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Jesus' crucifixion November 8 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Mark 15:22-41; Matthew 27:33-56; Luke 23:33-49; John 19:17b-37

Seven Responses to the Cross

Jesus suffered what today might be considered a hate crime. He was hated because of his religious beliefs and his popularity. In previous lessons we learned how Jesus was unjustly arrested, accused, beaten, and tried in courts of law, even though he was innocent and not convicted of any civil crime (he was only convicted of a religious crime for claiming to be the Son of God, which was not punishable by any civil authorities). Before the Roman authorities the religious leaders accused Jesus of subverting the nation, of opposing the payment of taxes (Jesus said the opposite; see Luke 20:25), and calling himself a king (Luke 23:2). All of these allegations were false, and the accusations did not stick. Governor Pilate punished Jesus, but that did not suffice. The religious leaders and many of the Jewish people cried out for his crucifixion. “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar,” (John 19:12b, NIV). The chief priests shouted, “We have no king but Caesar,” (John 19:15, NIV). Finally, because of political pressure on Pilate by the Jewish leaders, he turned Jesus over to Roman soldiers to be crucified.

The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the N.T. by Walvoord and Zuck, © 1985, pp. 88-89, 188, and 262 describe the crucifixion of Jesus. What follows is a summary of it. Crucifixion remains as one of the cruelest forms of capital punishment ever devised. The Roman government only did this to those who were considered the worst of criminals. Those sentenced to die this way carried the 100 pound cross beam to which they would be impaled. Jesus was so weak from the whipping, beatings and mocking that the soldiers had to get a certain Simon of Cyrene to carry his cross part of the way. When at the site of crucifixion, Jesus was offered wine to drink to dull the senses and ease the pain he would bear, but he refused it. The criminal’s arms and legs were then stretched out and nailed to a cross by long iron spikes into the hands and feet (this was probably, in all actuality, the wrists and ankles for they were considered part of the hands and feet and could bear the weight of the body). Through many long hours and days the criminals would hang on the cross in absolute agony. Each attempt to push up so that they might fill their lungs with oxygen was excruciating (added to that pain was the fact that Jesus, unlike most crucified criminals, had first been whipped - his back was a bloody, raw, painful mess). Finally, the one crucified would suffocate, not having the strength to push himself up anymore. If his death were not quick in coming, often times the legs were broken to hasten his demise. At the top of the crucifix post a sign was nailed listing his crimes. In the case of Jesus, the sign in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek read, “This is Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” The purpose of crucifixion was to serve as an example to others of the penalty for insurrection against the Roman government. The irony was that Jesus was completely innocent of any wrong, and yet the sign was correct, for he was the King of the Jews.

What were the responses of the people who saw Jesus crucified? First, the religious leaders and the robbers crucified with Jesus mocked and insulted him (Matthew 27:39-43). How did Jesus respond to their mocking? Did he call fire down upon them? No, he said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34, NIV). Isn’t that amazing? Instead of Jesus calling curses upon his enemies, he prayed that God would forgive them! As the religious leaders and robbers mocked Jesus, many people today also mock him and use his name in vain. Jesus died on the cross for us and offers forgiveness for all sinners (John 3:16-17; John 5:24, more...). Christians, if Jesus could forgive his enemies who crucified him, we need to forgive those who hurt us.

Apparently, after a time on the cross, the heart of one of the thieves crucified beside Jesus was softened. He did not continue to have the same response as the other thief who was crucified with him (Luke 23:39-43). He feared God and came to believe in Jesus. This is a second response to the cross. The thief asked Jesus to remember him when he came into his kingdom. Perhaps it was Jesus’ silent testimony and his words of genuine forgiveness, even in the midst of intense suffering, that impressed the criminal. Do we fear God? Do we know he punishes sin? Do we believe in Jesus as our Savior? Like the thief on the cross, the Good News is that if we repent and believe in Jesus we can receive forgiveness for our sins and be assured of going to heaven (more...). Christians, are others impressed that you do not curse God and man when you are going suffering but endure it and are forgiving toward your enemies?

