At 3 o’clock this afternoon two thousand years ago from the cross Jesus gathered all the strength he had to declare, “It is finished!” His spirit was not taken from him, but the original Greek helps us understand that he dismissed his spirit in the same way as the teacher would dismiss her students. He declared that he commended his spirit to the Father. At that time darkness came upon the city of Jerusalem. There was a veil separating the Holy of Holies in the Temple. When Jesus died, the veil was torn from the top to the bottom. It was as thick as the four fingers of a man’s hand, yet it exposed the way to the holy place in the same way that we now have access to the Heavenly Father when we pray.
Prior to that on Thursday, by Jesus’ instructions to some disciples they followed a man carrying water. This was unusual because that was the duty of a woman. They followed and made arrangements with a wealthy woman for them to observe Passover in her upper room. The man was probably her son. Later when Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, scholars believe that the same young man was watching from a distance but fled when he was noticed. It is likely that the same young man was John Mark who later became a believer and wrote the Gospel of Mark.
During the meal that they ate, Judas left to be betray Jesus. Later Jesus washed the feet of the disciples as a sign of humility that they should also exercise in their later service to him. Then Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper or what some people call communion or the Eucharist. He said this should be done often as remembrance of him. They sang a hymn followed by a walk to the garden were Jesus wanted to pray. When Jesus was arrested, Judas betrayed him with a kiss to make sure he was identified for the Temple soldiers.
From that time on Jesus had no food or water. Also, the position of high priest was no longer the succession of the descendants from Aaron as God instructed. It became a political plum of appointment. Throughout the night Jesus was dragged from one place to another for trials that were not legal by not occurring during the daytime. False witnesses were arranged to testify against him to add credence to the claims that he should be crucified.
The original intent of the Judas was to put stress on Jesus so that he would declare himself the King of the Jews and overthrow the Roman Empire. He never grasped the plan of God for Jesus to be the ultimate perfect sacrifice on the cross for sin. When he realized the actual intent of the members of the Sanhedrin Court to murder Jesus, in desperation Judas hung himself causing his intestines to be splattered on the ground. The thirty pieces of silver that he gave back to the Jews was used to purchase a pauper’s cemetery.
Temple police took Jesus to Annas who was the former high priest. Next, he was taken to the son-in-law named Caiaphas who was the current high priest. Jesus was questioned about his disciples and his doctrines. They accused him of organizing a rebellion with his disciples as was previously done by the Essenes. At that time was the first physical act of abuse when he was struck by one of the attendants. Two false witnesses twisted the words of Jesus about the temple. During the interrogation Jesus said, “Thou say that I am. From now on, ye shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power coming on the clouds of heaven.” He both made the majestic claim of his divinity while prophesying of his second return in glory. Jesus was blindfolded and taunted hitting him with rods degrading themselves to vulgar brutality so they may gain favor from the Sanhedrin.
To achieve legal sanction for their preconceived decision to kill Jesus, they assembled the members of the Sanhedrin. Again, they put Jesus on trial demanding that he tell them if he was the Messiah. Also, any sense of justice was disregarded. The Jews did not have the full legal right to crucify anyone. Their complaint was religious, not civil.
They placed Jesus before Pilate demanding that Jesus be crucified. The priest had to manipulate circumstances so Jesus would be dead before the next day which was a holy Sabbath. He was scorned as part of their request for crucifixion. Since King Herod the Great over the province was visiting, Pilate sent Jesus hoping that Herod would condemn Jesus to death. Herod and Pilate previously did not get along, but this gesture on Pilate’s part brought them closer together. Herod heard of Jesus; he thought Jesus was a magician hoping he would perform some trick before the throne.
In disappointment, Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate. The priests kept insisting that Jesus be crucified. The real reason for their worries was if Jesus succeeded in his ministry, they would lose their jobs because the position of high priest and the Sanhedrin would become obsolete. Pilate sought further information from Jesus who replied that he was the Messiah of a spiritual kingdom. Such a kingdom was of no concern to this governor. Therefore, he said to the Jews that he found nothing wrong with Jesus. They became agitated and shouted all the more for crucifixion. In an attempt to appease them, Pilate wanted to barter with the Jews offering to release Jesus or Barabbas who was a known criminal. They chose Barabbas instead of Jesus. They declared the blood of Jesus would be on their heads.
Another attempt to appease the Jews, was to have Jesus scourged. This was done by a whip with several thong each loaded with metal balls, glass or sharp pieces of bone and spikes. They stripped Jesus naked. Blood vessels and entrails were visible by his flesh being stripped away. In many cases this was enough to kill a man. This horrible torture still did not satisfy the Sanhedrin. Their clamor was so loud. In desperation, Pilate felt he had no choice but to submit to their demands. Before the mob, he washed his hands saying that the blood of Jesus was not on his head.
Caiaphas the high priest was deposed a year later after the crucifixion. The house of Annas was destroyed. Not long after that Pilate was banished to Gaul where he committed suicide.
