One of Jesus’ very own disciples betrayed him, turned him in, to those who misunderstood and hated him the most. But, not without regret. Matthew 27 tells us that Judas brought back the 30 pieces of silver they paid him. He said, “I have betrayed innocent blood.” Even the greedy eventually realize they did wrong. The priests and elders didn’t care. Judas threw the money back at them and went out and killed himself.
Jesus’ disciples were scattered, none stood by him in this time of trial. Some violently denied that they even knew him. Now, his accusers brought him before various government authorities to prove his guilt as he stood, alone. No one could come to a decisive conclusion about him. His accusers testified, but not in agreement because so many charges were fabricated or exaggerated.
Finally, he stood before Pilate, a governor. After questioning Jesus, he came to the conclusion that he found no guilt in him, the only person in all of history that could truthfully be said about. However, they had a tradition at this time of year. The ruler would release one prisoner to the people. He brought out Barabbas, a despicable, violent murderer, and stood him next to Jesus. “Who would you like me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” He knew they did not have a legitimate case against Jesus, so he figured he would end the folly now and have Jesus released and declared innocent, especially when compared to this evil individual.
Pilate’s wife sent the message, “Have nothing to do with this righteous man, I was up all night suffering because He was in some dreams I had.”
The chief priests and elders went around bribing the crowd to call for Barabbas. With no answer yet, Pilate asked again, hoping to be freed of the responsibility of deciding in this case that did not make sense.
“Which of the two do you want me to release to you?”
“We want Barabbas”
"Give us Barabbas"
Pilate calmed the crowd’s cries and said, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?”
“Let him be crucified.”
“Why, what has he done?”
“Crucify him” “Crucify him” “Crucify him” "Crucify him!" "Crucify him!"
Pilate, trying to avoid a riot, took a bowl of water, washed his hands and said, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.”
“His blood be on us and on our children!”
Barabbas was released. And Jesus was whipped.
Time and again the strips of leather with shards of stone and glass shredded his back as the soldiers whipped him mercilessly, not caring what the crime or whether he deserved this treatment. Jesus could barely stand, his wounded back throbbing, his clothes torn, his physical energy and life draining away.
The soldiers surrounded Jesus, ripped his clothes off and threw royal robe on him, mocking his claim to be a king. Careful not to prick their own hands, they made a crown out of branches with large thorns on them and pressed it into Jesus’ head. Giving him a reed for a scepter they kneeled and mocked, “Hail, King of the Jews.” They spit and hit him with the reed. They pulled the robe back off and draped his own clothes back on him and led him away to the end of his earthly life and his mission.
Jesus staggered under the weight of the cross he carried to his own execution. The soldiers pulled a man from the crowd to carry his cross to
To the soldiers this started as just another day at work. A task they had grown numb to after completing it countless times. They drove the nails through his wrists and feet into the wooden beams of the cross. They then raised the cross and dropped it into its hole in the ground, with Christ’s body in agony over each move. And there Jesus hung. Every breath an agony. Jesus, completely innocent looked down on the guilty crowd of people gathered, saw their sins that required His payment for their salvation, and His love for them held him on the cross. As God in flesh He could have stopped this at any time and removed the pain. Remember? This was the man that fed five thousand with a small lunch, healed the paralytic, made the blind see and the lame to walk. Yet he hung there, not because the nails prevented Him from getting down, but because His love did. His death would pay the price for all the sins from Adam and Eve to the end of the world.
Even as his heart throbbed with compassion for the crowd they continued to mock him.
“He saved others, let him save himself”
“If you are God, the Chosen One, come down from there”
On either side of him a criminal hung, next to this innocent man. The one also cried out, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself, and save us!” The other rebuked him, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” He directed his next comment to Jesus, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus replied, “Today, you will be with me in paradise.”
Around , as Jesus hung, agonizing on the cross, the sun suddenly disappeared. Darkness covered the land for three hours. During that time, in the temple a curtain ripped from the top to the bottom. Before that time, only the priests could enter in the holiest place of the temple to talk with God, now Jesus was opening that door. All could approach the Almighty God through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross. The perfect sacrifice for the impurities in our life had been found and paid.
Jesus cried out, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And he took his last breath.
The soldier standing guard at his cross saw all that had taken place and said, “Truly this was the Son of God.”
Please don’t walk away from this scene lightly. Jesus Christ paid a great price so that we could enjoy eternity in heaven. Because of my sins and your sins, he did this. Because no other perfect sacrifice exists. Because God requires justice. Either we had to go to hell, or Jesus had to die. And out of deep love,
He chose to die
I wrote and taught this for AWANA this past week and got a good response from the students.
Many said it helped them see the crucifixion and understand it more than they had before.
I pray that it does the same for you today.
Of course, it's not the end of the story . . .