Jesus took his disciples into the upper room of a house where he would share with them a ceremonial last supper. He would predict once again his death.
It was at this meeting that Judas Iscariot would make a hasty departure to inform the Jewish authorities where Jesus would be later that night. Jesus knew this was going to happen.
He took the group to the Garden of Gethsemane, just outside the city. Jesus prayed, as his disciples slept.
The guards came, Judas identified Jesus and he was arrested. Jesus was taken several places, before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish leaders. The chief priest Ciaphas asked him directly if he was the Christ and Jesus “Yes, it is as you say.” Ciaphas was enraged, tore his clothes and called Jesus a blasphemer.
The authorities wanted Jesus killed. They handed him over to Pilate, the governor. Pilate questioned him, asking if he was the King of the Jews. Jesus affirmed this. Pilate found no criminal gilt in him, but the pressure from the Jewish authorities and the crowd that had gathered was great.
At first he ordered that Jesus be scourged, a brutal whipping that usually resulted in death. That did not satisfy the Jews. They wanted Him crucified. Pilate ordered the execution and Jesus was taken outside the walls of the city to be crucified.
He was executed along with two convicted criminals.
Why it matters
People read the account of the arrest and the trial and wonder how anybody could have found Jesus guilty of anything. But public opinion and political agenda can be very powerful.
Jesus was an inconvenient truth for the Jewish authorities, who had to protect their turf. Pilate didn’t want any trouble during the Passover, so he gave into the masses and let the crowd have its way.
All of the powerful Jews assembled at the trial of Jesus hated Him, because they believed that He was a threat to their authority. Jesus could perform miracles that they couldn’t explain. Jesus could discuss any religious issue with them with perfect reasoning. That’s why they wanted Him executed.
Jesus did not fight this because he knew that the only way to fulfill His Father’s plan of salvation was to offer his own life. He also knew that on the third day He would rise from the grave, and had actually predicted this to the authorities in the temple.
32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Why it matters to you
Ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, God had a plan for how he would reconcile man to Himself. Sin entered the world through man, and sin would be defeated by man.
Jesus, fully man and fully God, was sent by His Father to pay the penalty for sin. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. Nobody comes to the father except by me.” This selfless act of love is a gift, which cannot be purchased, earned or in any way deserved.
It was a bogus, kangaroo court. The arrest of Jesus was illegal. The trial was illegal, even under Jewish law. His crucifixion was a complete miscarriage of justice, yet his crucifixion is the single most loving act God had ever done for man.
Jesus willingly went to to the cross, in obedience to God, to offer his own life in sacrifice. Jesus paid the price that man could not, nor ever could pay himself. Jesus, just before he died, said “It is finished.” In the original Greek, the word used was “telelesti” which is a term used in commerce, meaning “paid in full.”
What you may not know
Crucifixion was a Roman form of punishment, designed to inflict maximum pain and suffering, as well as public humiliation. It was intended as a severe deterrent to any crime.
The person was nailed and tied to the cross, but a small foot plate was attached to give the person an opportunity to stretch and breathe. It would sometimes take days for a man to die, usually when he could no longer use his legs to get some relief. The man would die from lack of oxygen. He would suffocate.
The Roman guards broke the legs of the two thieves on either side of Jesus to expedite their deaths, due to the Passover. It was a way to control the people. When a Roman soldier thrust a spear into Jesus’ side, he was already dead. Water had built up in his lungs and came pouring out of the wound.
When Jesus died, the curtain in the temple that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place, was torn top to bottom. The curtain was woven and rather thick, so it would have taken supernatural power to tear it like a piece of paper.
While on the cross, one of the thieves sentenced to die mocked Jesus and said that if He were the Christ to save himself and the other two. The other thief rebuked the man and turned to Jesus and asked him to “remember me when you enter your kingdom.” Jesus promised that the man would be with Him in paradise that very day.
The man who asked Jesus to remember him, had never attended a synagogue, was never baptized, never given any money. He just acknowledged who Jesus was. By asking to be remembered, he acknowledged that Jesus was who He said he was. He was also acknowledging that Jesus had the authority to save him and had hope and trust that this would happen.
It was a very powerful, albeit short conversation, but it encapsulates the message that Jesus brought to the world, that “whosoever believes Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” The thief on the cross was saved by the grace of God, through faith in Jesus.