with Alan Bailey
Welcome to this Bible Study. Read what I have written slowly. If you have a Bible look up the reference verses given, and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to your soul through them.
In our last study we looked at the trial of Jesus. Pilate, whose task it was to deal with this case the Jews had put in front of him, was not at all convinced about any guilt on the part of Jesus. Three times he protested that he could find no fault in Him. Also, we are told that Pilate could see that the Jewish leaders had accused Him out of envy. Yet the call of the crowd "Crucify Him!" prevailed. Perhaps Pilate was afraid of a revolt that would not look good to the Roman emperor. He gave the order for the crucifixion, no doubt living with a bad conscience over it all.
We take up the story in –
Verse 25 It was the third hour when they crucified Him.
The third hour would translate as 9 o'clock in the morning. Much had gone on previously from very early hours. You will remember that Jesus was arrested at night, tried before the Sanhedrin, tried before Pilate (and Herod; see Luke 23:6) and whipped and tormented by the soldiers prior to the crucifixion outside the city gate. Also note the detail of the reporting of these events. The other Gospels, Matthew, Luke and John give us similar details. Without doubt, we are reading actual history.
Verses 26, 27 The written notice of the charge against Him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS. They crucified two robbers with Him, one on His right and one on His left.
In John 19:19 we read that the notice pinned to the cross above His head was in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. Pilate was challenged about it by those who opposed Jesus. But Pilate remained firm and left the sign as it was. The death penalty for theft seems cruel to us. Maybe the two were notorious.
Verses 29, 30 Those who passed by hurled insults at Him, shaking their heads and saying, "So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!"
The place where Jesus was crucified was a thoroughfare for pedestrians. People walking past mocked, most of them probably having no idea of what was happening in front of them. The taunt about the temple was misplaced. When Jesus spoke about it, He referred to His body being slain and being resurrected in three days. Suggesting He come down from the cross was simply abuse.
Verses 31, 32 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked Him among themselves. "He saved others," they said, "but He can't save Himself! Let this Christ, this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe." Those crucified with Him also heaped insults on Him.
Of course, these people had no thought of believing in Jesus. They were full of hate and hostility. If Jesus had wanted to, He could have shown them a grand miracle but He had no intention to do that. He had a mission to accomplish and dying on the cross was central to it.*It is well known that one thief did repent and call on Jesus to save him but apparently he was also abusive at first. What he saw and heard changed his mind.
Verses 33, 34 At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"—which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
What a period this must have been! Dark for three hours in the middle of the day. Perhaps more silence than earlier. Then a cry of desolation from Jesus' lips. We may ask why this cry? The answer is not easy. At best we can say that He felt no longer the fellowship and unity He always enjoyed with His Father. The Father could not look upon sin and now Jesus was made sin for us (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). We are beginning to see something of the cost Jesus paid for our salvation. The ninth hour was 3 o'clock in the afternoon.
Verses 35, 36, 37 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, "Listen, He's calling Elijah." One man ran, filled sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a stick and offered it to Jesus to drink. "Leave Him alone now. Let's see if Elijah comes to take Him down," he said. With a loud cry Jesus breathed His last.
When we read this account in the other three gospels we see that Jesus made a number of other short statements. They are known as the Seven Cries from the Cross. All show His compassion and concern for others, including His mother. As he died, He cried loudly "It is finished," and "Into Your hands I commit my spirit." The onlookers thought He was calling on the Old Testament prophet Elijah. But no, it was Elohim, God Himself.
Verse 38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.
This would have been discovered later and noted as being of great importance. The curtain kept people from entering the Holy of Holies. Sinners were not allowed into the presence of God. This symbolic tearing of the curtain showed that a way into the favour of God was opened. It was a very thick curtain, most difficult or impossible to tear. That it was torn from the top indicates that this was the work of God.
Verse 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard His cry and saw how He died, he said, "Surely this man was the Son of God!"
We would wonder how anyone could not be moved witnessing these happenings. A hardened Roman discerned that something quite extraordinary had happened in front of him. Possibly fear gripped those who remained at the cross to see Christ's death.
Verses 40, 41 Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. In Galilee these women had followed Him and cared for His needs. Many other women who had come up with Him to Jerusalem were also there.
These are more details which in fact turn out to be important. These faithful ladies had kept close to the Lord and the disciples over quite a period of time and had supplied various needs which the men had. Possible mainly food items. Now they had bravely faced this ordeal of an unfair trial and the cruel death of their Master and Friend. We will see that they were the first to tell of the Lord's resurrection. Their love for Jesus should be a great example to us.
The great news of Jesus' resurrection will be dealt with in our next study.
We have thought about the heart of the Gospel. The truly most important event in the history of the world is the death of Jesus. That it was for sinners He died is plain to see. He was innocent, yes, holy, yet He took the place of the guilty. Note that even though He was abused through the trial and the cross He never spoke a word against anyone. He never tried to defend himself or decry the injustice of it all. He was "as a sheep before his shearers", submissive, quiet, suffering in silence.
Again, we must ask ourselves the questions "Whose side am I on? Have I bowed the knee and claimed Him as my Lord and Saviour?"
Blessing flows from the cross of Calvary.•