arrived, Pilate ushered Him into the Judgment Hall for a private interview with Him. You can read that interview in John 18:33-38.
Pilate’s first question to Jesus was simply, “Are you the King of the Jews?”
You can read Jesus’ answer to his question. Then Jesus followed up by explaining His Kingdom. He explained to Pilate in verse 36 that “His Kingdom was not of this world, (this cosmos or world system).” If that had been the case, Jesus’ servants would have fought against those who arrested Him and He would have won a decisive victory!
Those Christians who believe that Jesus is presently building His Kingdom in this present age ought to take another look at what Jesus said to Pilate. “My Kingdom is not of this world system.” Jesus is not presently building His political Kingdom in this world today. Rather He is building His spiritual Kingdom in the hearts of those who have been redeemed and have surrendered to His Lordship.
Rather, this world today is under Satan who is the god of this present age, according to II Corinthians 4:4.
One day Jesus is returning to set up His Millennial Kingdom on this earth. You can read about that in my series on PROPHESY on this web site.
Continuing the conversation between Pilate and Jesus, Pilate asked, “Are you then a King?”
Jesus answered Him, (and I will amplify His answer so you get the connection.) “For this cause was I born and came into this Satan-dominated world system living under Satan’s lies, to bear witness of the Truth.”
When Jesus mentioned the word TRUTH, Pilate immediately asked, “WHAT IS TRUTH?” Pilate, a typical existentialist plagued with the same question that has been asked down through the centuries, asked, “What is Truth”?
Pilate believed, as every existentialist that there is no ultimate final truth. He believed, as every existentialist, that “truth is relative. Each of us must find our own idea of truth.” This is the reasoning of every pseudo, would-be intellectual.
As existentialists today, Pilate did not wait for Jesus to answer his question. He wasn’t interested in Jesus’ answer. He was already convinced that there was no ultimate answer.
I believe that if Pilate had really wanted Jesus’ answer, Jesus would have given it to Him. He would have said to him as He said in John 14:6 “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no man comes to the Father but by Me.” But Pilate did not wait for Jesus’ answer.
Instead, he turned away from Jesus and went out to face His accusers. In the moments that followed three times Pilate announced that Jesus was innocent of any capital offense. You’ll find those three “NOT GUILTY” verdicts in Luke 23:4, 14 and 22. In John 18:38 Pilate decisively declared, “I find in Him no fault at all!”
The innocent Jesus who had been majestically silent before His accusers was found guilty by the Jewish Sanhedrin, but innocent by Pilate and his wife, and also by Herod, we read in Luke 23:14-15.
Now Jesus stood before Pilate one final time. Pilate was under tremendous political pressure. If He let Jesus go, he would be reported to Caesar and could well lose his position as Governor of Palestine. If he pronounced Him guilty, for the rest of his life he would live with the fact that he sentenced an innocent man to the executioners. This was the trial of Pilate’s life.
As was Pilate’s custom at the Passover each year, that to please the Jews he would release one guilty of a capital offense. This year the insurrectionist and murder, Barabbas, was in prison awaiting crucifixion. Pilate, not wanting to execute an innocent man, offered the Jews a choice.
He called out to the angry mob, “Whom shall I free, Jesus or Barabbas?” The people answered without a pause, Free Barabbas and crucify Jesus!”
Pilate cried out in despair, “Why Jesus? What evil has He done?”
The people did not answer with any charge against Jesus. They just cried out mindlessly and more vehemently, “Crucify Jesus!”
At this time, Pilate’s wife came out to Pilate and whispered to him, “Have nothing to do with this just man. I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of Him.”
Finally, Pilate had a wash basin of water brought to him and in the presence of the angry mob, he washed his hands and said, “I am innocent of the blood of this just man: see ye to it.” Of course, this symbolic gesture did not free Pilate of His guilt.
Listen now to the chilling words of the Jews in response to Pilate. They cried out, “His blood be upon us and our children!” The Jews were saying, we accept the guilt of crucifying Jesus and they have experienced the pain of living under that guilt now for over 2000 years.
But let me be quick to add that all of us, Jews and Gentiles, are responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus. The Jews are no more guilty than we are. It was our sins for which He paid the penalty of death.
Although God used the Roman soldiers and the Jewish mob, to bring about the crucifixion of Jesus, ultimately it was God’s love for us as sinners that caused Him to send His Son into the world and pay the death penalty for us. God the Father ultimately brought about the death of His Son for our sins.
You can read that amazing truth in Isaiah 53:4-10 and Acts 2:22-24. God the Father literally forsook His Son as He hung dying on the cross, and Jesus cried out in agony, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”
Would you thank God right now for sending His Son Jesus into this world as a man, to die in your place for your sins? If you refuse this gracious Gift of God, you must one day stand before the Great White Throne Judgment, described in Revelation 20:11-15 and face this same Jesus who will condemn you, along with all Christ rejecters to eternity in Hell.
Will you receive Him as your Saviour now, or will you one day face Him as your judge?
One final point. Three years later in 36 AD, Pilate was exiled to Gaul and committed suicide.
Jesus’ trial before the Sanhedrin was a mockery as they charged Jesus, God in human flesh, with blasphemy. Pilate refused to hear the Sanhedrin’s religious issues concerning Jesus, so they changed the charge against Jesus to insurrection against the Roman Empire. Even that charge did not hold water. Pilate found Jesus innocent. Three times Pilate proclaimed Jesus innocent of such charges. Read them in Luke 23:4, 14 and 22.
The furious Sanhedrin, intent on killing Jesus, continued speaking to Pilate about Jesus insurrection in Galilee. Pilate immediately realized he had a way out; send Jesus to King Herod who had jurisdiction in Galilee. King Herod was in his palace in Jerusalem at the time, so the murderous crowd rushed Jesus over to his palace to be charged.
WHO WAS THIS HEROD?
This Herod to whom Jesus was brought for trial was Herod Antipas. He was one of four sons of Herod the Great. Herod the Great had been king at the time of Jesus’ birth. You may remember that this Herod ordered the slaying of all infants two years of age and younger in Bethlehem and the surrounding area. He hoped to kill Jesus, whose birth was heralded as the future King of the Jews. By killing the babies, Herod hoped to kill any future competition to his throne.
You may remember that an angel warned Joseph to flee to Egypt with Mary, his wife and the young child, Jesus. Later, when news came that Herod the Great had died; then Joseph brought back his little family to his home in Nazereth.
Herod the Great had four sons to whom he divided his kingdom. Two of them were Philip and Herod Antipatros, or Antipas for short. It meant the son who followed his father. Herod Antipas ruled in Galilee and Perea from 4 AD to 39 AD.
Herod Philip was married to Herodius, his niece. When Herod Antipas visited his brother Philip, he decided to steal Herodius for himself and divorce his wife. So now Herod Antipas was married to Philip’s niece which was also his niece. Nice guy, this Herod who was guilty of incest, divorce, adultery and soon murder!
When John the Baptist preached that what Herod was doing was unlawful before God, Herod had him thrown into prison. Later, at a birthday party for Herod, Salome, Herodius’ daughter by a former marriage danced for him. He was so intoxicated by wine and lust for her that he promised her half of his kingdom. In keeping with her mother’s wishes, she declined the gift and asked for the head of John the Baptist instead.
Herod immediately ordered the beheading of John the Baptist and his head was brought to Herodius on a charger, (a large meat platter).
