Jesus' Prayer at Gethsemane, His Trial, Execution, and Resurrection
After leaving the place where they had eaten the Passover meal, Jesus led his disciples to the Mount of Olives where he waited for his arrest. As they went to the Mount, they came to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus asked eight of his disciples to wait while he took Peter, James, and John with him to keep watch while he prayed.
As the four left the others and walked along the path, Jesus became very depressed and apprehensive as he thought about the events that would shortly take place.
"And he withdrew from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but yours, be done. And he came to the disciples, and found them asleep, and said to Peter, What, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, your will be done. And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words" (Lk.22: 41-46; Matt.26:40-36 Para.).
Jesus asked his Father three times to stop the events that would lead to his death. But why would Jesus ask his Father to abandon what had been planned before the creation of the earth? The answer is that Jesus did not want to experience the agony and pain of the torturous death that he knew was just hours away if there were another way to accomplish his mission.
Who Was Jesus?
In order to understand why Jesus was so concerned about his impending death, we must remember who he was. This man was God incarnate; he was the Creator of humanity. He had been an immortal spirit-being who possessed the highest form of existence (life that springs forth from itself never dying or decaying). Jesus had never personally experienced the agony and sorrow which precedes a painful death; however, he had seen others suffer and die during the centuries before his birth as a human, and he was well acquainted with death during his human experience. Therefore, he was justifiably apprehensive and did not want to die if there were another way humanity could be saved.
An Angel Appears
"And there appeared an angel to him from heaven, strengthening him" (Lk.22:43 KJV).
In preparation for his three and a half year ministry, Jesus fasted before the Father for forty days (Matt.4:1-11). At the end of this fast, angels came and ministered to him. Although the scriptures do not say what this angelic ministry entailed, it can be assumed that not only were Jesus' physical needs supplied but also he was encouraged to go forward and complete his mission.
Verse 43 shows an occurrence similar to the one that happened at the beginning of Jesus' ministry. Again, we are not told what the angel did but we can assume the angel came to encourage Jesus and discuss the things that would shortly come to pass.
The Blood of Agony
"And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (Lk.22:44 KJV).
As Jesus continued to speak to his Father in prayer and think about the reality of what was going to happen to him, the human side of his nature began to exert more and more pressure upon his thoughts. Remember that Jesus was human and about to face the greatest enemy of humans—death. Jesus was not going to die peacefully, he would have his spiritual character put to the test through humiliating torture. Undoubtedly, he thought about why he had come to earth, the great importance of his mission, the tremendous risk that he was taking being human, and the reality of what would happen if he failed this last test.
There is a condition called haematidrosis that can afflict a person when mental agony becomes so great that it overwhelms the body's nervous system. This condition causes the subcutaneous capillaries that lie just under the skin to dilate and rupture into the sweat glands which causes blood to be expelled with sweat.
It is impossible for any human to comprehend the tremendous mental pressure, agony, and anguish that Jesus experienced as he spoke with his Father, because no human has ever been an immortal being and faced with the decisions that Jesus was faced with.
If Jesus failed to maintain his righteousness before God in this final test of faith, he would have ceased to exist forever. Moreover, humanity would have ceased to exist, because there would be no sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin; therefore, each human would have to die forever for violating the law of God.
The commitment that Jesus made when he gave up his immortality and became a human placed him in the same condition as all of humanity; he had to keep and practice his Father's law perfectly in order to gain salvation, which he did throughout his life.
Up to this point in his life, Jesus was worthy to be given eternal and immortal life, and because he had obtained salvation, he did not have to die for humanity; however, if he did not give his sinless life as the perfect sacrifice for humanity, humanity would have no hope of salvation.
These among other things were on the mind of Jesus as he spoke to his Father in prayer.
THE LORD'S PRAYER
John who was one of those whom Jesus took with him to watch as he prayed was inspired to record the part of Jesus' prayer in which he asked the Father to show favor for two specific groups of people: the eleven disciples who had remained faithful to him up to that point in time, and those who would become his followers after his death and resurrection.
