DISCOVER THE BIBLE
IN the history of the civilization of mankind, one day stands out ABOVE ALL OTHER DAYS. It is a day that was anticipated thousands of years before it took place; a special day predetermined to take place by God.
hath determined the times before appointed..." ACTS 17:24,26
There have been many dark and gloomy days in the history of mankind. But the darkest, most horrendous day this world has ever known, was THE DAY THE HUMAN RACE NAILED THEIR CREATOR TO AN OLD RUGGED CROSS.
ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:" ACTS 2:23
Down through the years men have been executed by poisoning, hanging, drowning, firing squad, guillotine, gas chamber, burning at the stake, electric chair, and so on. However, death by crucifixion far surpassed the torture of all other methods invented by the depraved mind of man. Such an execution was slow and indescribably agonizing. A man crucified on a Roman cross knew the extreme of man's ability to torture. Jesus Christ Himself, knew what awaited Him when His three year ministry was over: that He must be nailed and hoisted up on a cross to suffer and die . . .
even so must the Son of man be lifted up:" JOHN 3:14
From the wood of Bethlehem's manger to the wood of the old rugged cross, Calvary hung over His head. Jesus Christ was born to die.
No study of the BIBLE would be complete without an in-depth look at the blackest day in all history, and yet the greatest event in all the BIBLE.
CONTINUE OUR JOURNEY THROUGH THE BIBLE
It's another beautiful day in the nation of
Israel. Located within the mountains of central Israel we find its most
famous city, Jerusalem. Within this modern populated metropolis lies
old Jerusalem, still surrounded by a high stone wall that dates back thousands
of years. Our attention is focused on a city bus stop just outside the
north wall of the old city. Here we find one of the busiest sites in
all of Jerusalem. Busses are coming and going as people scurry after
them. Horns are honking, dogs are barking, tires are screeching and
people are shouting.
It was finished! At the age of 12 Jesus knew that "[He] must be about [His] Father's business" (Luke 2:49). Twenty-one years later at the age of 33 His Father's business was over. He had died on the cross!
To answer this, let's go back . . . a week before Jesus went to the cross. He left the region of Galilee and while walking south toward Jerusalem, He told His Apostles:
and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death,
and shall deliver him to the Gentiles [Romans]: And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him,
and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again." MARK 10:33-34
Jesus clearly knew, and foretold what was about to happen. He was acutely aware of the BIBLE verses that referred to Him. On various occasions He had said . . .
and they are they which testify of me." JOHN 5:39
and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me." LUKE 24:44
Now once again Jesus Christ, about to fulfill the hundreds of prophecies concerning Him, walked along with His Apostles . . .
Although Jesus knew of His betrayal, the rest of the Apostles were unaware that Satan had planted his own "secret agent" among them: a traitor named Judas Iscariot. Judas had been "going through the motions" and fooling everyone for the past three years. Consequently, he became Satan's pawn to destroy Jesus.
Satan made many attempts over the years, to destroy Jesus Christ. He had tried to:
Jesus said of Satan . . . "He was a murderer from the beginning" (John 8:44). And now Satan had engineered the perfect plan: it involved none other than one of Jesus' twelve Apostles - Judas. He was the main pawn on Satan's chessboard, and one of the guests at . . .
Throughout the years, many have treated the Lord's Supper as
an ordinance necessary for the salvation of one's soul. But in reality
it is nothing more than a memorial, a reminder of Jesus' death.
sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat." LUKE 22:7-8
The Passover was an annual feast, celebrated in the Jewish month Nisan (March-April) from the 14th to the 21st. This feast was instituted by God to commemorate the deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage. The Israelites had been Egyptian slaves for 430 years when God, through Moses, told Pharaoh, "...Let my people go..." EXODUS 5:1
When the Pharaoh refused, God sent plague after plague upon Egypt. It wasn't until the tenth plague that Pharaoh loosened his stubborn grip upon the Jews. This final plague resulted in the death of all the first born in Egypt. All, that is, except those of the Jews.
Because God had given the Jews life saving instructions, they acknowledged this anniversary as a reminder of God's deliverance. Now 1,483 Passovers later, Jesus and His disciples were gathered in an upper room preparing to celebrate this yearly feast . . .
