[From a compilation of the Gospel narratives, all of which add insightful details to the trial, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus. These narrative begin in Mark 15, Matthew 27, Luke 23, and John 18.]
Early in the morning the leading priests and the elders met again to lay plans for putting Jesus to death. Then they bound him, led him away, and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor.
Now Jesus was standing before Pilate, the Roman governor. “Are you the king of the Jews?” the governor asked him. Jesus replied, “So you say.”
But when the leading priests and the elders made their accusations against him, Jesus remained silent. “Don’t you hear all these charges they are bringing against you?”Pilate demanded. But Jesus made no response to any of the charges.
Now it was the governor’s custom each year during the Passover celebration to release one prisoner to the crowd—anyone they wanted. This year there was a notorious prisoner named Barabbas. As the crowds gathered before Pilate’s house that morning, he asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you—Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?”
The leading priests and the elders said,“By our law he ought to die because he called himself the Son of God.” They persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas to be released and for Jesus to be put to death. When Pilate heard this, he was frightened.
He took Jesus back into the headquartersagain and asked him, “Where are you from?”But Jesus gave no answer. “Why don’t you talk to me? Don’t you realize that I have the power to release you or crucify you?”
Jesus said, “You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above. Those who handed me over to you have the greater sin.”
Then Pilate tried to release him, but the Jewish leaders shouted, “If you release this man, you are no ‘friend of Caesar.’Anyone who declares himself a king is a rebel against Caesar.”
Pilate saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere and that a riot was developing. So he sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. The responsibility is yours!”
And all the people yelled back, “We will take responsibility for his death—his blood be on us and on our children!”
So the governor asked again, “Which of these two do you want me to release to you?”
The crowd shouted back, “Barabbas!”
Pilate responded,“Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?”
“Why? What crime has he committed?”
“Crucify him!” yelled the crowd.
Pilate responded,“Take him yourselves and crucify him. I find him not guilty.”
So Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.
The soldiers stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him. They wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head, and they placed a reed stick in his right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mockery and taunted,“Hail! King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and grabbed the stick and struck him on the head with it. When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified.
Along the way, they came across a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. They went out to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”). The soldiers gave him wine mixed with vinegar, but when Jesus had tasted it, he refused to drink it.
The soldiers nailed him to the cross, then gambled for his clothes while keeping guard. A sign fastened to the cross above Jesus’ head announced the charge against him. It read: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” The place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek, so that many people could read it.
The leading priests objected and said to Pilate, “Change it from ‘The King of the Jews’ to ‘He said, I am King of the Jews.’”
Pilate replied,“No, what I have written, I have written.”
The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. “Look at you now! You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!”
The leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders also mocked Jesus. “He saved others but he can’t save himself! So he is the King of Israel, is he? Let him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe in him! He trusted God, so let God rescue him now if he wants him! For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”
Two criminals were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.
One of them scoffed and said, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!”
But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong. Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”
And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
At noon, darkness fell across the whole land. At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. But the rest said, “Wait! Let’s see whether Elijah comes to save him.”
Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened.
The Roman officerand the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, “This man truly was the Son of God!”
The Jewish leaders didn’t want the bodies hanging there the next day, which was the Sabbath. So they asked Pilate to hasten their deaths by ordering that their legs be broken. Then their bodies could be taken down. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the two men crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they didn’t break his legs. One of the soldiers, however, pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water flowed out.
As evening approached, Joseph, a rich man from Arimathea who had become a follower of Jesus, went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Pilate issued an order to release it to him. Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a long sheet of clean linen cloth. He placed it in his own new tomb, which had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a great stone across the entrance and left.
The next day, on the Sabbath, the leading priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate. “Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while he was still alive: ‘After three days I will rise from the dead.’ So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day. This will prevent his disciples from coming and stealing his body and then telling everyone he was raised from the dead! If that happens, we’ll be worse off than we were at first.”
Pilate replied, “Take guards and secure it the best you can.” So they sealed the tomb and posted guards to protect it.
Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb. Suddenly there was a great earthquake! An angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.
Then the angel spoke to the women.“Don’t be afraid! I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.”
The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message. And as they went, Jesus met them and greeted them. They ran to him, grasped his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.”
Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him, but some doubted.