So this is the Herod to whom Jesus was brought for trial very early in the morning.
HOW DID HEROD ANTIPAS RELATE TO JESUS?
On at least three occasions Jesus and Herod are mentioned.
1. In Mark 6:20 we learn that when Herod heard about Jesus, his first thought was that he must be John the Baptist whom he had beheaded, now resurrected from the dead. His guilty conscience must not have allowed him to ever forget the John the Baptist he had executed to please his consort.
2. On another occasion the Pharisees who hated Jesus, warned him that He had better flee the region since Herod was after Him. The Pharisees were not concerned with Jesus’ safety. They hated Him and wanted Him dead. Jesus scorned Herod, calling him a fox and He let the Pharisees know that He had no intentions of fleeing the region as He had to fulfill His ministry there.
3. This trial of Jesus before Herod was the third opportunity for Herod to interact with Jesus. The Sanhedrin had brought Jesus before him to be tried. Jesus, bruised and bloody, with His eyes, no doubt, blackened from the beatings, and His face covered with spittle He had received from them; stood before Herod in silence. Herod charged Him to work some miracles; to do some of His magic tricks. He wanted to be entertained. Jesus stood in silence before Herod.
The Prophet Isaiah in his prophecy, Isaiah 52:13-14, describes His appearance at this time as “marred more than any man.”
Finally, Herod, in disgust, had a royal robe placed on Him, as he mocked Jesus as a king. From there the Sanhedrin led Jesus back to Pilate. What was Herod’s verdict against Jesus? In Luke 23:14-15 both Pilate and Herod were agreed that Jesus was innocent of all charges.
Incidentally, Luke 23:12 tells us that Pilate and Herod became friends that day. Their friendship was based on their common hatred for the intimidating Jews they were being forced to please.
I don’t think that Pilate or Herod had any hatred for Jesus. It was just a total indifference and rejection of Him, even as people today ignore and reject Christ and remain lost in their sins and condemned to Hell.
Herod’s verdict of not guilty agreed with Pilate’s identical verdict. God’s Word reveals this truth, that in the mouth of two witnesses as Deuteronomy 19:15 required, Jesus was confirmed not guilty of any crime worthy of death.
SO WHO KILLED JESUS?
At the hands of the Sanhedrin, Pilate, Herod, and the Roman soldiers, God killed His own Son, Jesus, as a blood sacrifice in payment for the sins of the whole world. Those who receive that sacrifice by faith are forgiven of their sins and declared Not Guilty before God. Those who reject Christ and His blood sacrifice, are Guilty and must pay the death penalty for their own sins, which is eternal death in Hell. Do you receive or reject that blood Sacrifice for your sins? On the answer to that question hangs your eternal destiny in Heaven or in Hell.
In our previous message we saw how the Jewish Sanhedrin acted as a lynch mob bringing Jesus to Pilate, the Roman Procurator of Palestine, to be sentenced to death. In John 18:29-30 we learn that when Pilate asked them for the charges, they disrespectfully answered him by saying “If He were not a malefactor we would not have brought Him to you.” They rudely ignored Pilate’s request for their charges against Jesus by implying to Pilate, “How dare you question our integrity.”
PILATE WAS NO DUMMY!
He was a shrewd politician. He knew of the popularity of Jesus with the Jewish masses. He had observed how the crowds honored Him. He knew Jesus had just destroyed the Jewish priest’s lucrative temple business by overthrowing the money changer’s tables and loosing the sacrificial birds and animals from their cages and pens.
According to Matthew 27:18 we know that Pilate was well aware of the religious differences and the bitter envy of the Jewish leaders towards Jesus So in John 18:31 Pilate turned Jesus back to the Jewish leaders with the instruction to “Judge Him according to your own religious laws.” A charge of blasphemy was of no concern to him.
THE SANHEDRIN CHANGE THEIR CHARGES AGAINST JESUS.
So the Jews switched the charges from blasphemy to the political charges that Jesus was inciting insurrection against the Roman government. Since it was Pilate’s responsibility to keep peace in the land, they decided that political charges might concern Pilate more than their earlier charges of religious blasphemy. Of course their political charges were lies and Pilate knew it.
Shrewd Pilate could see right through their charade. If Jesus had been fomenting Jewish insurrection against the Roman Empire, the priests would have been the first to stand alongside of Jesus. They and all of Israel hated the Roman oppression with the high taxes. Pilate knew that; so did not take their charges seriously.
The Sanhedrin feared the masses. If they killed the popular Jesus, they would have a riot on their hands. However, if Rome killed him; then they could lay the responsibility on the Romans.
Also Pilate feared the Jews. As keeper of the peace (Pax Romana), the last thing he wanted was a riot throughout the land. He feared the Sanhedrin for they led and controlled the people.
Also I believe Pilate feared the power of Jesus. There was something about Jesus that made him feel uneasy and that struck fear to his heart.
WHY NOT STONE JESUS?
When Pilate turned Jesus back to the control of the Sanhedrin, why did they not go ahead and stone Jesus, as was their custom with prisoners facing capital offenses?
I’ll tell you why. God would not allow it. Long before, it had been prophesied that Jesus would die by being lifted up on a cross. See John 12:32 and Psalm 22. Though the Romans were not aware of it, they were fulfilling Scripture by crucifying Jesus, the most excruciating form of torture and death devised by man. In fact, the very word, “excruciating” comes from crucifixion.
So the Sanhedrin ignored their capital offense charge that Jesus was a blasphemer and they manufactured new charges, bold-faced lies, that they hoped would gain Pilate’s attention. You can read the new charges in Luke 23:2.
1. We found this fellow perverting the nation. Lie # 1
2. He forbade paying taxes to Caesar. Lie # 2. What Jesus actually taught about paying taxes is found in Luke 20:20-26
3. He claimed to be King. Lie # 3. When the people tried to make Him king, He refused to allow it. John 6:15. The fact is that Jesus came into the world to be the Lamb of God to die for the sins of the world. One day He is returning to this earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords to reign. For details of this go to my series on PROPHECY
Isn’t it amazing that God tolerated this terrible mistreatment of His beloved Son, Jesus? If it were not for His long-suffering nature, He would have struck them dead instantly. Instead, He used their hatred to bring about the sacrificial death of His Son for our sins.
PILATE’S VERDICT: NOT GUILTY!
Based on the weak charges of the Sanhedrin, Pilate gave his verdict on Jesus. “I find no fault in Him.” Luke 23:4 Two more times, Pilate repeated this NOT GUILTY verdict. Luke 23:13-14 and 23:20-22.
PILATE TRIES TO “GET THE MONKEY OFF HIS BACK”
Back track to Luke 23:1-7 The pressure is building on Pilate to execute this man Jesus, who appears to him to be innocent. As the Sanhedrin continues to try to convince Pilate of Jesus criminal behaviour, they let it slip that some of His ministry was in Galilee.
A light flashes on in Pilate’s mind when he hears them mention the region of Galilee. He immediately thinks of the puppet king, Herod, who was given jurisdiction over that region. Pilate’s thought was, “GREAT! I will pass Jesus on to Herod and let him deal with this “monkey” that the Sanhedrin is trying to attach to my back.”
Herod, who ruled in Galilee, was presently in his palace in Jerusalem on the occasion of the Passover. So Pilate dispatched Jesus to Herod. We will deal with Jesus and Herod in our next article in this series and then later return to Pilate’s intensely interesting dialogue with Christ.
