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Bible verses about Jesus Christ's Crucifixion
(From Forerunner Commentary)

All four gospel writers mention that Jesus was tried, convicted, crucified, and buried on a preparation day. Without any further clarification, one would assume that they meant a Friday, the weekly preparation day before the Sabbath. But can other days be considered preparation days as well?

Yes, indeed! God Himself gave the instructions about the use of the preparation day to the Israelites before they reached Mount Sinai (Exodus 16:23). The Jews later considered this to be so important that they made sure each of the holy days, which are also Sabbaths, was preceded by a preparation day. Since the holy days can fall on any day of the week, the preparation day can fall on any day of the week as well.

This is very relevant to the Passover. Not only is the Passover a festival in its own right, it also functions as the preparation day for a holy day, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. According to the calculated Hebrew Calendar, Passover can fall on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday, or Sabbath.

Clearly, our Savior was crucified on a Passover day (Matthew 26:2). Thus, it was on one of these days of the week that Jesus was killed and buried.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
'After Three Days'


 

The breaking of the unleavened bread during the Passover ritual provides an additional and extremely important principle. Since it is part of the annual ceremony, we need to be reminded at least once a year that the true Bread from heaven, which we must eat in order to live, was also broken for us.

First, how was Christ's body "broken"? John writes that the soldiers broke the legs of the two criminals crucified at Jesus' side, to hasten their deaths before the annual Sabbath—the First Day of Unleavened Bread (John 19:31-32). But Jesus' death resulted, among other horrible wounds, from the tip of a soldier's spear puncturing His side and spilling His blood on the earth (verses 33-34; see Zechariah 12:10). Not a bone was broken in Jesus' body, as was prophesied (verses 35-37; see Exodus 12:46; Psalm 34:20).

Christ's body was "broken," not by the breaking of His bones, but by the breaking of His skin. Besides the spear that pierced His side and the metal spikes that nailed His wrists and feet to the stake, He was subjected to a most severe beating or whipping. This latter torture, foretold in Isaiah 52:14, made Him nearly unrecognizable. His body bore a multitude of welts, skin lacerations, and open wounds, spilling His blood over all His body.

Isaiah 53:5 expands upon His scourging: "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed." A stripe is "a stroke or blow made with a rod or lash." This is how our Lord's body was broken.

We cannot but be deeply embarrassed—ashamed—that we should benefit from His beating, His suffering, His stripes, especially, when we consider that in God's eyes we broke His body! But it is prophesied that by the stripes He received, we should be healed. How is this possible?

When we eat the broken, unleavened bread at Passover, we, as baptized members, must ask ourselves: "Have I been healed by His stripes? Am I in the process of being healed by them? Do I really believe this promise?" If we cannot answer these questions positively, then something may be wrong. We may not be discerning the Lord's body properly.

Staff
Discerning Christ's Broken Body


 

Commonly, crucifixion was carried out in one of two ways:

Two methods were followed in the infliction of the punishment of crucifixion. In both of these the criminal was first of all usually stripped naked, and bound to an upright stake, where he was so cruelly scourged with an implement, formed of strips of leather having pieces of iron, or some other hard material, at their ends, that not merely was the flesh often stripped from the bones, but even the entrails partly protruded, and the anatomy of the body was disclosed. In this pitiable state he was reclothed, and, if able to do so, was made to drag the stake to the place of execution, where he was either fastened to it, or impaled upon it, and left to die. (The Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed., 1910, Vol. 7, p. 506)

The second method of crucifixion involved a stake with a crossbar to which the condemned individual's hands were tied or nailed.

In such a case, after the scourging at the stake, the criminal was made to carry a gibbet, formed of two transverse bars of wood, to the place of execution, and he was then fastened to it by iron nails driven through the outstretched arms and through the ankles. Sometimes this was done as the cross lay on the ground, and it was then lifted into position. In other cases the criminal was made to ascend by a ladder, and was then fastened to the cross. (ibid.)

The Bible does not specifically state which method the Romans used in the crucifixion of Christ. Most other sources suppose that they used a crossbar because they nailed an inscription above Jesus' head and that both His hands had been pierced by nails (John 20:25-27). However, this is far from conclusive proof; it cannot be proven how Christ was crucified because the biblical account gives insufficient evidence. Thus, we do not know how to represent properly the stake upon which Jesus died.

Does it matter? We must also consider if it is even appropriate to use the very tool that was used to kill our Savior as an emblem of our faith. If Jesus Christ had been killed by hanging, would we use a gallows or a noose as a symbol of our faith? If He had been beheaded, would we use a guillotine? Why should we parade the instrument of shame and death before the world and be proud of it? The New Testament shows that the fact that Christ was killed by crucifixion was an offense to some. "But we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness" (I Corinthians 1:23).

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
The Cross: Christian Banner or Pagan Relic?


 

Genesis 3:15

The King James and New King James versions translate the "bruising" clauses word for word without making the sense obvious. Other translations render the verb as "wound," "crush," "strike," or "attack." The New International version provides a more descriptive translation: "He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." The difference is in degree of wounding: Crushing a snake's head destroys it, rendering him powerless, if not dead (see Hebrews 2:14); a snake's strike on the heel, though painful, is minor by comparison.

Another way to look at the comparison focuses on the site of the wounding, the head as compared to the heel. The serpent's wound affects the seat of his intellect and control of his powers, whereas the Seed's wound merely impairs His flesh for a short while - three days and three nights, to be exact.

