Who is Jesus really? Why would a good God need to kill his only son in order to forgive us? Is there legal historical evidence to prove Jesus' resurrection in court?
Whatever your take on Jesus Christ is: it’s undeniable that he‘s the most unique person who ever walked the face of the earth. He was born in a barn; honored as the Messiah king when he entered Jerusalem; and then, within a week, executed by crucifixion as a criminal at the age of 33. Yet, he is still worshipped by millions today as: The Lord God: Creator, Judge, & Redeemer of the world. Jesus was radically different not only because a whole history was written about his life before he was born; or because he never sinned: Jesus used power that no one else had. When he told a wild storm at sea to be still, it obeyed. He stretched five loaves of bread and two fish to make a complete meal for over five thousand people, and had enough leftovers to fill twelve baskets. He healed sick people, walked on water, and made the dead live. He met the needs of lonely, hurting people and was more loving and kind than we can imagine. Yet, many religious leaders hated him; and eventually had him arrested; put on trial; and condemned to a hellish death. The most amazing thing about Jesus of Nazareth, is that, after he was killed, he did not stay dead. Historical evidence shows that three days after he was executed, he came alive again, and was seen by hundreds of witnesses at different times and different places. Jesus' friends had been terrified and discouraged by his crucifixion. But after they saw his empty grave; walked and talked with him; and remembered their ancient scriptures that predicted all of it: they believed he was the Redeemer and King promised by Moses and the prophets. So, they courageously told everyone about it; even though it cost them everything: including their lives. Because of his resurrection, they believed that Jesus Christ is the author of life with authority; which makes everyone accountable to him. If Jesus really is the timeless Living Word of God identified in Isaiah 9:6 & John 1:1, then he proves the authority of the Bible as the true Word of God; and the Bible proves his Authority as the Creator, Judge and Redeemer. Since your life, now and forever, depends on whether you believe Jesus was the Creator, a fraud or a mad man, let's take a look at events in his life that could change your life, now and for all eternity. Jesus' life and ministry impacted people in different ways. Some believed he was the long awaited, promised Messiah. Others felt he was an imposter; and a threat to their power and positions. Religious leaders tried to find some way to discredit or disgrace Jesus. They even talked about killing Lazerus, a man Jesus had raised from the dead; because they wanted to destroy the evidence that Jesus has power over death. Jesus knew the hearts of all of them. He knew what he had to go through; and why it was worth it. Even though his disciples knew the prophecies about the Messiah in the scriptures they only focused on the parts that they liked. A week before he was killed; Jesus tried to prepare them for the reality of what was about to happen. He explained that in Jerusalem the Son of Man would be betrayed into the hands of men who would condemn him to death. Then, they would turn him over to the Gentiles who would: mock him; whip him; beat him; spit on him; and crucify him. But Jesus also told them that on the 3rd day he would rise again. Some responded with concerns over who would get the best position in Jesus’ kingdom. So Jesus explained again that God’s priorities are different from theirs; and that he didn’t come to be served: but rather to serve by giving His life as a ransom for many. THE PASSION WEEK Jesus arrived at Bethany 6 days before The Jewish Passover celebration, and had supper there with his friends Lazarus, Mary and Martha. Mary anointed Jesus' feet with spikenard, (a very expensive ointment); and she wiped his feet with her hair. Jesus’ disciple Judas Iscariot objected saying the oil should have been sold; and the money given to the poor. However, his real problem wasn’t his concern for the poor; but that he handled the ministry money; and he was a thief. Jesus told him to let her alone; they would always have the poor with them; but she was anointing him in preparation for his burial. The next day at the mount of Olives, Jesus sent 2 disciples to get a young donkey. They brought the colt; and people put their coats over it. A huge crowd surrounded Jesus as he rode the donkey down the Mount of Olives into Jerusalem. The people strewed their coats and palm branches on the road in front of Jesus as they shouted and sang: “Hosanna to the son of David; Blessed is The King of Israel that comes in the name of the Lord: Blessed be the kingdom of our father David. Hosanna in the highest”. (Hosanna means: “save now”!) (The Jewish religious leaders knew that the scriptures identified the Messiah as God in the flesh. An example is the prophet Isaiah who identified the Messiah as both God and king. “Thus saith the LORD the king of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.” Isaiah 44:6). So they told Jesus to order the people to stop proclaiming that he was the Messiah king, because that was blasphemy. Jesus replied that if the people didn’t announce who he is, that the very stones would cry out. So the religious leaders discussed the ‘Jesus problem’ with each other, saying, “Just look at that: the whole world has gone after him.” (Most of the Jewish religious leaders at that time did not believe the scriptures. They were more concerned with power, than truth and love.) After Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, he went into the Temple. There he used a whip as he angrily drove out the shady business dealers that were using the Temple of God for their greed. He flipped over the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of those selling doves. Those evil men were using the Temple and religious customs to cheat people who were at their mercy. Jesus said, ‘It is written, “My house will be called by all nations a ‘house of prayer’; but you have made it a den of thieves.” When the religious leaders heard Jesus’ words, they were afraid; because people were impressed with Jesus’ teachings. They kept trying to find a way to destroy him. The next day they confronted Jesus directly; and demanded to know who gave him the authority to do these things. Jesus' response turned their trap around on them. (Read all about it in the New Testament! Reading The Bible is fascinating if you seriously explore it. If you take it to heart; it will change you from the inside out! Two thousand years ago, people who met Jesus, found his life and teachings fascinating. Some believed in him and loved him; others rejected and despised him. It works that way with God’s written word as well. If you want to know God: read what he wrote for you.) After Jesus left the Temple, he told his disciples that the temple was going to be destroyed: that not one stone would be left upon another. Jesus' disciples asked him to tell them about the future of their people, and about the end of the world. So they went up onto the mount of Olives; and spent time there discussing all those things. Jesus began with the warning: “Take heed that no man deceive you; for many shall come in my name…” He explained a lot of things. He emphasized the importance of paying attention to the signs of the times, and to always be ready for his return. He said heaven and earth will pass away; but his words will not pass away. When Jesus had finished answering their questions, he reminded his disciples, “You know that after 2 days is the Feast of Passover; and the Son of Man is betrayed to be crucified” After that Jesus and his disciples went to Bethany again, and spent some time at Simon The leper’s house, where a woman anointed Jesus' head with expensive oil. When they left there, Judas Iscariot went to the religious leaders, and made a deal to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD AND PASSOVER On the first day of the feast of unleavened bread Jesus' disciples asked him where he wanted them to prepare the Passover meal. (For the record, the terms ‘Feast of Unleavened Bread’ and ‘Passover’ are often used interchangeably. See Luke 22:1. If you read the book of Exodus, you’ll not only understand why that is; you will also have a better understanding of Jesus’ sacrifice that can free us from slavery to the guilt and power of sin.) Jesus told his disciples about a man in the city that would provide a place for their passover meal. So they found the guy who showed them an upper room in his house that they could use; and they got everything ready. (It probably took them most of the day to get ready. They had to get a perfect lamb without any blemish; slaughter it; gut it out; skin it; roast it, and make the gravy. They also had to get the ingredients for the unleavened bread; and make and bake it; prepare the vegetables and fruit; and get the wine. They needed to have it all done by sunset.Remember Jewish people don't mark their day's start and end from midnight to midnight. From the beginning Hebrew people have marked their day from evening to evening. Their 24 hour day begins at sundown, and goes until the following evening. Passover celebrations all over the world today have the same timing and illustrations as they have had for thousands of years. All preparations are finished before sundown. The holiday begins with prayers, stories, songs, and discussion of their ancestors’ history. The beginning of the celebration of the deliverence of the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt, includes the first part of the meal. It starts with a special ‘Seder Plate’ of food that is mutually shared. The word ‘seder’ means order. The ‘seder plate’ has foods that are intended to be reminders of the misery of slavery, and the joy of hope and deliverence. When that part of the meal is over, there is a break which may include a specific, meaningful and fun kids’ activity. When the remembrance part of the meal is ended; they enjoy a Thanksgiving Dinner celebration. Jesus’ Passover celebration with his disciples, began at sunset when they shared the meal together; but the Passover lasted throughout that night, and the following day until evening. ) JESUS & PETER SHARED; JUDAS WORE A MASK So when the evening came, Jesus sat down with the twelve; and shared the Passover meal with them. After the Memorial Supper was ended; the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot to betray him; Jesus left the table; laid aside his robe; and wrapped a very long linen towel around him, which is how slaves dressed. Then he poured water into a basin; and proceeded to wash his disciples feet. (His disciples didn’t understand this. Most people thought that the Messiah would throw off the current government; and set up his kingdom at that time. As 1 of Jesus' closest friends, Judas probably expected to get a higher position in the kingdom. Jesus' talk and demonstrations about servant leadership was not what he wanted; so his prideful heart was open to the devil. Judas was probably disgusted by Jesus acting like a slave; and felt justified that he had sold him for 30 pieces of silver, which was the price of a slave! The 30 pieces of silver were 30 shekels; and worth about $3,000 in today’s currency. Judas made his choice; and his choice made him. He was not a poor innocent victim of circumstance. With the shekels come the shackles. Dependence and control go hand in hand. He chose to depend on money instead of depending on God’s Word. He was without excuse. Judas was not demonized from the beginning. He was part of the band of brothers who were called and trained by Jesus. Along with the other disciples he was given power over unclean spirits; see Mark 6:7. Jesus had warned all of his disciples, including Judas to “Take heed, and beware of covetousness; for a man’s life consists not in the abundance of things which he possesseth”. Judas tried to profit off of Jesus. He did not expect his rejection and betrayal of Jesus would cost him everything.) Peter didn’t get the servant king thing either. However, he directly confronted Jesus. When Jesus came to wash Peter’s feet, Peter didn’t pretend he was okay with that. He asked Jesus straight up, “Lord; YOU’RE going to wash MY feet.??? I don’t think so!” Jesus answered, “It’s okay Peter. You don’t get it right now; but trust me, it’s right that I fulfill all righteousness. Later on you’ll understand.” Peter argued, informing