In the meantime, keep in mind that Pilate is dealing with a Man whom he is convinced is innocent of any crime.
When Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane by a lynch mob of religious leaders and was bound with ropes and taken to the palace of Annas and his son, Caiaphas, the High Priests, and judged by His enemies; it was the worst travesty of justice in human history. Our holy God, in the person of Jesus, stood before the judgment seat of sinful men.
A travesty of justice
This judgment of Jesus took place sometime around midnight and continued until about 5 in the morning. That in itself was illegal; for according to the Mosaic Law, people were to be judged only during daylight hours.
Though God’s Law given in the Old Testament for the conduct of trials and the treatment of defendants is extremely fair and merciful; the Jewish religious leaders broke every law in the Old Testament concerning the treatment of prisoners and the conduct of trials when they tried Jesus. They punched him and slapped Him and spit in His face, They blindfolded him and scoffed Him. They hired false witnesses who could not even agree on their stories. The lynch mob that arrested Jesus hated Him with a passion and were determined to find some cause to present to Pilate to warrant his execution by crucifixion by the Roman soldiers.
Since the Roman Empire now occupied Palestine, the responsibility for capital punishment by stoning was no longer in the hands of the Jews. Now only Rome had that responsibility.
The only charge they could bring against Him was that He claimed to be God in human flesh, a fact that all genuine Christians accept as true; but a fact that Israel as a nation rejects.
Several hours later Jesus was murdered by the people who hated Him. His blood was shed by God the Father, as a final and perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world. Those who by faith, whether Jews or Gentiles, receive that blood as the sacrifice for their sins are saved for eternity. Those who reject that sacrifice continue in their sins, lost for eternity.
The final and ultimate event that led to Jesus’ trial and crucifixion.
A few weeks before Jesus’ trial and crucifixion, an event occurred in Bethany that eventually brought this shameful treatment of Jesus to pass. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Read the story in John 11.
As many witnessed this supernatural event, it had a huge impact on the people. As the news spread, the crowds grew and it led to the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. The masses of people were ready to receive Jesus as their Messiah and King.
The Jewish religious leaders were furious with Jesus. They called a Council to determine what action they should take to bring a halt to this worship and adoration of Jesus by the crowds. They determined that day, a week before the crucifixion, that Jesus must be arrested and executed.
Read John 11:47-53 to understand the thinking of Caiaphas, the High Priest, as he reasoned with the Jewish religious leaders concerning Jesus. His reasoning was that Jesus must die, or the nation Israel would die, and the religious leaders would lose their position and power with the people.
Actually, Caiaphas as High Priest was prophesying a truth he did not even understand. ” Jesus must die to save the nation- (and the world)”
The mockery of a trial before Caiaphas
The arresting mob bound Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and took him first to Annas, the former High Priest and then to his son, Caiaphas, the current High Priest. It was more of a lynch mob than a trial. They could not even get false witnesses to corroborate their stories. Finally, the basic charge was determined that Jesus was making Himself the Son of God. Of course, if that were not true, then Jesus was guilty of blasphemy, deserving to die. But if Jesus was indeed the Son of God, then the crowd was being blasphemous. Regardless, no defendant should have ever been treated as Jesus was; slapped, beaten, spit upon and mocked.
These Jewish leaders who knew well the Law of Moses had to know that they were breaking every law in the Book concerning trials and the treatment of defendants.
At the conclusion of this mockery of a trial before the High Priest, they asked Jesus if He was indeed the Christ or the promised Messiah. Jesus answered in Luke 22:67-71 “If I tell you, you will not believe and if I ask you, you will not answer Me nor let me go.” Then Jesus announced His future return. “Hereafter shall the Son of Man sit on the right hand of the power of God.”
Then said they all, “Art Thou then the Son of God?”
And He said unto them, “You say that I am.”
And they said, “What need we any further witness? For we ourselves have heard of His own mouth.”
With that conclusion, they led Him to Pilate to be sentenced to death by the Roman Empire.
(Let me add a personal note here. When I placed a link to this message on Face Book, my son, Steve and his wife, Margie. after reading my message each added personal comments to the message. As I reflected on the comments, I realized that they are indeed a fitting conclusion to this message, so I add them here just as they added them in Face Book.)
Here is Margie’s
And yet God used “the worst travesty of justice in human history” to accomplish the greatest good the world has ever or could ever know. What an incredible God we serve! What hope and courage it should give us to know that even Satan’s very worst can never be enough to thwart the purposes of God but will, in fact, always be turned to do God’s bidding.
Here is Steve’s
Not to be too redundant to Margie, but I think this hit me the same way. The lynch mob to be sure, was culpable for their own sins, but I think they played a comparatively minor role in this grand story. Isaiah wrote that “it pleased the Lord to bruise him!” Amazing words! They remind me of this old hymn. I’ll just share two versus from the middle.
“Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted
by Thomas Kelly 1804
Tell me, ye who hear Him groaning,
Was there ever grief like His?
Friends through fear His cause disowning
Foes insulting His distress:
Many hand were raised to wound Him,
None would interpose to save;
But the deepest stroke that pierced Him
Was the stroke that Justice gave.
Ye who think of sin but lightly,
Nor suppose the evil great,
Here may view its nature rightly,
Here its guilt may estimate.
Mark the Sacrifice appointed!
See Who bears the awful load!
‘Tis the Word, the Lord’s Anointed,
Son of Man and Son of God.
(And then Steve fittingly concludes)
“To be hard on the Jewish mob and the Romans is to let me off the hook. I blame no one but myself that Christ had to die like that.”
Peter was no coward. He was loyal and zealous in his love for Jesus and he was head-strong and confident that he could take on any of Jesus’ enemies.
He promised to stand with Christ, as did the rest of His disciples; and he meant it! Listen to him in Matthew 26:35 as he boasts to Jesus, “Though I should die with Thee, yet will I not deny Thee.”
He was even ready to fight with his sword at the drop of a hat, so to speak. Imagine the courage he showed as he lashed out with his sword in the face of the angry mob that came to arrest Jesus! However, his fleshly struggle to defend Jesus only added to Jesus’ burden.
Some Christians have fighting spirits. They, like Peter, enjoy a good fight and they’re ready to fight at the drop of a hat. But they are of no help to Jesus until they understand that warfare is not physical, but spiritual; fought with the spiritual weapon of prayer. Read II Corinthians 10:3-4 and Ephesians 6:10 on this.
In the story of Peter’s denial of Jesus we learn how over-confidence in himself, following Jesus afar off and sitting by the fire with the enemy led to tragic failure. I encourage you to read the full story of Peter’s denial of Jesus from the four Gospels. You’ll find Peter’s trial and Jesus’ trial intermingled in the four accounts in Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, and John 18.
The contrast is that Peter’s trial evidenced his weakness. Jesus’ trial evidenced His almighty strength.
The story of Peter’s denial actually begins at the table in the Upper Room with Jesus and His disciples. There Jesus, knowing Peter better than Peter knew himself, warned him of his coming denial and encouraged him concerning his restoration. When Jesus warned Peter that he would deny Him, Peter immediately replied to Jesus. (The words aren’t there, but this is what is implied.) “Jesus, you don’t know me as well as I know myself. You have me wrong. I would NEVER deny You! Others may; but not me!”
Jesus continued with Peter. “But I have prayed for you that your faith will not fail. When you recover, strengthen your brethren.”