These bruisings also carry on the theme of humiliation expressed in the preceding verse. The crushing of the serpent's head is understood to be by the heel of the Seed ("He will bruise and tread your head underfoot" - Amplified Bible), so the figure of being "under the heel" of the Messiah is present. This is a common biblical illustration of subservience, submission, and mortification (I Kings 5:3; Lamentations 3:34; Malachi 4:3; Romans 16:20; I Corinthians 15:25; etc.)

Like the symbol of the "Seed," the wounding of the Messiah is another theme that crops up frequently in Scripture. In Numbers 21:8-9, God commands Moses to make a bronze serpent and put it on a pole so "that everyone who is bitten [by the fiery serpents], when he looks at it, shall live." Later, Jesus points to this as a type of His crucifixion, by which He spiritually heals our "serpent bites" (John 3:14-15).

In the Psalms, David writes of the Messiah's wounding: "For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption" (Psalm 16:10). Psalm 22 prophesies of Christ's reviling, scourging, and death, showing that, rather than being an end, the Seed's wounding extends God's purpose to every generation! Many other Psalms repeat this theme (Psalm 31:5; 34:20; 41:9-12; 49:15; 69:7-9, 19-21; 109:1-5; etc.).

Isaiah 52:13 - 53:12, the well-known "Suffering Servant" section, contains the very detailed prophecy of Christ's suffering and death. It explains that He, though sinless Himself, endured these ignominious afflictions as a result of our sins. In His wounding, Christ pays the penalty for all sin and qualifies to replace the serpent as ruler over the earth. This, of course, becomes the central theme of the entire New Testament, repeated in some form by nearly every writer.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The First Prophecy (Part One)


 

Genesis 15:8-17

In Genesis 15:8-17, Abraham asks for evidence that God will follow through. He receives a command to prepare a sacrifice and an additional prophecy concerning his family's future. Genesis 15:12 shows that he made the sacrifice during the daylight part of the 14th. By this sacrifice, God ratifies His promise to Abraham.

Many have wondered why Christ was sacrificed during the daylight portion of the 14th, in the afternoon, rather than at its beginning and more in alignment with the Passover service in the twilight portion of the 14th. This reveals why. Even as He ratified His covenant of promise with Abraham by this sacrifice, Christ's sacrifice provides the ratification of the New Covenant. Christ's sacrifice, by God's decree, had to align with the ratification of His covenant of promise with Abraham. In Christ's sacrifice, death, and burial, God's draws together in one event the main elements of both the covenant of promise with Abraham and the Passover.

Notice especially how close this chronological alignment is. Verse 12 specifically states, "When the sun was going down." Thus, this sacrifice, like Christ's, took place in the afternoon. In the late afternoon, a great darkness and horror fell upon Abraham, allowing him to experience a small taste of the horror Christ faced in His crucifixion when God forsook Him. In addition, Moses inserts a detail that is not so readily apparent at Christ's crucifixion: that Abraham had to beat off some vultures. Vile birds are a Bible symbol of demons. This detail suggests that a great spiritual battle occurred, during which the demons taunted and persecuted Christ to induce Him to give up. He had to fight them off alone because the Father had forsaken Him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Countdown to Pentecost 2001


 

Exodus 12:3-14

Notice in verse 3 that on the tenth day each person was to take a lamb for himself. In verse 5, the lamb must be without blemish and a male of the first year.

Think of Jesus in reference to these instructions. The meat could be either from the sheep or the goats. Jesus is a type of both sheep and goat. In the atonement offering, one of the two goats typified Jesus.

Verses 6-8 show that the innocent lamb bled to death. Scripture also says that the bones were not to be broken, and it must be roasted whole. Jesus' bones were not broken either.

Through these verses, we see that Jesus was the perfect antitype of this lamb that was slain at the Passover service. By means of the blood that was smeared on the lintel and the doorposts, Israel was saved from the tenth plague, the death of the firstborn. The blood of the lamb redeemed, bought back, the firstborn of Israel. Otherwise, they too would have been killed.

Jesus' ghastly death and the terrible scourging He endured do the same for us; it redeems us, buys us back. Some Protestants say He died of a broken heart, but that is not true. Like the Passover lamb, He bled to death; His blood spilled onto the earth, and He expired an innocent and pure man. He had never sinned, just like the lamb without blemish and without spot.

Therefore, we call Him our Savior and Redeemer. Once we accept Him as our Savior, because He was sinless and He died for us, His blood covers our sins. He redeems us from the second death—from the death angel.

He is the firstborn among many brethren, and we are called the firstfruits. We are the firstfruits of spiritual Israel that are protected from that death angel, the second death.

God often works in dual stages, as shown here. The first is the type of the lamb slain at Passover, and the second is the antitype or the perfect fulfillment in Jesus Christ. For the type of the Passover lamb to be fulfilled perfectly and completely in the antitype of Jesus Christ, His crucifixion and death had to occur on Nisan 14. There is no other day in which the type would have been fulfilled because that is the day of the Passover.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Christ's Death, Resurrection, and Ascension


 

Exodus 12:26-27

What is the Passover? Right from the start, God knew that young people would ask this very same question: "And it shall be, when your children say to you, 'What do you mean by this service?'" (Exodus 12:26). So He prepared an answer for them: "It is the Passover sacrifice of the LORD, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households" (verse 27).

Passover is a memorial day—a very important anniversary day. However, it commemorates three events, not just one. As God said, it commemorates the tenth and last plague upon ancient Egypt in which, after giving them ample warning, God passed over the nation of Egypt and killed all the firstborn in the land. Through this decimating plague, God freed the children of Israel from their captivity and servitude in Egypt.