Jesus: “ YOU will NEVER wash MY feet!!!” (Jesus did not force Peter with: ‘O yeah? Watch this.’) Jesus treated Peter’s resistance with honor, explaining that if he didn’t wash Peter, then Peter could have no part with him. So Peter says, “Well in that case, wash my feet, hands and head as well.” Jesus explained ‘That’s unnecessary because YOU are already washed, you just got your feet dirty afterwards. But not ALL of you are clean. It was because he knew who should betray him, that he said, “Not all of you are clean”, John 13. This was about spiritual cleansing. After he washed their feet, he put his robe back on; and returned to the table, to talk with his friends while they shared the feast part of the Passover dinner. Jesus explained more about what it meant to be washed. He helped them understand that his physical foot washing was demonstrating the need for spiritual cleansing. And when he said you’re not all clean he was referring to the heart of the 1 who would betray him. Then he was troubled in his spirit; and said, “One of you will betray me”. (Jesus knew in advance that Judas would end up betraying him. However, that didn’t change the fact that Jesus still loved his friend, and was grieved by his decisions. Judas had responded to Jesus’ call to follow him; just as the other 11 disciples had done. He had heard Jesus say to Peter, “Get behind me satan; you want the things of this world more than the things of God.” He knew that Jesus asked, “ What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul; or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” Judas was chosen by Jesus; just like each of the other 11 disciples were chosen by Jesus. When your friend becomes your enemy, it doesn’t make you stop loving them! Real love is not performance based! So Jesus was troubled over losing Judas.) He said, “One of you is going to betray me.” The disciples looked at each other wondering who it was. John asked, “Lord who is it?” Jesus said, “It's the one that I will give the piece of bread to after I’ve dipped it into the gravy bowl”. (Throughout history, throughout the world, sharing food together has been a sign of alliance and companionship. Current convenience foods with television, cell phones and computers, have diminished the fellowship and real satisfaction of food. Jesus dipped a piece of his bread into the gravy bowl, and handed it to Judas. Until modern times, that was a sign of honor similar to giving a toast to someone. It is a true gesture of friendship. In the old days, they called that ‘giving a sop’.) Jesus dipped his bread into the gravy dish, and handed it to Judas. He may have been indicating to Judas that even though he knew he had sold him out, Jesus still loved him. After the sop, Satan entered into Judas. Jesus said, “Hurry up and do what you’re going to do.” Since nobody suspected Judas, they assumed Jesus was sending him out to buy supplies, or give something to the poor. Judas took off into the night. Jesus told the others he would only be with them a little bit longer; and they can’t come where he’s going. He said, “I’m giving you a new commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. This is how everyone will know you’re my disciples if you have love one for another.” This commandment covers everything else! Peter asked, “Where are you going?” Jesus answered, “You can’t follow me now; but you will follow me later.” Peter argued, “Why not? I’d die for you!” Jesus said, “Really? Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me 3 times.” (Jesus knew Peter was sincere; even though he knew that shortly after Peter’s promise, he would fall asleep when Jesus needed him to be watching and praying. Jesus also knew that when the arresting mob came for him; Peter was willing to go down swinging, trying to defend the Messiah king. However shortly thereafter he would curse and swear that he never met the man.) Jesus told his disciples, “Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me.” (That’s an obvious claim of equality with God; and thereby declaring that he is God! Read the whole book of John and see what else Jesus says about being God. Especially think about the part where people asked Jesus “What shall we do to work the works of God? And Jesus told them that the work of God is to believe in the one God sent. After that Jesus said, “I AM the bread of life…He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me and I in him… The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.” COVENANT RELATIONSHIP (To understand what Jesus was saying, we need to understand covenant relationships. Throughout history, throughout the world people have cut covenants. The term ‘blood brothers' refers to a covenant relationship. We have only a few reminders of that in our current western world. Some still speak of ‘cutting a deal’. When I was young, you could still ‘seal a deal’ with a handshake that was considered as valid of a guarantee as a signature. We still have the marriage covenant vow: when the bride and bridegroom swear to “love, honor and cherish each other,until death do us part.”; and wedding ceremonies that include: feeding each other cake, drinking from the same cup, and kissing! Many are unaware that those things symbolize the union of the 2 becoming 1; just as the ancient covenant ceremony included, among other things: a handshake that mingled blood from cut wrists, an exchange of personal items, drinking from the same cup, etc. Eating and drinking together symbolize the covenant union as: ‘I in you and you in me’. Therefore we are mutually responsible for our debts and assets, and will protect and provide for each other for our entire lives. It’s unconditional love. Actual blood covenant ceremonies are still practiced in some parts of our world. The covenant offered by Jesus the God/man, involves him receiving our sin debt: and paying for the consequences of our violations; so that we can receive his righteousness and freedom: simply by choosing to take Him at his word in full surrender. Our rebellion against Father God’s qualifications and right to rule, demonstrates our disrespect and disregard for who he is. Our offenses against God have separated us from Him. When all of our violations are covered, our relationship with our Creator is restored. Jesus demonstrated this covenant bond with his disciples at the communion meal, hours before he was crucified.) As they were eating, Jesus took bread; gave thanks, broke it; and gave it to his disciples saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” Likewise, he also took the cup saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is shed for you.” After The Lord’s Supper, Jesus and his disciples sang a song together. We don’t know their music style; but the lyrics are Psalm 136 the traditional passover closing song. (The Bible is full of recorded song lyrics; but music regulations are not included.) Psalm 136 is a fun song that expresses appreciation, respect and honor to God for being who he is and the way he is. (Check it out!) GETHSEMANE MEANS: THE PRESSING PLACE When they finished singing , they went out to the Mount of Olives. As they walked toward The Garden of Gethesemene Jesus told his disciples that they would be offended because of him and scatter; but they all said they’d die for him. In Gethsemane Jesus told his disciples to sit and wait while he went farther in to pray. He took Peter, James and John as he walked on, becoming sorrowful and troubled. He told them, “My heart is very sorrowful, even unto death; stay here and watch with me. Pray that you don’t enter into temptation.” Then going about a stone’s throw farther, he fell on his face and prayed: “O my Father, if it be possible let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not my will but yours be done.” (Earlier Jesus had described the cup of The New Covenant in his blood which is shed for the payment and forgiveness of sins. In this covenant relationship, he takes our sin upon himself and pays for it; so that we can be freed from our obligation to pay the penalty we deserve.) Jesus fervently prayed, “ Father if it be possible”, (any other way by which people’s violations could be atoned for; and their relationship with God restored,) “let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless not my will but yours be done”. When he came back to his disciples, he found them sleeping. He said to Peter, “Could you not watch with me for 1 hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit is willing; but the flesh is weak.” He went back a second time, and fervently prayed, “O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.” He came back again; and found his disciples asleep again; for their eyes were heavy. Jesus left them again; went back and prayed the same prayer the third time even more earnestly. And an angel from heaven came to strengthen him; he was in agony and sweat great drops of blood that fell on the ground. (Extreme stress can cause capillaries to rupture; and blood gets in the sweat glands. If severe enough it can cause a person to bleed to death. That’s called ‘Hematidrosis’). What Was In That Cup That Was So Repulsive? (According to 2 Corinthians 5 :2, Jesus Christ, the holy Son of God, who knew no sin, became sin for us; so that we could be made the righteousness of God in Him. The only way God could deliver us from our sin and its consequences, is to pay for it Himself! Violations against the holy infinite God require a holy infinite payment. Most people don’t really see the horror of sin or the reason Jesus had to die as payment for our offenses in order for us to be forgiven. Sin distorts and destroys relationships between God and others. We were created in God’s image to reflect his goodness by loving him and each other. Sin is a violation of our purpose: a deceptive betrayal of love. Such atrocity cannot be minimized or ignored. For goodness sake, God is repulsed and angry about sin. People underestimate or excuse their own offenses; but they get mad about other people’s violations; and want them to pay for the pain they’ve caused. The love of God requires justice to satisfy the obligation to the moral law. Justice is the dividing line between right/good and wrong/evil. The struggle is in Proverbs 17:15, that says, It’s an abomination to God to justify the wicked and to condemn the just. So there is only 1 way to free us from our guilt and shame; and that is for our violations to be fully paid for. If there were any other way for man to be freed from the guilt and power of sin, Jesus would not have had to drink the cup of God’s indignation and wrath against sin. Many people imagine that God should accept them if they do their best. The truth is: since everyone could do better, no one even lives up to their own standard, let alone God's perfect love standard. Love is not possible without the foundation of truth. 1 Peter 3:18 tells us that Christ suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit. So The Son of God, who hates sin with white hot hatred, chose to by faith receive the sin of man into himself; and suffer the wrath of God poured out in full measure against the every sinful evil, of every single person in the whole wide world. Jesus offered us a covenant relationship in which he traded his righteousness and its consequences; for our unrighteousness and it’s consequences. He chose to have our sin credited to his account; and his righteousness credited to our account. He did it on account of he loves us that much. As he prayed, while kneeling in agony over the atrocity of sin, and his deep love for condemned sinners: the holy Son of God who had become the Son of Man freely chose to believe and receive the weight of the sin of the whole world. So that anyone can by faith believe and receive his free gift of grace. Read Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8&9; 1 John 2:2; Acts 4:12; Acts 20;2; & 2 Peter 3:9. Jesus took the fall for us, by being willing to be accounted as what we are: sin; so that we could be accounted as what he is: righteous. It was a blood covenant trade. He got our debt; and we got his assets: our sin for his righteousness. It was the ultimate act of love!). JESUS GETS ARRESTED When Jesus got up from praying the third time, He came back to his disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow. He said, “Why sleep? Get up and pray, lest you enter into temptation”. While he was speaking a huge crowd arrived with torches, swords and clubs. Among the hundreds of people in that crowd were Roman soldiers, Temple police, religious leaders, servants and others.