Time proved Jesus right about Peter. After Peter repented and returned to Christ, God used him to preach that first sermon to the new Church at Pentecost and 3000 souls were saved and added to the Church. Later God used Peter to write two inspired Epistles which we have in our Bibles as I & II Peter.
So Peter’s fall began with over confidence in himself. The warning is given to each of us in I Corinthians 10:12 “Let him who thinks he stands, beware lest he fall.”
You may remember when the crowd, led by Judas. came to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane; that Peter, in his over confidence in himself and also perhaps to prove how loyal he was to Jesus, took his sword to kill one of the men. It turned out that Peter only got his ear. Jesus restored the man’s ear to his head, perfectly healed.
Then Jesus gently reproved Peter, reminding him that those who commit murder; whether it is to try to protect Jesus, (and we could add) or who kill abortion doctors to try to prevent further abortions, face capital punishment, which is a responsibility of human government. See Capital Punishment link on this web site for more on this.
Briefly now, let’s trace Peter’s spiritual decline.
First, his revulsion with Jesus’ message about the cross. This is found in Matthew 16:21-28
Second, his desire for glory rather than the shame that comes with identification with Christ. Luke 9:28-35
Third, his brashness and self-confidence in the Upper Room. Luke 22:31-34
Fourth, his lack of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. Luke 22:45
Fifth, his blundering zeal without direction in Luke 22:22:49-50
Sixth, his desire to follow Jesus from a distance. Matthew 26:58
Seventh, warming himself by the enemies’ fire that cold night while Jesus shivered in his blood and perspiration soaked robe as he stood before Caiaphas, the High Priest, and his blood thirsty cronies. Mark 14:54, Luke22:54,
All of this led to his three denials of Christ, denying even that he knew Jesus and denying with an oath. Matthew 26:69-74
At the time of his third denial of Christ, the cock crowed, just as Jesus had told him it would happen. At that moment Jesus looked at Peter, and Peter melted into shame and wept bitter tears of repentance. That moment marked the beginning of Peter’s restoration to fellowship with Christ and the opportunity to serve Christ in the future, as it does for us when we are broken before God in repentance.
Thank God for Peter’s restoration. Jesus had told him he would be restored. It happened on the shore of the Sea of Galilee one morning following the resurrection of Christ.
At a breakfast which Jesus had prepared for some of the disciples, Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. Just as Peter had denied Jesus three times, now Jesus gave him the opportunity to confess his love for Christ three times. That morning, Jesus commissioned Peter to feed his sheep and his lambs.
By God’s grace, Peter turned out to be a faithful Apostle whom God greatly used in the early church and who was given the privilege of writing two epistles to the Church.
There in I Peter 1:1-8 Peter is able to write by his own experience as well as by divine inspiration that the trial of our faith, though difficult at the time, eventually brings praise and honor and glory to Christ. For that reason, we rejoice with unspeakable joy.
Thank God for the encouragement Peter is to us as we so often stumble in failure as we seek to faithfully serve our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
There’s probably not a more despicable word in the English language than the word “traitor”. No one wants to name their child Judas. We don’t even name our pets by that name. How horrifying and repulsive is the kiss of a traitor. We recoil in horror and disgust at what Judas did. This is such a crucial moment in Jesus’ life that it is recorded in each of the four Gospels: Matthew 26:36-56, Mark 14:32-52, Luke 22:39-53 and John 18:1-13.
Jesus extended evening in the Upper Room with His disciples had ended. Judas had gone out into the darkness to consummate his arrangements with the High priest for betraying Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave.
After they had sung a hymn Jesus led His disciples out to the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives just east of the city of Jerusalem. There near the entrance of the Garden, Matthew 26:36-38 records that He asked His disciples to sit and wait. He chose, Peter, James and John, to go with Him a little further, asking them to watch and pray with Him.
Then sensing the need to be absolutely alone with His Father in Heaven, Jesus asked the three disciples to wait there and pray while He went a little further. There He fell on His knees and prayed as a man; for though He was God in human flesh, He was also fully man and felt the fear and terror that we would feel. So He prayed, “Father if Thou be willing, remove this cup from Me; nevertheless, not My will, but Thine be done.” With the weight of the world’s sin on Him, and facing total separation from His Father as He hung on the cross for our sins, He possibly would have died right there in the Garden; but God the Father sent an angel to strengthen Him for what was yet to come.
What He experienced next was more than any human could grasp. With the sins of the whole world settling upon Him it was as if His heart was being squeezed to death. Blood from His broken capillaries was oozing with His sweat from His pours.
When He rose up from prayer, He returned to the three disciples sleeping from sorrow and emotional exhaustion. Matthew 26 records that He repeated this three times and each time He found them sleeping.
The third time, He said to them as they were waking up, “Sleep on now and take your rest; behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going: behold he is at hand that doth betray Me.”
While He was speaking, Judas approached, leading a great multitude with torches, lanterns, swords and clubs from the chief priests and elders of the people. John 18 records that there were Jewish officers sent to arrest Jesus.
As pre-arranged with the Jewish leaders, Judas approached Jesus boldly and brazenly, exclaiming, “Hail Master!” and kissed Him on the cheek.
Jesus then stepped forward and faced the murderous mob and asked them, “Whom seek ye?”
They answered, “Jesus of Nazereth”.
Jesus then spoke two words, “I AM.”
Immediately the entire multitude of perhaps over a hundred people fell backward to the ground as if struck by a bolt of lightning.
“I AM” were the very words that Jesus had spoken earlier in His ministry as recorded in John 8:58. Those were the words with which He claimed that He was God. It had infuriated the Jews and they would have stoned Him right there, but He disappeared from them at that time. It was not God’s time for Him to die then. Now He had pronounced that name again and like a stun-gun, it stunned them to the ground.
Peter, in reckless boldness, remembering that Jesus had warned him that he would deny Him three times before the cock crowed in the morning, no doubt thought, “I’m going to prove my loyalty to Jesus.” Or perhaps he did not think at all, but rashly lashed out at Jesus’ enemies. by drawing his sword, trying to cut off the head of Malchus, the servant of the High Priest. Malchus, no doubt. ducked and so Peter got his ear instead of his head.
Jesus immediately touched his ear and he was instantly healed. Then He addressed Peter. “Put up your sword into its sheath, the cup that My Father gave Me, shall I not drink it?”
What was Peter thinking? Well, he had remembered Jesus talking about the need to buy a sword just two or three hours earlier in the Upper Room.
Jesus continued to reprove and teach Peter- and us. “For all that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” So what does the Bible teaching about self defense and avenging ourselves?
Killing in self defense is Biblical. That’s why in the Upper Room Jesus advised His disciples to buy and carry swords.
Killing to avenge ourselves is murder. No individual has the right to avenge himself. See clear teaching on this in Romans 12:17-21
No, rather than avenge ourselves, we are to leave vengeance to human government. If is the responsibility of human government to put to death anyone who purposely kills another. That is clearly taught in Genesis 9:6 and in Romans 13:1-7. Learn more on this topic by going to CAPITAL PUNISHMENT on this web site.
Jesus continued to teach Peter- and us, by explaining in Matthew 26:53 that at that moment He could have called twelve legions of angels to come to His aid. How large is that? One legion is six thousand. Twelve legions are seventy-two thousand angels. What did one angel do? In II Kings 19:35 we learn that one angel killed 185,000 Assyrians in one night.