Secondly, and most importantly, it commemorates the death of Jesus Christ, who was and is the firstborn Son of God the Father. Through Jesus' awful death—which, by God's design, took place on Passover day in AD 31—God freed us, regenerated Christians, from our captivity and slavery to the world, to Satan, and to sin.

Finally, it commemorates the baptism of each Christian, when we formally accepted the death of Jesus Christ, when we asked Him to apply His priceless sacrifice to our sins, when we asked that He would cover and blot out our sins with His blood (Psalm 41:1, 9; Acts 3:19; Romans 4:7).

Staff
What Is the Passover Anyway?


 

Psalm 22:1

Psalm 22 begins with the exact words Jesus quoted when He was on the cross and all the sins of the world were put upon Him. The Father forsook Him because He cannot abide sin.

This was written about a thousand years before Christ died, and crucifixion was not practiced in the region at the time. The Romans brought this form of execution into prominence as a way to humiliate and dispose of their enemies. They would line the roads with stakes and crosses on which they would hang their enemies as an example for the rest of the world to see. Nevertheless, they did not start their murderous rush through the ancient Middle East and Europe until about the first century BC. So, roughly 900 years before it became common practice, David wrote about crucifixion.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Christ's Death, Resurrection, and Ascension


 

Psalm 22:1

One cannot read this Psalm without seeing clear parallels to Christ's crucifixion. It describes an experience of David, who recorded his reflections—which became a prophecy of Christ's final hours.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prophets and Prophecy (Part 3)


 

Psalm 22:1-31

Perhaps the easiest way to see David as a prophet is to survey one of his most clearly prophetic psalms, Psalm 22. Anyone familiar with the scourging and crucifixion of Jesus Christ can see the obvious parallels, and the writers of the gospel accounts—especially Matthew—bring them out through direct quotations of this psalm. Henry Halley, author of Halley's Bible Handbook, writes of this psalm, "[T]hough written a thousand years before Jesus, it is so vivid a description of the crucifixion of Jesus that one would think of the writer as being personally present at the Cross" (p. 254).

No one knows what event of David's life, if any, provides the background to his plaintive song, but it must have been the nadir of his sufferings, the most likely guess being sometime during Saul's pursuit of him. However, even if it is based on David's experience of persecution, Psalm 22 is so specific and detailed in its descriptions of Christ's crucifixion that it can in reality only be a divinely inspired prophecy of the execution of the Son of God—a full millennium before the events took place in Roman Jerusalem.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
David the Prophet


 

Psalm 22:3

Consider Christ on stake. He asks, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" And then He thinks of the holy God, the object of all our praise! With the sins of humanity on Him, He is not worthy to have God with Him, for God is holy and cannot stand sin. So His statements in verse 6 describe the gulf between Himself and the Father.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Christ's Death, Resurrection, and Ascension


 

Psalm 22:6-8

When Jesus was on the stake, the mob that had gathered mocked and yelled out, "He said He was the Messiah! He said He was the Son of God! Why do You not bring Yourself down?" That exactly fulfilled this prophecy.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Christ's Death, Resurrection, and Ascension


 

Psalm 22:14-15

Christ was ground in body and spirit. In this case, He was bruised so badly He was barely recognizable as a man (Isaiah 52:14) and was so sapped of strength that He could not bear His cross of crucifixion alone. Another was compelled to bear it for Him because Jesus was already figuratively ground and ready to be put on the altar.

The lesson for us is that service to our fellow man is self-surrender and self-sacrifice. The nearer our service approaches His degree of self-sacrificing service the more we will resemble what happened to Him. We, too, will find ourselves bruised.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Offerings of Leviticus (Part Three): The Meal Offering


 

Psalm 22:14-15

This is a prophecy of Christ is hanging on the stake. Remember that He asked for water (John 19:28)?

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Christ's Death, Resurrection, and Ascension


 

Psalm 22:15-16

Psalm 22:15-16 predicts that the Messiah's tongue clings to His jaws in terrible thirst and that His hands and feet are pierced. Both of these details are dutifully documented in the gospels. John relates, "After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, 'I thirst!'" (John 19:28). Likewise, Luke 24:40 appears in a scene after His resurrection, when Jesus is trying to prove to His disciples that it is really He and no ghost: "When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet," which had obviously been pierced by nails. Thomas later asked to see and feel that same proof (John 20:25).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
David the Prophet


 

Psalm 22:16

"Dogs" was a common term used by first-century Jews in reference to Gentiles. The Messiah was surrounded, there at the foot of the stake, by Roman soldiers.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Christ's Death, Resurrection, and Ascension


 

Psalm 22:17

The scourging He suffered was so thorough that His flesh was ripped open! One could actually see His bones! Besides that, His arms were pulled over His head so that His whole torso was lifted up and stretched. The bones would be visible, at least in outline, even if the skin had not been broken.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Christ's Death, Resurrection, and Ascension


 

Psalm 22:18

The gospel writers frequently quote from this psalm. In Matthew 26, as well as in some of the other accounts of His crucifixion, this psalm is quoted to show that Jesus perfectly fulfilled this type.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Christ's Death, Resurrection, and Ascension


 

Isaiah 52:14

Jesus had to die a death that was excruciatingly painful. Why? To depict the horrible pain that sin causes. It would not have served God's purpose if He had died a painless death. The picture would have been incomplete.