Judas was the leader of the mob. He came over and kissed Jesus. Jesus said, “Friend: you’re going to betray me with a kiss? Do what you came to do.” Jesus asked the crowd, “Who are you looking for?” They answered, “Jesus of Nazareth”. Jesus said, “I Am”. When Jesus said, “I Am”, the whole crowd fell backward to the ground. He again asked who they were looking for; and they again said “Jesus of Nazereth.” Jesus said, “I told you I Am; so let these others go”
As Jesus was grabbed and arrested, Peter swung his sword; and lopped off the ear of Malchus the servant of the high priest. (Was that a warning shot; or did he miss the mark?) Jesus told him to put his sword away. He asked, “Did you think I couldn't pray to my Father; and he’d send thousands of angels? But then how could the promises in the scriptures be fulfilled? Jesus also healed the guy’s ear! At that point all of Jesus’ disciples disappeared into the dark night. Jesus asked the mob that came to arrest him, “Did you come out against a thief, with swords and clubs to take me? I was with you daily in the temple teaching, and you didn’t lay a hand on me. But the scriptures must be fulfilled; this is your hour, and the power of darkness.” Then they took him; and brought him to the high priest’s house, with Peter following afar off.
(The High priest’s house is a split level mansion that includes a courtyard, several separate living quarters, and a dungeon. At the time of Jesus’ arrest the current high priest Caiaphas lived there, as well as the former high priest Annas, who was still considered the high priest by Jews. The place is located on the side of Mt. Zion, just outside the old city of Jerusalem.)
DEATH SENTENCE FOR ADMISSION OF OWN IDENTITY!
First they brought Jesus to the residence of Annas. The scribes and elders were assembled there ready to try Jesus’ case. There he was interrogated by Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas who was the High Priest that year. (According to Jewish Law the High priest position was supposed to be hereditary and for life. Moses' brother Aaron was the 1st High Priest. Annas had become the High Priest when the Roman government made that position a political appointment that could be sold to the highest bidder. He was a very wealthy and influential man who had served in that position under the Roman government for 10 years. Five of his sons had held that powerful place after him; and it was currently held by his son-in-law Caiaphas. But the patriarch Annas was recognized as the power behind the power to be reckoned with.
Annas also owned the business run in the temple courtyard that Jesus had angrily disrupted by flipping the money changers’ tables and throwing out the extortionists: yelling that they’d made his Father’s house into a den of thieves, merchandising the things of God. The Jewish Law system was designed to ensure everyone a fair trial; but Raman politics corrupted that justice system.)
CORRUPT JUDGES VIOLATE THEIR OWN LAWS
At the first of Jesus 2 night trials, the High Priest asked Jesus about his disciples and his teachings. (The religious leaders knew that Jewish law required court to be held during the day, in a public place; and that guilt needed to be established by the testimony of 2 or 3 witnesses. Jewish law also has a provision that you cannot testify against yourself. Besides that. it is illegal for the accuser to be the judge. The Jews had dozens of other laws to insure that absolutely everyone would get a fair trial. But the religious leaders were determined to convict Jesus of something; so that they could get the Romans to execute him as a guilty criminal; even though he had not broken any religious or civil laws.)
Jesus answered that he had spoken openly in the public places, and that the people who heard him, knew what he taught; so his accusers should ask them to testify. (Jesus is not being uncooperative; he is simply refusing to validate their illegitimate order. He knew they hated him without a cause, John 15:25) One of the officers standing there hit Jesus in the face, saying, “Is that how you talk to the high priest?” Jesus answered, “If I said something bad, then explain how it’s wrong; but if I told the truth, why hit me?” (The trial before Annas had predetermined that Jesus was guilty; it’s purpose was to justify his execution sentence.) In the end Annas had Jesus bound; and sent him over to the residence of Caiaphas the current high priest.
MEANWHILE DOWN IN THE COURTYARD, PETER...
During the time that Jesus was on trial, Peter came into the courtyard below, waiting to see the end. It was a cold night; so Peter joined the officers and the servants sitting by a fire that they had built to warm up together. A girl who was a servant of the high priest, looked at Peter, and said, “You were also with Jesus.” But Peter denied it in front of everyone, telling her, “I don’t understand what you’re talking about; I do not know him.” Then Peter went out onto the porch and a rooster crowed. A little later, while he was on the porch another girl saw him and said, “He’s 1 of them.” And Peter denied it again; this time with an oath saying, “I do not know the man”.
About an hour later, one of the guys that was standing by started accusing Peter again. Then someone confidently said, “For sure this man was with him. He’s a Galilaen. He told Peter your speech betrays you, (Apparently he had a Galilaen accent.) And one of the servants of the high priest that was related to Malcus. (the guy who got his ear removed by Peter, and healed by Jesus), asked, “Didn’t I see you in the garden with Jesus?” Peter denied it again; cursing and swearing as he insisted, “I do not know the man you’re talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed for the second time.
(At that point the priests and guards were leading Jesus to his next trial.) And the Lord turned and looked at Peter; and Peter remembered the word of the Lord that he had told him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me thrice.”. Peter went out and cried bitterly.
Caiaphas & the council’s ‘Kangaroo Court’
The religious leaders needed to get an indictment that would convince the Roman governor Pilate to pronounce the death penalty on Jesus. So they tried to find false witnesses to testify against him. Plenty of guys came forward to try to frame Jesus, but none could agree on anything because he had perfectly kept the law for his whole life. Then a couple guys said that they had heard Jesus say. “I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within 3 days I will build another that is made without hands.” But they didn’t perfectly agree either; as they were misquoting Jesus by adding their assumptions. Jesus actually said, “Destroy this temple and in 3 days I will raise it up.” (The witnesses added to Jesus’ words to support their assumptions that he was speaking of Herod’s temple of stone. But Jesus was saying that when his body will be destroyed, it will be resurrected in 3 days. Later he told them that no one has the power to take his life from him, that he has the power to lay it down and the power to take it back up.) The high priest wanted a guilty verdict that would require execution. He demanded of Jesus, “Have you no answer? What about this?” Jesus held his peace. The high priest ordered, “I command you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ the Son of God!” Jesus replied, “ You said it! But I’ll tell you this: hereafter you are going to see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Jesus’ words made the high priest so upset he ripped his clothes; and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. Why would we need any more witnesses? What’s your verdict?” They answered, “He is guilty of death.” (According to Jewish law anyone claiming to be God, who was not God must be executed.) Then these religious leaders spit in Jesus’ face; shoved him around; blindfolded and hit him demanding, “Prophecy to us, you Christ! Who hit you?” (Religious leaders humiliated anyone guilty of blasphemy. A common practice at that time was to tear out the condemned man’s beard before his execution. It was predicted in the book of Isaiah that the Messiah would be beaten, spit upon, shamed and his beard ripped out.)