JOHN 17:1-26 KJV
"These words spoke Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify your Son, that your Son also may glorify you:" (v1).
Jesus was now ready to finish his mission and sacrifice his life for the sins of humanity.
"As you have given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as you have given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent" (vs.2-3).
At this point in time, there were very few people whom the Father had chosen to believe his message concerning who he was, who his Son was, and how to enter the Family and Kingdom of God.
"I have glorified you on the earth: I have finished the work which you gave me to do. And now, O Father, glorify you me with your own self with the glory which I had with you before the world was" (vs.4-5).
Here, Jesus asks God the Father to return him to his former state of existence as the immortal Creator God in the Kingdom of God.
"I have manifested your name to the men which you gave to me out of the world: yours they were, and you gave them to me; and they have kept your word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever you have given me are of you. For I have given to them the words which you gave me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from you, and they have believed that you did send me" (vs.6-8).
Jesus had fulfilled his mission to prepare the eleven men whom the Father had called to be leaders in his plan of salvation and he had taught them the truth concerning the God family and their plan for humanity.
"I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which you have given me; for they are yours. And all mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to you. Holy Father, keep through your own name those whom you have given me, that they may be one, as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in your name: those that you gave me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled" (vs.9-12).
Here, Jesus specifically asks God the Father to protect the eleven from harm in order that they too may become a part of the God Family.
"And now come I to you; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word; and the world have hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world" (vs.13-16).
Because these eleven had been selected by the Father for the purpose of learning about the Family of God and his purpose for humanity, they were considered a part of the spiritual family of God as Christ was. Therefore, these people needed God the Father to protect them from the evil that rules the earth.
"Sanctify them through your truth: your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth" (vs.17-19).
Jesus asks that these eleven be set apart for the holy purpose of carrying on the work of preaching and teaching God's truth and his coming Kingdom, which will bring peace and establish God's rule on earth. He then asks that the same consideration be afforded to all those who, in the future, would believe in him through the efforts of these eleven.
"Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me. And the glory which you gave me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them, as you have loved me" (vs.20-23).
Here, Jesus speaks of all those whom the Father has called and will call to be in the first resurrection. He also expresses his desire for their success, so that they may also experience the awesome glory of life as a son in the Family of God:
"Father, I will that they also, whom you have given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which you have given me: for you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world have not known you: but I have known you, and these have known that you have sent me. And I have declared to them your name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith you have loved me may be in them, and I in them" (vs.24-26).
After finishing his prayers to his Father, Jesus allowed the disciples to sleep a little longer. Then, hearing a crowd approaching and knowing that the time of his betrayal was at hand, he woke the eleven and they went over the brook Cedron into a garden to wait for his betrayal and arrest. See Matt.26:45-46; Mk.14:41-42; Jn.18:1.
"Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that does betray me. And while he yet spoke, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast" (Matt.26:45-48 KJV).
"When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where there was a garden, into which he entered, and his disciples. And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus often resorted there with his disciples. Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, comes there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said to them, Whom do you seek? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth" (Jn.18: 1-5 KJV).
The "I AM"
"Jesus said to them, I AM . . . As soon as he had said to them, I AM, they went backward, and fell to the ground. Then asked he them again, Whom seek you? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth" (Jn.18: 5-7 KJV).
Jesus plainly told those who came to arrest him that he was "I AM." There is no doubt by their actions, these people understood Jesus said he was the Creator God—the I AM. This announcement was so startling to them that they fell to the ground for fear of what he might do to them if he were indeed God.
"Jesus answered, I have told you that I AM: if therefore you seek me, let these go their way: That the saying might be fulfilled, which said, Of them which you gave me have I lost none" (Jn.18:8-9 KJV).
