Very early in the morning the leading priests, the elders, and the teachers of religious law – the entire high council – met to discuss their next step. They bound Jesus, led him away, and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor. Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “You have said it.” Then the leading priests kept accusing him of many crimes, and Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer them? What about all these charges they are bringing against you?” But Jesus said nothing, much to Pilate’s surprise.
Jesus agreed that He was the King. A King in those days was the person with ultimate power who set the rules and judged the law breakers. Pilate knew that the Roman Emperor would want Jesus killed for claiming to be a king.
Now it was the governor’s custom each year during the Passover celebration to release one prisoner – anyone the people requested. One of the prisoners at that time was Barabbas, a revolutionary who had committed murder in an uprising. The crowd went to Pilate and asked him to release a prisoner as usual. “Would you like me to release to you this ‘King of the Jews’?” Pilate asked. (For he realised by now that the leading priests had arrested Jesus out of envy.) But at this point the leading priests stirred up the crowd to demand the release of Barabbas instead of Jesus. Pilate asked them, “Then what should I do with this man you call the king of the Jews?” They shouted back, “Crucify him!” “Why?” Pilate demanded. “What crime has he committed?” But the mob roared even louder, “Crucify him!” So to pacify the crowd, 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 fact that Barabbas was released instead of Jesus is like a picture of what Jesus can do for you. Barabbas had done wrong (there wasn’t any doubt about that) and Jesus was innocent. Barabbas was guilty but was set free; Jesus was innocent but sent to die instead of Barabbas. It is Jesus death in your place, taking the punishment you deserve that can set you free too.
Then the soldiers nailed him to the cross. They divided his clothes and threw dice to decide who would get each piece. It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. A sign announced the charge against him. It read, “The King of the Jews.” Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. “Ha! Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, save yourself and come down from the cross!” The leading priests and teachers of religious law also mocked Jesus. “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this King of Israel, come down from the cross so we can see it and believe him!” Even the men who were crucified with Jesus ridiculed him.
Jesus could have just come down from the cross whenever He wanted, He could have called upon thousands of angels to destroy those who had placed Him there. Jesus loved us too much to do that, He wanted to finish the rescue plan so we could be forgiven and become friends with God. Jesus didn’t stay there and suffer and die because He had to, He did it all because He wanted to!
At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
Death by crucifixion was designed to be the most awful way to die that the Roman’s could think of. Not only did Jesus experience terrible physical pain but He also suffered something else. The bad things you do mean you deserve to be separated from God forever. Jesus experienced this separation for you, so that you would not have to experience it. He did it so you would never need to know what it is like to be abandoned by God.
Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. When the Roman officer who stood facing him saw how he had died, he exclaimed, “This man truly was the Son of God!”
Jesus’ death caused the curtain in the temple to be torn in two from the top to the bottom, this was a picture of what Jesus had just achieved by dying on the cross. The curtain was meant to separate the Holy part of God’s temple from the area where people were allowed to go. It was meant to separate God, who was pure and Holy, from the people, who were bad and sinful. Jesus death meant that the curtain keeping people away from God wasn’t needed any more, undeserved forgiveness was now possible.The rip in the curtain began at the top to show that it was God who had made the way to know Him possible!
- Ask Jesus to help you to understand that you can become free, just like Barabbas
- Thank Jesus that even though He could have avoided dying on the cross, He didn’t run away from it but allowed Himself to be killed
- Ask Jesus to help you to come close to God and to know His forgiveness