Jesus' Final religious trial was held at daybreak.
At daybreak the elders of the people, the chief priests and the scribes came together, and led Jesus into their council. (The Jewish council is the Sanhedrin Supreme Court. It was originally made up of 70 men and the high priest. The religious leaders obviously had no regard for their own laws; but they needed to show respect for the laws of their Roman rulers. Like Jewish law, Roman law required trials to be held during the day; so their night trials might not qualify with the Roman authority Pilate. Therefore, at first light, they held a final trial for Jesus. They brought him back into the chambers to get him to fully confess his claim that he is the Messiah, God in the flesh. Why would that be a problem for the Romans? The Roman government had zero tolerance for a competing authority whether God or king, let alone a Messiah that is both God and king.)
So as soon as the day trial began, the religious leaders asked Jesus, “Are you the Christ?” Jesus replied, “If I tell you. You will not believe; and if I ask you you will not answer me, nor let me go. Hereafter shall the Son of Man sit on the right hand of the power of God.” Then they asked” “Then are you The Son of God?” Jesus replied, “You said it; I Am.” So they said, “Why do we need any further witnesses? We heard it for ourselves from his own mouth.” And they bound Jesus and led him to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate.
Judas: remorseful & suicidal When Judas saw that Jesus was condemned; he regretted that he had betrayed him. Apparently things didn’t turn out the way Judas had thought they would. The profit he made in his bargain with the priests was no longer satisfying. He wished he could undo what he had done. He was sorry about the consequences of his choices. So he brought the money back to the religious leaders. He told them, “I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood.” They asked, “What is that to us? Deal with your own problem!” Judas threw the money into the temple; and went out and hanged himself. (Judas had abundant evidence that Jesus is who he claimed to be. For 3 years he followed Jesus: hearing the truth, and seeing his love in action. He called Jesus ‘teacher’; but he never called him Lord. Judas was lord of his own life. He looked good; when he was with Jesus. He was religious; and did good deeds; but his desire was for temporary blessings that money can buy. We know that, because he stole from the ministry money. Judas was full of self love. Judas loved himself; and tried to use Jesus to achieve his selfish goals. When he saw and faced the pain, his betrayal caused; he was consumed by guilt and shame over his choices. He decided he couldn’t live with himself; and committed suicide. Judas had believed that money could satisfy his soul. He also believed suicide would provide escape from guilt and shame. But the name he left for himself represents betrayal; and he lost his soul forever. Two Kinds of Remorse and Results of It! Like Judas, Peter also was prideful; gave opening to Satan; betrayed Jesus; and was overwhelmed by guilt and shame. But he chose to trust in Jesus’ promises and be reconciled to him. He was forgiven much; loved much; and lived for the one who died to redeem him. The contrast between the sorrowful repentance of Peter and Judas is seen in 2 Corinthians 7:10) Religious and Political Powers Join in Perverting Justice The Jewish religious leaders brought Jesus to the Judgment Hall early. But they themselves did not go in; because they didn’t want to defile themselves on Passover Day. So Pilate came out by them; and asked what the accusation was against Jesus. They replied, “If he weren’t a criminal we wouldn’t have brought him to you.” Then they began to accuse Jesus of corrupting the nation, and forbidding tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ the King. (Pilate saw that they had no evidence to support their claims that Jesus was trying to undermine or overthrow the Roman government.) So he responded, ``You take him and judge him according to your laws.” The Jewish leaders reminded Pilate that: “Because we are under the Roman government, it’s not legal for us to execute anyone.” They told him that according to their law, no one could claim to be the Son of God unless he really is God; liars must be executed. (Jesus was not on trial because of what he had done, but because of who he really is.) Jesus did not respond to the accusations of the chief priests and elders. Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear what they’re saying about you?” Jesus stood quiet. Pilate was greatly astonished. He asked Jesus directly, “Are you The King of The Jesws?” What have you done that the priests brought you to me.?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight that I shouldn’t be delivered to the Jews; but now my kingdom is not from here.” Pilate asked, “Are you a king then?” Jesus answered, “You said it! This is why I was born. I came into the world to bear witness to the truth. Everyone that is of the truth listens to me.” Pilate retorted, “What is Truth?” Then he went back out to the Jews and told them, “I find no fault in him at all”. That just made the priests more aggressive, accusing Jesus of teaching things that riled people up everywhere from Galilee to Jerusalem. When Pilate found out Jesus was a Galilaean; he sent him to Herod who was in charge of Galilee. Herod had heard about Jesus’ amazing miracles; and wanted to have Jesus perform 1 for him. (He didn’t understand that Jesus was not about entertainment.) Herod questioned Jesus extensively. However Jesus faced everyone with no fear; and he made no defense as the chief priests and scribes vehemently accused him. Herod and his soldiers, treated Jesus with contempt, as though he was worthless. They ridiculed him; dressed him in a magnificent robe to mock him as King; and returned him to Pilate. Pilate came out and called the chief priests, rulers and the people together. He announced, “You brought this man to me as someone that corrupts people. Now look, I’ve examined him before you: and I can find no fault in him at all. Herod didn’t find any guilt in him either. He is not worthy of death. I could just chastise and release him. You know it’s your custom for me to release one prisoner for Passover Day. Do you want Jesus, who is called the Christ; or Barabbas who is a convicted murderer? Pilate knew that the religious leaders had brought Jesus to court because they envied him. When Pilate sat down on The Judgment Seat, his wife sent him a message telling him, “Have nothing to do with that just man, for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him. But when Pilate asked the people which of the 2 he should release, the chief priests and elders had persuaded the mob to demand that Barabbas be freed; and Jesus be destroyed. So they all yelled for Barabbas. Pilate asked, “What should I do with Jesus who is called The Christ?” The mob demanded. “Let him be crucified.” Pilate asked, “Why: what evil has he done.” But the mob just screamed more and more, “Crucify him, crucify him. When Pilate saw that he couldn’t reason with the mob; he washed his hands in front of them and said, “I’m innocent of the blood of this just person. You see to it.” They all answered, “Let his blood be on us and on our children.” So Pilate released Barabbas. Barabbas and Jesus traded places! (I wonder how long it took for Barabbas to believe the word of the guard that told him about the substitute who would serve his death sentence. His expectation would have been that walking through the prison door would end in excruciating execution. Could the guard be tricking him; so he would cooperate? All he needed to do was believe and receive the word of the guard; walk out of his prison cell: and begin the new life he had received. Barabbas got what Jesus deserved: freedom, rights, and safety. They totally traded places. Jesus was given what Barrabas had earned: suffering, shame and death.) Pilate’s Predicament: What will I do with Jesus? Pilate had no evidence that Jesus had broken any Roman laws. He knew the motivation of Jesus' accusers. There was no proof to support their claims that Jesus was disturbing the peace by riling people up from Galilee to Jerusalem ;and inciting them not to pay their taxes. All he had was the word of Jesus’ accusers. His wife had warned him that Jesus is a just man. Pilate had heard a lot about Jesus. He actually talked to him face to face. He saw that Jesus was innocent; and emphatically stated, “I find no fault in him.” Pilate tried to avoid the life and death decision of ‘What will I do with Jesus?’, by using the Passover pardon to pacify the bloodthirsty mob. Did he assume that the people would choose Jesus over a well known convicted murderer?) Whipped & Coerced; Mocked & Cursed After Barabbas was released, Pilate had Jesus scourged. The Romans used scourging as a means to extract a confession out of a suspected criminal. The soldiers stripped Jesus; tied him to a post; and whipped him 40 lashes. They used a whip called a flagrum. It was made of strips of leather that had pieces of bone or metal stuck into them, so they would really rip up the skin when they hit. They would whip it across the back of the prisoner to get him to cry out a crime he had committed. For every crime he confessed, the next lash would be slightly less severe. This pattern continued on for 39 lashes; if they got some kind of confession. This was sort of a trial by torture. If no crimes were confessed, each stripe was more and more extreme until they reached 40 lashes. 40 lashes was considered a judgment for not giving a confession. Since Jesus had nothing to confess, he endured the full force of the angoixing abuse. After the shameful scourging, the soldiers took Jesus into the Common Hall and the whole band of soldiers gathered around him. They put a scarlet robe on him. Then. they braided a crown of thorns; and shoved it into his head. They put a reed in his right hand; and bowed down on their knees before him; mockingly saying, “Hail King of The Jews”. Then they spit on him; and beat him. After ridiculing Jesus they took the tobe off of him; put his own clothes back on him. (Pilate’s cold cruelty was well known; as he had both ordered and witnessed beastly brutality. He knew how other men reacted when they were used and abused. So he seemed to be in awestruck respect of Jesus’ endurance and response through all his suffering. Undoubtedly Pilate had never seen a man like Jesus.) Pilate came back to the people and said, “Look, I’m bringing him back to you; so you can know that I find no fault in him.” Jesus stood wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said, “Look at the man!” His face must have been bloodied, bruised and swollen beyond recognition after all those beatings. When the chief priests and officers saw Jesus, they were not moved by any compassion. They shouted, “Crucify him, crucify him.” Pilate answered, “You take him; and crucify him. I do not find any fault in him.” The religious leaders told him, “We have a law; and by our law he ought to die; because he made himself The Son of God.” When Pilate heard that he was even more afraid. He went back into The Judgment Hall with Jesus and asked, “Where do you come from?” Jesus didn’t answer. Pilate demanded, “You don’t answer me? Don’t you know that I have the power to crucify you; and I have the power to release you?” Jesus answered “You could have no power at all against me unless it was given to you from above; therefore he that delivered me unto you has the greater sin.” From then on Pilate really worked hard to release Jesus. But the religious leaders yelled at him saying that if he let this man go free, he is not Caesar's friend; because anyone who makes himself a king speaks against Caesar. (The implication was if you don’t cooperate with us in eliminating Jesus; Caesar is going to get a full report; and you’ll lose your job.) When Pilate heard that, he brought Jesus out; and sat down in the judgment seat in a place called The Pavement, but in Hebrew Gabbatha. He told the people, “Behold your King.”. But they yelled, “Away with him, away with him. Crucify him.” Pilate asked, “Shall I crucify your king?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” So Pilate delivered Jesus to them. Then they led him away to be crucified forcing him to carry his own cross. But he was so weak that he fell beneath the weight; and a man named Simon from Cyrene, took up the cross; and followed Jesus. The soldiers also brought along two thieves who were carrying their crosses. Their trip ended at a place called “Skull Hill”, which is “Calvary” in Latin and “Golgotha” in Greek. (Just outside the north wall of Jerusalem near the Damascus Gate, there is a hill with a rocky ledge about thirty feet high with a striking resemblance to a human skull. Archaeologists believe this is the “Skull Hill” where Jesus was crucified. To this day, it is still called “Skull Hill”.)