Here, Jesus speaks of the prophecy in Psalms 109:6-8 concerning the loyal disciples and the one who would betray him. See also Jn.17:12; Acts 1:20.
Peter Uses His Sword
"Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and struck the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus (Jn.18:10 KJV). " And he [Jesus] touched his ear, and healed him" (Lk.22:51 KJV).
In defense of Jesus, Peter pulled his sword and struck one of the high priest's servants on the head cutting off his ear. Seeing what Peter had done, Jesus touched the man's ear and healed the wound. Even while being betrayed, Jesus shows his great empathy, compassion, concern, and love by healing a person who had come to cause him harm.
"Then Jesus said to Peter, put your sword into its sheath: the cup which the Father has given me, Shall I not drink it?" (Jn.18:11).
"For all who take the sword shall perish with the sword. Or do you think that I am not able to call on my Father, and he will place beside me more than twelve legions of angels? How then should the scripture be fulfilled, that it must happen this way?" (Matt.26: 52-54).
"In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, Have you come out to take me with swords and clubs, as against a robber? I sat daily with you, teaching you in the temple, and you did not lay hands on me. But this all is happening that the scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled. Then all the disciples ran away, forsaking him" (Matt.26: 55-56 Para.). See Matt.26:31; Mk.14:50; Zech.13:7.
Jesus Taken Prisoner
The horror of the night that Jesus was about to spend in the hands of his captors is almost impossible to describe. By early morning, the strong and healthy carpenter's son would be reduced into a man who was weak, bruised, bleeding and barely alive by merciless beating and torture.
"Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him, And led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year" (Jn.18:12-13 KJV).
"Now Annas had sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest" (Jn.18:24 KJV).
Christ Condemned to Death by the High Priest
"And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none. For many bare false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together. And there arose certain, and bare false witness against him, saying, We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands. But neither so did their witness agree together" (Mk.14: 55-59 KJV).
"False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge things that I knew not. They rewarded me evil for good to the spoiling of my soul" (Psa.35:11-12 KJV).
"And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, Answer you nothing? what is it which these witness against you? But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said to him, Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am: and you shall see the son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest tore his clothes, and said, What need we any further witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy: what think you? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death" (Mk.14:60-64 KJV). See also Matt.26:59-65; Lk.22:66-71.
Unworthy of Death
Under the Law of God, there must be at least two witnesses to a crime before a person can be convicted and punished. Because there were no witnesses to a crime, Jesus should have been released; however, Jesus knew the prophecies concerning the Lamb of God, so he told them who he was and for what purpose he had come.
Jesus Sent to Pilate
Because the Jews were a captive people under the rule of the Roman Empire, it was unlawful for the Sanhedrin to execute anyone found guilty of violating their religious law without first obtaining Roman approval. Therefore, they sent Jesus to Pontius Pilate to be sentenced to death. However, after Pilate had spoken to Jesus, he could find nothing that would be worthy of death and he wanted to release him:
"And having called together the chief priest and rulers and the people, Pilate said to them, You have brought this man to me as perverting the people. And, behold, examining him before you I found nothing blamable in this man regarding that which you charge against him. But neither did Herod; For I sent you up to him, and, behold, nothing worthy of death is done by him. Therefore I will chastise him, and release him" (Lk.23:13-16 Para.).
"Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spoke again to them. But they cried, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. And he said to them the third time, Why, what evil have he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go. And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed" (Lk.23: 20-23 KJV).
"And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas to them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified. And the soldiers led him away into the hall, called Praetorium; and they called together the whole band. And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head, And began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews! And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing their knees worshiped him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put his own clothes on him, and led him out to crucify him" (Mk.15:15-20 KJV).
The Roman Scourging
Roman scourging was one of the most cruel and horrible kinds of punishment of that time and was known as the "halfway death," because those who were administering it were supposed to stop just before a person died from the punishment. The Roman scourging was so deadly that it was supposed to be administered by a specially trained man called a lictor. The instrument of punishment was called a flagellum, and was a short piece of wood which had several strips of leather attached to it on which were tied small pieces of bone, chain, or metal. When the lictor brought the flagellum down hard upon the victim, it would bruise, cut and tear the flesh, causing internal and external bleeding.