Any criminal of that time would have despaired to learn he was to be crucified. Crucifixion was not only an execution, but also a method of torture. The Romans usually gave the victim an excruciating scourging first. Jesus was no exception. Before He ever touched His cross, He was scourged, beaten, and insulted.

Over the years we have heard quite a bit about the Roman lictor, the soldier charged with dispensing this dreaded punishment. He used a whip, often with imbedded pieces of metal, bone, or other sharp objects. Romans did not limit their lictors to the Israelite practice of "forty stripes save one," nor to striking just the victim's back. He would let the whip strike and wrap around every inch of the person's body until he was within an inch of death.

The prophet Isaiah prophesies how Jesus appeared after the scourging: "Just as many were astonished at you, so His visage [appearance, margin] was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men" (Isaiah 52:14). He goes on to say that He was "wounded [pierced through, margin] for our transgressions, He was bruised [crushed] for our iniquities" (53:5). Is it no wonder that the apostle Paul writes in Philippians 2:8, "And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross."

Imagine yourself in Christ's situation, with the skin flayed off so that you could count your bones. Add to that the searing pain of huge nails being pounded into your hands and ankles as soldiers pinned you to the stake. Now add the emotional pain of being denied and forsaken by all your friends. Thank God for the many women who stood by Jesus at that moment of horror—Mary His mother, Mary Magdalene, and others (Matthew 27:55-56). On top of everything else, He had to endure the taunts and ridicules of those for whom He was dying.

Then Jesus experienced yet another horror for the first time: being forsaken by God in heaven. God dumped all the obnoxious sins of the world on Jesus and had to turn His back on Him who became sin for us (Isaiah 53:6, 10-12; I Peter 2:24). How hauntingly mournful it must have sounded to hear Jesus cry out, "'Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?' that is, 'My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?'" (Matthew 27:46-47). At this point, Jesus learned what it felt like to be cut off from God because of sin.

The pain grew so great that when Jesus said He thirsted, the Roman soldiers at the foot of His cross offered Him a brew of "vinegar" or sour wine mixed with myrrh as a sedative (John 19:28-29; Mark 15:23). Jesus refused it, knowing He had to suffer pain as part of the picture of what sin does in our lives: It causes a lot of gruesome pain!

After a while on the stake, the condemned person found it difficult to breathe. He could help himself a little by bracing his body upward with his legs and knees, but once he could no longer do this, he slowly died by asphyxiation. To hasten death, the Roman executioners would sometimes break the victim's legs with a club—which they did to the two robbers (John 19:31-32). When they came to Jesus, they found Him already dead and so did not break any of His bones (verse 33; Psalm 34:20).

Jesus did not die of a broken heart, as some Protestants believe. He bled to death from dozens of wounds from the scourging and from the spikes driven through his limbs. A gaping spear wound in His side produced a flow of blood and water. He truly poured out his blood like water to cover our sins (Psalm 22:14; Ephesians 1:7; I John 1:7).

Jesus gasped, "It is finished" (John 19:30), and finally to the Father, who gave Him to us because He loved us so much, our Savior prayed, "Into your hands I commend My spirit" (Luke 23:46). So Jesus died with a quiet confidence that He had finished the work His Father had sent Him to do.

Staff
Why Did Jesus Have to Die by Crucifixion?


 

Isaiah 53:3

These two scriptures (verses 3 and 8) prompt some additional questions and points to ponder: To whose generation was Isaiah referring when he asked, "Who will declare His generation?" How extensive was "this generation" in Luke 17:25? Were these terms, "this generation" and "His generation" limited to the time and place of Jesus' human lifetime only, or do they, as the other verses quoted above imply, extend to the whole world over the six thousand years allotted to man's self-rule? Just six thousand years? Yet, even in the Millennium, will there not be those who despise and reject Jesus Christ and His rule (Ezekiel 38; Revelation 20:7-8)? Isaiah 53 tells us first that Jesus is despised—He still is today! He also tells us that Jesus was despised. Has not Jesus in fact been rejected by all of mankind?

Staff
Jesus' Final Human Thoughts (Part One)


 

Isaiah 53:9

The word "they" refers to those who condemned Christ to death. In his commentary on the Bible, Albert Barnes says the phrase "My people" should be used here. Without specifically designating who has decreed that Christ would be buried with the wicked, we get the sense that Jesus was not only to die a terrible death but also to suffer the indignity of being buried in a common grave with common criminals. He would be denied even an honorable burial.

Mike Ford
Joseph of Arimathea


 

Daniel 9:25-27

What is so amazing about the often neglected Seventy Weeks Prophecy is that, not only does it give us a clue to the day of Christ's death, it indicates the year of His death as well! Of course, it is not as simple as looking up a fact in an almanac, but enough information is available to discover the year very accurately.

From what Gabriel says in verse 25, the ending point is fairly plain: the revealing of the Messiah. But what is the starting point?

Historians know of at least four decrees made by the Persian emperors "to restore and build Jerusalem." Cyrus made one in 538 BC, Darius I made one in 520 BC and Artaxerxes I made two, one in 457 BC and one in 444 BC. Which one is the correct command?

All of them could fit the description in verse 25. All of them are concerned with restoring Jerusalem to its former function as the Jewish religious capital and trade center. But only one of them fits the time constraints, and this becomes clear when we work out the puzzle of the seventy weeks.

We have to do a little arithmetic to find the terminus for each of these decrees. The expression "seventy weeks" literally means "seventy sevens," and the year-for-a-day principle applies here (Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:4-6). We must multiply seventy weeks times the seven years in a week of years, which equals 490 years. Gabriel, however, says it is only sixty-nine sevens "until Messiah the Prince." Thus, 69 x 7 = 483 years.