When they got there, they offered Jesus wine mixed with gall and bitter herbs to dull his pain; however he refused to drink it. (Some of the Jewish women had a merciful custom of preparing a mixture of sour wine/vinegar with frankincense or myrrh for crucifixion victims. Jesus refused to drink it; choosing not to cloud his faculties. He was willing to suffer every element of agony in the bitter cup of the worthy wrath of Father God’s indignation against evil. He endured the suffering, despising the shame, in order to pay the entire penalty for the violations of anyone and everyone who would choose to believe and receive his gift of redemption.) Prophesied: Piecercd & Parched, Zec. 12:10, Ps. 22 & Is 53 As the Roman soldiers laid Jesus on the cross, he prayed “Father forgive them; for they know not what they do.”. Then the soldiers stretched his arms out on the crosspiece; and nailed his hands/wrists to the wood. Next. they crossed one of his legs over the other bent at 45 degrees. Then, they drove a nail through his feet. After that, they lifted up the cross and dropped it into a hole in the ground to stand it upright. (In that position the crucifixion victim had to push up with his legs for every breath; which bruised his heel.) The soldiers also nailed the two thieves to their crosses; and placed one on the right side of Jesus, and the other on his left. After that, they divided up his clothes: one got his sandals; one took his belt; another got his inner robe. But Jesus’ outer robe was made without a seam; woven from the top throughout. So rather than rip it apart, they gambled to decide who would get it. Then they sat down to watch him die. PILATE’S POST It was customary to state the criminal's offense as a public notice on a sign above their head. Pilate personally wrote the sign for Jesus in three languages: Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. The sign said, “Jesus of Nazareth, The King of the Jews”. Many people read it since Skull Hill is not very far from the city. The priests told Pilate, “Don’t write, ‘The King of The Jews’’; but that he said, “I am king of the Jews,” Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.” (The Hebrew portion of the sign was the most disturbing; because the exact Hebrew words were an acrostic. The first letters of each word in the Hebrew part of the sign, spell out the sacred name of God: YHWH. If Pilate would have rewritten his sign the way the priests told him to, it would not have spelled out the name of God.) The people who were passing by shook their heads and made fun of Jesus. They hollered, “Hey, look at you now! Sure you can destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days. If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” And the religious leaders were standing around joking about Jesus. “He’s pretty good at saving others,” they said, “but he can’t seem to save himself. If he is the king of Israel; let him come down from the cross; and then we’ll believe him. He trusted in God: so let him deliver him now: if he will have him. He did say, ‘I am the Son of God’.” (If the Jewish leaders had taken their scriptures seriously; they would have known that the Messiah intended to give his life as the ransom to save others. He certainly could have saved himself; but he chose to save us instead by sacrificing himself for our sins, just as he had planned all along!) The judges: Pilate, the priests, the people, the thieves & us! The thieves who were dying with Jesus cursed him saying, “Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us, too. But one of them changed his mind, when he saw what Jesus was really like even under such extreme pressure. He had no doubt heard about Jesus. (Both the Bible and extra Biblical literature confirm that he was well known.) Now he began to see Jesus for what he really is. He told the other thief, “Don't you fear God, even when you’re dying? We deserve what we are getting; we had it coming. But this man has not done one thing wrong.” Then he turned to Jesus and prayed, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus replied, “ I’m telling you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Before this, Jesus had told his disciples that his kingdom was not of this world. But they would not accept it; because that was not what they wanted to hear. Now that Jesus was dying, they thought his kingdom was ending; but one guilty convict opened his heart to receive the truth. As he watched and listened to Jesus, he recognized that Jesus' kingdom is above sin and death; and he believed that Jesus really is who He claimed to be. This guy didn’t have time to do anything religious; or to try to do better: so he could be worthy. He knew he was an undeserving sinner; and his only hope was in Jesus the redeemer. He didn’t get religion; he simply chose to believe in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.) She watched her son be crucified! "Near the cross of Jesus, stood his mother, and his mother’s sister Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdala.” (It would be traumatic to see anyone nailed up on a cross, with their body drenched in blood, and fighting for every breath; besides being in excruciating pain from all their bones out of joint. Also knowing that in a very short time the victim would be dead. Think of how Jesus' mother must have felt, helplessly watching her precious son suffer such incredible abuse; while fools ridiculed him. During her pregnancy she had called him her Savior: Luke 1:47. Now it looked like he needed someone to save him. When Jesus was a baby, the prophet Simeon told Mary, “There’s going to be a sword that will pierce your soul also” Luke 2:34.) Jesus compassionately provided for her protection and care now that he was leaving, by entrusting her to John; who took her into his home and looked after her. The Depths of Darkness Suddenly at noon: day turned to night. For three hours the sun did not shine. Deep darkness covered the entire earth. (It is impossible to imagine the hell that Jesus suffered during that dark and terrifying time rejected and alone. We don’t really appreciate the infinite suffering Jesus endured on our behalf. If we did we would never forget how much he loves us; even when we don’t understand our own troubles and trials. Throughout the entire Bible, darkness is used as an emblem of judgment. God is light; and without his holy presence the only thing left is darkness. Darkness depicts depravity. It infers: confusion, affliction and depression. In John 3 after Jesus had explained his coming sacrifice on the cross to a Jewish religious leader named Nicodemas; he said that men reject God because they loved darkness rather than light; because their deeds were evil; and they don’t want tlight to expose and reprove them. Outer darkness is a term used to describe hell. It’s a place of “crying and gnashing of teeth.” Crying from the deep sorrow and suffering in your soul. Gnashing of teeth from the intense emotional pain that devastates your body. The mental, spiritual, and physical suffering of Jesus’ crucifixion and hell are unimaginable. The rich man in Like 16 gives a hint of hell, when he begs for just a drop of water to cool the tip of his tongue A few of the things someone experiences during crucifixion are: shame, dizziness, cramps, exhaustion, fever, tetanus and throbbing pain that takes the victim just up to the point of fainting. Every movement is painful. Wounds fester, and your head and stomach feel heavy from swollen arteries that are overloaded with blood. The victim is agonizingly thirsty with no hope of relief. GOD FORSAKEN Jesus' pain was even greater than his physical suffering. He was alienated from his Father as he bore the guilt and shame of every single sin of each and everyone of us throughout all time. Only the infinite God could do that.) At about three o'clock, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lama sa-bach-thani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (That’s the only time Jesus did not call God his Father!) Jesus suffered the pain of separation from Father God, and the pain of hell: to keep us from going there. People who were standing around did not understand what he meant; some thought he was calling for Elijah.