Because of the severity of Roman scourging, it was not to be administered in addition to another punishment, because the scourged person would often die from his injuries.
The Broken Body
"Just as many were astonished over you—so much was the disfigurement from man, his appearance and his form from sons of man" (Isa.52:14 Para.).
The beating that Jesus suffered at the hands of the Roman soldier bruised and tore his flesh so much that it disfigured him to the point that he was unrecognizable as a man.
By His Stripes You Are Healed
"But he was wounded and bruised for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace; he was lashed and we were healed!" (Isa.53: 5 TLB).
The Hebrew words for wounded and bruised are halal and daka which mean to fatally wound, bore through, or pierce, and to be crushed, contrite, or broken. Both of these words foretell the kind of beating and torturous death that Jesus would endure as the sacrifice for humanity.
The beating Jesus suffered at the hands of the Roman soldier was undeserved, because he had not committed a crime worthy of such punishment.
It is because of the torturous beating Jesus suffered, and the pouring out of his life blood that you and I can be spiritually healed (i.e., have our sins removed) and have the peace of mind which comes as a result of knowing that our sins are forgiven through his perfect sacrifice. See Jn.14:27; Rom.8:6; Phil.4:7.
The healing that comes through Christ's abused body and sacrificial blood is the healing of a person's spirit corrupted by their violation of God's law. The application of Christ abused body and sacrificial blood, removes the barrier of sin and heals the breach between a person and the Sovereign God, which allows for a peaceful and harmonious relationship to exist between a person, the Sovereign God, and Christ.
After Jesus was scourged, Pilate again brings Jesus before the Jews and tells them that he can find no fault in him. The scriptures record that Pilate tried to release Jesus three times. But, each time he tried, the religious leaders and rulers of the Jews refused to accept his decision and became so forceful in their demand for the execution of Jesus that they even denied the sovereignty of God as their King:
"Pilate therefore went forth again, and said to them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that you may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them, Behold the man! When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate said to them, Take you him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him" (Jn.19:4-6 KJV).
"And from then on Pilate sought to release Jesus: but the Jews shouted, If you let this man go, you are not a friend of Caesar: whoever claims to be a king speaks against Caesar. When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus before him, and sat down in the judgment seat . . . and said to the Jews, Behold your king! But they shouted, Away with him, crucify him. Pilate said, Shall I crucify your king? And the chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar" (Jn.19:12-15 Para.).
Pilate Washes His Hands
"When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. "I am innocent of this man's blood," he said. "it is your responsibility!" All the people answered, "Let his blood be on us and our children!" (Matt.27:24-25 NIV).
The following two things are of prophetic importance:
- As a final act of denying any responsibility for the death of Jesus, Pilate commanded that a bowl of water be brought to him so that he could wash his hands. This washing of hands that Pilate did was not a Roman custom; it was part of the law as recorded by Moses in Deuteronomy, chapter 21, and was done to proclaim innocence for a murder for which no guilty party could be found. Pilate did this to show that neither he nor Rome were to be blamed for the death of Jesus.
- When the people said, "let his blood be upon us and our children".
- they accepted the responsibility for the murder of Jesus.
Christ Crucified on the Passover
"And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he [Pilate] said to the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away, Away! Crucify him! Pilate said to them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. Then delivered he him therefore to them to be crucified. And they [the soldiers and the Priests] took Jesus, and led him away" (Jn.19:14-16 KJV).
These verses are extremely important because they document that Jesus would be executed on the same day that Passover lambs were being sacrificed.
