Near the end of Jesus' ministry and a few days before the Passover, Jesus once again prophesied of his death. He told his disciples that soon he would be handed over to be crucified. Satan was now heavily influencing the religious leaders, those who wanted to kill Jesus, so the chief priests and other Jewish leaders plotted to have Jesus arrested so they could kill Him. Plotting with Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus' apostles, they agreed to pay him 30 pieces of silver if he would find an opportunity to betray Jesus and turn him over to them. During the Passover celebration, Jesus gathered with his apostles in an upper room. Jesus had full knowledge that this would be the last meal that he would share with his apostles before his crucifixion and death. During this meal, best known as the "Last Supper" or "Lord's Supper," Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body." Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Matthew 26:26-28).
After the meal was over Jesus and the others went out to the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives to pray. While Jesus was praying in the garden that night His disciples were struggling to stay awake and pray with Him. While they had fallen asleep, a crowd of Roman soldiers and Jewish officials showed up at the garden with Judas to arrest Jesus. Once arriving in the garden, Judas identified Jesus to the soldiers who had come to arrest him. While the men began to arrest Jesus, Peter (one of Jesus' Apostles) used a sword to cut off a man's ear. Jesus rebuked Peter for doing that saying, "Put your sword back in its place," Jesus said to him, "for all who draw the sword will die by the sword." Jesus healed the injured man's ear and then allowed Himself to be arrested and led away" (Matthew 26:47-56).
Once arrested, Jesus was taken to the house of Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and elders had been gathered waiting for Him. "Now the chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were seeking false testimony against Jesus in order to put Him to death. However, they could not find it, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally, two came forward and declared, "This man said, 'I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.'" So the high priest stood up and asked Him, "Have you no answer? What are these men testifying against you?" But Jesus remained silent. Then the high priest said to Him, "I charge You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God." "You have said it yourself," Jesus answered. "But I say to all of you, from now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven" (this is because Jesus knew the plan of His Father in heaven). At this, the high priest tore his clothes and declared, "He has blasphemed! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?" "He deserves to die," they answered. Then they spat in His face and struck Him. Others slapped Him and said, "Prophesy to us, Christ! Who hit You?" (Matthew 26:59-68).
The high priest, the scribes, and the elders at the house of Caiaphas continued their mock trial of Jesus throughout the night. The next morning all the chief priests and elders of the people conspired against Jesus to put Him to death. "They bound Him, led Him away, and handed Him over to Pilate the governor. When Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was filled with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders. "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood," he said. "What is that to us?" they replied. "You bear the responsibility." So Judas threw the silver into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. The chief priests picked up the pieces of silver and said, "It is unlawful to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money." After conferring together, they used the money to buy the potter's field as a burial place for foreigners. That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then what was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: "They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price set on Him by the people of Israel, and they gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord had commanded me" (Matthew 27:2-10).
Therefore, Jesus was taken before the governor, who questioned Him, "Are You the King of the Jews?" "You have said so," Jesus replied. And when He was accused by the chief priests and elders, He gave no answer. Then Pilate asked Him, "Do You not hear how many charges they are bringing against You?" But Jesus gave no answer, not even to a single charge, much to the governor's amazement. Now it was the governor's custom at the feast to release to the crowd a prisoner of their choosing. At that time, they were holding a notorious prisoner named Barabbas. So when the crowd had assembled, Pilate asked them, "Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?" For he knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him" (Matthew 27:11-18).
During this proceeding and while Pilate was sitting on the judgment seat, Pilate's wife sent him a message telling him to have nothing to do with that innocent man, for she had suffered terribly in a dream overnight because of Him. However, the chief priests and elders were able to persuade the crowds to ask Pilate to release Barabbas and to have Jesus put to death. Satan was behind this plot to kill Jesus bent on ending God's plans for the salvation of mankind. "Which of the two do you want me to release to you?" asked the governor. "Barabbas," they replied. "What then should I do with Jesus who is called Christ?" Pilate asked. They all answered, "Crucify Him!" "Why?" asked Pilate. "What evil has He done?" But they shouted all the louder, "Crucify Him!" When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but that instead a riot was breaking out, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd. "I am innocent of this man's blood," he said. "You bear the responsibility." All the people answered, "His blood be on us and on our children!" So Pilate released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged and handed Him over to be crucified" (Matthew 27:21-26).
After Pilate turned over Jesus to his soldiers, they took Jesus into the Praetorium (the General's tent) and gathered the whole company around Him. They then stripped Jesus and put a scarlet robe on Him, twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on His head, and placed a staff in His right hand. They then mockingly knelt down before Jesus, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" Then they spat on Him and took the staff and struck Him on the head repeatedly. After they had mocked Him, they removed the robe and put His own clothes back on Him. Then they led Him away to crucify Him" (Matthew 27:30-31). Jesus, now humiliated, brutally beaten, and exhausted beyond comprehension was ordered to carry His cross for crucifixion up the hill to Golgotha. This was a site immediately outside Jerusalem's walls where Jesus was to be crucified. Therefore, when Jesus could not continue under the weight of the cross the soldiers found a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and forced him to carry the cross of Jesus the rest of the way.