If we add 483 years to each of the dates of the decrees, what do we find? (Remember to add one year for crossing the non-existent year 0.)

  • 538 BC + 483 years = 55 BC. No significant biblical event.
  • 520 BC + 483 years = 37 BC. No significant biblical event.
  • 457 BC + 483 years = AD 27. Jesus is baptized and begins His ministry.
  • 444 BC + 483 years = AD 40. No significant biblical event.

God made it easy! We have only one choice!

Verses 26-27 are very specific that the Messiah would work for three and a half years, half of a week, before being "cut off." When we add three and a half years to AD 27, we find that Christ's ministry ended in AD 31, the year of His crucifixion and resurrection.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
'After Three Days'


 

Daniel 9:26

Verse 26 continues explaining about the Messiah. He would be cut off—killed—sometime after the sixty-two weeks. Verse 27 tells us how long after: "in the middle of the [seventieth] week." Halfway through a literal week is three and a half days, prophetically three and a half years, which is how long His ministry lasted before He was crucified. That brings us to AD 31, when significantly, the Passover, Nisan 14, was on a Wednesday, literally the middle of a week! Good Friday and Easter cannot stand before these facts.

The prophecy says that the Messiah would be killed "not for Himself." How true! He died for the redemption of mankind in a completely selfless, sacrificial act. His crucifixion also brought an end to the need for further sacrifice and offering of animals (Hebrews 10:12: "He . . . offered one sacrifice for sins forever").

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
'Seventy Weeks Are Determined...'


 

Matthew 16:13-23

Peter proclaims Jesus to be the Messiah, and Jesus speaks of building His church and being crucified and resurrected. This was a major step forward in the disciples' understanding, and it corrected the erroneous prophetic teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. However, from the incident that occurs in verses 22-23, we can see that Peter—and probably the other disciples also—were not yet fully convinced of it.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Why the Transfiguration?


 

Matthew 16:21-23

Poor Peter was looking though a glass very darkly and suffering from the common human malady of selective hearing and understanding. All he seemed to hear and understand were those horrifying words about the suffering, the rejection, and the killing. Did he not hear Jesus telling them that His resurrection from the dead—one of the greatest turning points in all eternity—was soon to occur?

Peter had the powerful Satan whispering words of fear into his mind: fear for Jesus, fear of persecution, fear of his own death. Would any of us have fared any better than Peter? Satan, up to his old tricks, knew that one of history's most pivotal days was approaching and what the glorious outcome of Jesus' suffering and death would be. He wanted to make a concerted, eleventh-hour effort to prevent it from happening. How? By using human fear and reason—by frightening and tempting Peter into trying to talk his beloved friend Jesus out of even mentioning these two events: the greatest sacrifice and the greatest miracle in human history.

Jesus was no coward, of course, but He certainly did not look forward to the impending physical torture that He knew He must endure. He had the ability—if just through Scripture alone—to foresee it all in detail. Paul suggests that, even before His incarnation, Christ frequently pondered what He would have to experience: "He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once in the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (Hebrews 9:26).

Staff
Death of a Lamb


 

Matthew 26:2

Two days before Jesus fulfilled the Passover, He prepares His disciples for His death by telling them that after two days would be the Passover and that the Son of Man would be delivered up and crucified. Thus, He was crucified on the Passover. For further proof of that, John shows that it was preparation day for a high day, the first day of Unleavened Bread (John 19:31). Obviously, preparation day for the first day of Unleavened Bread is the day of Passover, the fourteenth day of Nisan/Abib.

Christ is specifically named as "our Passover" in I Corinthians 5:7. Jesus is called "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8). John the Baptist, when he first saw Him after He began His ministry, as He approached the River Jordan for baptism, said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). It is easy to see the strong connection between Jesus and the lamb killed at Passover.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Christ's Death, Resurrection, and Ascension


 

Matthew 27:34

These "drink offerings" of sour wine and gall perfectly fulfilled David's prophecy of Psalm 69:21: "They also gave me gall for my food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink."

But what was this "sour wine"? Easton's Bible Dictionary describes this drink in its article, "Gall":

The drink offered to our Lord was vinegar (made of light wine rendered acid, the common drink of Roman soldiers) "mingled with gall," or, according to Mark 15:23, "mingled with myrrh"; both expressions meaning the same thing, namely, that the vinegar was made bitter by the infusion of wormwood or some other bitter substance, usually given, according to a merciful custom, as an anodyne [pain reliever] to those who were crucified, to render them insensible to pain. Our Lord, knowing this, refuses to drink it. He would take nothing to cloud his faculties or blunt the pain of dying. He chooses to suffer every element of woe in the bitter cup of agony given him by the Father (John 18:11).

Other commentators opine that the gall—being a poison as well as a desensitizing drug—was meant to speed the death of the victim before the grisly effects of the crucifixion did. But surely it was not offered as, Easton suggests, for the comfort of the condemned! Rather, it was given for the soldiers' own ease and perhaps for the benefit of the pitiless Jewish leaders who wanted the three victims dead and disposed of before the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (John 19:31-33).

Luke's account implies that the soldiers' offers of sour wine to Jesus were part of their mockery of Him: "The soldiers also mocked Him, coming and offering Him sour wine" (Luke 23:36). It is not logical that these soldiers would mock Jesus, beat Him, spit on Him, jam a crown of thorns on His head, flog Him terribly, and then give a pain-relieving drink to Him as a "merciful custom"! Later, to speed their deaths, the soldiers would break the legs of the two men who were crucified on either side of Jesus and would cruelly stab Him with a spear. They would have broken Jesus' legs too, but they were prevented from doing so for the prophecies to be accurately fulfilled. Not much evidence of mercy here!

