Is everything that is necessary to restore you to God and give you eternal life with Him already been accomplished? Jesus said, “It is finished.” Do you believe that is done? Or, are you still DOING, DOING, DOING?
It is Friday, the day of the Savior’s crucifixion. Matthew 27:1 “When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death.” They had agreed that Jesus deserved to die, on a charge of blasphemy, but fearing the people and the Romans – these religious leaders were not about to stone Him to death. Therefore, they plotted how to get Him convicted by Pilate under civil law. Verses 2-3 “And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor. Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that He was condemned, repented himself (changed his mind), and brought again (returned) the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders.” Judas experienced a guilty conscience, and apparent remorse, but only had a change of mind – not a change of heart. So, a regretful Judas goes back to the Chief Priests and Elders, Verses 4-5 “Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that (in other words, that’s your problem). And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.”
Now to the Trial. The charge that was leveled against Him was in stirring up sedition and treason – because Jesus claimed to be King – making Him guilty of rebellion against the Roman government. Verse 11 “And Jesus stood before the governor (Pontius Pilate): and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest.” In other words – it is as you say. But even though He admitted that He is King, He added that “His kingdom is not of this world.” Pilate received a warning from his wife, Verse 19 “When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just (innocent) man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.” When Pilate learns that Jesus was from Galilee, he sends Jesus to Herod Antipas, but Herod sent Him back without a formal decision on the case. Verse 22 “Pilate saith unto them (the multitude of Jews), What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him. Let him be crucified.” With that – Pilate literally washes his hands of the whole affair – has Jesus scourged – whipped and flogged – and had Him delivered to be crucified.
Verses 27-29 “Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe (which was purple – the color of royalty). And when they had platted a crown (a wreath) of thorns, they put it upon his head (in mockery of a coronation as King of the Jews), and a reed (a stick in mockery of a king’s scepter) in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!” Truly, He is our King – bearing it all for us – in love and humility. Verses 30-31 “And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.” John 19:3 says they hit Him with their fists, as well. “And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment (clothing) on him, and led him away to crucify him.” This awful torture and abuse had taken its toll on our Lord. Jesus was forced to carry his own cross to the place of execution. But in attempting to do that, He was just too weak after all that He had been through the night before. Verse 32-34 “And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross. And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha (Luke calls it Calvary), that is to say, a place of a skull (outside the city walls), They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall (designed to drug the victim of crucifixion to lessen the pain somewhat): and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.” Later while on the cross, he did thirst, and was offered simple vinegar or wine to drink, which he took.
None of the Gospels give a detail description of the actual crucifixion process. Verses 35-37 “And they crucified him, and parted his garments (divided his clothing up among themselves), casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet (David in Psalm 22:18), They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture (clothing) did they cast lots (customary spoils of the executioners). And sitting down they watched him there; And set over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” We need to remember that the cross upon which Jesus died was intended for Barabbas. Or, should I say for you – and me. Verses 38-40 “Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.” Actually, these two thieves or robbers were militant revolutionaries against the Roman Government – probably cohorts of Barabas. “And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads (shaking their heads), And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.” These people obviously misunderstood what Jesus had said regarding the temple. They thought He meant the massive building in Jerusalem. But He had been talking about the temple of His body. Verses 41-42 “Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.” That is the truth! For in order to save others, He could not save Himself. But we know that Satan would have loved nothing more than for Jesus to come down off that cross. Verses 43-44 “He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth (they threw similar statements at Him).” But one of these thieves who was witnessing the Lord’s demeanor, repented – changed his mind – and took the Lord’s side. There were seven recorded statements made by the Savior from the cross. The first one was in Luke 23:34 “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” The second one was directed at the one believing thief crucified next to Him. Luke 23:43 “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Then, Jesus looking down on Mary and John at the foot of the cross. John 19:26-27 “Woman, behold thy Son! Behold thy mother.” According to Christian history, Mary spent the rest of her life in John’s care. Jesus didn’t give responsibility to His half-brothers because they probably weren’t there and – they were not sympathetic to His ministry until after His resurrection.
