This is where the story gets serious. I was mentioning to my
dad that it’s hard to read this when Christmas is only two days away. Things
should be lighthearted and fun. It doesn’t seem right to be dwelling on His
death when we haven’t celebrated His birth yet.
In reality, this is just as it should be. For it’s a wonderful
thing that Jesus came as a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, but if He were
only a baby we would still be in excruciatingly, dire need of a Savior. The
whole reason for His advent was what we will read in the next couple chapters.
We read yesterday that Jesus was betrayed and arrested. It’s
important to note that there were two power structures at the time. There were
the Jewish leaders (Pharisees, Sadducees, Elders of each tribe, and Priests)
and there was the Roman government, who reigned over all, at the time. The
Jewish leaders had to obey the Roman government, and could not take someone’s
life. So, it was imperative for these leaders to gain Roman approval for
putting Jesus to death. The problem was, Jesus had done nothing against Roman
He was taken before the Roman Governor, Pilate. The charge? Calling
Himself Christ, a King. Typically, that would just move someone into the
psychiatric ward, but these leaders were afraid of Jesus. They saw the impact
He had on the people. They heard His teachings, saw His healings. They needed Him
silenced or they would lose their power.
Pilate, matter-of-factly, asks Jesus, is it true? And Jesus
says, “It is as you say.” Pilate tells the Chief Priests and the crowds “I find
no guilt in this man.” That didn’t make the crowd happy and they pitched out
more accusations. During the process, Pilate learned that Jesus was from
Galilee, making Him Herod’s problem, not his. And since Herod happened to be in
Jerusalem, it worked out. Herod was glad to see Jesus. He had heard so much about
Him and wanted to find out about this man. Herod wanted some entertainment, but
he didn’t get any for Jesus didn’t answer a thing. In response Herod treated
Him with contempt. The soldiers mocked Him, dressing Him in kingly robes they
sent Him back to Pilate.
Pilate still doesn’t see the problem. So what, if He declares
Himself a King. But just to appease the people he says he’ll have Jesus beaten and
Now, under Roman rule, the Governor could release one
prisoner a year on Passover. And instead of releasing Jesus they cried out to
release Barabbas. Pilate tried to talk them out of it since Barabbas was a
murderer and Jesus had done nothing wrong. But the mob began to chant, “Crucify
Him, Crucify Him.”
The argument went on between Pilate and the people, until finally,
he granted their wish. He released Barabbas, and Jesus would suffer death on a
cross. They led him away, and pulled in Simon of Cyrene from the crowd to carry
Jesus’ cross, since He Himself was beaten so badly He couldn’t carry it. A
large crowd was following.
Not all were against Jesus, some were crying for Him. I’m
sure His mother, Mary, was among them. And the other women, the one who He’d
cast out demons, those He had healed. Others who had traveled with Him, serving
Him, feeding Him, caring for Him. They had thought He had come to save them.
This was not what they had pictured.
They came to the place called The Skull, Golgotha. And there
they crucified Jesus, between two criminals. It was there that Jesus asks the
Father to forgive them. Forgive them all. Wasn’t that what He was there for?
Forgiveness of mankind, even their cruelty?
The crowd continued to mock Him, “Are You not the Christ?
Save Yourself and us!” They placed a sign over His cross that read, “This is
the King of the Jews.”
Amid all the hate speech, the cruel jabs, one of the
criminals wonders how the other one could join in since he was about to meet God.
He talks about suffering justly, while Jesus had done nothing wrong. And then,
he asks Jesus to remember Him when He comes in His kingdom. Even this criminal
knew that Jesus would reign as King.
Jesus, in the midst of all His pain says, “today you shall
be with Me in Paradise.” What words of comfort to the criminal dying on the cross
next to Him. That’s Who this Jesus is, the Great Comforter.
It was about 3 to 6 in the afternoon, when the sky turned dark,
the Light was leaving earth. He cried out, “Father, into Your hands I commit My
spirit.” Breathing His last.
It was then that Centurion saw what had happened and began
praising God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent.” Matthew and Mark both
state that his words were that “this man was the Son of God.” Why the discrepancy?
Each of the four gospels represent a different side of Jesus.
Matthew presents Jesus as the King. Written to the Jews, Matthew wants them to see
Joseph’s lineage that allowed Jesus the legal right to the throne, and tells
about His kingly attributes. Mark presents Jesus as the Servant of God. He came
in obedience to serve God’s purpose. Luke speaks of Jesus as man. He shows the
lineage of Mary which gave Him the spiritual right to the throne. He presents
Jesus’ life as He walked on earth. And John reveals Jesus’ deity. The Word
became flesh and dwelt among us. The emphasis was to show that Jesus was God,
incarnate. There are no discrepancies in the four gospels, only different aspects
of Jesus Christ.
While the soldier was praising God for Who Jesus was, Jesus followers
were standing at a distance, watching. Mourning. There was a rich member of the
Council who was “good and righteous”. He went to Pilate and asked for the body
of Jesus. He wrapped Him in linen and placed him in his tomb.
The women followed to see where His body would be laid, but
it was preparation day, and the Sabbath was soon to begin. So, in their
mourning, they went away to prepare His burial spices and perfumes.
The One whom they loved had been killed. None of this happened
as they thought it would. And they were left to wonder, what would happen next.