Why then did Jesus not call on angelic help at this time? Matthew 26:54 gives the answer. Jesus, referring to His arrest and crucifixion said, “It must take place. Jesus did nothing to stop the progress of these most painful hours of His life. He must die to pay man’s penalty for sin.
At this point in Jesus life, all His disciples, including Peter, James and John, fled for their lives, leaving Jesus to the angry mob. The Prophet Zechariah in Zechariah 13:7 had prophesied that over four hundred years earlier.
As the disciples fled, Peter did not go with them. Instead he distanced himself from Jesus, but kept his eye on Him. Peter loved Jesus intensely, but at this moment he was probably rather disgusted that Jesus did not allow him to at least try to defend Him. Already, Peter had forgotten that Jesus had warned him that before the cock crowed that morning, he would deny Jesus three times. As you read the rest of the story in Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22 and John 18, you read of the shameful way Peter denied his Lord. The question for us is how many times have we denied that we know him since we’ve been Christians? How many times have we been silent when we should have shared the Gospel with others? How many times have we followed Jesus “afar off”? How many time have we sat by the fire with Christ’s enemies to warm our hands?
Note finally, Jesus question and answer in Luke 22:52-53 to the crowd that arrested Him? His question was, “Why did you wait until now to arrest me? Why didn’t you do it when I was teaching in the temple during this last week? You had opportunity to do it. I was right there out in the open. Why didn’t you do it then?
Then Jesus answers His own question. “That was not your appointed hour to capture Me. You didn’t have the power and authority to do it. BUT THIS IS YOUR HOUR. THIS IS YOUR POWER OF DARKNESS!” It was now time for Jesus to be arrested and die for sinners. He would die on the 14th day of Nisan, the day of the Passover, when lambs were being slain throughout Israel. On this day, not a day earlier or later but on this day, God would allow Satan to do his dirty work and move the mob to arrest and crucify Jesus. That was the day that God’s promise in Genesis 3:15 would be fulfilled. Satan would bruise Jesus heel by having him crucified.
But there is coming another day when Jesus’ hour comes. “And He shall bruise or crush Satan’s head.” Will you be there in the redeemed crowd described in Revelation 19 and 20 when Jesus crushes Satan and brings an end to sin and brings in everlasting righteousness?
The answer to that question is that you will be there only if now in the age of grace you have humbled yourself before God as a sinner and received the sacrifice of His shed blood as your only atonement or covering for your sins? You and I cannot face God in our own righteousness. Isaiah 64:6 says that it stinks in His nostrils as bloody, rotten rags. We must have His imputed righteousness. Read Romans 3- 5 and settle this matter today.
Christians have always lived in a world hostile to Christianity. In the early centuries Christians were thrown to the lions in the Roman Coliseum and burned on stakes. Even to this day, Christians are being persecuted and killed throughout the world, perhaps more than at any time in the past 2000 years.
In America where there is still a quiet tolerance for Christians, the pressure continues to mount for Christians to be silenced. America has already thrown the Bible out of public schools, where once the Bible was read and honored and taught.
There is a constant move among enemies of Christ to silence, or at least control what a preacher can preach from his pulpit. These enemies of Christ consider preaching what the Bible says about sin as “hate speech”.
Whereas some religions are advanced by the sword, true Biblical Christianity does not and has never been advanced by force.
Why then does Jesus tell his disciples in his last conversation with them in the Upper Room, as recorded in Luke 22:35-36 to buy a sword and carry it?
He reminds them that throughout their three years as His disciples, they did not have money nor extra clothes; just the basics. They did not have to carry swords. He was there to protect them and supply all their needs.
Now, as Jesus is preparing them for His departure back to Heaven, He teaches them to start preparing to take over the responsibility for their own needs, including a wallet, money and a bank account to pay their bills. He even encourages them in verse 36 to do whatever is necessary to purchase a sword for their own protection. They would be traveling in dangerous places and would need to defend themselves from hostile men and wild animals.
Does that mean that we Christian today should do the same thing; carry swords or guns for our protection? I personally have never carried a weapon. I’d rather trust my protection to government which is given the responsibility of protecting and avenging us from our enemies. That is clearly taught in Romans 13. Government does us a terrible disservice when they fail to avenge us when we have been harmed or lost a loved one to murder. See my article CAPITAL PUNISHMENT elsewhere on this web site to learn what the Bible says about it.
Understand this! Christians do not advance the Gospel of Christ with guns. They never have and they never will. False Christianity has done that in past centuries, but Bible Christianity is never advanced by force. We have a much greater power than mere weapons. The Bible itself is described in Hebrews 4:12 as being sharper than a two-edged sword which pierces the heart and exposes sin. That’s why you find the Bible throughout this web site. Throughout my ministry of over fifty-four years, I have never trusted in my ingenuity or opinions or psychology to change lives; but I have learned to use the Bible to accomplish what I could never accomplish.
Not only do I use the Sword of the Lord, the Bible, but I am also clothed in the armour of God as described in Ephesians 6:10-20.
Jesus, in His final conversation with His disciples in the Upper Room, warned them of the hostility they would face from a hostile world. Read of it in John 15 and 16. In fact, going back to the beginning of His earthly ministry in His Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew 5,6 and 7. Jesus reminds the people in Matthew 5:10-12 that they are blessed of God when they face persecution for Christ’s sake.
Christ is now in Heaven. The sinful world can no long harm or even touch Him. But we Christians remind the world of Christ and for that reason they pour out their hatred on us. “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad: for great is your reward in Heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”
Trouble is the lot of each of us. No one escapes it. When I look at a tiny, newborn baby, it is with a mixture of joy and sadness. I share the joy of the parents in the birth of their baby, but I also am saddened when I think of the life of trouble facing the baby.
Eliphaz, one of Job’s miserable “comforters” tried to comfort Job in Job 5:7 by making him face the fact that trouble is just as certain for all of us as sparks fly up from a fire. Trouble is not just the lot of the unsaved, but we Christians have been warned by Christ Himself that “in the world we shall face tribulation.” At the same time, Jesus encourages us, ” but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 In John 14:1-3 Jesus encourages with these words, “Let not your heart be troubled.” In that same passage He reminds us that Heaven awaits us at the end of this life on earth.
Understand, dear Christian Friend, the Christian life is not the absence of trouble; rather, it is the presence of God in the midst of many trials and tribulations. It is the comfort of our loving Father in the midst of the trials.
In our study of Luke 22 we’ve seen that Jesus has just observed the last Passover with His disciples in an upper room and has instituted the first Lord’s Supper which we Christians observe regularly.
Though the evening started out to be a quiet, peaceful time of last minute reflection and teaching with His disciples, the evening was marred by increasing trouble.
Would you note that God always triumphs in the midst of trouble? From the Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden, God announces the course of history for mankind and in spite of the trouble that Satan causes; Christ is triumphant to the end. God is always triumphant in trouble and because He lives in us believers by His Holy Spirit, we also can live triumphantly in all our troubles.
Let’s look at the trouble Jesus faced that evening before His crucifixion the next day.
TROUBLE FROM JUDAS
First, there was Judas who betrayed Jesus. The plan to betray Jesus had been hatched with the chief priests and scribes a little earlier. Judas had consented to betray Jesus in the darkness of night for 30 pieces of silver. Luke 22:21-22 informs us that this betrayal took place as pre-determined by God. Yes, ever detail of Jesus’ betrayal, trial and crucifixion progressed like clock-work according to the eternal plan of God. Nevertheless, God’s predestination does not void human responsibility. Those who took part in this nefarious plot were simply carrying out God’s eternal plan for our salvation. But all of them are still held accountable for their sin.