Unknown to His disciples, the Passover was a "picture" of Jesus Christ --- one of many symbolic descriptions of the Messiah that God had interwoven into their culture.
Y During the Passover meal the disciples remembered how God had told the Israelites to . . .
"...take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house:" EXODUS 12:3
While sitting beside them was Jesus Christ . . .
"...the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." JOHN 1:29
Y The disciples were reminded of the Passover lamb that was . . .
"...without blemish, a male..." EXODUS 12:5
While their very own master, Jesus Christ, was a sinless man . . .
"...as of a lamb without blemish [sin] and without spot:" I PETER 1:19
Y The disciples were aware that the lamb was to be one year old (prime of life for a lamb) . . .
"...lamb...of the first year:" EXODUS 12:5
While Jesus, God's Lamb, died in His prime.
"And Jesus himself...about thirty years of age," LUKE 3:23
Y The disciples were to remember that it was the application of the lamb's blood to the door post that actually saved the first born of Israel. . .
"And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it [the lamb]." EXODUS 12:7
While fellowshipping with them was the One whose blood, once applied, would save them.
"Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him." ROMANS 5:9
Y Concerning the lamb, the disciples remembered that . . .
"...neither shall ye break a bone thereof." EXODUS 12:46
While sitting among them was the One who upon dying on the cross.
"...A bone of him shall not be broken." JOHN 19:36
Y Their commemoration of the Passover included a reminder, to the disciples, that the Israelites had placed their trust in the lamb's blood. . .
"And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations..." EXODUS 12:13-14
While the hand passing the food to them contained the blood that would save them!
"...the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." I JOHN 1:7
Jesus Christ, God's Lamb would be the innocent dying for the guilty, just as the little Passover lamb was the innocent dying for the guilty. So here were the disciples celebrating the Passover with the very person that it pictured, and throughout the entire meal it didn't occur to them once that . . .
Jesus had said, "Search the scriptures" (John 5:3) and anyone taking His advice would have found Him pictured everywhere throughout the Old Testament. Jesus Christ is symbolized by Noah's Ark, the Ark of the covenant, the manna from heaven, the water from the rock, the brazen serpent, the life of Isaac, Joseph, David, Moses as well as the various yearly feasts including the Passover. However, the Jews had become so "religiously mechanical" in their ritual practices that they never took the time to ask "what does it all mean? Is God trying to show us something?" In order to shed some light on this event, Jesus . . .
which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me." LUKE 22:19
THE BREAD Jesus passed around was broken not cut. During the events leading up to His death Jesus' body would be "broken[,]" beaten beyond recognition, all for our behalf.
and his form more than the sons of men:" ISAIAH 52:14
The bread itself was unleavened. It was made without yeast (known as leaven in the BIBLE). Leaven was used by Christ in His parables as a picture of sin. Since Christ never sinned, it was only appropriate that unleavened bread would be used to picture His sinless body.
which is shed for many for the remission of sins." MATTHEW 26:27-28
His shed blood is necessary for the forgiveness of sins. This truth was pictured throughout the Old Testament during the Jewish animal sacrifices. The BIBLE clearly teaches that Jesus' blood (not water or anything else) washes away sin.
And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money.
And he sought how he might conveniently betray him." MARK 14:10-11
AFTER the Passover meal, Jesus and His remaining eleven disciples sang a hymn. Jewish history tells us it would have been the 118th Psalm, customarily sung after the evening meal. In it, the Psalmist gives thanks for the Lord's salvation and mentions a very profound truth.
How ironic that this verse was sung on the night that a mere man would betray the confidence of God Himself --- a betrayal that would take place at their next destination:
Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane,
and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder." MATTHEW 26:30-36
Throughout His life Jesus Christ did something that many would
find hard to understand, considering that He was God in the flesh. He
prayed! He did so because He was the Son of God in total submission to
God the Father, setting the example for all of His disciples to follow.
thine Holy One [Jesus] to see corruption [bodily decay in the tomb]." PSALM 16:10
His death would mean complete and total alienation from His heavenly Father. Never before had the two been separated. Father and Son had always co-existed in perfect harmony (Lesson 4). But, Jesus knew all too well that once on the cross, He would have to partake of God's cup and have the sins of the world poured into Him. The sinless One would become the very thing that God hates the most - sin.
that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." II CORINTHIANS 5:21
With the sins of the whole human race upon Him, Jesus Christ, the beloved Son of God, would be a lightning rod conducting God's wrath. The thought of becoming His Father's enemy drove Him to pray like never before:
but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.