We understand that Jesus was nailed onto the cross at the third hour which would have been about 9 AM. Verse 45 “Now from the sixth hour (about noon) there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour (about 3 PM).” Luke says that “the sun was darkened.” This was three-hours of supernatural darkness – not just an eclipse of the sun. In Verse 46 is another statement, “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” This was an incomprehensibly difficult time for the Savior. By taking on Himself the sins of the world – being made sin for us – Jesus experienced spiritual death. And, unlike in the garden – where an angel was sent to comfort him – there was no angel sent to Him at the cross. He had to do it all – drink from the bitter cup and pay for our sins – on His own. Then, in John 19:28 Jesus says, “I thirst.” In John 19:30 He says, “It is finished” (meaning the debt for the world’s sins has been paid in full). It is DONE – no more doing. He accomplished it all for us and there is nothing we can do to add to it. The Savior exclaimed in triumph – knowing His atoning sacrifice had been accepted by the Father. And finally, in Luke 23:46 “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” He breathed His last. Then He yielded up His spirit. Or, gave up His life – because God so loved the world.
Verse 51 “And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain (torn in two) from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent (were torn apart);” Now the veil was a heavy thick curtain separating the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies, which represented a type of heaven. God tearing it in two was symbolic of Him opening heaven to all men and women everywhere by and through the work of His Son, the Great High Priest – who entered its confines on our behalf – once and for all. There was no more need for a mortal man to act as a mediator between us and God – as under the old covenant. Christ has become our Mediator – and He grants us access into HIs presence every time we want to commune with God.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claims to be the true Christian church restored from these ancient times. Each LDS Temple has a veil which is used in their sacred endowment ceremony. The veil represents the separation between the mortal state – here – and the heavenly state – after death. The veil has holes in it, and a temple worker stands on one side while the Mormon is on the other. The temple worker then shows the Mormon the four tokens, special handshakes, which will be used later in the afterlife to enter God’s presence in the Celestial Kingdom. BUT, at Jesus’ death, the veil – as we just read – was torn completely in two – by God! He destroyed it. Why? Because biblically, the separation between God and us – symbolized by the veil – was removed through the sacrificial blood of Christ. That means that God destroyed the veil. Think about it – God got rid of it. Yet, the LDS Church insists on putting it back up in all of their temples.
Verse 54 “Now when the centurion (Roman soldier), 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.” I find that to be an amazing statement from these hardened men. Verses 55-56 “And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children (James and John).”
Verses 57-60 “When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple. He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulcher, and departed.” This man Joseph was a member of the Sanhedrin, who was a secret disciple of Jesus. John 19:38-40 states that Nicodemus assisted Joseph and in fact brought costly spices for anointing the Savior’s body. There was an urgency to quickly get Christ’s body in the tomb and close the tomb, because it was evening and the Jewish Sabbath (Saturday) was about to begin. Verse 61 “And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulcher.” Because of the approaching Sabbath, there was no time for these women to do their part in preparing the body for final burial. After watching his body being placed in the tomb, they left to prepare spices for Sunday morning – the first day of the week – when they would return to finish anointing the body. Verses 62-66 “Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation (part of the Passover), the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, Saying, Sir, we remember that the deceiver (referring to Jesus) said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again (John 2:19-21). Command therefore that the sepulcher be made sure (secure) until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error (attempted deception) shall be worse than the first.” In other words, these wicked Jewish leaders feared that if Christ’s disciples were to succeed in stealing the body and pretending that Jesus had resurrected, it would be harder for them to deal with – than Christ’s claim to come back to life if they killed Him. “Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch (a group of soldiers of your own): go your way, make it as sure as you can (guard the tomb). So they went, and made the sepulcher sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.” They put a wax seal between the stone door and the wall of the tomb so they could tell if someone moved the stone – plus they set guards to watch the tomb for three days.