Remember the truth in Psalm 76:10 when you are faced with the wrath of others or with any trouble. “Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee: the remainder of wrath Thou shalt restrain.” What a comfort that is to us. God never wastes the wrath of man. He always uses it for His glory and restrains the rest. Though we can’t always understand that, we accept it by faith that our God is a good God and limits the evil of men towards us to that which brings Him ultimate glory.
Judas is unmoved. He has no conviction of sin, His conscience is as hard as nails. He is cursed of God and bears the full responsibility of his sins.
Note the timing of his departure from Jesus and His disciples. It is after the supper. It is after Jesus has washed his feet along with the other disciples. Jesus has identified this traitor sitting next to him. John sits on one side of Jesus and Judas on the other side. Jesus dips the sop (a piece of bread in the wine) and hands it to Judas as a token of true friendship. Judas receives it and then gets up and walks out of the room, out from the presence of Jesus and His eleven other disciples. The Bible forebodingly announces that as Judas walked out of that room, “It was night!” It was not just dark outside. Judas walked out into eternal night and damnation.
It was after Judas had left the group that Jesus began to teach the intimate truths of being a disciple of Christ as recorded in John 13-17, Judas missed out on all of this. These truths can only be comprehended and appreciated by those who truly belong to Christ through faith in His blood sacrifice.
TROUBLE FROM THE REST OF HIS DISCIPLES
When Jesus announced that someone from the group would betray Him, each of them were doubtful of their own faithfulness to Him. They began asking the question of themselves, “Is it I?” That is a good attitude for us to have as we think of our own weakness and faithlessness. It was an attitude of genuine humility. But it wasn’t long before this humility had turned to pride and selfishness as they began arguing among themselves as to which of them was the greatest. Such pride and insensitivity to be quarreling at a time like this when their Friend and Saviour was preparing to suffer unspeakable torment and shame hanging on a cross in a few more hours!
It wasn’t the first time they argued like this. They had done it on several previous occasions. See Mark 9:33-37 and Luke 9:46-48
The situation was not looking good for Jesus. He had spent three years pouring His life and teachings into His disciples and here they were arguing and fussing about who was the greatest just hours before His death. What would become of the Church under the leadership of these seemingly carnal and weak disciples? It was looking hopeless. But Christ was not discouraged. Isaiah 42:1-4 prophesies of the gentleness and assurance of Jesus as He works with His own and eventually brings this world under His rule in the Kingdom Age. Jesus knew that shortly after His death and resurrection He would empower His disciples with His Holy Spirit and they would do exploits for Him.
Note Jesus’ response to His disciples arguing over who was the greatest.
He reminds them in Luke 22:25 that the world operates differently from Christians. The world is into power-struggles and forcefully imposing their wills on others. Jesus reminds them in verse 26 and in Matthew 20:26-27 that we operate with servant attitudes. Jesus had earlier in the evening illustrated this servant attitude by washing each of His disciple’s feet. Peter later wrote of this servant attitude as being essential for pastors, elders and other church leaders. Read about this in I Peter 5:2-3.
TROUBLE FROM PETER
Talking about Peter, that reminds me of the third problem Jesus had and that was with the devil as he sifted Peter and the rest of Jesus’ disciples; but Peter especially. Speaking to Peter in Luke 22:3`-32 Jesus said to Peter, “Simon, Simon, behold Satan has desired, (a better translation would be, demanded) to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith fail not: and when you are converted or turned around, strengthen your brothers.” Note that when Jesus said, I have prayed for you, the you is plural. He was praying for all His disciples that they would have courage in the coming sifting of Satan.
Note also that whenever Satan touches or attempts to harm one of God’s children, he always has to get permission from God. He had to get permission before he touched Job and again we see him getting permission from God to sift Peter. You can be sure that he also has to gain permission from God to sift you if you are a Christian.
Never forget that God is always FOR you; never against you. Read Romans 8:31-39 and be encouraged. Listen to Him pray for you in John 17:6-15. Listen to Jude’s benediction in Jude 24-25.
Peter is well known for his denial of Christ. Thank God Jesus prayed for him in advance. If you belong to Christ through faith in His shed blood for your sins, thank God Christ will keep you from falling also and present you faultless before God through His righteousness imputed to you.
Thank God that though Jesus faced much trouble, He came through triumphantly and because He came through triumphantly, He will also bring you through whatever test He allows in your life. Claim the promise in II Corinthians 2:14. “Now thanks be unto God who ALWAYS causes us to triumph in Christ, and make manifest the savor or perfume of Christ” As others smell Christ on your personality, if they are fellow Christians, they are blessed. If they are unconverted, they sense the conviction that they are lost and need a Saviour. Be there for them, brother or sister in Christ. Don’t fear persecution or trouble. God is getting ready to bless you and make you a greater blessing to others. Look what He did for Peter in Acts.
Read I & II Peter and see what God did through Peter, that former bungling, braggadocios, cowardly denier of Christ.
The crucifixion and death of Jesus was no horrible accident nor plans gone awry. Jesus was not the victim of circumstance. He was in full control of His life to the smallest detail. Consider God’s plan versus Satan’s plan.
God’s plan was for Jesus to die on a cross, shedding His blood on the appointed day, the 14th day of Nisan and the hour when Passover lambs were being slain. As the sacrificial Lamb of God, Jesus sacrificed His blood and then rose from the dead to save those who trust Him.
In fact, according to Revelation 13:8, that was God’s plan for His Son before He had ever created the world and before man had sinned and before Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
Satan’s primary plan was first of all to keep Jesus from ever being born. When that failed, His secondary plan was to keep Jesus from ever going to the cross and dying for our sins. Satan knew that if Jesus died, shedding His blood for our sins and if He ever rose again from the dead, he would be defeated and bound for eternity in Hell fire. God had told him in Genesis 3:14-15 that His head would be crushed. Thank God, that promise is as good as fulfilled. God said it! It will be accomplished!
So the Old Testament story is a story of Satan trying his best to destroy the line of Judah which would ultimately produce the Saviour of the world. Throughout the Old Testament we see God protecting the royal line of Christ so that the Saviour could be born.
The Royal Line of Christ
Follow with me as we trace through the Old Testament Satan’s vain attempts to destroy the royal line of Christ.
After Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, they died spiritually and eventually died physically. In the Garden of Eden God confronted them, saved them with a blood sacrifice of an animal and pointed them to the Saviour who would one day come into this world as the final, perfect sacrifice for sin. God also outlined the course of history and the final destruction of Satan in Genesis 3:15, the key verse of the Bible.
Now banished from the Garden of Eden, the first two sons of Adam and Eve were Cain and Abel. Cain murdered his brother Abel over God’s acceptance of Abel’s blood sacrifice and God’s rejection of his own sacrifice of his works, Adam and Eve had a third son, Seth. Though they had many more sons and daughters, God chose Seth through whom the promised Seed (Saviour) would come.
From Seth’s line eventually came Noah. You remember the story of Noah and the Flood. When God destroyed the entire human race because of sin, He spared Noah and his family, through whom the promised Saviour would come.
From Noah’s three sons and their wives, God chose Shem to continue the promised royal line of Christ. As we follow Shem’s line through Genesis 10-12 we learn that God chose Abraham’s seed to produce the promised Saviour. That promise is the heart of God’s Covenant with Abraham, as recorded in Genesis 12.