One of the twelve disciples, Thomas, was not with the others when Jesus came. They told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”
Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you. Thomas, put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”
“My Lord and my God!”Thomas exclaimed.
Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”
The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may continue to believethat Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.
If there is one thing that is more clear than ever, it’s that the world is broken, and I’m not saying this just because Michigan and not Ohio State is in the Final Four.
- Shooters (who will use knives if they can’t get guns)
- Sexual harassers and abusers (#metoo movement and human sex trafficking)
- Families literally imprisoning their own children
- Love letters to mass murderers (the Parkland Shooter)
- Twitter abuse that exposes the cruelty that simmers in more people than we knew
- Racism that is a very real ongoing problem in our culture
- This Nxvim cult I have been reading about that literally brands and enslaves women
- Netflix has more and more documentaries about corruption, lies and greed in business
Last week, a friend of Sheila’s was shot by her husband and put in the trunk of his car, where she stayed until one of her six children talked their father into turning himself in.
There is evil at work in the world, and we know it. It’s not just the stories ‘out there’ that get headlines; it's the story of our own life that reveals how all of creation groans as it waits for redemption. (Romans 8:22)
Maybe we have had things done to us that have damaged us. These are the things that we see or experience and we know deep in our souls, “This is not okay. That is not the way life is supposed to be.” We know something is wrong, and we instinctively desire that justice be done, that God deal with evil in the world. The prophet Amos said, “Let justice roll down like a river,” and that resonates with us. (Amos 5:24)
But that will put us in a bind, because we have done things to othersthat deserve condemnation. Something we said or did contributed to the brokenness of this world, and to someone else’s life in particular. We did or said something that was not okay, and honestly, we are the perpetrator, not the victim. Our words or our actions or even our attitudes have hurt others. There are obvious ones where someone is physically hurt, right? But there are more less noticeable ways we go about doing this.
- Our addictions lead us to use and hurt those around us.
- Our pornography use demeans and dehumanizes others.
- Our sarcasm leaves deep scars.
- Our insecurities cause us to lash out at others who have done nothing wrong.
- Our need to be in control makes us cruel and manipulative.
- As parents, we pass on too many of our dysfunctions to our kids, and as kids, we have wounded our parents more than we know.
Let’s be honest: we have all done things that deserve condemnation. There is plenty of guilt to go around. And this means that if God is going to judge evil, God is going to judge us.
Enter Jesus, the incarnation, God in human flesh.On our own, we are spiritually dead. Our sins have doomed us to be swept away by the justice of God. Jesus came to take that flood on himself, and in so doing bring peace between sinful, fallen humanity and a holy God. And because Jesus was fully God and fully human, as a perfect man he satisfied God’s uncompromising justice against sinful humanity; as God, he revealed God’s unfailing love in his sacrifice of himself to pay the penalty He demands.
“God did not, then, inflict pain on someone else, but rather on the Cross absorbed the pain, violence, and evil of the world into himself… this is a God who becomes human and offers his own lifeblood in order to honor moral justice and merciful love so that someday he can destroy all evil without destroying us.” (Tim Keller)
Or, as John so eloquently puts it in Scripture:
“God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, so that whoever believes on Him will not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but so the world through Him could be saved.” John 3:16-17)
Jesus said his death would rescue us from the ultimate penalty that we deserve for what we have done; his resurrection shows that He has the power to do what He says he will do. He has shown us that, in the midst of this broken world, Jesus loves us enough to give his life so that we can truly live, and he is strong enough to offer the only kind of healing and hope that can save even the worst of us sinners. And here is where the radical and perhaps even scandalous message of the gospel really kicks in.
- Jesus came to save those who have been verbally, physically, emotionally or spiritually abused – and those who did the abusing.
- Jesus came to save those who have been used – and those of us who use others for our own selfish gain.
- Jesus came to save the cheated on and the cheater, the back-stabber and the back stabbed, the liar and the lied to, the grudge-holders and the grudge creators.
- Jesus came to save those who self-destruct, and hate, and judge, and lash out, and hurt others.
And since all of us are on this list – probably in every category in some way - that’s great news for all of us.
2,000 years ago, we were visited by a God who entered the world to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). That is still what Jesus does today.
No matter what you have done, or what has been done to you, or what you think of Jesus, it is still true: “That by believing in Him you will have forgiveness of sins, the redemption of your soul, and life everlasting.”