The Crucifixion

The Betrayal and Arrest
(Matt 26:36-56; Mk14:32-52; Lk 22:39-53; Jn 18:1-11)
A.  Gethsemane  (The name literally means “oil press”)
    1.  A garden on the Mount of Olives where Jesus and the disciples used to pray
    2.  Jesus seeks the comfort of His disciples but, unaware of the gravity of the hour, they don’t stay awake.
    3.  Jesus’ prayer has two parts.
        a.  Part one:  a request for the removal of the cup “if possible.”
            1)  This is not a prayer of Jesus’ that went unanswered.  His request was denied because conditions wouldn’t allow it.
            2)  Jesus in Gethsemane is the final argument against those who suggest there are other ways to heaven than the cross of Jesus Christ.  Jesus pleaded, “Is there any other way?”  The Father answered, “No, none.”
         b.  Part two:  a surrender to the divine will.
         c.  “What convulsed the Savior was the fear of separation from God due to becoming the sin-bearer for men. He had long contemplated from afar what this would mean to Him, but now the hour was upon Him and it was overwhelming” (Harrison, p. 195).
    4.  In the Bible there are two famous gardens:
        a. Eden, where the first Adam failed.
        b. Gethsemane, where the second Adam was victorious. 
B.  The betrayal.
    1.  A large contingent comes to arrest Jesus.
        a.  Judas, chief priests, Pharisees, teachers of the law, and elders of the people.
        b.  The Roman cohort, a contingent of at least 200 soldiers and possibly as many as 600 (Harrison, p. 199, footnote 2).
        c.  They were equipped with swords, clubs, torches and lanterns.
    2.  Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss.
    3.  “I am.”
Jesus’ Trial
(Matt 26:57-27:31; Mk 14:53-15:16; Lk 22:63-23:25; Jn 18:12-19:16).
A.  Before Annas, Caiaphas’ father-in-law
“The mock trial and subsequent activities of the Sanhedrin were undertaken with utmost haste in the very early morning darkness and the hours of daylight on Friday, so that the execution of Jesus could be accomplished before the Sabbath began at 6 p.m. that day”  (Daniel, p. 259, footnote).
B.  Before Caiaphas
    1.  This is before the assembled Sanhedrin, the high court of the Jews (Matt 26:57-59).
    2.  Here Jesus faces two of the three charges against Him:
        a.  Charge one:  He would destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days (Matt 26:61).
            1)  Probably a reference to Jn 2:19, but Jesus never claimed that He would be responsible for the destruction.
            2)  The testimony of the witnesses does not agree (Mk 14:59) and their testimony is thrown out.
         b.  Charge two:  He was the Messiah, the Son of the living God (Matt 26:63-64).
            1)  “You have said it yourself.”
            2)  “Hereafter you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”  (Here Jesus refers to Daniel 7:13, a messianic passage.)
        c.  Caiaphas declares Jesus guilty of blasphemy and Jesus is sentenced to death (Matt 26:65-67).
C.  Before Pontius Pilate
    1.  The Jews were not allowed to execute Jesus (Jn 18:31), so they took Him before Pilate, the Roman governor, seeking a judgment.
    2.  Jesus’ third charge:  sedition
         a.  “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, and saying that He Himself is Messiah, a King” (Lk 23:1-2).
         b.   Pilate finds no grounds for punishment, but since Jesus is a Galilean, Pilate sends Him to Herod who has jurisdiction there (Lk 23:7).
D.  Before Herod Antipas.  (Lk 23:8-12)  (This is the Herod who had John the Baptist put to death.)
    1. Herod was hoping to see some sign performed by Him (v8).
    2. When Jesus made no response He was mocked and ridiculed (v11).
E.  Before Pontius Pilate a second time (Lk 23:13-25)
    1.  Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate proclaims Jesus’ innocence once again (v20).
    2.  Pilate offers Jesus’ release, but the people choose Barabbas instead.
    3.  Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns (Mk 15:15-19).
    4.  Pilate makes a final appeal in the hope of saving Jesus.  
    5.  The crowd intimidates Pilate with the suggestion of disloyalty to Caesar (Jn 19:12).
        a.  “If you release this man you are no friend of Caesar’s; everyone who makes himself out to be a king opposes Caesar.”
        b.  The expression “Caesar’s friend” was a technical term assuring a long and profitable career.  The loss of this title–a realistic threat considering Tiberius’s suspicious nature–could prove Pilate’s undoing (Harrison, p. 215).
    6.  Pilate sentences Jesus to death by crucifixion. 
The Crucifixion
(Matt 27:32-56; Mk 15:21-41; Lk 23:26-49; Jn 19:16-30)
A.  A very cruel form of execution, generally reserved only for slaves and rebels, not Roman citizens
    1.  Death was agonizing.  A person could die by either exposure and shock or by asphyxiation.  When the person would collapse, hanging from his arms on the cross, it would constrict the diaphragm, inhibiting breathing.  The only way they could breathe was to push up against the nails that went through the feet.  This was a continual effort. Finally, through the loss of blood and exhaustion, the person eventually suffocated. 
    2.  Death was slow. 
        a.  Sometimes death took up to nine days. 
        b.  Sometimes they would break legs. 
B.  Psalm 22 
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou answerest not; And in the night season, and am not silent.
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.
Our fathers trusted in thee: They trusted, and thou didst deliver them.
They cried unto thee, and were delivered: They trusted in thee, and were not put to shame.
But I am a worm, and no man; A reproach of men, and despised of the people.
All they that see me laugh me to scorn: They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
Commit thyself unto Jehovah; Let him deliver him: Let him rescue him, seeing he delighteth in him.
But thou art he that took me out of the womb; Thou didst make me trust when I was upon my mother’s breasts.
I was cast upon thee from the womb; Thou art my God since my mother bare me.
Be not far from me; for trouble is near; For there is none to help.
Many bulls have compassed me; Strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.
They gape upon me with their mouth, As a ravening and a roaring lion.
I am poured out like water, And all my bones are out of joint: My heart is like wax; It is melted within me.
My strength is dried up like a potsherd; And my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; And thou hast brought me into the dust of death.
For dogs have compassed me: A company of evil-doers have inclosed me; They pierced my hands and my feet.
I may count all my bones; They look and stare upon me.
They part my garments among them, And upon my vesture do they cast lots.
But be not thou far off, O Jehovah: O thou my succor, haste thee to help me.
Deliver my soul from the sword, My darling from the power of the dog.
Save me from the lion’s mouth; Yea, from the horns of the wild-oxen thou hast answered me.
I will declare thy name unto my brethren: In the midst of the assembly will I praise thee.
Ye that fear Jehovah, praise him; All ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; And stand in awe of him, all ye the seed ofIsrael.
For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; Neither hath he hid his face from him; But when he cried unto him, he heard.
Of thee cometh my praise in the great assembly: I will pay my vows before them that fear him.
The meek shall eat and be satisfied; They shall praise Jehovah that seek after him: Let your heart live for ever.
All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn unto Jehovah; And all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.
For the kingdom is Jehovah’s; And he is the ruler over the nations.
All the fat ones of the earth shall eat and worship: All they that go down to the dust shall bow before him, Even he that cannot keep his soul alive.
A seed shall serve him; It shall be told of the Lord unto the next generation.
They shall come and shall declare his righteousness Unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done it.
C.  Certificate of debt (Col 2:13-14) (Lindsey, p. 100).
    1.  This certificate was a list of crimes committed against the state that required payment. 
    2.  When the crimes were paid for, it was stamped with the word tetelestia, meaning “paid in full.”
    3.  Paul says that Jesus paid our certificate of debt.
    4.  Jesus victory cry on the cross was, “It is finished!” (Jn 19:30)
D.  Jesus gave up His spirit.
Crucifixion is a cruel form of execution, generally reserved for slaves and rebels.  Death is agonizing and slow, the result of shock, exposure and, eventually, asphyxiation.  Hanging from a cross constricts the diaphragm, inhibiting breathing.  The only way to get air is to release pressure on the arms by pushing up against the nails that pierce the feet, requiring continual effort that could go on for days.  Exhaustion eventually overtakes the victim and he suffocates.

