The Trials and the Cross

Christ on the Cross

There is a lot that we can say about this day, but I’m going to start off by summarizing what took place this day. I would encourage further and deeper study of the day’s events.

Jesus was first brought to the high priest, where he was questioned about His disciples and His doctrine. This was clearly unlawful as the Hebrew Code required that the person being accused had to be in front of the court, and he was protected from testifying against himself. Jesus knew his rights, and he questioned them as they questioned him. Now their plan was to conspire against Jesus and put him to death, but they found no witness against Jesus to do such a thing.

Eventually two false witnesses came. “At the last came two false witnesses, and said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.” Others, however, testified: “We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.” As you can see these two witnesses didn’t agree with each other, which was a problem.

At the beginning of Christ’s ministry, he went to the temple to clear out the Temple. He was questioned about his authority and demanded a sign, and Jesus responded with, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Jesus was referring to his body as the Temple at that time, but they did not realize this. As we know, the Jews were the destroyer, and he was the restorer.

Jesus was continuously questioned, and eventually brought before Pilate. It was the Jews intention to not only put Jesus to death by Roman sanctions, but also execute him by Roman execution.

This was important. Execution by crucifixion was a Roman execution. By Hebrew law, the penalty of blasphemy (which is what they were saying was his crime) would have been to stone him, and the Jews never practiced execution by crucifixion. Jesus foretold that his death would have been by crucifixion, and therefore he had to be sentenced under Roman law. Also, if he was sentenced by Jewish sentencing, a violent uprising may have resulted from those who believed in Him, and the priest did not want that on their hands.

“And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Cæsar, saying that he himself is Christ a King.”

This was clearly not the case, but it was their way of showing to the people that Jesus’s blasphemy was against Rome. Pilate eventually sent them away and Jesus was brought before Herod, who was at this time tetrarch of Galilee and Perea, and though it was not sanctioned, was called king. Herod eventually sent Jesus back to Pilate.

This time Pilate gave the people a choice, to either execute Jesus and pardon a murder, or execute the murder and free Jesus. The people called for Jesus to be crucified. Pontius Pilate, having reluctantly surrendered to the clamorous demands of the Jews, issued the fatal order; and Jesus was led away to be crucified.

The Crucifixion

Two criminals, sentenced of robbery, was also being crucified at the same time Jesus was. The sentence of death by crucifixion required that the condemned person carry the cross upon which he was to suffer. Jesus started on the way bearing His cross. Because of everything Jesus had faced he was moving very slowly. Eventually another man was compelled to carry it for Jesus. No one would have voluntarily done this.

Once they reached the destination of the crucifixion, Jesus was put on the central cross, with the two criminals one his left and right side. This method of execution was meant for the person being executed to suffer for many hours and sometimes days. The Lord was nailed to the cross by spikes driven through the hands and feet, as was the Roman method. The spikes so cruelly driven through hands and feet penetrated and crushed sensitive nerves and quivering tendons, yet inflicted no mortal wound. The welcome relief of death came through the exhaustion caused by intense and unremitting pain, through localized inflammation and congestion of organs incident to the strained and unnatural posture of the body.

As those crucifying Jesus performed their tasks, Jesus prayed “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

Eventually Jesus was lifted up with a crown of thorns and a sign that said, “I am King of the Jews”. At this point people started mocking Jesus, and telling him to save himself, and many other forms of mockery. Eventually the thieves that was crucified with him joined in and told Jesus to save himself. However as the thieves watched Jesus and the way he was handling all of this, one of the men fell into penitence and rebuked the other thief, saying:

“Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”

To the appeal of penitence the Lord replied: “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

No mention is found of the presence of any of the Twelve, save one, the disciple John the apostle. We do know that Judas, having been filled with grief of what he had done, hung himself. It was also noted that Among those standing at the cross was Jesus’s mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. Jesus watched his mother weeping, and said “Woman, behold thy son!” and to John, “Behold thy mother!” The disciple tenderly led the heart-stricken Mary away from her dying Son, and “took her unto his own home.”

Jesus was nailed to the cross probably between nine and ten o’clock. At noon a black darkness spread over the whole land, which continued for a period of three hours. It was a fitting sign of the earth mourning the death of Christ.

At about 3 in the afternoon, Christ said with agony: “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” While suffering the pains of the crucifixion, it appears that the agony Jesus faced at Gethsemane has reappeared. Jesus, who was slowly dying on the cross, was now alone; Heavenly Father had withdrawn the support of His immediate Presence, leaving to the Savior of men the glory of complete victory over the forces of sin and death.

This though soon passed, and the natural cravings of thirst was really powerful, and Jesus was recorded saying, “I thirst” and Jesus was given a sponge of vinegar. John affirms that Christ uttered the exclamation, “I thirst,” only when He knew “that all things were now accomplished”; and the apostle saw in the incident a fulfilment of prophecy.

Fully realizing that He was no longer forsaken, but that His atoning sacrifice had been accepted by the Father, and that His mission in the flesh had been complete, He exclaimed in a loud voice: “It is finished.”He then addressed the Father saying: “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” He bowed His head, and voluntarily gave up His life.

After Jesus’s death, he was taken down and put in a tomb.

There is a lot that happened today, and there was a lot that we could talk about regarding this day. Having suffered all the the night, and was beaten and then crucified, just the physical torture that Jesus endored was amazing. Not once did he show hatred. Not once did he give up on what he had to do in order to fulfill his mission. How many of us could have dealth with this? Jesus clearly had the power to give up his life voluntarily as he did on the cross, and he could have done that at any time.

There are some points that I want to mention about this day. Today was an important day. It events continued to fulfill the prophecy that Jesus came to fulfull. However, we need to remember that the Garden of Getheseme was the start of Jesus Christ atoning for our sins. He had to suffer every sin for every person in the past and in the future. The cross was the ending of his suffering. Jesus had to suffer through all of this in order to give us the greatest gift we can ever be offered, and that is the atonement.

We also have to remember that Jesus lives. He was eventually resurrected, in a physical body. This is great news, and this is important for all Christians.

References
Jesus the Christ

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