Staff
Of Sponges and Spears


 

Matthew 27:46

Could it be that this provides insight into the only thing He feared - the loss of contact and communication with His Father - and that He did not know what He would do then?

We need to consider this deeply and appreciatively because this is the great gift made available to us by Christ's sacrifice. Fellowship with God, being at peace with Him, and having access to Him are admittance to the very fountain of living waters. We can safely say that, once our sins are covered by Christ's blood, access to God is the source of all spiritual strength and growth because the love of God is poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit given to us (Romans 5:1-5).

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Offerings of Leviticus (Part Six): The Sin Offering


 

Matthew 27:46

Jesus quoted His own words, which He had inspired His servant David to put into writing a thousand years before this day, when He cried, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Psalm 22:1). By repeating it as He hung on the stake, He declared this prophecy to be fulfilled at that very moment; the absolute peak of the agony that He and His Father had planned and foreknew had arrived. Even in His delirium, the utterances of the Logos were solidly based upon His own Word!

Staff
Jesus' Final Human Thoughts (Part Two)


 

Mark 15:42-46

Several points stand out in this passage:

» Evening was beginning—at best Joseph had only about three hours before sunset, when the Sabbath would begin. The task of preparing and applying the spices for burial required work, which is expressly forbidden on the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8-10). Additionally, Deuteronomy 21:22-23 demands that an executed criminal be buried before nightfall, and the Jewish law of the time required all dead bodies to be buried before a Sabbath or a feast day (John 19:31).

» Before he could take the body down, Joseph had to go before Pilate and receive permission. At first Pilate did not believe Jesus had died so quickly, so he called the centurion of the crucifixion detail to verify it (Mark 15:44-45). This delay must have taken at least a half hour.

» After being granted the body, Joseph went to a local shop and bought several yards of fine linen in which to wrap Jesus. With the help of Nicodemus, he then took the body down, wrapped it in the linen—along with about a hundred pounds of spices—and placed it in the tomb (John 19:39-41).

With all this activity and work between the various locations, Joseph and Nicodemus must have had very little daylight left when they finally rolled the stone over the entrance to the tomb. On this point all the accounts again concur; sunset was very near (Matthew 27:57; Luke 23:54; John 19:31).

No one disputes that Jesus was laid "in the heart of the earth" at sunset. If, as we have shown, He was buried for exactly 72 hours, He was also resurrected at sunset—not at dawn!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
'After Three Days'


 

Mark 16:1

If Joseph barely had time to bury Jesus' body before sundown, how much less time would the women have had to do all that they needed to do!

The harmonized accounts show that when Joseph took Jesus down from the cross, the women followed him to see where he would place the body. They then returned to their lodging and observed the holy day Sabbath, the first day of Unleavened Bread. The day after the holy day, they went to a shop, bought spices and oil, took them back to their lodging, prepared them for use on the body, and "they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment" (Luke 23:56).

There were two Sabbaths within that 72-hour period!

These women bought and prepared spices "when the Sabbath had past" and then "rested on the Sabbath"! They rested twice: once on "a high day" and once on the weekly Sabbath two days later.

This can mean only one thing! Jesus was crucified and buried on a Wednesday, the holy day fell on Thursday, the women prepared spices on Friday, and our Savior was resurrected at sunset on the Sabbath as the day ended! The events cannot be worked out any other way with the plain evidence provided in the Holy Scriptures!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
'After Three Days'


 

Luke 12:49-50

This section shows that Jesus thought as we do regarding the time of the end. The word "fire" in verse 49 indicates "judgment." "I am come to send judgment upon the earth." And then He says, "What will I?", meaning, "How I wish that it was already kindled!" He wanted to get on with it, even as we do today. However, in verse 50 He shows that certain things have to come to pass and be done first. In this particular case, He is referring to His death and resurrection.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part 1)


 

Luke 23:44-46

Jesus remained on the cross for three hours before He died "at the ninth hour" (Mark 15:34; see Matthew 27:46). Since they were using the Hebrew method of counting the hours of the day from sunrise, the gospel writers indicate that Jesus was crucified around noon and died about 3 PM. They are remarkably unanimous on this point.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
'After Three Days'


 

John 13:30

"It was night." This is after the footwashing, after the bread and the wine. Genesis 14 and 15, Exodus 12 to 14, and the Gospel accounts of Christ's crucifixion all parallel one another.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Wavesheaf and the Selfsame Day


 

John 19:28-29

The pain grew so great that when Jesus said He thirsted, the Roman soldiers at the foot of His cross offered Him a brew of "vinegar" or sour wine mixed with myrrh as a sedative. Jesus refused it, knowing He had to suffer pain as part of the picture of what sin does in our lives: It causes a lot of gruesome pain!

Staff
Why Did Jesus Have to Die by Crucifixion?


 

John 19:30

Jesus gasped, "It is finished", and finally to the Father, who gave Him to us because He loved us so much, our Savior prayed, "Into your hands I commend My spirit" (Luke 23:46). So Jesus died with a quiet confidence that He had finished the work His Father had sent Him to do.

Staff
Why Did Jesus Have to Die by Crucifixion?