On the Cross
While Jesus hung on the crucifixion tree and the people watched, there were a number of prophecies concerning the Messiah as the Lamb of God that were fulfilled (Only a few will be detailed here):
"And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do . . ." (Lk.23:33-34 KJV). See also Mk.15:27-28.
"And he was numbered with the transgressors; and bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors" (Isa.53:12 KJV).
"And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matt.27:46 KJV).
Death is an experience that no person can totally share with another. Each must pass from this life to death unaccompanied by friends or loved ones. Death is the most lonely and solitary experience that anyone can experience.
Although there were many people watching the crucifixion, Jesus was totally alone in his innermost thoughts; there was no one with whom he could share his pain, his agony, or his thoughts––he was totally alone in his moment of death.
Jesus had always had the comfort of knowing he had access to the Father; he could always call upon the limitless power of the holy spirit as he performed his ministry and he could command the angels to defend and protect him. But now, because he had committed to giving his life in exchange for the forgiveness of sin, he was as any other human; he was without the power to stop the progression of events which would lead to his death. Jesus was going to die alone just as any other human.
As his physical pain increased and the realization that he was totally alone sank deep within his consciousness, Jesus felt the overpowering emotion of being alone. In this moment of great need of comfort and support he cried out to his Father for encouragement: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Yes, the Father had forsaken him in the moment of his death. Not even God the Father can accompany a person in death (Matt.22:32). The Father could not reach down in this moment of his son's greatest need and save him. If he had done this, Jesus would not have suffered death as other humans suffer death and he would not totally understand the human experience. But Jesus did die as a human dies; therefore, we now have a high priest who truly understands us in every way.
Hebrews 2:9-10 KJV; 14-18 NIV
"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through suffering" (vs.9-10 KJV).
"Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the Devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death" (vs.14-15 NIV).
"For surely it is not the angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants. For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people" (vs.16-17 NIV).
"Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted" (v18 NIV). See also Heb.5: 6-8; Phil.2:5-8.
The Unbroken Bones John 19:31-37
"Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down" (v31 NIV).
It is important to understand why the Jews were in a hurry to have the bodies removed and buried.
Not only was that day the preparation for the Passover but also one of those rare times when the Passover ceremony, the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, and the weekly Sabbath all fell on the same day.
During that time in history, the Jews believed that it would defile the Sabbath or a festival day to leave a body unburied on one of these days. Therefore, the Jews were very anxious to remove the bodies and bury them before sunset.
This hurried removal leads to the fulfillment of two more prophecies concerning Jesus as the Messiah and the Passover Lamb.
Jesus Stabbed to Death
"The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs" (vs.32-33 NIV).
"But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: . . . that you might believe. For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. And again another scripture says, They shall look on him whom they pierced" (vs.34-37 KJV).
These verses show that the prophetic symbolism of the Passover lamb's sacrificial blood and unbroken body were fulfilled in the body of Jesus when he was crucified:
"And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink you all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matt.26:27-28 KJV).
"He keeps all his bones: not one of them is broken" (Psa.34:20 Para.). See also Ex.12:46; Num.9:12.
The Father's Lamb
The death of Jesus is the final fulfillment of prophecies concerning God the Father's sacrificial Passover Lamb. The Israelites of the first Passover received physical salvation from death because of the protective blood of the sacrificed lamb. The blood was a sign to God that those symbolically under it were to receive his protection from the death angel. Now, those who accept the sacrificial blood of Jesus can claim its protection from eternal death:
"Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world" (Jn.1:29 KJV). See also verse 36.
"For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us" (1.Cor.5:7 KJV).
The Veil of Separation is Torn
"And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the spirit. And the veil of the temple was torn in half from the top to the bottom" (Mk.15:37-38 KJV).
"After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost" (Jn.19:28-30 KJV).
"And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life" (Matt.27:50-52 NIV).