When Jesus knew that he had ‘paid in full’ the penalty for the sin of the world by suffering the horrors of hell in our place; he said, “I‘m thirsty”. A man ran; and got a sponge. There was a jar full of sour wine vinegar standing there. He soaked the sponge in the vinegar, put it on a stick, and held it up to Jesus' lips. Since Jesus' work was done, he accepted it. Then he cried out with a loud voice, “It is finished. Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (The Greek word 'tetelestai' that is translated “It is finished”, is actually an accounting term, which indicates paid in full: the cost has been completely covered.) After that, Jesus bowed his head and dismissed his spirit. With Jesus' victory cry, the veil of the temple was torn apart from the top to the bottom. (Remember, this was the heavy, high curtain in the Jewish Temple that separated the Holy of Holies with the Ark of The Covenant, from the rest of the building. The curtain signified that people’s sin separated them from the presence of the Holy God. Inside the Ark of the covenant were the stone tablets of the Law of God. The top of the Ark was The Mercy seat where the priest would sprinkle the blood of a sacrificed lamb. That demonstrated faith that sins would ultimately be covered by the lifeblood of the promised Messiah. Now that the Lord Jesus Christ had paid off the sinners’ debt; the temple sacrifices were no longer necessary. Jesus is the true priest: the only mediator between God and man. Read 1 Timothy 2:5-6. His blood covenant sacrifice opened up the way for anyone to come into the presence of God; because Jesus' blood covered all of our violations against our holy Creator. That curtain was over 40 feet high and several inches thick. It was ripped apart from above showing that Christ’s death for mans’ sin had opened up the way to the Holy God. All we need to do is: simply choose to believe and receive his full pardon for all of our offenses.) At Jesus’ declaration that our debt has been satisfied; there was a sudden great earthquake. Rocks split apart and tombs opened up. (Secular historians of that time, recorded that the deep darkness that began at noon, and the great earthquake, occurred on April 3, 33 AD.) Reactions:The Regulars, The Religious, & The Righteous When the commanding officer of the Roman soldiers, and those that were with him saw the earthquake and everything that had happened; they were terrified and said, “Truly, this was the Son of God.” The crowd of people that were at the crucifixion were extremely distressed. People who were there to see all of these things for themselves could not understand how Jesus had been able to cope with everything. When he was verbally abused: he didn’t respond with bitter hatred. When he suffered: he did not threaten. Most people went home; but a few of the women stayed, watching from a distance. Some Jewish religious leaders wanted to get the bodies taken down off the crosses before sunset; because the next day was a High Sabbath. (John 19:31). So they asked Pilate to have the victims legs broken, to finish them off; so their bodies could be removed from their crosses. The soldiers came; and broke the legs of the 2 thieves that were crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead. (The team of soldiers in charge of a crucifixion were well trained. They knew how to determine if someone was dead or alive.Their own lives depended on guaranteeing that the execution was accomplished.) They didn’t break Jesus’ legs. However, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear; and immediately blood and water poured out. (This showed that he was definitely dead: because, if his heart was still beating at all, there would have been a surge of straight blood at every beat. It’s also a possible indication of a cardiac rupture. When the sac surrounding the heart, called the pericardium fills up with lymphatic fluid, the pressure can cause the heart muscle to rupture. We don't know why that Roman soldier stabbed Jesus. But, because John carefully recorded the exact details of what he saw at that point; we have some understanding of what actually happened when Jesus died. There were Jewish religious leaders who did believe the scriptures; and recognized that Jesus is the Messiah promised by God thousands of years ago. Joseph of Arimathea was a wealthy, respected member of the Jewish Sanhedrin council; but he had not agreed to the other religious leaders' plan to kill Jesus. However he had not openly admitted that he believed what Jesus claimed about himself. He wanted to see the kingdom of God. When he knew that Jesus was dead; he went to Pilate, and asked for the body. DEAD OR ALIVE VERIFIED!!! Before granting Joseph’s request; Pilate decided to confirm that Jesus was already dead. He called the Roman centurion who had been in charge of the execution, to verify that Jeasus was for sure dead. The centurion told him that he had checked it out himself; and he knew for a fact that Jesus was definitely dead. Then Pilate agreed to let Joseph of Arimathea take the body. Nocodemus, another Jewish religious leader who was a secret disciple of Jesus, came with Joseph. (Remember Nicodemus? He was the guy that came to see Jesus during the night so he wouldn’t get caught by other religious leaders. You might want to look up the third chapter of the gospel of John to find out exactly what Jesus said that made such an impression on Nicodemus.) They took Jesus’ body from the cross. Joseph owned a new tomb, that had been carved out of rock in a garden near the place where Jesus was crucified; and they carried Jesus’ body there. The women who had come from Galilee with Jesus, followed them. They wanted to be sure of the exact location of the tomb. Joseph and Nicodemus had to move fast; because all this happened on the day before a High Sabbath, (John 19:31); and it was getting close to evening, which would begin a Jewish day of rest. (Passover is not a sabbath day. It is the day of preparation for the High Sabbath that always immediately follows it. Unlike the weekly Sabbath that is every Friday night to Saturday night, the special High Sabbath can fall on any day of the week. If it falls on a Friday; then the Saturday weekly sabbath provides a double sabbath that week. Since no work or business is allowed on any sabbath; the complete preparation for Jesus’ burial, (which would have taken hours), could not be done. Joseph had brought a new linen sheet; and Nicodemus had brought 100 pounds of fragrant spices. So they just laid his body on the linen sheet; and packed the 100 pounds of spices around it. Then they wrapped his body in the sheet; covered his head with a seperate cloth; and laid him in the tomb. There was just not enough time to completely prepare Jesus' body for the grave. (The Jewish custom in those days, regarding proper burial, was that the body would first be washed and straightened; and then carefully rubbed with a semi-liquid ointment, like nard. The head and hair were also anointed. Then a very long sheet of linen was tightly wound around the body; and between each fold were layers of myrrh and aloes. Since the myrrh was gummy, it glued the cloth together. Another piece of linen was wrapped, or twirled, around the head. The Bible simply says that Jesus' body was wrapped in a clean linen cloth with the spices and a head cloth, and laid in the tomb. ROCK SOLID SEAL After Jesus' body had been laid in the tomb; the entrance was sealed with a giant stone wheel to keep odors in and people and animals out. The tomb construction workers precisely placed this heavy rock wheel in the end of a grooved track that was carved out of stone along the bottom of the front of the tomb. They placed a wedge under it to hold it back until after the burial. At the entrance, the track dipped down so that when the stone barrier was rolled in front of the opening, it would drop into that carved ditch and get stuck. The stone weighed approximately two tons (4,000 pounds). The burial team used levers to place the stone tight against the opening of the carved rock tomb. This design provided a permanently locked door that kept grave robbers out. Some women, including Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and John, had been carefully watching Joseph and Nicodemus place Jesus' body in Joseph’s tomb. They stayed until the stone was in place, cutting off the entrance to the tomb. Then they went home and prepared burial spices and ointments. (They likely discussed a plan to return, and give Jesus a proper burial; when the Sabbaths’ rest time was completed.) Taking Care Of Business Some chief priests, Pharisees, and other religious leaders had important business to discuss with Pilate on the Sabbath day. (It is forbidden by Jewish law to do any kind of business on the Sabbath.) They told the governor, “Sir, we remember that while Jesus was still alive, he said, 'After three days, I will rise again.' So we need the tomb to be protected until the third day. That will prevent his disciples from stealing his body during the night; and then telling everyone he came back to life. This last lie would be worse than the first.” (Even though these religious leaders knew about the stone that locked Jesus' tomb shut; they wanted to be positively sure there was absolutely no chance anyone could steal Jesus' body; and pretend he came alive again. They were worried; because they knew that hundreds of years earlier the Bible predicted in Psalm 16:10 that the Son of God would come back to life after he died; and his body would never rot. They also knew Jesus said he would rise again on the 3rd day. (Read Matthew 16:21). If anyone could prove that happened to Jesus; many people would believe that he was who he claimed to be; and that everything else he had said was true.) So Pilate said, “Okay, you got the guard. Go and make it as sure as you can.” So they placed a strong cord across the stone, at the entrance to the tomb. They fastened the cord on the ends with a sealing compound; and pressed the imperial stamp of the Roman government into the middle of it. (The stamp showed that the full power of the Roman government would be brought against anyone who broke that seal. That included any and all members of the Roman guard. These religious leaders seemed to have thought of everything, except the truth! They were not taking any chances that anyone might conspire against them. For the record, the guards were extremely well trained. They fully understood what a crime it would be to break the imperial seal of Rome. The Roman government did not play games with anyone who broke their laws. You did not get a second chance: no probation, no parole, and no rehabilitation. If you were found guilty of breaking Roman laws, you were condemned; case is closed. For these guards, it was strictly business to do their jobs well.. They had enough sense to be efficient. In their case, looking out for number one meant obeying the Roman laws. During their