 

John 19:34

The modern understanding of the English word "pierced" used in these verses (also in Job 16:13; Psalm 22:16; Lamentations 3:13; and Revelation 1:7) does not adequately describe the magnitude of Jesus' terrible wound. When we think of "pierced," we probably think of:

» The minor puncture of the tiny needle used for the medical blood-tests we might have from time to time;

» The minute holes required for earrings; or

» The erroneous view of classical artists who painted depictions of the crucified Christ with small, inoffensive wounds from which drip insignificant trickles of blood.

Webster's Dictionary definitions, however, show that the Bible's translators did an accurate job in translating this word:

» To run into or through as a pointed weapon does;

» To stab;

» To enter or thrust into sharply or painfully;

» To force or make a way into or through.

Here is an excerpt from Albert Barnes' commentary on John 19:34:

[With a spear] The common spear which soldiers used in war. There can be no doubt that such a stroke from the strong arm of a Roman soldier would have caused death, if He had not been already dead. . . . Let the following circumstances be remembered, showing that death must have ensued from such a wound:

(1) The Saviour was elevated but a little from the ground, so as to be easily reached by the spear of a soldier.

(2) The wound must have been transversely upward, so as to have penetrated into the body, as he could not have stood directly under Him.

(3) It was probably made with a strong arm and with violence.

(4) The spear of the Roman soldier was a lance which tapered very gently to a point, and would penetrate easily.

(5) The wound was comparatively a large wound. It was so large as to admit the hand (John 20:27); but for a lance thus tapering to have made a wound so wide as to admit the hand, it must have been at least four or five inches in depth, and must have been such as to have made death certain. If it be remembered that this blow was probably in the left side, the conclusion is inevitable that death would have been the consequence of such a blow. . . .

It is clear that the spear pierced to the region of the heart. . . .

Such a flowing of blood and water makes it probable that the spear reached the heart, and if Jesus had not before been dead, this would have closed His life. . . .

He [John] shows that those who were sent to hasten His death believed that He had expired; that then a soldier inflicted a wound which would have terminated life if He had not been already dead; and that the infliction of this wound was followed by the fullest proof that He had truly expired.

Further research informs us that some Roman spears had larger blades attached to their "business end" for the purpose of inflicting larger wounds. However, if Barnes is correct that the point of this spear tapered gently to a point, the soldier must have viciously twisted it in order to create a five-inch gash. In fact, such a twisting motion, virtually guaranteeing a mortal wound, would have been second-nature to a veteran soldier.

Each year, as we reflect upon the great sufferings of our Savior, let us not be depressed by them. Although we should deeply appreciate the agonies that Jesus endured for us, we should realize that His physical suffering is now over, and has been over for nearly two thousand years. In this regard, Matthew Henry's Commentary on John 19:34 is very interesting, positive, forward-looking, and worthy of some reflection. He notes that the Creator—the One who later became Jesus Christ—pierced and opened Adam's side to create his wife, Eve. Likewise, Jesus Christ, the Second Adam, suffered His own side to be pierced and opened in order for His own Bride to be created.

The members of God's true church constitute the beloved Bride of Christ. Our tiny congregations have the wonderful privilege of being part of that church. As we have seen, Jesus calls on us to remember His affliction, including the piercing, the cup, the sour wine, and the gall. No matter how many years we have rehearsed these events, let us remember once again what our Savior went through bodily for us. As He said to His disciples, "This is My body which is given for you" (Luke 22:19).

Staff
Of Sponges and Spears


 

John 20:17

Jesus was crucified on the day of the Passover in AD 31, which fell that year on a Wednesday. God resurrected Him at the end of the weekly Sabbath (Saturday). He appeared to Mary Magdalene the next morning, the day after the weekly Sabbath during Unleavened Bread, when the priests presented the wavesheaf offering. He did not permit her to touch Him because He had not yet ascended to the Father. Just as the High Priest had to wave the sheaf of grain before the spring harvest began, so our Savior had to ascend to the Father that day to be accepted before Him. Once this happened, He allowed His disciples to touch Him (cf. Matthew 28:9; John 20:20-28).

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Holy Days: Pentecost


 

1 Corinthians 5:7-8

The apostle Paul instructed the Corinthian Christians to observe the Passover as a memorial of the death of Christ, our Passover, who was sacrificed for us.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Holy Days: Passover


 

Galatians 4:4

Was Jesus Christ born under the law and thus bound to keep all of the Old Covenant rules and regulations? From this verse, some attempt to show that Jesus Christ was under the law from His birth. They conclude that Christ was duty bound from His birth to do many things that we do not have to do.

However, this assumption overlooks the true meaning of this verse, which is often obscured by the interpretation given by modern translators. The word translated "born" in modern translations is from the Greek word ginomai, which can have many different shades of meaning depending upon the context. It primarily means "to cause to be" or "to come into being." The King James Version translates it: "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law."

Jesus Christ was physically born through the normal process of human birth to the virgin Mary. But God did not inspire Paul to use the Greek word for "born," gennao, in Galatians 4:4 because He wanted to focus on the miraculous conception of Christ and the overwhelming significance of Jesus' sacrifice.

God emphasizes His Son's humanity in this verse. Like all other men, Jesus was born of a woman; He was flesh and blood. Hebrews 10:5 verifies this: "Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: 'Sacrifice and offtering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me.'"

Another point of note is that the original Greek text does not read "the law," but simply "law." The definite article is missing! Paul is speaking of law in general, not specifically the law of God. The apostle thus means that, when Jesus became a man, He was subject to the same terms, forces, and conditions that any other man is. It simply becomes another reference to His humanity like Hebrews 2:10-18.

