Sermon

Christ's Suffering and False Trials

by Jon Pippy

(PLAY FROM START)

Since the Passover is just a few weeks away, during the sermon this morning I want to look at a number of events that surrounded Christ's death. I have gone through this before, many years ago, and I want to go through it again. It is very intriguing and I really enjoy reviewed it. It kind of puts you back into the picture and puts the focus on Christ and what He suffered, what He went through, what He endured. And He endured all of those things for you, and for me.

So we are going to look at a number of things - events that surrounded His death and perhaps a couple of areas that we do not necessarily focus on all the time, but they are a part of the drama that unfolded during the hours preceding Christ's crucifixion.

We are going to look at the illegal trials that He was subjected to. They were completely illegal. Then we will be able to identify with the criminal Barabbas. He was the man that Christ replaced on the cross that day. Because it would appear that Barabbas was to have faced crucifixion himself that day, along with the other two criminals, only he was forgiven of his crimes, and he was set free. Then we are going to look at some of the last words that Christ spoke before He died; very significant words as well. It is really quite a fascinating story when you put all the pieces together.

The trials that resulted in Christ being nailed to the cross are a classic example of an unfair and illegal rush to judgement. Does that happen today in our society? Does it ever!

The Jews were allowed to bring Jewish people before their own religious leaders; however, the Jews were not allowed under Roman law to take a person's life, they couldn't take a life. This would explain why the Sanhedrin would appeal to Pilate. They kept on going up the ladder, using all the political arguments that they could, in the hope that they would find Jesus guilty and that he would pronounce the death sentence. And that is why the Jews did not attempt to stone Jesus to death. Of course, it was prophesied that that would not happen anyway; but under Jewish law, He would have been stoned, under Roman law, it was crucifixion.

The First Trial (PLAY FROM 02:19)

The first trial took place at the residence of Annas, the former High Priest, you find that in John 18:12: {1}

"Then the detachment of troops and the captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound Him. And they led Him away to Annas first, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas who was high priest that year." (John 18:12-13)

You notice that it says here, they led him away to Annas 'first', and you will understand why I mention that word again, you will see that in a little while. Now it was Caiaphas who advised the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people. Everyone in this whole situation which we are going to go through, was being set up. Christ was being set up. Undoubtedly a man of influence in this community, an illegal trial was being held in this man's home. It was held in the very early hours of the morning. It was not a spur of the moment event. They were all gathered there, it was all organised and very orchestrated; if you will. Looking at John 18:19:

"The high priest then asked Jesus about His disciples and His doctrine. Jesus answered him, 'I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing. Why do you ask Me? Ask those who have heard Me what I said to them. Indeed they know what I said [makes sense, doesn't it, clear and concise?].' And when He had said these things, one of the officers who stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, 'Do You answer the high priest like that?' [how dare you talk to the High Priest, is what he is saying]?' Jesus answered him, 'If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why do you strike Me?' Then Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest." (John 18:19-24)

You know, these blows that Christ suffered were only the beginning of a night of absolute violence, absolute violence. Jesus asked for truth and justice and He is given abuse and lies. He said; "If I am not telling the truth, bring forward a witness. Everybody heard me. Surely there must be someone. If not, why do you hit me?" The first trial ends with an unanswered, simple, relevant question; but there was no answer - there was no answer.

The Second Trial (PLAY FROM 05:18)

The second trial is held before Caiaphas, just notice that in Matthew 26:57. Just imagine what was going through Christ's mind knowing what was ultimately coming, being dragged from pillar to post, from person to person. Being abused, knowing that there is more abuse to come. There must have been a lot of turmoil going through His mind, yet knowing He was doing right. He was doing the right thing. He wanted to serve God, His Father; do His will - what a story! Matthew 26:57:

"And those who had laid hold of Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled." (Matthew 26:57)

Isn't that interesting, they were all assembled. They had been there for a while, this was planned. This was all orchestrated. It is interesting to note that everyone here, they are all wide awake ready to go, and alert. They were assembled and waiting and it was early in the morning; probably about 3:00am or 4:00am, something like that. It says they were assembled and waiting. A big set up.

