Vs. 66, “So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.” It’s Easter Morning and Jesus is no longer in the tomb! All the devious plotting by Caiaphas, the Sanhedrin and Pilate failed. In the beginning of our chapter, we see the tragic demise of Judas Iscariot (vs. 3-10). While Judas showed remorse for his actions, he did not repent and believe. We now come to the trial of Jesus (vs. 11-26) before the Romans. The Jews needed to find a way to convince Pilate to have Jesus crucified. They spun it to make it look like Jesus was leading a revolt against the Romans. It’s important to note the politics involved with Pilate and the Jews. He wasn’t exactly a beloved figure for the Jews and though the Romans were in charge, his position needed to appease the Jews from rioting and also the Roman leaders who entrusted in Pilate’s ability to be the governor for them. He personally felt no reason for the Jesus to be sentenced to death. But the politics were pressuring him. Pilate ingeniously used the tradition of releasing one prisoner and chose Barabbas to be next to Jesus. He figured the crowds would surely not want Barabbas released and call for Jesus. But, seeing the rioting crowds and the threat the Sanhedrin made to Pilate (John 19:12), He relents and sentences Jesus to crucifixion (vs. 26). The Roman floggings (very brutal) is excruciating to read and one of the reasons why Jesus died so early on the cross (crucifixion deaths could last days). When it came to Jesus’ crucifixion on the cross, we are not given much detail from any of the Gospels since everyone at that time knew what crucifixion entailed.
Regarding application…Christ is Risen. Vs. 54, “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!” Not only did he prove that He was the Son of God, but that He was the true Christ (Anointed One). Jesus overcame the sting of death and paved the way for all to believe. This Roman centurion had the eyes of his heart open to realize the truth. Jesus after His resurrection revealed himself to over 500 disciples and it their testimony that gives us the additional sources we need to shed light on our faith. I pray that this coming week, that you too would testify of our risen Lord!
Vs. 30, “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” It is finished. It is said that Pilate had Jesus flogged so severely so that when he presented a beaten down and nearly dead Jesus to the Jewish mob, they would have compassion on Jesus and not choose to crucify Him (vs. 1-6). But the crowds still cried out crucify, crucify! There was so much pressure on Pilate to appease them and in his cowardice, Pilate buckled under the pressure (vs. 6-16). The best thing Pilate could do was have a sign of Jesus, King of Jews above his cross, but this did not make the Jews happy (vs. 19-22). So sad to see the hatred and anger the Jews had. They got what they wanted to see Jesus crucified, and yet they still complained. Once again, we see Jesus caring for others (in Mary), as He himself was dying on the cross for our sins (vs. 26). We also are reminded of the prophecies of Jesus being fulfilled in spearing his side, rather than breaking his legs (vs. 33-34). And lastly, we see Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus come out of the shadows of hiding their faith and make the request not to have Jesus’ body so they could do the right thing in a proper burial (vs. 38-42)
Regarding application…Taking the Risk. Vs. 38, “Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away.” Question: What is so significant here? Joseph of Arimathea as well as Nicodemus witnessed something as they saw Jesus crucified on the cross. It is here that Nicodemus realized what it means to be born again (John 3). Both men took a tremendous risk as Pharisee’s to now take care of the body of Jesus. I suppose, the saying, “Better late than never” is very true! It didn’t matter what the Sanhedrin would say, what their fellow Pharisees would say…they were going to do this for Jesus. It was their way of honoring Jesus for they themselves would witness the sacrifice on the cross. Question: What are you willing risk? If you believe in Jesus, don’t fear the opinion of others. Stand up for Him! Share His love and reach out to others in the name of Jesus. This first day of the week is a start of making this week a “Super” week for Jesus!
Vs. 3, “So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.” This is very difficult passage to read as we come face to face with Jesus’ last night before the crucifixion. It touched my heart to be reminded how Jesus cared for the disciples (vs. 8 ) and was looking out for them. The soldier’s take Jesus to Annas, who used to be the high priest years earlier. He is the father-in-law of Caiaphas who is the current high priest. They illegally arrest and interrogate Jesus. They want Jesus dead so they take Him to Pilate, a Roman leader who had the authority to have Jesus crucified. Part of Pilate’s role was to govern the Jews and keep peace, so there was definite pressure to appease the Jews. Yet, Pilate could not find a reasonable reason that Jesus be crucified. Mixed in this chapter, we see Jesus’ words come true with Peter’s denial of Jesus three times. As Jesus was put on trial, Peter also had his own trials before him this night. My heart goes out to Peter for this would be very bitter and sad moment for him. But, in Peter’s failure, we will soon be reminded of God’s grace in dealing with second chances.
Regarding application…What is Truth? Vs. 38 “What is truth?” Pilate asked. With this he went out again to the Jews and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him.” A question posed by Pilate himself! It’s one of those questions that mankind has been asking throughout the ages. The truth Pilate asked was in the context of just who was Jesus? Was He this false savior the Jews accused Him of? Was this kingdom a real place? Was Jesus a true king? Pilate asks this question on behalf of all of us. Question: Is Jesus telling the truth? C.S. Lewis challenges us in his book Mere Christianity, that we must either decide Jesus was truly the Son of God or believe he was a madman or worse. We can’t believe in half-truths and just say, Jesus was a good man or a good teacher. The truth is will set us free. Jesus is that truth (John 14:6)!
Vs. 14-15, “and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. 15 Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death.” What a dark day in the history of God’s creation. At Jesus’ trial, we see Pilate and then Herod find no basis for death, but God’s own chosen would yell out crucify him (vs. 20). The same crowds that were praising Jesus a week earlier were now condemning Him. Think of Jesus at this time. He had no sleep all night, , ridiculed, humiliated, abandoned, beaten and scourged so badly that He couldn’t even carry his own cross all the way. And speaking of crucifixion, it is only one of the worst ways to die. During that day, it was reserved only for the worst criminals. Even during the death process of our Lord on the cross, His love and concern for those around him (the thief, his mother, forgiving others) are amazing.
Regarding application…Grace Given. Vs. 34, “Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.” Here we see Jesus’ love in action. Grace is God’s undeserved love and forgiveness. Forgiveness does not guarantee salvation, but the first step was initiated for us. We can’t repent and receive salvation if we are not forgiven. As we soberly are reminded of the death of our Lord Jesus today, we want to ask ourselves; How will this apply to me? Just as you have been given grace, now it is time for you to extend grace to another. Forgiveness breaks down the walls of hostility. Question: Who can you give grace to today?