For Jesus, though, the pain of the cross paled in the face of a greater anguish.  There was a deeper torment that could not be seen, more excruciating than nails pinning Jesus’ body to the timbers, more dreadful than lashes ripping flesh from His frame.  It was a dark, terrible, incalculable agony, an infinite misery, as God the Father unleashed his fury upon His sinless Son as if guilty of an immeasurable evil.

Why punish the innocent One?  Nailed to the top of the cross was an official notice, a certificate of debt to Caesar, a public display of Jesus’ crime:  “The King of the Jews.”  The certificate of debt was a list of crimes committed against the state that required payment.  When punishment was complete, Caesar’s court would cancel the debt with a single Greek word stamped upon the parchment’s face: “tetelestai.”

Being king of the Jews was not the crime Jesus paid for, however.  Hidden to all but the Father was another certificate nailed to that cross.  In the darkness that shrouded Calvary from the sixth to the ninth hour, a divine transaction took place; Jesus made a trade with the Father. The full weight of all the crimes of all of humanity-every murder, every theft, every lustful glance; every hidden act of vice, every modest moment of pride, and every monstrous deed of evil; every crime of every man who ever lived-these Jesus took upon Himself as if guilty of all.

At the last, it was not the cross that took Jesus’ life.  He did not die of exposure, or loss of blood, or asphyxiation. When the full debt for our sin was paid, and the justice of God was fully satisfied, Jesus simply gave up His spirit with a single Greek word that fell from His lips:  “Tetelestai.”  “It is finished.”  The divine transaction is complete.  The debt was cancelled. (Colossians 2:13-14)

This was not an accident.  It was planned.  The prophet Isaiah described it 700 years earlier:

Surely our griefs He Himself bore. He was pierced through for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.  All of us like sheep have gone astray.  Each of us has turned to his own way.  But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. (Is 53:4-6)

No other man did this.  No other man could.  Jesus alone, the perfect Son of God, the Savior of the world, He paid the debt so that whoever relies on Him would not perish under God’s judgment, but have life with Him fully and forever.</p>

Messiah was dead.  A vibrant and hopeful era had come to a bitter and dismal end.  The movement was over, the disciples were scattered, and darkness covered the land.  The religious establishment shook off the nasty experience and settled down to resume life as usual.  But their rest would be short-lived, because very quickly death would be swallowed up in victory.

“It is finished”  It only remains for us to trust in His promise.

-Gregory Koukl, Notes taken from “The Life of Christ “CD focusing on the Crucifixion of Christ.

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