training an officer with a torch checked to see if anyone was sleeping that was supposed to be awake. If a recruit was found sleeping at the wrong time, his clothes were torched while he slept in them. Anybody caught sleeping on any kind of guard duty was killed. The Roman army made an example of anyone who was being punished; so that the rest of the troops could learn from their mistakes. The sound of a trumpet announced the cruel execution of anyone found sleeping on the job, stealing, lying, hurting their own body, or being a coward. The victim was forced to run between two rows of men who hit him with clubs as he passed until he fell down dead. The team of soldiers who guarded Jesus' tomb had every reason to stay awake, and carefully watch and check everything that went on. No doubt about it, everything humanly possible was done to guarantee that on the third day Jesus' body would still be in that tomb. Then the religious leaders would have their proof that Jesus was a liar. The First Light of The First Day In spite of all of that, on the first day of the week, as the first rays of light began to pierce the darkness; some of the women who were followers of Jesus, went to the tomb to anoint Jesus' body; since Jesus' burial preparations had been so rushed. Among them were: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, Salome and other women as well. They were carrying along with them, everything needed to properly prepare a dead body, according to their Jewish custom. On the way, they discussed the problem of that huge-heavy stone that blocked the entrance to the tomb; they were worried about how to find a way to get it moved. (But these were strong-willed women with a purpose. They were determined that the body of Jesus would be completely prepared for burial in a manner that was appropriate for the kind of man Jesus had proved to be. Even when faced with an earthquake on their way; they did not turn around, and run back to Bethany or Jesusalem. Meanwhile, Up Ahead At The Tomb: The guards who were on duty had a much bigger problem than the earthquake.) The angel of the Lord had descended from heaven; and rolled the stone away from the door; and sat on it. His face shined like lightning; and his clothes were bright white. The guards shook with fear; and fell down like dead men. (It took a lot to make these strong, heavily armed Roman soldiers come unglued. Imagine how they felt when they saw that angel just move the stone away, and sit on it. These guys probably thought they were ready for anything. They had been taught that their government, and their military, was the most modern, well-prepared organization on earth. But their training had not provided them with a scientific approach for dealing with angels. They just weren't equipped to cope with this.) When the women reached the tomb, they were astonished at what they found. The stone had been rolled away. They went into the tomb; and saw two men whose clothes were as white as snow. The women were scared and bowed their faces toward the ground. The men asked, “Why do you look for living among the dead? He's not here. He is risen as he said. Come and take a look at where his body had been. Remember what he told you back in Galilee. He said he had to be delivered into the hands of sinful men, crucified, and on the third day rise again. Then the women remembered his words. Mary Magdalene couldn’t wait to tell John and Peter; so she took off running. (She knew that Jesus’ mother Mary was living at John’s house.) The other women began hurrying to Jerusalem to tell the disciples. Mary Magdalene found John and Simon Peter first. She told them, “They’ve taken the Lord's body out of the tomb; and we don't know where they put him.'’ They ran to the tomb to see. John outran Peter; arriving first. He stooped; looked in, and saw the linen cloth lying there; but he didn't go inside. When Peter arrived; he went right into the tomb. He saw the wrapped cloth lying there empty. But the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head, was folded and laying separately at the side. Peter deeply pondered about it all. Then John went inside the tomb as well. He saw and believed; for until then they hadn't realized that: the scriptures said he would come to life again! Meeting Jesus Peter and John headed for home. By that time, Mary Magdalene had arrived back at the tomb; and she stood outside crying. As she wept; she stooped. and looked in. She saw two angels wearing bright-white cloths. They were sitting at the head and foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. One asked her, “Why are you crying?”. She answered, “Because they have taken away my Lord; and I don't know where they’ve put him.” Then she glanced over her shoulder; and saw someone standing behind her. It was Jesus; but she didn't recognize him. (She was used to seeing him with his bread; but that had been ripped out. His beatings likely left his face disfigured.) “Why are you crying?” he asked. “Who are you looking for?” She thought he was the gardener. “Sir, if you have taken him away; tell me where you put him; and I’ll go and get him.” Then Jesus called her by name. When he said, “Mary”; she turned toward him, and recognized him. “Master”, she exclaimed. Jesus told her, “Don’t cling to me, for I’m not yet ascended to my Father. But go and tell my brethren.” So Mary Magdalene went and told the disciples that she had seen The Lord; and she repeated everything Jesus had told her. Meanwhile, as the other women were on the way to tell the disciples the good news; Jesus greeted them on the road. When they saw him; they fell to the ground before him,; holding onto his feet, and worshipping him. Jesus told them, “Don’t be afraid. Go tell my brethren that they should go to Galilee; and they’ll see me there.” (Even though initially, people doubted their story; the women got to be the first eye witnesses to the most important event in the history of mankind. The evidence proved their credibility.) Meanwhile Back At The Tomb: The soldiers had finally pulled themselves together. Then, some of them went into the city; and explained to the chief priests everything that had happened. The chief priests got together with the elders, and talked things over. They had to find a way to cover up the truth; that Jesus had risen from the dead. (No one denied that Jesus’ tomb was empty: his dead body was missing.) So they decided to bribe the soldiers with a sufficient amount of money, to get them to claim that Jesus' disciples had come during the night, and stole his body while they were asleep. The chief priests and elders assured the soldiers: that they could persuade the Roman governor Pilate to keep them safe from any punishment for dereliction of duty. (The guards were convinced that the chief priests had enough influence on Pilate: that they wouldn’t have to worry about the consequences for losing the body they were responsible for guarding. Pilate had a reputation for corruption and taking bribes. The chief priests had already intimidated him into condemning a man; he had publicly proclaimed as innocent. And Pilate could be worried that if people thought their king had risen from the dead; that could cause a political issue with caesar, and jeopardize Pilate’s position.) The soldiers decided to trust the priests; take the money; and tell the lie. (How would that work in a court of law: to testify that you knew who stole your possessions while you were asleep? Anybody who thinks it through: knows you didn’t see what happened while you were sleeping. Besides that, people had to wonder why the guards were not punished for sleeping on the job. Sadly many people won’t believe the truth; because they don’t like the consequences of reality. Admitting the truth would cause them to consider what difference it would make in their lives if they believed the evidence. But that doesn't change the fact that the truth will always come out in the end; and the consequences do not disappear due to denial! We are all free to believe or reject truth. It really is a matter of our own choice!) LATER THAT AFTERNOON: Jesus met with two guys on their way to a town called Emmaus, which is about seven miles from Jerusalem. (Read Dr. Luke's account of this encounter.) He tells us that while the guys were talking about everything that had happened; Jesus himself came near, and began walking with them. They didn’t recognize him. (Remember, his beard was gone; his face was scarred and marred; and they were not expecting to see him alive again after they had watched him die.) He asked, “What’s all this you’re talking about; and why do you look so sad?” One of the guys, whose name was Cleophas answered, “You must be a stranger; if you don’t know what just happened in Jerusalem.” Jeus asked, “What are you talking about?” (Obviously Jesus knew what happened; but he asked questions to get them to consider their own thoughts more carefully.) The men told him, “It is about Jesus of Nazareth. He was mighty in word and deed before God and all the people. But our religious leaders had him condemned to death, and crucified! We had hoped he would be the redeemer of Israel. Besides that, this is the third day since it all happened; and today some of our women friends astonished us; when they came and told us: that they went to the tomb early this morning; and found out that his body isn’t there! They said that they had seen angels; who told them that Jesus is alive. When some of our other friends went to the tomb; they found it exactly like the women said; but they did not see Jesus. THE 7 MILE CREATION TO CHRIST BIBLE STUDY Then Jesus told them, “You are foolish; and slow to believe everything that the prophets have said. Ought not Christ to have suffered these things; and to have entered into his glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the prophets; he explained everything that had been written about himself in the scriptures. As they came near to the town of Emmaus; Jesus seemed like he was planning to keep on going. But they begged him, “Stay with us; it’s getting late”. So Jesus went in; and sat down to supper with them. He took some bread; blessed it; broke it; and gave it to them. Then they recognized him. (Perhaps they saw the nail prints in his hands.) After that he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us when Jesus talked to us on the road; and when he explained the scriptures to us?” These guys were so fired up by this experience; that they rushed back to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples. The group of disciples, except for Thomas, as well as some others, were gathered together behind closed doors. They kept the doors shut; because they were afraid of their religious leaders. They told Cleopas and the other guy, “The Lord is risen indeed; and has appeared to Simon Peter!” Then the two from Emmaus told all about their encounter with Jesus. While they were all talking about this, Jesus showed in the