Lesson 5 - Jesus Dies in Our Place

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The Cross

Crucifixion. In spite of its cruelty as a form of punishment, crucifixion was practiced throughout the ancient world. The act of crucifixion damanged no vital organs, nor did it result in excessive bleeding. Therefore, death came slowly, sometimes over several days as asphyxiation and fatigue increased. Often, as a further disgrace, the crucified person was denied burial and the body was left on the cross to serve as carrion for the birds and as a warning to potential criminals.

A Plot Against Jesus

The main religious leaders hated Jesus because He preached against their sins. They were jealous because crowds followed Him. He healed the sick people and even

brought several dead people back to life. Jesus fulfilled the prophecies about the Messiah, but still the leaders refused to believe in Him. They decided to arrest Jesus, accuse Him of being a revolutionary, and have Him put to death. However, they were afraid that if they arrested Jesus openly the crowds would defend Him. So they bribed one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, to lead them to Jesus at night.

The Passover

The Passover was a celebration of the time when God set His people free from slavery. Every year at the Passover a lamb was killed as a sacrifice for sin. This was a picture of the coming death of Jesus. When He first began His ministry, John the Baptist had presented Him as "the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world." To do this He had to take the punishment for our sins and die in our place. After Jesus and His disciples ate the Passover supper, Judas betrayed Him.

Jesus in Gethsemane

Jesus Prays

Jesus knew that Judas was going to betray Him. He could have escaped, but He had come to the world to die in our place. He had told His disciples that He would be crucified and on the third day He would come back to life again. After supper He and His disciples went to the Garden of Gethsemane where they often went to pray.

Then they went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James, and John with him, and became very troubled and distressed. He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, even to the point of death. Remain here and stay alert.” Going a little farther, he threw himself to the ground and prayed that if it were possible the hour would pass from him. He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Take this cup away from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:32-36)

It was hard for Jesus, who had never done anything wrong, to take the blame for all the sins of the world. But He wanted to save us from sin. There was no other way to give us eternal life, so He died for our sins.

Jesus is Arrested

While Jesus prayed, angels came to encourage and strengthen Him. His disciples had gone to sleep. Finally, He woke them up to let them know that the time had come. Judas was leading a crowd who would arrest Him.

Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders who had come out to get him, “Have you come out with swords and clubs like you would against an outlaw? Day after day when I was with you in the temple courts, you did not arrest me. But this is your hour, and that of the power of darkness!”

Then they arrested Jesus, led him away, and brought him into the high priest’s house. But Peter was following at a distance. (Luke 22:52-54)

Jesus on Trial

Jesus was on trial six times:

1. Before a retired High Priest
2. Before the active High Priest
3. Before the Jewish rulers
4. Before Pilate, the Roman governor
5. Before Herod, the governor of a neighboring province
6. Before Pilate, the second time

Early in the morning, after forming a plan, the chief priests with the elders and the experts in the law1 and the whole Sanhedrin tied Jesus up, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. (Mark 15:1)

They began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man subverting our nation, forbidding us to pay the tribute tax to Caesar and claiming that he himself is Christ, a king.” So Pilate asked Jesus,“Are you the king of the Jews?” He replied, “You say so.” (Luke 23:2-3)

Jesus replied, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my servants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish authorities. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Then Pilate said,“So you are a king!” Jesus replied, “You say that I am a king. For this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world – to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate asked,“What is truth?”

When he had said this he went back outside to the Jewish leaders and announced,“I find no basis for an accusation against him. But it is your custom that I release one prisoner for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release for you the king of the Jews?” Then they shouted back,“Not this man, but Barabbas!” (Now Barabbas was a revolutionary. (John 18:36-40)

So Pilate asked them,“Do you want me to release the king of the Jews for you?” (For he knew that the chief priests had handed him over because of envy.) But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas instead. So Pilate spoke to them again, “Then what do you want me to do with the one you call king of the Jews?” They shouted back, “Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Why? What has he done wrong?” But they shouted more insistently, “Crucify him!” Because he wanted to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas for them. Then, after he had Jesus flogged, he handed him over to be crucified. (Mark 15:9-15)

Jesus Crucified

Prophecies Fulfilled

Jesus' enemies lied about Him at the trial. The soldiers made fun of Him, spit on Him, and whipped Him. They marched Him through the streets with two criminals, each one carrying his cross on the way to the hill called Calvary. They nailed His hands and feet to the cross and He hung there surrounded by a mocking crowd. This was the Son of God, and these were the men that He was dying for--sinners to be saved from eternal death. He could have called down fire from heaven and destroyed them all, but He prayed: "Forgive them, Father! They don't know what they are doing."

Isaiah had written that the Messiah would die for the sins of the people:

He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds,
crushed because of our sins;
he endured punishment that made us well;
because of his wounds we have been healed.
All of us had wandered off like sheep;
each of us had strayed off on his own path,
but the Lord caused the sin of all of us to attack him.
He was treated harshly and afflicted,
but he did not even open his mouth.
Like a lamb led to the slaughtering block,
like a sheep silent before her shearers,
he did not even open his mouth.
He was led away after an unjust trial–
but who even cared? Indeed, he was cut off from the land of the living;
because of the rebellion of his own people he was wounded. (Isaiah 53:5-8)

Other prophets had written about what would happen at the crucifixion of Jesus. He would be betrayed by a friend. His hands would be pierced. His bones be pulled out of joint. People would mock Him, give Him vinegar to drink, and gamble for His clothes.

Jesus' Death

Not everyone who watched Jesus die was making fun of Him. One of the two thieves believed in Him and was saved from his sins there on the cross beside Jesus.

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:42-43)

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, because the sun’s light failed. The temple curtain was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And after he said this he breathed his last. (Luke 23:44-46)

Now when the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and what took place, they were extremely terrified and said, “Truly this one was God’s Son!” (Matthew 27:5)


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