Identity Found in God
The Redeemer and the Redeemed
The Day Before the Cross
The Day of the Cross
The Day After the Cross
Living as the Redeemed
The Day of the Cross
Read about the events of this day: Matthew 27:11-61; Mark 15; Luke 22:66-Luke 23; John 18:28-40 – John 19
The Early Morning Hours
The decision was made, the high priest, and all the Jewish leaders turned Jesus over to Pilate, the Roman governor. Really what that meant was, since the Jews no longer had authority to evoke the death penalty, they had to turn Him over to the Romans, who were able to sentence people to death. Once again we see Jesus, as He stood trial before Pilate, acknowledge the truth of His identity, but remain silent as other false testimony was flung about Him. No backing down, no pleading His case, no need to defend what was not true.
The Road to the Cross
Another decision was to be made. According to custom, a prisoner was to be released. Pilate tried his best to convince the crowd to let Jesus go, but the Jews rallied the crowd more, and not Jesus, but Barnabas was released. Jesus was led away to be killed, to fulfill the plan.
Before He was forced to carry His cross to Golgotha, He was beaten and flogged. They stripped Him, set a crown of thorns on His head, a red robe and a staff in His hand, and then the mocking and the spitting…They took the staff and beat Him. When they were done humiliating Him, they took off the robe and led Him away. Just as they arrived at Golgotha, they offered Jesus wine mixed with gall, but He refused it. This would have actually numbed His pain, but He refused.
Sit with that for a bit. He chose not to be “drugged”, but chose to go through with this with a clear mind, feeling everything the path brings. He did this for us.
At the 3rd hour, they nailed Jesus to the cross. While He hung there dying, passerbys insulted Him, the Jewish leaders mocked Him. What was Jesus’ response? He went to His Father, “Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” Talk about a self-less, humble example, in the midst of earthly torture.
This went on for 3 hours! Place yourself at this scene. The crowds loud with insults. Chaos. Confusion. John also describes a group of people who are near the cross. His mother, her sister Mary Magdalene, as well as John were there too. Oh how horrible it must have been to watch this happen to your son and your friend. Sadness. Oh it must have been overwhelming to witness this. He did nothing wrong, yet was so beaten, flesh was made so raw. What sacrifice!
Not for the sake of focusing on the gruesome part of the story, but because these series of events so profoundly impacts our lives, try and spend some time soaking all of this in. Dig into the Gospels as they describe this cross experience. Try and grab a hold of what Jesus did because He loves you so much. He made a way to live with you forever. He agreed to be killed as a sacrifice that would gift you everlasting life. Do you believe this? Do you claim this?
Scripture describes this time when darkness came over all the land. The sun stopped shining. Can you imagine? The darkness was at the core – physical and spiritual. It was because of the darkness of sin that Jesus was reaching His final earthly breath. Remember, He was our final High Priest, who took all our sins to the Father. He was offering atonement for ALL past, present and future sins. Darkness.
The Final Words and Final Breath
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Imagine this moment Jesus endured. Carrying this heavy sin of the world. On His way to the Father through death. The intense heaviness and separation He must have endured.
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” The committal, the pledging of all He was carrying - your sins, my sins - into the Father’s hands. Surrender. He literally placed it all into His hands because He trusted and knew His Father could take it.
“It is finished.” This word, “finish” means “paid in full”. The sacrificial system that had been in place to offer atonement for sin, the one that included sacrifice after sacrifice after sacrifice because of people’s continual sins, this system has now come to an end. Jesus made a new way, a final sacrifice, allowing God’s people to now have complete access to Him. Jesus paid the price.
He breathed His last earthly breath, and died.
What happened next gives me chills every time I meditate on this portion of God’s good plan.
“The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” The very curtain that divided and separated God from the sinful people – it hung in front of the Most Holy Place – the moment Jesus died, the division between God and His people was removed. From top to bottom, God tore the curtain. Our High Priest stepped into the true Holy of Holies, heaven itself, on our behalf. He created a way to our Father. Just soak that in!
The earth shook, the rocks split. People were terrified.
“Not one of His bones would be broken. They will look on the One they have pierced.” Scripture was fulfilled as the centurion came to Jesus and already found Him dead. They pierced His side, but found no reason to break His legs.
Evening was coming and they needed to take care of Jesus’ body before Sabbath, the Day of Rest began. Joseph of Arimathea, a secret follower of Christ, asked for His body. Nicodemus, another secret follower, helped Joseph prepare Jesus’ body. They placed the body in a new tomb and they placed a big stone in front of the tomb. Mary and Mary Magdalene observed the whole process.
The day came to an end.