The verse does not support the idea that Jesus was bound by the Old Covenant because He was born into it. The deeper meaning of Galatians 4:4 is that Jesus Christ came into being through the divine miracle in which God the Father caused Mary to conceive by the Holy Spirit. Also, by another miracle, God the Father caused Jesus to be placed under the law - under the death penalty - at the time of His crucifixion. Note the King James' rendering of Galatians 3:13: "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made [ginomai] a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree."

Jesus Christ was never under the law except at the time of His crucifixion when God the Father laid the entire burden of the sins of the world upon His head (II Corinthians 5:21; Isaiah 53:4-12). He led a perfect life. Therefore, the Old Covenant rules and regulations did not apply to Him because they were designed to remind the people of Israel of their sins and their need for a Savior (Galatians 3:19).

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Was Jesus Christ Born Under the Law?


 

Hebrews 10:1

Scripture clearly teaches that the Old Covenant ceremonies are symbolic of essential, New Covenant, spiritual truths. Further, the author reinforces this by saying they are "a shadow of good things to come." The verb "having" in Hebrews 10:1 is a present active participle, expressing continuous or repeated action. This means that the Old Covenant ordinances of divine service and the sanctuary are still valid and effective teaching vehicles.

Where there is a shadow, there must also be a reality. In this instance, the reality is the life of Christ—the reality we are to strive to emulate as closely as we can, "as dear children," as Paul puts it, to be "a sweet-smelling aroma" to God (Ephesians 5:1-2).

In Luke 24:27, Jesus buttresses this concept while instructing the two men on the road to Emmaus after His resurrection: "And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself." Jesus draws teaching from the books of Moses to show parallels with His own life.

Be careful not to make the careless mistake of thinking of the offerings as childish, insignificant, primitive, or barbaric. Undoubtedly, they are different from what we are culturally familiar. However, these quoted scriptures make it clear that God intended all along to use them as teaching vehicles. To those under the Old Covenant, the offerings looked forward to what would occur. We look back on what occurred and accept the spiritual intent of the teaching as applicable to us under the New Covenant.

The sacrifices of Leviticus stood at the heart of the worship of God under the Old Covenant. The overall image we may retain from them may indeed be of an endless number of bulls, sheep, goats, and birds slaughtered and burned with profound solemnity on a smoking altar. However, there is absolutely no doubt that they prefigured the sacrifice of Jesus Christ in His death by crucifixion. Less understood is that they also foreshadowed the depth of His consecrated devotion to God and man in His life. Even less understood is how they demonstrate the life we also are to exemplify as living sacrifices.

Is not being living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God, and not being conformed to this world but being transformed by the renewing of our minds into the image of Christ our Redeemer, to be at the center of our lives once we are redeemed (Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 4:13)?

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Offerings of Leviticus (Part One): Introduction


 

Hebrews 10:5-10

Here, Jesus is recognizing His body as a gift given so that the Father's will may be done. Animal sacrifices could not accomplish God's will, but the sacrifice of the sinless God-man, Jesus of Nazareth, could. It has the power to cleanse from sin so that a New Covenant, a whole new religious order, may be established based on a personal relationship—unparalleled in its intimacy—with our Creator.

A major weakness of animal sacrifices is their failure to produce a desire in the offerer to obey God. No animal life is equal in value to a human life. Though we may grieve at the loss of a pet, an animal's sacrificial death cannot have a real impact because it will not motivate us to do anything. But when a human dies for us, we feel it! We feel we owe something in return; indebtedness arises from our gratitude for what the sacrifice accomplished.

In our case, the most valuable Life ever lived was given. Gratitude, worship, and obedience are the only appropriate responses to such a sacrificial gift as the body of Jesus Christ. There is no other acceptable sacrifice for sin that will allow us to continue living.

The theme of Passover is the awesome cost of salvation, which is manifested in the sinless sacrifice of Jesus Christ. His was not a mechanical sinlessness, but He was sinless, innocent, even while encumbered with the frailties of human nature just as we are. His was sinlessness with sympathy, empathy, compassion, kindness, and concern for the helpless slaves of sin. Understanding this, we should feel revulsion that our sins caused such an injustice as His death to occur. At the same time, we should also express appreciation, indebtedness, and thanksgiving by departing from sin.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Christ, Our Passover


 

1 Peter 2:24-25

The most brutal example of divine justice is found in the New Testament, not the Old. We see the most violent expression of God's wrath and justice in the crucifixion of His own Son. If anybody had room to complain that He was not being treated fairly, it was Jesus Christ, who was not guilty of even one sin! He was the only innocent person who ever lived, yet He suffered a horrible, cruel death. If we were to become upset or offended at something that seems to be unjust, this would be it.

The crucifixion, similar to the Flood, the casting out of the Amorites, and so forth, is simultaneously the most just and the most gracious act in history. It would have been absolutely diabolical of God to punish Jesus if His Son had not first voluntarily taken on Himself the sins of all the world. Even though He was innocent to that point, once He took upon Himself that concentrated load of sin, He became the most repugnant thing that ever existed on earth before God. He became an obscene and accursed thing, and God executed His wrath. He acted in total impartiality. God could not overlook sin, even when it touched His Son.

Jesus Christ did this for us. Christ took the justice that was to fall on us, and He paid for it with His priceless life. It is the "for us" aspect that displays the majesty of the grace of God.

We cringe at God's justice because it is so unusual, since most of the time He is so gracious. Human nature deceives us into taking it for granted, but we need to keep it in mind because it just as integral to His character.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Justice and Grace


 

 




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