And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were
great drops of blood falling down to the ground." LUKE 22:42-44
In spite of the dreadful prospect of total separation from His
Father, Jesus willfully chose to go on:
we shall be saved from wrath through him." ROMANS 5:9
As much as Jesus would have wanted to prolong His precious prayer time with His heavenly Father, eventually it would have to come to an end:
one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him. But Jesus said unto him,
Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?" LUKE 22:45-48
The betrayer had arrived; Judas had chosen his time well. There were no crowds to riot, only Jesus' disciples were present and even they would soon become scarce!
Jesus, now alone, was about to face the religious leaders in the most blatant display of injustice the world has ever known:
The trial itself was a mockery of the judicial system. Here the objective was to pronounce guilt upon an innocent man. The bottom line was they wanted Jesus dead! He simply had stepped upon too many "religious toes." He had exposed their hypocrisy and self-righteousness once too often.
Since they couldn't convict Him legally, they had no other choice but to do it illegally, breaking as many of their own laws as necessary. They began by arresting Him at night - without a warrant; both of which were violations of Jewish law. At approximately 3:00 a.m. they took Jesus before Annas.
and bound him, And led him away to Annas first;
for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year." JOHN 18:12-13
This act was illegal because no prisoner was to be examined privately and in secret. Besides that, Annas had no official authority. He had retired as High Priest, passing the position on to his son-in- law Caiaphas. After some questioning and mild abuse . . .
BY NOW Caiaphas had called an informal meeting of the Sanhedrin. They were a select group of Pharisees, elders and scribes, the "religious of the religious." Their meeting at Caiaphas' palace at that hour of the night was illegal in itself.
were assembled all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes." MARK 14:53
More violations took place during their questioning of Jesus. He was never allowed a proper defense, nor was any formal accusation even made. The "witnesses" that they found, phony as they were, did not even have testimonies that collaborated.
to put him to death; and found none. For many bare false witness against him,
but their witness agreed not together." MARK 14:55- 56
By this time, Jewish law would have thrown this case out of court. But these men wanted blood and no "legal technicality" was going to stop them. So as they diligently tried, they eventually found something they could hang a conviction on, and ironically Jesus Himself provided it:
the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am.... Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith,
What need we any further witnesses? Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye?
And they all condemned him to be guilty of death." MARK 14:61-64
Jesus had been under oath, yet His own truthful testimony had incriminated Him, thus violating the law of double jeopardy. Again this violation was of no concern to them as long as they had something to (falsely) justify condemning Jesus to death. They also wanted His death quickly; another violation since they were not supposed to convict and execute a prisoner on the same day!
The Sanhedrin had no jurisdiction to execute anyone while the
Jews were under Roman occupation.
We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute [tax] to Caesar,
saying that he himself is Christ a King." LUKE 23:1- 2
The charge they presented to Pilate was a blatant lie.
Jesus had in fact said the opposite when he told the Pharisee themselves "...Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's
[taxes]..." MARK 12:17
Thou sayest it. Then said Pilate...I find no fault in this man." LUKE 23:3-4
The Sanhedrin was not about to give up and allow Jesus to go free. Therefore they vehemently insisted that Jesus had indeed broken the law. Pilate, not wanting to be the cause of a religious riot, turned Jesus over to Herod, the Jewish "puppet" king:
teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place. When Pilate heard of Galilee,
he asked whether the man [Jesus] were a Galilaean. And as soon as he knew that he belonged unto
Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod..." LUKE 23:5- 7
But Herod likewise could find no wrong, although he found the idea of Jesus being a king, as poor as He was, quite amusing. He acted accordingly:
and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate." LUKE 23:11
While Jesus was being "passed about" from ruler to ruler, the persistent Sanhedrin were not far behind. They wanted to make sure that Jesus was executed and were ready to convince whoever was judging Him that He was guilty, even if it meant lying or blackmail. Pilate however was not about to give in to their pressure so easily. So he told the chief priests. . .
examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye
accuse him: No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto
him. I will therefore chastise [whip] him, and release him." LUKE 23:14- 16
Pilate was trying to reach a compromise. By offering to whip Jesus, he thought he could appease the Sanhedrin's unreasonable demand. But they, stubborn as they were, would not simply settle for having Jesus whipped. They wanted Him dead. So Pilate made one final attempt at setting an innocent man free. Being the Passover, the custom was to release a prisoner of the Jews' choice. Pilate would therefore offer a choice between Jesus and Barabbas, a well known murderer.
that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?" MATTHEW 27:17
The Jews now had a choice, the Messiah or a murderer. Any other rational group of people would surely have picked the Messiah but this mob was anything but rational. They only knew the blind hate that they had for Jesus Christ. Therefore they chose to set Barabbas free. Then Pilate asked,
They all say unto him, Let him be crucified." MATTHEW 27:22
Pilate had done all he could do to avoid executing the innocent man before him:
he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying,
I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it." MATTHEW 27:24
To this the Jews, as if to purposely bring the wrath of God upon them as a nation, cried back . . .
But this was nothing new to God. Throughout history many have accused God of being unjust as they have looked around this world to see only misery and heartache. A common question has been:
However, the cause of the world's problems is not God's unwillingness to help, but man's desire to sin:
that it cannot hear: But your iniquities [sins] have separated between you and your God,
and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear." ISAIAH 59:1-2
Sin has erected a wall between a Holy God and sinful man. And while God's hatred of sin cannot be ignored, His love for man cannot be denied. He continuously offers to rid man of his sin problem, giving him the peace he so desperately seeks. That is why God has always said to man:
they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." ISAIAH 1:18
And now, God's offer had brought Him face to face with His rebellious creation, now turned accusers, as once more He was saying: "Come now, and let us reason together..." But the last thing the sinful human heart wanted to do was reason with God!
The Sanhedrin had done something truly wicked. They had
accused and convicted their own Creator.
à This horrendous instrument was now being applied to God in the flesh. And with every lash the sinful heart would "...say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways." JOB 21:14
while God's way would put man in Heaven, man was putting Him through "hell"!
a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed
the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!" MATTHEW 27:28-29
à With each laugh in God's face, the sinful heart was saying in essence "What is the Almighty, that we should serve him?" JOB 21:15
while God would have given them peace, they were giving Him turmoil!
à With each spit and blow upon God's head, the sinful heart was saying, "Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice...?" EXODUS 5:2
that while Christ would have given them eternal life, they were anxious to give Him death!
Jesus allowed all the mockery and humiliation, when in actuality He could have summoned 72,000 angels immediately to destroy His enemies and set Him free (Matthew 26:53).
Perhaps a century before His fateful appointment with Calvary, Jesus Christ watched from Heaven as an acorn fell to the ground back on earth. As He commissioned the acorn to sprout into a small tree, the All- knowing Lord knew what that tree would one day grow into. As the decades passed, the Sustainer of the universe (Hebrews 1:3) continued to nurture that tree until it reached full maturity. Finally the day came when men came by, chopped down the tree, and fashioned it into a rugged cross. The Creator of all things had grown the very tree on which He would shed His blood and die. It was now time to fulfill His appointment to be nailed to that tree (Acts 5:30). The crucifixion had begun.
(The Greek word from which hand is translated is "cheir" and may include hand and wrist. Nails through the anatomic "hand" as we call it will not support the weight of the body). The soldiers then hoisted the crossbar onto the vertical center pole and nailed the person's feet to the front of it in a position so that His knees were bent. The nails through His wrists pierced the median nerve causing wave after wave of intense pain to shoot up His arms. Each time the criminal wanted to properly exhale, He would have to push up with His nailed feet to take the pressure of gravity off His rib cage. As He hung, His lungs were hyper-expanded and He could not exhale. With the pain and effort required for each exhaled breath, the person soon retained much carbon dioxide. To hasten the death of their victims, the Roman soldiers would break the legs, not allowing them to push off with their nailed feet and suffocation would soon follow.