Once they finally arrived at the place called Golgotha, which means The Place of the Skull, they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall (bitter drink); but after tasting it, He refused to drink it. Once the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they divided up His garments by casting lots (similar to rolling dice). "Above His head they posted the written charge against Him: This is Jesus, the King of the Jews. Two robbers were crucified with Him, one on His right hand and the other on His left. And those who passed by heaped abuse on Him, shaking their heads and saying, "You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross!" In the same way, the chief priests, scribes, and elders mocked Him, saying, "He saved others, but He cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel! Let Him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in Him. He trusts in God. Let God deliver Him now if He wants Him. For He said, 'I am the Son of God.'" In the same way, even the robbers who were crucified with Him berated Him" (Matthew 27:37-44).
In spite of all this, Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34). It was while Jesus was enduring great pain and suffering on the cross, from the sixth hour until the ninth hour (Noon to 3:00 PM); darkness came over all the land. Finally, about the ninth hour, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" which means, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?" When some of those standing there heard this, they said, "He is calling Elijah." One of them quickly ran and brought a sponge. He filled it with vinegar, put it on a reed, and held it up for Jesus to drink. But the others said, "Leave Him alone. Let us see if Elijah comes to save Him" (Matthew 27:46-49).
Until that moment, Jesus had never experienced a spiritual disconnection from the Almighty God, His Father in heaven. That is why He said, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?" Finally, "When Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, He yielded up His spirit. At that moment the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth quaked and the rocks were split. The tombs broke open, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised. After Jesus' resurrection, when they had come out of the tombs, they entered the holy city and appeared to many people. When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified and said, "Truly this was the Son of God" (Matthew 27:50-54).
After Jesus had died on the cross, a Roman soldier pierced the side of Jesus with a spear to make sure He was dead. Two men, Joseph of Arimathea and a man named Nicodemus, had asked permission to take Jesus' body and bury Him. Jesus was taken down from the cross, and He was wrapped in clothe and placed into an empty tomb that was owned by Joseph of Arimathea. A large stone was placed in front of the tomb to close off the burial chamber. "The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and Pharisees assembled before Pilate. "Sir," they said, "we remember that while He was alive that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise again.' So give the order that the tomb be secured until the third day. Otherwise, His disciples may come and steal Him away and tell the people He has risen from the dead. And this last deception would be worse than the first." "You have a guard," Pilate said. "Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how." So they went and secured the tomb by sealing the stone and posting the guard" (Matthew 27:62-66).
It was after the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were on their way to the tomb. Then all of a sudden, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, rolled away the stone from Jesus' tomb, and then sat on it. The angel's appearance was like lightning (intensely bright), and his clothes were white as snow. This caused the guards to tremble in fear of this magnificent angel and the men became like dead men. The angel then spoke to the women who had now arrived, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He has risen, just as He said! Come, see the place where He lay. Then go quickly and tell His disciples, 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him.' See, I have told you" (Matthew 28:5-15).
Thus, the women hurried away from the tomb in both fear and great joy running to tell Jesus' disciples all they saw and heard. Suddenly Jesus met them along the way saying, "Greetings!" They came to Him, grasped His feet, and worshiped Him. "Do not be afraid," said Jesus. "Go, tell My brothers to go to Galilee. There they will see Me." While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened. And after the chief priests had met with the elders and formed a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money and instructed them: "You are to say, 'His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.' If this report reaches the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble." So the guards took the money and did as they were instructed. And this account has been circulated among the Jews to this very day" (Matthew 28:9-15).
Oh what a glorious day it was as God's plan of salvation for mankind was finally upon us, in spite of the plots and ploys of Satan to foil this plan. Jesus was crucified, He died, and was buried just as it was foretold. However, the greatest truth of all of this is that he rose again on the third day just as He said He would! The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the greatest event for mankind, for you and for me. It is essential for mankind to gain eternal life through spiritual rebirth reconnected with our Almighty Creator. This message is the gospel or good news for all of mankind. Jesus was the Lamb of God who He sent to take away the sins of the world. This blog began discussing the awesome work of God to create heaven and earth. We learned how Satan, who was cast out of heaven, caused mankind to sin against God separating Him from them. We saw how disappointed God was with the disobedience of mankind to the point of destroying them all except for Noah and his family. Yet, because of God's love for us, in spite of our disobedient ways, we learned how God sent us His own Son, Jesus the Christ, to die in our place for our sins defeating Satan and opening the one and only door to heaven. In the next chapter, The Gospel: Good News for Mankind, you will learn what all of this good news means for you. We now know what God's plan is, why He needed this plan, and now you need to see how this plan, if applied to your life, can change who you are forevermore.
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