By early dawn, the chief priests were again in consultation with the elders and scribes – planning how they might most speedily effect their plans of putting to death the sinless One. These Jewish priests and elders would give themselves no rest until they had killed the Lord of glory. But at this time, since they were under the authority of the Roman government, the power of life and death was not in their hands. So despite the fact that they were unwilling to submit to the power of the Romans in every other matter, they bound Jesus and took Him to Pilate, the Roman governor, so that he might sentence Him to death.
We naturally shudder at the thought that any human being could desire to have a guilty murderer released, and the innocent Prince of Life crucified. Some would be inclined to consider this as a case of extreme hardness of heart, which is not found in the majority of mankind. But alas! This thought reveals a sad ignorance of human nature, for the very same sort of thing is continually occurring among our own selves. How often we see those who are powerfully exhorted to follow the path of holiness, and who are encouraged to walk in obedience to the laws of a good and merciful God; and yet they willfully choose to resist the invitation, and they stubbornly prefer to walk in the paths of sin and in the service of Satan. What else is this, except choosing Barabbas and rejecting Christ? Was it not our sins that nailed Him to the cross? Yes indeed. Therefore, every willful indulgence in sin is the same as joining ourselves with those who – in their blindness and rage – preferred the murderer over the Lord Jesus. Let us pray for the grace and instruction of the Holy Spirit, so that may learn to hate evil from the bottom of our heart, and to love holiness. And let us not forget to ask ourselves this question: are we deeply moved by a sense of that amazing love, which was willing to suffer in our place? Do we see ourselves represented, so to speak, in the guilty Barabbas? We were great sinners, and yet we were allowed to go uncondemned; while Christ, the innocent Lamb, took our place and died. The Just One suffered for the unjust. Is this the source of our constant wonder, joy, and thankfulness? Surely it ought to be! The angels in heaven are filled with wonder at the plan of man’s salvation; and yet it is sad but true that the very creatures for whose sake Jesus suffered are very often guilty of rejecting His offered mercy, and so they end up perishing after all.
After being clothed with purple, crowned with thorns, and subjected to many cruelties and indignities, Jesus was led outside of the city to His crucifixion. Just at this time, a Cyrenian named Simon happened to pass by, and he was compelled to carry the cross for Jesus to the place of execution. If we desire to reign with Christ, we must learn now to patiently suffer with Him. We must never forget that to be bearers of the cross, in some way or another, is the sign of true discipleship. “If any man will come after me,” Jesus said, “let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”
The wine and myrrh which was offered to our Lord was usually given to dull the senses of the sufferer, and thereby somewhat lessen the anguish of dying upon the cross; but our Savior came to this earth expressly to be the Suffering Servant that Isaiah the prophet spoke of, and so He refused that cup. For our sakes, He allowed Himself to be stripped of His clothes before He was nailed to the cross, so that we might not be found naked on the Last Day; for instead, we shall be clothed with the garments of His salvation, and covered with the robe of His perfect righteousness. It was for our sakes that He died by crucifixion – a death which was not only the most painful, but also the most degrading and shameful (verse 25). It was a death that was reserved for the worst of criminals, and it was considered an accursed death. All this and more, He endured so that we – who deserved to be condemned to hell because of our sins – might be forever blessed. What amazing love! May God help us to feel it more and more, with wonder and delight!
At about 3:00 PM, our blessed Lord yielded up His spirit. And at the same time, the veil that restricted access to the Holy of holies in the Temple was torn in two, from the top to the bottom. This represented the fact that access to the inner part of God’s Temple – that is, heaven – was no longer closed to us. Sin had shut the door, but Christ’s death re-opened it! The Kingdom of heaven is now open to all believers; and although we are wretched sinners, we now have “boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.” We are permitted to enjoy now, by faith, a holy communion with God. He is our reconciled Father through Christ, and we may approach Him as beloved sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty!
Joseph of Arimathaea held a high position of authority among the Jews, and so it was no small test of faith for him to publicly show His love for Jesus by giving His Body an honorable burial, after He had been crucified as a common criminal. And the gentle women who beheld where He was laid, with the intention of doing Him honor, proved their faith and love to their Savior as well. But both Joseph and these women were also very wise. They believed the crucified Jesus to be what we know Him to be – that is, more than a mere man, but also possessing the fullness of the Almighty Godhead!
Lord Jesus, we pray for grace to reflect with gratitude upon all that You endured on the cross for our sakes. We praise Your name for offering a sufficient atoning sacrifice for us, so that we might be reconciled to a right relationship with the Father! Amen.
Prefer to listen?
Join other families all around the globe and receive the full-color, freely downloadable format of these Family Bible Guides in your email every day!
Follow on your favorite social and podcast platforms!