As Jesus hung on the cross there were many around Him. Some were sitting (Matthew 22:36), some were standing (Matthew 27:47), some were simply passing by (Matthew 27:39). This was the day of the Passover, one of the busiest days of the year. Yet for all the people who were present, Jesus was still very much alone. The crowds had rejected Him; even His disciples forsook Him and fled. Everyone had abandoned Him except for His Father.
If there was one word that meant more to Jesus than any other it was the word Father. Father is the word used by the true child of God. It is a word that rolls off the tongue of the child who knows with perfect and quiet assurance that their relationship is real. Many times Jesus had said:
"And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone..." JOHN 8:29
However, for a reason that we'll soon find out, even the Father would be forced to abandon Him as He hung on the cross . . . "And it was about the sixth hour [12 noon], and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour." LUKE 23:44
God had drawn the curtains over Calvary. He had
foretold this would happen 800 years earlier (Amos 8:9). Whatever it
was that God was about to do, He obviously did not want the world to see it.
"But he was wounded for our transgressions,
he was bruised for our iniquities [sins]..." ISAIAH 53:5
If they had only seen through the darkness, would they have realized that it was THEIR SINS that He was dying for? IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN THEM ON THAT CROSS, dying for their own sins!
"I am crucified with Christ...who loved me, and gave himself for me." GALATIANS 2:20
"Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree [cross]," I PETER 2:24
"For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust..." I PETER 3:18
"So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many..." HEBREWS 9:28
Three hours later when the darkness finally lifted, Christ was still on the cross, but something was missing. Sin had severed the relationship between the Father and the Son. Jesus was no longer aware of the presence of the Father, and could not even address Him as Father anymore. The only thing Christ could do now was to cry out . . .
Jesus had become sin itself and His own Father could no longer
even look at Him. The BIBLE says of God that "Thou
art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on
iniquity" (Habakkuk 1:13).
"...It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost." JOHN 19:30
Three days and three nights after His death, several disciples while visiting His tomb, discovered it opened. Two angels standing by said to them . . .
remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be
delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again." LUKE 24:5-7
Jesus had risen from the dead! His resurrection is the greatest proof that His death has actually paid the world's sin debt in full, totally satisfying God's justice. With God's justice satisfied WE can now be JUSTIFIED (JUSTIce satisFIED) to God "Who [Jesus] was delivered [died] for our offenses [sin], and was raised again for our justification." ROMANS 4:25
Had Christ not risen, His payment would have been insufficient to conquer death. There would be no alternative for mankind but the grave. But the BIBLE states . . .
death had no more dominion over him." ROMANS 6:9
Christ's death on the cross provided man a way to escape Hell. The resurrection of Jesus meant the defeat and doom of Satan and his demons. The BIBLE states: "for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." I CORINTHIANS 2:8
THREE ARE MENTIONED
(1) The Tomb was discovered empty, with no signs of a body having decayed there (Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:3; John 20:1-10).
n The disciples would not have taken the body. They had fled upon Jesus' arrest and would not have wanted to deal with Roman guards (those guys were tough!).
«««««««««« A Sneak Preview ««««««««««««
In this lesson we have looked at the greatest event in all the BIBLE. But facts about Calvary are meaningless unless Biblically applied. Ironically enough, the religious crowd of Jesus' day missed the whole point of His death on the cross. They chose instead to follow their traditions which actually went contrary to the BIBLE (Matthew 15:3). The religious Pharisees possessed the BIBLE, and yet Jesus made reference to their blindness (Matthew 23:13-33; John 5:38-39). Is it possible to know and believe the BIBLE, and yet still miss the most important message of the BIBLE? Our next lesson guarantees to be our most thought provoking lesson yet. It will address misconceptions which the BIBLE exposes, and will deal with matters such as:
* Will most people go to Heaven or Hell?
THROUGH THE BIBLE
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