middle of them, and said, “Peace be with you.” In spite of his friendly greeting, they were terrified. They thought they were seeing a ghost. But he said,”Why are you troubled; and why are these questions rising in your hearts? Look at my hands and feet; yes, it’s me indeed. Touch me, and see for yourselves; a ghost has no flesh and bones as you see I have”. And as he said this he showed them his hands and feet. Their joy was so great that they still could not believe it, and they stood there totally astounded. Jesus asked, “Do you have anything to eat?” They offered him a piece of grilled fish, and a chunk of honeycomb. He took it; and ate it right before their eyes. Then he said, “This is what I told you when I was still with you: that everything must be fulfilled that was written in the Law of Moses and the prophets, and in the Psalms concerning me.” He then opened their minds to understand the scriptures; and he said, `”So you see how it is written that the Christ would suffer; and on the third day rise from the dead; and that, in his name repentance and forgiveness of sins would be preached to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to these things.” IT DAWNED ON THEM So as soft shadows of dawn had appeared on the horizon, melting the dark cover of night, the light of the first day of the week made it possible for several groups of Jesus' disciples to see the evidence of his resurrection. They saw that the stone had been moved from the entrance of the tomb; and the body was gone; but Jesus' burial cloth was still there. They talked to people that they believed were angels, who told them Jesus had risen from the dead. They saw and talked to Jesus himself. They touched his nail-scarred feet and hands; so they knew he wasn't a figment of their imagination, or a spirit without a body. They watched him eat grilled fish and honeycomb. It was difficult for them to understand how all of this could be. They had seen what crucifixion had done to Jesus' body. Now, here he was alive and well. Just as that first hour of sunrise slowly melted the cover of darkness, so the truth about Jesus gradually entered their hearts, melting fear and false pride. These disappointed, discouraged people had been badly frightened by what had happened to their leader. They had been hiding out in locked rooms, worried that some of the priests would try to get rid of them, too. They knew full well how powerful and jealous many of their religious leaders really were. But, just as the sun had brought light to the day, the fact that Jesus Christ of Nazareth is the Way, the Truth and the Life, dawned in their hearts and minds. They were coming to grips with the reality that Jesus had broken the power of sin and death forever. A WEEK LATER: Eight days later, (again on the 1st day of the week), the disciples meet together behind closed doors. This time Thomas was with them. They had told him that they had seen The Lord. But Thomas said, “ Unless I see the nail prints in his hands; put my finger into them; and thrust my hand into his side: I will not believe. In spite of the closed doors, Jesus was suddenly there in the middle of the group and said, “Peace be with you.” He told Thomas, “Look at my hands. Go ahead; and put your finger in the nail prints; thrust your hand in my side; and don’t be faithless, but believing.” Thomas answered, “My Lord and my God.” Jesus said, “Thomas, you believe; because you saw me: blessed are they that have not seen me but have believed.” Galilean Gatherings: 7 Fishing &Many On A Mountain Jesus’ disciples: Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, the sons of Zebedee, and 2 other disciples, returned to Galilee. They went fishing together; fished all night., and caught nothing. In the morning, Jesus was standing on the shore; and he asked if they caught anything. When they said no; he told them to throw the net over the right side of the boat for success. They did as he said; and their net was so full; they couldn’t pull it into the boat. John told Peter, “That’s the Lord.”Peter put his fishing cover on, and swam to shore. The rest followed in the boat; dragging the net of fish with them. There was a campfire on the beach, with cooked fish and bread. Jesus invited them to come and eat together. None of them asked: ‘Who are you?’. They knew it was the Lord. During their breakfast discussion, Jesus and Peter’s relationship was restored from Peter’s previous denials of Jesus. (Jesus had already met with Peter privately; very shortly after he rose from the dead.) Some time after breakfast on the beach together; he met with a gathering of people on a Mountain in Galilee. (By then the word was spreading; that Jesus had risen from the dead; and he’d told the women that he wanted to meet with his brethren in Galilee. Jesus had called his first disciples in Galilee. There were also many other people besides the original disciples. that followed Jesus. His teachings make it clear that his brethren are all who believe in him. It’s reasonable to expect that his followers invited friends to come along. So it could easily have been a crowd of hundreds of people at that meeting on the mountain with Jesus.) Many worshipped him, but some doubted. Jesus said, “All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Therefore, go and teach all nations, everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, even unto the end of the earth.” (Less than 25 years after the meeting on the mountain: the apostle Puale wrote a letter to people in the city of Corinth. He was explaining who Jesus is. He said that Jesus Christ died for our sins: just as the scriptures predicted; and that he was buried, and rose again the 3rd day: just as the scriptures promised. After he came back to life: he was seen by Peter, and the rest of the disciples. After that, he was seen by more than 500 brethren at one time. Paul said that most of the people who saw Jesus after his resurrection were still alive; at the time he sent the Corinthian letter. So those eye witnesses could still be interviewed to verify that what Paul was saying is true.) Forty Days Finish with Parting Words & Promise of Return After Jesus rose from the dead, he spent 40 days visiting with people. We have the records of many of those who saw, talked, touched, walked and ate meals with him. (We don’t have the details of Jesus’ first meeting with Peter; his meeting with James; or of many of the others who met with him after his resurrection.) At the end of the account that the apostle John wrote; he said that there were many more things Jesus said and did that didn’t get written down. But from the record given: you can know and believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and believing you may have life through his name. During those 40 days, before Jesus returned to heaven; he was seen alive in the flesh. with many precise proofs. His last meeting with his apostles was on the Mount of Olives. There they asked when he would set up the righteous rule of the Kingdom of God on earth. Jesus told them, the timing is under the jurisdiction of Father God. (It’s not their deal. I wish our modern ‘end of the world date setters’, would read and believe the scriptures.) Jesus reminded his friends that the scriptures say, ‘Christ had to suffer and rise the third day; and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name among all nations. Jesus said, ‘Go into all the world; and preach the good news of repentance and forgiveness of sins for absolutely everyone. He said start in Jerusalem, then all Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth. ( Start where you are, and then expand.) Jesus told them. “You are witnesses of these things. Wait in Jerusalem for the promise of Father God until you are invested with the power of the Holy Spirit that will enable you to preach the gospel”. After Jesus told his friends all these things; he raised his hands and blessed them. They worshipped him; and while they watched; he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. While they continued to look steadfastly toward heaven; 2 men in white clothes stood by them and asked, “You men of Galilee: why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus that’s taken from you, will come back, in the same way you saw him go into heaven.”
Two thousand years ago, the Son of God became a Son of man. He became one of us; so that he could be a true substitute to satisfy justice on our behalf. His death and resurrection bought and paid for the sins of the world; so that the world could once again belong to the God who created it. The cost to purchase redemption, has been covered by his lifeblood poured out to satisfy justice; in order set men free from slavery to sin and death. Back then, the Lord Jesus Christ came here as a humble servant; to give his life a ransom for many. When he returns it will be as the conquering King of Kings and Lord of Lords, to set up his righteous kingdom on earth. Weighing Legal, Historical evidence In a court of law, attorneys present evidence from investigators and witnesses to a judge and jury, whose job it is to weigh the facts and determine; what really happened. The foundation of justice is truth.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most challenged, and the most verified event in the history of mankind. Most justice systems required the corroborating testimony of 2 or more witnesses that were subject to cross examination. The accounts of the resurrection in the Bible include numerous details that only eyewitnesses could provide. Those who testified of the resurrection were cross examined in ways that are illegal in western courts. When Jesus' disciples refused to deny the truth about Jesus; they were executed in horrible ways. (People will die for what they believe; but they will not die for what they know is a lie. (People lie for money, power or sex.)
Jesus' followers' lives were radically changed by seeing his death, burial and resurrection. They joyfully gave all that they had to share the gospel. You can read about it in the New Testament; as well as other historical documents from that time period. (We’ll cover more of that in the next article.) In the meantime check out the book ‘Cold Case Christianity’ by homicide investigator, J. Warner Wallace, (It’s an easy, good read). Much heavier is a book by Harvard Law Professor,Simon Greenleaf. That’s available both in hard copy and online in a PDF. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/34989/34989-pdf.pdf Please don’t miss the book, ‘Evidence That Demands a Verdict’ by Josh Mc Dowell, a brilliant scholar; who survived a horribly abusive childhood; and arrived in Law school as an angry atheist. A few of his college buddies challenged him to investigate and scrutinize the credibility of the New Testament documents as well as extra biblical ancient documents that verify the case for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. His web site is: http://www.Josh.org