Between six and 9 o’clock in the morning Jesus was turned over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified. They removed Jesus clothes and put on him a short red cloak instead, probably one that was worn out and discarded. Then they placed a crown of thorns on the head of Jesus probably made up of the thorns from the Arab nubk bush. The soldiers mock him before the crucifixion. The robe was removed from him, and his own clothing placed back on his body.
The procession proceeded toward Golgotha including the high priest, their servants who wanted to witness the death of their victim, street rabble, curious spectators and two other malefactors. They proceeded to Golgotha or the place of the skull. It was called that because the cliff resembled a skull.
Eventually Jesus was too weak to bear the cross by sheer exhaustion and the intensity of his brutality already placed on him. The Roman soldiers grabbed a man out of the crowd named Simon the Cyrene who was visiting Jerusalem that day. History says that he and his two sons later became believers who may have become part of the evangelical movement of Christianity. Jesus warned women in the crowd for the coming destruction of Jerusalem.
The soldiers laid Jesus on the cross to drive nails in his wrist and feet. Contrary to tradition, it was not in his hands because the nails would slip through his fingers. They lifted the cross of Jesus with the main beam to suddenly drop into the hole sending ripples of vibrations up the body of Christ. Keep in mind that the flesh had been ripped from his back and lay directly on the cross. For him to breathe, he had to push down on his feet which were nailed so that he can breathe. This up-and-down motion brought excruciating pain to his back, his arms, and his feet.
Only the disciple John stood with Jesus’ mother Mary and other women at the foot of the cross watching Jesus suffer. At one point, Jesus asked John to take care of his mother because it was likely that Joseph, the stepfather of Jesus died a few years earlier. It should be noted that none of the siblings of Jesus were at the cross. They did not become believers until after his resurrection. One brother, James, wrote a book that is now in our Bible, along with Jude who also wrote a book.
The priests, members of a mob plus the two malefactors, or criminals, hanging on the cross all mocked Jesus. At the foot of the cross soldiers gambled over his clothing. Pilate ordered a sign to be put at the head of the cross saying, “King of the Jews.” The high priest went to Pilate asking that the sign be changed so that it said, “he claimed to be king of the Jews.” Pilate refused. One of the criminals changed his mind and asked Jesus to remember him when he came into his kingdom. Jesus replied that that day he would be with him in paradise.
Keep in mind that Jesus had a very strong body. He was muscular because of the work he did as a carpenter and the travels he did in his ministry. He was no wimp. He was a man’s man. He virtually was slaughtered on the cross.
Then from noon to 3 o’clock darkness fell over the world. The darkness was not because of an eclipse because it was the time of the full moon the Passover week. It was a supernatural darkness over the whole land for three hours. It was accompanied by earthquakes. No doubt all those at the foot of the cross became silent, fearful of what was happening. During this time Jesus suffered great anguish of spirit and physical pain. The placement of the nails in his body probably caused significant pain from the torture of the nerves radiating throughout his arms and legs. This was a time in which Jesus was alone in his suffering. He cried out to God, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This is a preview of all those who go to hell without any benefit or blessing directly or indirectly from God because they refused salvation through Jesus.
Many prophecies of the Old Testament were fulfilled by Jesus in his life and on the cross. A soldier offered him vinegar wine on a stick when he said he was thirsty, but he refused it. When Jesus made a final cry before his death, it was not as a defeated weak victim but that of a conqueror and strengthened victory that he had defeated Satan by his sacrifice.
Besides the tearing of the veil in the temple, the earthquakes, believers in Jesus who had died came back to life and appeared with the disciples after the resurrection of Jesus. We can take this to understand how death has been defeated by Christ. The centurion who was the overseer of the crucifixion said, “Truly this was the Son of God.” During the trials of Jesus Peter denied Christ three times. He lived to regret it, but he asked forgiveness. The sacrifice of animals was replaced by the sacrifice of Christ’s body on the cross. Christ was the Lamb of God today and always taking away the sin of the world. It was a decisive victory over Satan and sin.
Joseph of Arimathea with Nicodemus took the body of Jesus to place it in the new tomb that Joseph owned. The believing women hurriedly prepared the body of Christ for burial with spices. They had to do this because the sun was going down and the Sabbath would begin.
The most important part of the crucifixion of Christ was that he did not stay in the tomb. No other religious leader could have that said about them. On the cross Jesus defeated Satan and sin. Arising from the tomb, Jesus defeated death. All of the suffering and misery that Jesus had was because of our sinfulness. It was his purpose to pay the price so that we could be reunited in a relationship with God. The same question the Pilate asked is one that everyone of us must ask ourselves, “What shall I do with this Jesus?” If you have not become a Christian, after reading these words, hopefully you will see what Jesus did for you. Hopefully you will pray to God asking for your sins to be forgiven so that you can live for God rest of your life.