HOW GOD STAYS IN TOUCH WITH MAN: XXII

The crucifiction of the Lamb of God was an explosive event, forced on Pilate to satisfy the Jewish leaders and their supporters and the Roman Emperor, who was difficult to please. But, by making the “Lamb of God” a contender to the throne of David, to Herod’s throne, and to Caesar’s throne, Pilate had no option left for leniency, but only death. To get Jesus to Golgotha, and to deter from any public interruption, a battalion of Roman soldiers (1000 men) were put in charge. The eye witness, John Mark, had two friends Alexander and Rufus. And their father Simon had to carry the cross for the Lamb of God because the Lamb of God, no longer, was able to carry the cross by Himself. Long after this horrifying shameful act of human degradation, Mark filled this report:

And the soldiers led Jesus away inside the palace (that is the praetorium); and they called together the whole battalion. And they clothed Jesus in a purple cloak, and plaiting a crown of thorns they put it on him. And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they struck his head with a reed, and spat upon him, and they knelt down in homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak, and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him.

And they compelled a passer-by Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus to carry his cross. And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). And they offered him wine mingled with myrrh; but he did not take it. And they crucified him, and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. And it was the third hour, when they crucified him. And the inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on the his left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads, and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!” So also the chief priests mocked him to one another with the scribes, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him (Mark 15:16-32).

THE WILL OF GOD WAS MAPED FOR THE LAMB AND IT COULD NOT BE CHANGED OR CIRCUMVENTED

The night Jesus was destined to become the “Sacrificial Lamb,” Jesus made one last appeal to His Father. Jesus request was: “If it were at all possible, for Him, to avoid taking the cup of redemption for man?” And His Father’s answer was, “Nill” (Mark 14:36). Three times, Jesus implored His Father! His Father was the only “One” who could change the order and let His Son live, but the Father could not let man, His Image and His Likeness, perish (Matthew 26:36-44). God loved the world more than “His Only Begotten Son!” Jesus, the Son of God, who was the only “One” who could save God’s honor by restoring the fallen image of God in man (John 3:16-18). As Jesus had predicted, all of his disciples left and they were scattered. Jesus had to face the cross alone! Jesus was left in the company of two thieves (Matthew 26:31; 27:46). In a special vision, John was given this scene in heaven:

And I (John) saw in the right hand of him (God) who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals; and I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I wept much that no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. Then one of the elders said to me, “Weep not; lo, the Lion of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”

And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders, I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth; and he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints; and they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy art thou to take the scroll and to open its seals, for thou wast slain and by thy blood didst ransom men for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and hast made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on earth.”

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all therein, saying, “To him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be blessings and honor and glory and might for ever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped (Revelation 5:1-14).

JESUS, EVERY STEP HE TOOK, AND EVERYTHING THAT WAS DONE TO HIM, WAS ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES

The Scriptures contained the intentions of God to save mankind and Jesus carried them out to the letter and to the smallest dot. At the time Jesus was crucified, the minds of the disciples and those who participated in writing the Gospels and the Letters, had not allowed the Spirit of Christ to refresh their memories. However, the disciples began to recall their Lord’s references to the Scriptures, long after Pentecost. One of the first followers of Christ, who saw the Lamb fulfill the predictions of the “Suffering Servant” in Isaiah, was Philip who was well versed in the Scriptures. Only Luke reported the meeting between Philip and the Ethiopian:

And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.” So Philip ran to the Ethiopian, and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and he asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless some one guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Now the passage of the scripture which he was reading was this:

“As a sheep led to the slaughter or a lamb before its shearer is dumb, so he opens not his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken up from the earth.”

And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, pray, does the prophet say this, about himself or about some one else?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this scripture he told him the good news of Jesus (Acts 8:29-35).

JESUS PROMISED THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT WOULD HELP HIS FOLLOWERS RECALL HIS LIFE AND HIS TEACHINGS

These things I have spoken to you, while I was still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you (John 14:25-26).

You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. I do not receive glory from men. But I know that you have not the love of God within you. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do no receive me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. How can you believe, who receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God (John 5:39-44)?

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

Then he (the Risen Christ) said to the disciples, “These are the words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:44-49).

