Betrayed, questioned, denied, whipped, and mocked, Jesus was headed to the cross. After his arrest, officers took Jesus to Annas and his son-in-law, Caiaphas the high priest, for questioning. When they could not get the answers they wanted, they took him to the Roman governor Pilate. Desiring to have nothing to do with the situation, Pilate told the officers to judge Jesus according to the Jewish law. Yet, the Jews could not kill Jesus under their law. Thus, they needed Jesus judged under Roman law.
After questioning Jesus, Pilate found no wrong in him. Instead, he was amazed, yet the people insisted. As it was the Passover and tradition allowed, Pilate could release one person. Who would it be? Would it be Jesus, King of Jews, or would it be Barabbas the robber? The people’s choice was clear. They wanted the sinner Barabbas released, and they shouted toward Jesus, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” His fate was sealed.
Bearing his cross, he marched to Golgotha, the Place of the Skull. When he arrived at the place, the soldiers drove nails through his hands and through his feet. Lifting the cross, two others were on either side. Releasing his mother to his disciple John’s care, soon, he would release his spirit to God. The sky grew dark. The time had come. Jesus let out a loud cry, and his spirit left his body. The temple veil ripped from top to bottom, the earth shook, rocks split, and many saints woke from death. He was innocent. What had they done?
Refusing to allow Jesus’s body to hang on the cross through the weekend, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected rich man who was a disciple, requested to take Jesus’s body and bury it in his own new tomb. Pilate did not object. Joseph took Jesus’s body down and wrapped it in linen, but the women had no time to complete the burial ritual because the Sabbath was coming. They decided that they would do it Sunday morning, the day after the Sabbath was completed.
Joseph of Arimathea placed Jesus’s body in the tomb. Then, he had a stone rolled in front of the tomb. Afraid that others would steal the body, Pharisees went to Pilate the next day, requesting soldiers to stand guard. They wanted to ensure it seemed Jesus was a fraud. Jesus had said that he would rise in three days. They could not allow this story to become true. Pilate ordered them to make the tomb secure, and so, they did, placing soldiers as guards. Nevertheless, on early Sunday morning, an earthquake occurred. An angel descended from heaven. The soldiers became as dead men, and the angel rolled the stone away from the tomb.
Journeying to complete the burial ritual, the women encountered the angel sitting on the stone. Afraid, the angel assured them that they did not have to fear. He told them that Jesus was not there, that he had risen. The women ran with joy to tell the disciples. While the women ran with joy, some of the guards went to tell the religious leaders what happened. Willing to do anything to ensure Jesus seemed like a fraud, the religious leaders invented a story that Jesus’s disciples had stolen his body. The same story continues to spread today, yet it was not so. There was no denying. Jesus was alive. When Jesus showed himself, the nail prints were in his hands. The hole, from where they pierced him in the side, was there. He had defeated death, and he had secured our reconciliation with God. He is alive!
Resource: Matthew 27-28; Mark 14-16; Luke 23-24; John 18-20
- Have you ever seen a situation where someone tried to make someone appear guilty, but there was no real evidence to show that they were guilty? Share your story.
- Have you ever seen an innocent person punished? How did it make you feel? What do you wish you could have done?
- After Jesus died, some amazing things happened: the temple veil ripped from top to bottom, the earth shook, rocks split, and many saints woke from death. If you had been present what would your reaction have been?
- When these great events happened, people realized that Jesus was innocent. How do you feel when you think you cannot undo a wrong? How do you resolve those feelings inside?
- Even after Jesus died, Joseph of Arimathea honors him by ensuring he had a proper burial. How do you honor the people who have passed on from this life?
- The religious leaders were so fearful that Jesus’s good reputation would spread that they did everything they could to make him seem like a fraud. What are your thoughts on their behavior? How can we avoid having similar behavior?
- On the appointed day, Jesus rose from the day. What would your reaction have been if you had witnessed his resurrection live?
- Why do you think the soldiers were willing to go along with the religious leaders plan to sully Jesus’s reputation and that of his disciples?
- When Jesus rose and showed himself, he still had the nail prints in his hands and hole in his side. What proof would you need that it was Jesus?
- Why is it important to you that Jesus rose from the dead? If you have chosen Jesus as your Lord and Savior, why did you choose him?
- And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” Matthew 27:50-54 ESV
- The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard. Matthew 27: 62-66 ESV
- Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Matthew 28:1-8 ESV
- While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day. Matthew 28:11-15 ESV
- No matter how much people seek to suppress the truth, the truth will surface.
- Man can try to do everything in their power to prevent certain occurrences, but what God desires, God will have.
- Every person must decide for themselves whether the truth will reign in their lives or whether falsehoods will reign. Your choice determines who you serve.
- Choose to be greater in God to experience greater in God.
- The sacrifice of today brings greater for tomorrow.
Father God, thank you for the death, burial, and resurrection of your son Jesus Christ. Thank you for giving us the opportunity for eternal life. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to choose. May we see and understand the greater choice so that we will reside with you eternally. We ask this in your son Jesus’s name. Amen.
Choose one set of scriptures under the key scriptures and share your impression of the events happening. Share how it affects us today.