Abraham had two sons, Ishmael and Isaac. God chose Isaac to carry on that line, as recorded in Genesis 17 and 21.
Isaac had twin sons, Esau and Jacob. Esau, the oldest son, should have inherited the blessing, but he despised it and eventually Jacob through trickery, but also through God’s sovereignty, inherited the blessing. That very interesting story is recorded in Genesis 25 through 28.
Genesis 32 records the story of Jacob who wrestled with a human manifestation of Christ and through persistence won. God changed his name from Jacob, which means trickery, to Israel, which means prince with God.
Jacob had twelve sons. One of those sons was Judah, through whom God promised the royal line of Christ would continue. See Genesis 49:8-10. So now as we continue our study of the Old Testament, we can rule out all other families and focus our attention on the line of Judah through whom the Saviour would come.
Genesis 38 tells us the sordid story of how Judah got involved with sexual sin with his daughter-in-law, Tamar. Because of God’s curse on such behavior, Deuteronomy 23:10 records that no one could reign in Judah’s royal line for ten generation. So don’t look for any king or Messiah for at least ten generations.
Though Boaz, the second husband of Ruth was from the line of Judah, he cannot reign. Go to Ruth 4:18-22 and note that from Judah to David was ten generations. So from Judah through Jesse, the father of David, we can look for no king.
The nation Israel jumped the gun. In their insistence to be like other nations and have a king, God allowed them to have Saul as their first King. He was not from the royal line of Judah, but from the line of Benjamin. His reign turned out to be a failure.
Finally, in God’s time, David the tenth generation from the line of Judah became the first king of God’s choice. As you read through I and II Samuel and I and II Kings, you learn of the royal line of David. I Samuel 7 records God’s covenant with David that through his line the promised Messiah would come.
David’s royal line continued through Solomon and on down to little Joash. His story is found in II Kings 11. There we learn David’s royal line continued down through King Jehoram of Judah. Jehoram did a foolish wicked thing by marrying Athaliah, daughter of Israel’s king Ahab and his wicked wife, Jezebel. Jehoram married Athaliah, who turned out to be perhaps more wicked than her mother Jezebel.
Jehoram and his wife Athaliah had a son Ahaziah who had a number of children. Then Ahaziah died and his mother, Athaliah, scrambled to try to usurp the throne. Actually, one of her grandsons was rightful heir to the throne. So Grandma Athaliah began murdering all her grandsons.
Ahaziah’s sister, Jehosheba courageously hid her little nephew, Joash, thus saving him from his grandmother’s rage. If little Joash had been murdered with his brothers, the royal line of Judah would have become extinct.
Because of courageous Aunt Jehosheba, little 7 year old Joash became king of Judah. So one of the major themes of the Old Testament was God’s protection of the line of Judah through whom the Messiah and Saviour of the world would one day appear. Satan vainly attempted to destroy it and God intervened, protecting that royal line.
The Importance of the Virgin Birth of Christ
The Genealogy of Mary
The Genealogy of Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus, is found in Luke 3. Heli, in Luke 3:23 is Mary’s father and the father-in-law of Joseph, the step-father of Jesus. His genealogical line can be traced back to Nathan, one of the sons of King David who was in the line of Judah. His line can be traced back through Abraham to Adam.
This shows that Jesus was a man in the same sense you and I are men and women; totally human though absolutely sinless, for God the Father caused Mary to supernaturally conceive the child, Jesus.
The Genealogy of Joseph.
In Matthew 1 we have the record of the genealogy of Joseph, the husband of Mary and the step-father of Jesus. He had no sexual relationship with Mary until after Jesus was born. To Mary and Joseph were born several sons and daughters who are mentioned in Matthew 13:53-56. That rules out the false teaching of the perpetual virginity of Mary, doesn’t it.
Joseph’s genealogy can be traced back to King Solomon, another son of King David, who succeeded his father as King of Israel before Israel and Judah divided under the reign of Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, who remained King of Judah while Jeroboam became King of Israel.
The Curse of Coniah
As we read Matthew 1, we read the generations of Jesus starting with Abraham in verse1 and through King David in verse 6. But here the genealogies of Mary and Joseph divide. Whereas Mary’s line continues through Nathan, the son of David; Joseph’s line continues through Solomon, the son of David. In verse 11 we find King Jechonias, one of the last kings of Judah before the people of Judah were taken into Babylonian captivity in 597 BC.
A study of II Chronicles 3, 36, II Kings 24. brings us to the conclusion that Jechonias, the son of King Jehoiakim, is also known by two other names, Coniah and Jehoiachin. Perhaps in Babylon, the prefix JE, which refers to Jehovah, was removed from his name.
Whatever the reason for these multiple names of the same king, Jeremiah 22:24-30 records a curse on the line of Coniah. No one from his line can ever reign on the throne of David. Since Joseph, the step-father of Jesus, was in that line, Joseph and his biological sons are ruled out from ever reigning on the throne of David.
If Joseph had been the biological father of Jesus, Jesus would have been barred from ever reigning on the throne of David and the Davidic Covenant of II Samuel 7 would not have applied to Jesus.
Not only that, but if Joseph had been the biological father of Jesus, Jesus would have, as all of us, inherited a sinful nature from his father and thus could never have been our sinless Saviour.
The Virgin Birth is an essential doctrine of the Faith. To deny it is to deny the deity of Christ and His efficacy as our Saviour from sin.
As we continue with this series, Lord willing, we will continue to see how every detail of Christ’s trial and death on the cross was being fulfilled like clock-work in God’s plan of the Ages.
Long before Jesus was crucified, He had forewarned His disciples, but the warnings went right over their heads. In Luke 9:22 Jesus plainly declared to His disciples, “The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain and be raised the third day.”
In the same chapter, verses 44-45 Jesus said, “Let these sayings sink down into your ears; for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men.” But they (His disciples) understood not this saying, and it was hidden from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask Him of that saying.
Not only did they not understand, but they were so crass as to change the subject and reason among themselves as to who was the greatest. Amazing! But let’s not be too hard on them. We can be just as dull of hearing when we are faced with spiritual truth that it goes right over our heads and our hearts, while are minds are focused on mundane and selfish matters.
Furthermore the disciples feared to ask Jesus to explain Himself. They really didn’t want to hear such depressing news.
Why was this conversation recorded back then. It’s important for us to know that so that when His crucifixion actually occurred, we could be assured that Jesus was not blind-sided by unexpected circumstances and that He did not lose control. It was all in the eternal plan of God. Jesus was not a victim of circumstances!
Revelation 13:8 assures us that Jesus was “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Before the world or man was created, before man had ever sinned, God knew the course of history. He knew man would sin. He knew He would send His Son as the Passover Lamb, to be slain for our sins.
John 10:17-18 and 19:10-11 clearly show that Jesus actively and purposefully laid down His own life. No one took it from Him.
No one could harm Jesus nor take His life until the appointed hour on the cross.
From His birth He was under divine protection all His life. As an infant His life was spared from Herod who sought to kill every baby boy in Bethlehem. Joseph and Mary were directed by God to take the child down into Egypt where they stayed until they heard the news that Herod had died.
Early in Jesus’ ministry when He spoke things the people did not like, they attempted to throw Him over a cliff and kill Him, but Luke 4:28-30 tells us He passing through the midst of them went His way. He was invincible throughout His short life, until the time came for God to slay Him.
