It was a somber Savior who approached Jerusalem that Passover, the 33rd Passover of His life; the 3rd of His ministry. The crowd who awaited Him was exhilarated because if ever there was a Messiah, this was him. This one who did Messianic miracles (Isaiah 35) and who could lead Israel to freedom. But Jesus wept as He entered Jerusalem to the crowd’s hosannas because He knew they did not understand “the things that make for peace.” Repentance and obedience to God were those things. Instead, Israel wanted political change. (Sound familiar?) Jesus knew the betrayal and national rejection that awaited Him upon His disappointing the nation’s expectations.
He arranged for a colt, the foal of a donkey, to be brought to Him because Zechariah 9 prophesied that Messiah would come to Jerusalem on just such a beast depicting the humility of Israel’s king. King to the common man.
He then entered the Temple complex and there in the Court of the Gentiles saw that it had been turned into a bazaar where animals for sacrifice were sold. Because it was merely the Court of the Gentiles, the nation felt it could be sacrificed to commerce. Jesus said “My Father’s house is to be a house of prayer for all the nations, but you have made it a robber’s den.” The Jew had lost sight of his mission. Malachi wrote hundreds of years earlier, “O that there was one that would shut the gates and not uselessly kindle fire on my altar.” (Malachi 1:10) Jesus was the one who shut the gates as He drove the money changers from the temple.
The next day He passed by a fig tree, a symbol of Israel, and like Israel at the Triumphal Entry having leaves but no fruit. Jesus cursed the fig tree as God would curse Israel. It would never bear fruit again. Israel has not either.
Jesus was surrounded the next day by the nation’s leaders. Pharisees, Sadducees, priests and Herodians all played “bull in the ring” with Christ, surrounding Him with challenges.
- “Do we pay taxes?”
- “Is there a resurrection?”
- “What’s the greatest commandment?”
- The result? “No one asked Him any more questions.”
- He then delivered His most scathing denunciation of the Pharisees in Matthew 23 . . . “Woe unto you Pharisees, hypocrites” . . . and then issued His fatal declaration of Israel. “Your house is being left to you desolate. You will not see me again until you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” Desolation, deportation and darkness until the nation calls Him blessed. Thus has been the exiled and darkened Jew since Christ’s death.
- He then delivered the Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24 and 25 concerning the events surrounding Israel prior to His return.
- And then He retired to an arranged upper room to celebrate with the twelve the Passover that was about to be fulfilled in His death. There He explained the coming Christian age and the work of the Spirit in the coming church age.
- Judas came with the soldiers to arrest Him in the night.
- But Jesus and the 11 had moved to Gethsemane.
- Judas and the soldiers arrive in Gethsemane.
- In Gethsemane, Christ, like Adam, faces a decision in a garden to submit to God or rebel and preserve Himself . . . “Not My will but Thine be done.” “Through the one act of obedience the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5) Christ submitted where Adam rebelled.
- After being arrested late at night He is taken to the first of six trials – three religious before Israel and three Gentile or civil. To avoid an insurrection of the Jewish multitude all must be done in the dead of night. Jesus must be found twice guilty by Israel and executed by Rome all before Jerusalem arises the next morning.
- Jesus goes before Annas the godfather of the current high priests – He is found innocent.
- Then before the Sanhedrin, who is waiting for Him assembled in the dead of night. He is tried for sedition, but again, He is found innocent, and physically beaten and mocked by the Council.
- He is held in a prison for the a.m. hours before daybreak.
- Again the Sanhedrin assembles early to rubber stamp Him again as guilty, not of sedition but of blasphemy. Thus He is found guilty twice before He goes to Pilate and the Roman trial and execution.
- He goes to Pilate quickly for a cursory trial whereby He can be crucified and displayed as a false King and a weak and cursed man. The first Roman trial, however, was a failure as no charge of sedition could be found against Him.
- Pilate, hearing that Jesus was from Galilee, dismissed Him to be tried by Herod, the Roman ruler of Galilee, who was in Jerusalem for the Passover.
- Herod mocked Him but could find no guilt in Him of sedition so He was sent back to Pilate.
- Pilate sought to release Him but was shouted down. Pilate then offered the crowd the release of one prisoner – Barabbas, an insurrectionist and certainly a seditionist or Jesus, an accused The crowd took Barabbas.
- Pilate then had Jesus scourged and physically beaten by the soldiers. A purple robe to mock His claim was placed on Him. He then stands with Pilate before the crowd and His weakness is put on display. “Behold the Man,” says Pilate. Then, “Behold your King.” “Shall I crucify your King?” The crowd responded, “We have no King but Caesar.” Pilate responded, “What evil has He done?”
To Pilate’s reticence the crowd shouted to Pilate that if he did not crucify Christ “you are no friend of Caesar.”
- Pilate washed his hands publically at the Judgment Seat to absolve him of the obvious guilt of condemning an innocent man. The crowd responded, “His blood be on us and our children” and in so doing invoked the curse of God.
- Jesus was led to be crucified, carrying His cross. He collapsed under the burden and a Jew from North Africa name Simon was pressed into service as no soldier was willing to bear it.
- On Calvary a drink was offered to Him as a sedative – a bitter concoction called “gall.” It was refused as He needed nothing to make Him easy to handle. He would die willingly.
- Two thieves were crucified. One on His right and one on His left as He was “numbered among transgressors.”
- Here began the first of the seven words of the cross as Christ would suffer for six hours, just as there was six days of creation. For three hours at the hands of men and three at the hand of God.
- “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” This He prayed for the soldiers who crucified Him. That God would allow them to live after laying hands on the Son of God. As the crowd and two thieves cursed Him, one of the thieves became convinced of His innocence and the truthfulness of the wording above Him – “Jesus of Nazareth. King of the Jews.”
- “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” One request would bring a sinner into the Kingdom.
- He then made sure His mother was cared for as this was a Jewish firstborn’s responsibility. He gave Mary into the care of John. “Behold thy son.” “Behold thy mother.” Jesus was a responsible son till the end. For three hours He entered the silence and darkness of the judgment of God. The entire Bible before and after looks forward to and back to this event and yet the Bible is silent as if a curtain is drawn like the Holy of Holies. It was in these three hours that “He who knew no sin became sin.” Here the atonement took place.
- After three hours of darkness and judgment Jesus cried out “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” In these words it was established that He had been forsaken by God but for nothing that He had done. It was for others.
- His next words were “I thirst” because He had gone through the enormous exertion of bearing man’s sin and enduring the Father’s wrath.
- After receiving sour wine on a stalk of hyssop, He cried with a loud voice, “It is finished.”
- the atonement was accomplished
- the prophecies fulfilled
- payment made
- wrath satisfied
- man reconciled
- Satan defeated
- His last words were, “Father, into Thy hands I commit my spirit.” Sinners dying on a tree do not have the hope of R.I.P. Jesus did, as He was the Holy One of God.
The passion of Christ was finished. He was placed in a tomb.