The third response to Jesus on the cross was greed and selfishness: The soldiers gambled over Jesus’ clothing to see who might win them (John 19:23-24). Unfortunately, some people are like vultures in their greed and selfishness when others die.

Contrasted with the greed and selfishness of the soldiers was Jesus' declaration from the cross. This declaration was the fourth response to the cross and was given by Jesus. Jesus did not curse God because of his pain and agony, his feeling of being forsaken by his heavenly Father, and the injustice of his circumstances. He cared for others, especially those closest to him like his mother. In our colloquial terms Jesus told John, his closest friend on earth, “Take care of my mother” (John 19:26-27). She would soon need comfort, and he knew John would take care of her. If we knew we were to suffer and die, if possible we should follow Jesus' example and try to provide for our loved ones.

The fifth response to Jesus’ crucifixion was the response of the Centurion Soldier and those guarding Jesus when he died (Matthew 27:54). When Jesus died there was thick darkness in the middle of the day, a terrible earthquake, and God split open the veil of the temple from top to bottom. “When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, ‘Surely he was the Son of God!’” (NIV). Do we fear God when we hear of the crucifixion of Christ? Do we see God involved in nature and in the lives of people? Let’s fear God and give him praise!

The sixth response to the cross is what most people experience at funerals: grief and sobriety. They watched the terrible scene, they beat their breasts (a sign of grief), and then they went home. There is nothing wrong with expressing grief, even for Christians because God made us with emotions. Sobriety at funerals is also good; we should think about the brevity of our lives and how to live them. Grief and sobriety are still the responses many have at a Communion Service, where we remember the suffering and death of Christ on our behalf.

The family members, friends, and followers of Jesus remained at the scene of the cross for a while and watched what would happen next (Luke 23:49). The seventh response was disillusion and shock. His followers were so sure this was their Messiah. He was supposed to deliver them from oppression and Roman rule, give their nation peace and prominence, and reign as their king as the prophets of ancient times foretold. Now their savior was dead. They watched Jesus being taken down from the cross and buried before they went home. They were in shock.

What response do you have to the death of Christ? When you think about it, does it just make you sad and then you go on with your life? Are you in shock and grief from all that you hear about Jesus’ sufferings?

Yes, thinking about the death of Christ is indeed sad. That was a dark, black Friday for them, but it is called “Good Friday” today. It is called Good Friday because by his death he purchased our salvation. Jesus did not stay dead in the tomb. As an old preacher once said, “Today is Friday, but Sunday is a comin’!” In our next two lessons we will look at the burial and the resurrection of Christ.

What is the proper response Christians should have to the death of Christ? It is included in Today’s Bible Memory Verse, and it would be good for us to learn it.

Lessons to live by:

  • Many people mock Jesus today and use his name in vain. Jesus offers forgiveness for all sinners (John 3:15-17; John 5:24).
  • Christians, if Jesus could forgive his enemies who crucified him, we need to forgive those who hurt us.
  • Like the repentant thief on the cross, the good news is that if we repent and believe in Jesus we can receive forgiveness for our sins and be assured of going to heaven (more...).
  • Christians, are others impressed that you do not curse God and man when you are going suffering but endure it and are forgiving toward your enemies?
  • If we knew we were to suffer and die, if possible we should follow Jesus' example and try to provide for our loved ones.
  • Do we see God involved in nature and in the lives of people? Let’s fear God and give him praise!
  • It is true that Jesus died for our sins, but three days later he arose from the dead to give us the hope of salvation.
  • Thinking about the death of Christ gives us a new reason to live. Listen to this encouraging song

Today’s Bible Memory Verse:

Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me,” (NIV).

praying girl Write a private prayer response to today’s Bible study:

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