From man’s point of view, Jesus’ crucifixion was the greatest miscarriage of justice in human history, but from God’s point of view, every detail of His life and death took place on God’s time table right on schedule.
Galatians 4:4 says, “He was born in the fullness of time” and the Word of God shows us that He died on the appointed day at the appointed hour just as it had been prophesied from the beginning.
God did use man’s wrath and man’s will to carry out His divine will. Treacherous Judas, the hateful Jewish leaders, cowardly Pilate who knew he was sentencing a righteous man to death, the Roman soldiers who followed orders; all of these tools God the Father used to slaughter His own Beloved Son so that we might be saved from our sins. Isaiah 53 clearly shows that God slew His own Son on Calvary.
God’s amazing Grace is poured out on sinners who accept His gracious Gift by recognizing and receiving His salvation wrought through Jesus death and resurrection. God’s wrath is poured out on those sinners who reject Christ as their Saviour from sin.
When we come to Luke 22, understand that we have come to the major theme of the entire Bible, the trial, crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. Everything else in the Bible is preparatory to this. The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus is the culmination of the Gospel that had been typified and prophesied throughout the Old Testament. The life story of Jesus in the four Gospels comes to its climax in the last chapters of each of these four records.
The sacrifice of Jesus’ blood is a crucial necessity. This is the reason for the incarnation of Christ. That is, our creator God, came down to this earth and was born as a human being of the virgin Mary. God Himself caused Mary to conceive the holy child, Jesus.
It was not enough for Jesus to teach us how to live a holy, pure life. None of us could ever attain to His standard of perfection. We’ve all fallen short and as a result are condemned sinners facing the wrath of God.
But God in His amazing love and mercy devised a plan before He ever created the world whereby our sins could be forgiven and blotted from our records and we can one day stand before our Holy God in Heaven, through faith in His provision of His Son Jesus who died on the cross, shedding His blood as the one and only perfect atonement for our sins. Those who receive Christ are eternally saved. Those who reject Him are eternally lost and doomed to eternity in hell.
The cross was the heart of Paul’s preaching and it has been the heart of my preaching now for over fifty-three years. Like Paul, my motto as a Christian and as a preacher is to know nothing but Christ crucified and risen again as our Saviour from sin.
The sacrifice of Christ’s blood for our sins is not new in the Gospels. It is pictured and typified and symbolized and prophesied all through the Old Testament. Read the prophecy of His death and resurrection in Psalm 16:8-11.
Christ is first foreshadowed in the animals, no doubt lambs, that were killed and the blood shed for Adam and Eve’s sin of disobeying God. The skins of those animals were used to clothe their nakedness.
Christ is also seen in the ark that Noah and his three sons prepared for the Flood they had never seen, nor could even imagine. Those within the ark were saved when the flood came. Those without drowned. Christ is our Ark of deliverance from the coming judgment on all unbelievers.
In Genesis we read of Abraham and his willingness to obey God by sacrificing his son, Isaac, on an altar. Isaac is a type of Christ whom the Father sacrificed for our sins. But there’s another picture of Christ in this chapter. Though Abraham was willing to trust and obey God in this matter, God did not allow Abraham to kill his son. Instead, He provided a ram caught in a thicket to be the sacrifice instead of his son. That ram is also a picture of Christ who was our substitute. He took the judgment of God in our place.
In Exodus 12 we read of God’s institution of the Passover for Israel. They were to offer a lamb on the 14 day of Nisan which became the beginning of the year for Israel. There are many wonderful details in that story that you can read for yourself. They all picture Christ, who was sacrificed as our Passover Lamb. I Corinthians 5:7 teaches us that Christ is our Passover Lamb.
In Number 20 we read of how Israel traveling through the desert thirsted and God provided water from a rock. That rock, I Corinthians 10:4 tells us, is a picture of Christ who was smitten on Calvary that we might drink the water of life freely.
Boaz, the husband of Ruth, is a type of Jesus, our Kinsman Redeemer, who takes us, His Church, as His Bride. Read A Love Story under the category, LOVE on this web site to read this wonderful story.
Jesus alone is that perfect sacrifice who:
1. Satisfies divine justice Isaiah 53:10-11
2. Atones for our sins. Leviticus 17:11, Romans 5:8-11
3. Propitiates or appeases the wrath of God on us because God has already poured out His wrath on Jesus in our place. Romans 3:23-28, and I John 2:1-2.
When Jesus appeared at the Jordan River as a young man, John the Baptist announced Him with these words, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” John 1:29 Christ’s blood was sufficient to pay for the sins of the whole world, but it is efficacious only to those who receive Him and trust Him as their Saviour.
And so the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John present the life and ministry of Jesus, culminating in His death, resurrection and ascension for our sins.
The Book of Acts gives a history of the Early Church as they took the Gospel of Christ to the known world.
The Epistles give us a theology of the cross and explain our wonderful salvation.
The Revelation, the final book of the Bible shows us Christ as the Lamb of God, victorious over sin and Satan and worshipped by His Redeemed throughout eternity.
So in our next message in this series we will begin our journey through the final days and hours of Jesus as He fulfilled the purpose for which He came into this world, to die and rise again for our redemption.
There are two facts we know for certain concerning the time line of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. These are uncontestable facts.
In Matthew 12:38-40 Jesus plainly announced that He would be buried in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. This would be impossible if Jesus died on “Good Friday”.and rose early Sunday morning. A careful study of the Scriptures will show that Jesus died on Wednesday. This is something I would never argue. It simply makes sense to me and allows me to accept Jesus’ statment in Matthew 12:38-40 without having to try to defend an illogical Friday crucifixion. Keep in mind that the Jewish day begins at sunset.
No one questions that Jesus rose the first day of the week. John 20:1 makes a positive statement that Jesus rose on the first day of the week.
Since this is true, Jesus had to die on Wednesday and had to be in the grave three days and three nights: Thursday night and Thursday, Friday night and Friday and Saturday night and Saturday. Jesus rose from the tomb early Sunday morning. The stone was rolled away so His friends could discover the empty tomb.
An apparent Problem to a Wednesday Crucifixion
However, this idea of a Wednesday crucifixion poses an apparent problem. The Bible teaches that Jesus’ body had to be taken down from the cross and buried before the Sabbath which was approaching. This leads most Christians to believe that Jesus died on Friday before the weekly Sabbath on Saturday. The solution to this problem is that the Sabbath Day spoken of here was not the weekly Sabbath; rather the annual Feast of Unleavened Bread Sabbath. John 19:31
Jesus, Our Passover Lamb
Let us examine the Passover briefly. It was first mentioned in Exodus 12:2-6. From this passage we learn that it was to be observed the first month of the Jewish year, Abib. After the Exile the name of the month was changed to Nisan. This would be April for us. The Passover lambs were to be slain on the 14th day with nothing remaining on the 15th day.
In Lev. 23:5-7 we learn further that on the 15th day, following the Passover slaying on the 14th day, there was to be a special week-long celebration, The Feast of Unleavened Bread. The first and last days of this feast were special Sabbaths. This was the Sabbath referred to in the crucifixion account. Jesus body had to be buried before sundown, the beginning of this Feast of Unleavened Bread.
With this in mind think how beautifully Jesus fulfills the type of our Passover Lamb; slain on the 14th day of Nisan just when lambs were being slain all over the land. See John 19:14. Could a more perfect Lamb be found? Could a more perfect day be chosen on which to slay The Lamb of God?