Consider the enormous significance of this monumental historical event. Picture Jesus' loud and painful cry "it is finished" (Jn.19:30) as the Roman soldier plunges a spear deep into his side and his life blood drains to the ground. At the same instant, the temple veil tears apart as a powerful earthquake shakes Jerusalem. Furthermore, picture the high priest who, having just condemned Jesus to death the night before, was splashing the blood of Passover lambs against the altar of God.
In these scriptures, we see three other things of extreme importance to the fulfillment of prophecy—then, now, and in the future:
- The curtain of separation torn from top to bottom
- The tombs opened and the dead raised to life
- Jesus acknowledged as the Son of God
Curtain of Separation
The tearing of the curtain of separation from top to bottom forever opens the way for all humanity to eventually fellowship directly with God the Father.
This curtain separated the holy place where the presence of God dwelled on the mercy seat from everyone but the high priest. This curtain was a constant reminder to the Israelites that their access to God depended on another physical human, and that this access was only granted through the physical works of the sacrificial system.
When Jesus cried out "it is finished" and the curtain tore, the relationship between God and humanity was altered forever.
This is the moment in time that Jesus spoke of to the woman of Samaria when he foretold that the existing worship system would be abolished, and that those who wanted to worship God would no longer need to travel to a specific location to worship:
"The woman said to him, Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you say that in Jerusalem is the place where it is necessary to worship. Jesus said to her, Woman believe me that an hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth" (Jn.4:19-23 Para.).
No longer would a physical man be required to offer animal sacrifices for sins. Any who truly worships the Father can now stand before him and present their own cause to him, knowing that he will hear and consider their prayer because of the sacrifice of Jesus the Christ.
"Wherefore remember, that you being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at the time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus you who sometimes were far off are made near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in the ordinances; for to make in himself of two one of new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both to God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby" (Eph.2:11-16 KJV).
With the tearing of the curtain, all who worship God, whether Jew or Gentile, have access to the throne of mercy by the one and final sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. See Heb.4:15-16; 6:18-19; 9:1-15; 10:19-22.
"For through him we both have access by one spirit to the Father. Now therefore you are fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God" (Eph.2:18-19 KJV).
The Dead Raised
The earthquake and resurrection of the righteous dead at the death of Jesus pertains to a number of prophetic events for that time and the future.
This event was evidence that God had fulfilled his promise contained in the many prophecies about the redemption of humanity. A way was now open for all who would truly worship God to have victory over sin and death. This event also pointed toward the future when a great earthquake will shake the entire earth before Christ returns to gather the righteous dead of all ages to meet him in the air. See 1.Thes.4:16-17.
This resurrection of the dead shows the following:
- Christ's blood is life-giving as pictured in the blood of the Passover lamb and the blood of Christ has now wiped away the penalty of death (Rom.6:23) for all those who only had their sins covered by the sacrifice of animals.
- There will be a time when all those who have or will have lived a righteous life, will be given eternal and immortal life.
- The great enemy, death, has lost its power over humanity through the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ.
Speaking of the resurrection of the dead and the transformation to eternal and immortal life at the return of Jesus Christ the apostle Paul said:
"So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1.Cor. 15:54-57 KJV). See Psa.98:1-2; Isa.25:8.
The Son of God
"Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying Truly this was the Son of God" (Matt.27 : 54 Para.). See also Lk.23:47.
The Jews had rejected Christ as the Messiah and murdered him as their fathers had murdered many others whom God had sent to teach them his laws and ways of life. To their shame, it was a Roman centurion, not an Israelite, who recognized and acknowledged Jesus as the Son of God. See Psa.118:22-24; Jer.8:9; Matt.13:57; 21:42.
There are many important truths revealed in this Passover study; however, the greatest of these truths is that the Creator God of all humanity loved his creation more than his own life and this immortal being who had existed throughout eternity willingly gave his life so we can escape punishment for our lawlessness.
Christ stood in our place and paid the penalty for our individual sin. For this sacrifice, we owe him our life, gratitude, praise, and loyalty forever.
By B.L. Cocherell b5w23