IN ADDITION OF THE FORECASTS BY THE LAW, THE PROPHETS, AND THE PSALMS, JESUS TOO HAD SOME FORESIGHT

Jesus, from the day that He was conceived of the Holy Spirit, God had Moses, the Prophets, and David announced His Son’s coming into and leaving the world. These forecasts were highlights and signs that Israel was to take serious and prepare for the coming of the Son of God. And while Jesus was on His way to His final destination as the Lamb of God, He predicted trouble for Jerusalem, He promised paradise to a repentant thief, and He forgave his tortures and crucifiers. Here are some of the most significant forecasts of Jesus’ Life and Jesus’ Mission in the Gospel according to Luke: Jesus was born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14); Jesus was introduced by the Baptist (Malachi 3:1, Isaiah 40:3); Jesus was tempted (Deuteronomy 8:3, 6:13, 16); Jesus began in the Spirit (Isaiah 61:1-2); unbelieving people (Isaiah 6:9); love God and neighbor (Deuteronomy 6:5, Leviticus 19:18); Jerusalem will want Jesus back (Luke 13:34-35; Psalm 118:26); Jesus’ reception on Palm Sunday (Psalm 118:26); Jesus’ cleansing the temple (Isaiah 56:7; Jeremiah 7:11); Jesus rejected the cornerstone (Psalm 118:22); God is for the living (Luke 20:37; Exodus 3:6); whose son is Christ (Luke 20:41-44; Psalm 110:1); Jesus was hung in the company of robbers (Isaiah 53:12); and Jesus’ predicted the woes that would befall the people (Hosea 10:8); (the prediction was fulfilled by the Romans four decades later). While Jesus was on the cross, Matthew added: the soldiers divided his garments, and John noted that Jesus’ cloak was not divided (Psalm 22:18). John remembered the most important forecast about Jesus by Moses (Matthew 5:39-47). Jesus, Emmanuel, will only do deeds and speak the words of God (John 14:23-31).

And the Lord said to me (Moses), “They have rightly said all that they have spoken. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brethren; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not give heed to my words which he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him” (Deuteronomy 18:17-19).

And as the soldiers led Jesus away, they seized Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. And there followed him a great multitude of the people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turning to them said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never gave suck!’ Then they will being to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by, watching; but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming p and offering him vinegar, and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingly power.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:26-43).

So they (soldiers) took Jesus, and He went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the the place of the skull, which is called in Hebrew Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote a title and put it on the cross; it read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. The chief priests of the Jews then said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but “This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”

When The soldiers had crucified Jesus they took his garments and made four parts, one for each soldier. But his tunic was without seam, woven from top to bottom; so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the scripture, “They parted my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.”

So the soldiers did this; but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home (John 19:17-27).

JESUS WAS AT LEAST SIX HOURS ALIVE WHILE HE HUNG ON THE CROSS

The timing of the crucifixion is by approximation. The Gospels differ on the timing and the translators disagree on the drink Jesus was forced to take. The Jewish leaders had still to eat the Passover meal before the sun sat that day. In my own perception, Jesus was crucified by nine in the morning. And Jesus had given up his earthly body by three in the afternoon, and by six in the afternoon darkness covered the area — and God withdrew His Light from his chosen people. God split the curtain in the temple, and — God joined His Son on Golgotha (Matthew 27:45, 51). During this time, in addition to enduring cruciate physical pain, Jesus was mistreated and ridiculed. Jesus suffered from thirst! And one kind Roman soldier tried to give Jesus some wine. However, the Jews demanded that Jesus be given gall — a poison prepared for the worst criminals. Jesus felt forsaken by God, His Father, and He cried out. John Mark may have been closer than anyone else and he gave his testimony, rather than John Zebedee whom Jesus loved. There was another young man Jesus loved, who had access to the high priest’s place, and the Roman palace (Mark 10:21; 14:51-52; John 18:15-16, 20:2, 8).

And when the sixth (in the morning) hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” And one ran and, filling a sponge full of vinegar, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that he thus breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was a son of God.”

There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome, who when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered to him; and also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem (Mark 15:33-41).

It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land, until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, and said, “Certainly this man was innocent!” And all the multitudes who assembled to see the sight, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance and saw these things (Luke 23:44-49).

Pilate also wrote a title and put it on the cross; it read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. The chief priests of the Jews then said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but ‘This man said I am King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered “What I have written I have written.”

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus they took his garments and made four parts, one for each soldier. But his tunic was without seam, woven from top to bottom; so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the scripture, “They parted my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.”

So the soldiers did this; but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home (John 19:19-27).