These officials supposedly fair-minded men of reputation. Called to uphold justice. They were looking for people who would lie. Go and find some liars out there that can accuse this man. They couldn't find any; the problem was they were a little short of witnesses against Jesus. So Caiaphas cut the trial short and he judged Him deserving of death, notice Matthew 26:59:

"Now the chief priests, the elders, and all the council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but found none. Even though many false witnesses came forward, they found none. But at last two false witnesses came forward and said, This fellow said, 'I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.' And the high priest arose and said to Him, 'Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?' But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, 'I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!' Jesus said to him, 'It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.' Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, 'He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy! What do you think?' They answered [the council in unison] and said, 'He is deserving of death.' Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands," (Matthew 26:59-67)

He didn't do anything wrong, there were no witnesses against Him. He just said, "find someone who can accuse me of wrongdoing or speaking the wrong thing". They couldn't find anyone. Look what He went through. Matthew 26:68:

"...saying, 'Prophesy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck You?' " (Matthew 26:68)

Mocking Him and abusing Him, and hurting Him. It is interesting to note that they were all assembled together, it is a set-up, they are all of one mind: death to Christ. These officials supposedly fair-minded men of reputation, called to uphold justice; who were looking for people who could do Him in, obviously, but they didn't find any.

The Third Trial (PLAY FROM 09:15)

During the third trial - now we come to the third. You might not have known that there were that many; there is more. During the third trial, Jesus was sent to the Sanhedrin, also called the Council of Elders. And this is the seventy men who sat in ultimate authority over the Jews. Notice that in Luke 22:66:

"As soon as it was day [you see, all of a sudden it was a day, and we are into the third trial and it is day-light, and we know they had assembled in the wee small hours of the morning], the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, came together and led Him into their council [they are all gathered there together], saying, 'If You are the Christ, tell us.' But He said to them, 'If I tell you, you will by no means believe. And if I also ask you, you will by no means answer Me or let Me go. Hereafter the Son of Man will sit on the right hand of the power of God.' Then they all said, 'Are You then the Son of God?' So He said to them, 'You rightly say that I am.' And they said, 'What further testimony do we need? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth.' " (Luke 22:66-71)

As far as they were concerned, He had condemned Himself. So you see, without even attempting to examine any evidence, Caiaphas and the elders as well, accused Jesus of blasphemy. And they prepared to take Him to Pilate. But they had one big problem yet to be overcome and they knew it. They wanted to send Him to Pilate, but the problem was this; blasphemy was a religious charge, it was absolutely nothing in a Roman court. That is why the Jewish leaders changed the charges. Blasphemy would carry no weight, so the charges now had to be insurrection and treason, saying that He was trying to overthrow the Government of Rome. That is what would tip the scales with Rome.

An interesting accusation isn't it? Very interesting accusation, allaying the fact that it was Jesus who publicly taught people to; "...Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." (Matthew 22:21). Remember that story where they said; "Master are we supposed to pay taxes?" They were trying to catch Him. And He said; "...Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's..." (Matthew 22:21), and showed them the coin. He never spoke against Rome. No insurrection, no treason.

The Fourth Trial (PLAY FROM 12:27)

From here Jesus was sent to the civil court for His fourth trial, trial number four. Let's turn to Mark chapter 15. In the wee small hours of the morning, He was abused and hurt, defamed, spat upon, struck, humiliated. Here we are, the light is dawning, He is now at the fourth trial. This brings us to the next player in the story; Pontius Pilate. This man is depicted in the scriptures and in the history books, as two total opposites. History books say one thing, scriptures say another.

In the history books he is portrayed as an Anti-Semitic Roman, tough, iron-fisted soldier, and then of course he became an administrator. And he worked his way up through the ranks, so undoubtedly he was a tough-minded character in many ways. But the scriptures say that he was always vacillating. He wasn't really too sure. He was kind of back and forth in his thinking, in his judgments. Shifting his position, uneasy and seemingly eager to please the people and particularly the Jews; which is kind of strange in some respects.

It has also been recorded that Pilate was under investigation by the Emperor for some actions that he took in the field of brutality and violence and it was said that he was unbending and that he was reckless and hard and difficult. This explains why he appeared uncertain, though doesn't it, when faced with Jesus? He didn't know what to do, he was perplexed. Why didn't he throw the Jews out of the place and deal with them as the Roman administrator? They came asking for a death and he didn't do that. He vacillated back and forth, and you are going to see that as we go through here. History shows as well, in Josephus; that Pilate was later banished to a distant region of the Empire, never to be heard from again, I guess. Mark 15:1:

"Immediately, in the morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council; and they bound Jesus, led Him away, and delivered Him to Pilate [imagine what Christ must have felt after what He had been through thus far and knowing that now He was into the Pilate phase and what is ahead of that]. Then Pilate asked Him, 'Are You the King of the Jews?' He answered and said to him, 'It is as you say.' And the chief priests accused Him of many things, but He answered nothing. Then Pilate asked Him again, saying, 'Do You answer nothing? See how many things they testify against You!' But Jesus still answered nothing, so that Pilate marveled." (Mark 15:1-5)

He couldn't understand what was happening here. Mark 15:9, the multitudes, in verse 8, were crying out:

"But Pilate answered them, saying, 'Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?' For he knew that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy [you weren't going to fool Pilate on this one]. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd, so that he should rather release Barabbas to them. Pilate answered and said to them again, 'What then do you want me to do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?' " (Mark 15:9-12)

Pilate was unsure what to do, he didn't want a tumult, he didn't want a riot. That doesn't look good on your record as an administrator. He wasn't too sure what was going to happen here. And then of course in Mark 15:13:

"So they cried out again, 'Crucify Him!' ... So Pilate, wanting to gratify the crowd [there is that part of his personality that the scriptures show us], released Barabbas to them; and he delivered Jesus, after he had scourged Him, to be crucified." (Mark 15:13,15)

I think that is the proper depiction of what that man was like; what the scriptures show us here. Luke 23:1:

"Then the whole multitude of them arose and led Him to Pilate. And they began to accuse Him, saying, 'We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ, a King.' Then Pilate asked Him, saying, 'Are You the King of the Jews?' He answered him and said, 'It is as you say.' So Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowd, 'I find no fault in this Man.' " (Luke 23:1-4)

"I find no fault in this man." But here is where the charges turned to treason. Notice John 18:28 You have to bounce around a bit to put the pieces together:

"Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium, and it was early morning [just early morning, probably the sun had just come up]. But they themselves did not go into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover. Pilate then went out to them and said, 'What accusation do you bring against this Man?' " (John 18:28-29)

Interesting that they wouldn't go to the Praetorium, that was where the Governor's house was, the Governor's abode, they would be defiled; can't do that. John 18:30:

"They answered and said to him, 'If He were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him up to you [he wouldn't be here if there wasn't something wrong].' Then Pilate said to them, 'You take Him and judge Him according to your law.' Therefore the Jews said to him, 'It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death [now they are working on Pilate, aren't they?],' that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled which He spoke, signifying by what death He would die. Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, 'Are You the King of the Jews?' " (John 18:30-33)

He was in trouble and he knew it. It is interesting that they wouldn't go into the Praetorium, they wouldn't go into the Governor's house, if you will. They might be defiled. Isn't that interesting because you see, false accusations and brutality and prejudice and hypocrisy; that was fine. But they couldn't go into the Praetorium. As long has they preserved the proper boundaries. That is a good example of a very ancient check-list, if you will, to use that term of reference. You know, we will do this and won't do that, we will do such and such but we won't do this. All to serve the purpose which was their own purpose of course.

The Fifth and Sixth Trials (PLAY FROM 20:27)

Here is where things change a bit. Pilate thought that he had this thing all organised, he could fluff it off now, he doesn't have to worry, he doesn't have to make a decision. Notice Luke 23:5:

"But they were the more fierce, saying, 'He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee to this place [ah, look what happens next].' When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked if the Man were a Galilean. And as soon as he knew that He belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time." (Luke 23:5-7)

So Pilate had a perfect loophole: Ah, I can get rid of this guy. It is not my responsibility anymore. Send him to Herod. Everybody was playing politics, passing the buck. Luke 23:8:

"Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad; for he had desired for a long time to see Him. [Why? Because he wanted to learn about the way of God? No!], because he had heard many things about Him, and he hoped to see some miracle done by Him. Then he questioned Him with many words, but He answered him [absolutely] nothing. And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused Him. Then Herod, with his men of war [and his troops], treated Him with contempt and mocked Him, arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe, and sent Him back to Pilate." (Luke 23:8-11)

Back to Pilate. And this really is the beginning of the fifth trial here. Herod was glad to see him but all he wanted was to see a miracle. See somebody healed or whatever it might have been. And Christ never answered one question, He wouldn't even dignify the question with an answer, someone like him. But Pilate's political manoeuvring didn't work. Herod sent Him back to Pilate for the sixth and final trial.

Okay you know the rest of the story, I'm not going to go through all of those scriptures at this point. The six separate trials are interesting to look at. They are completely illegal, totally unfair, and absolutely corrupt; and all to suit a tremendous purpose. Christ suffered willingly. There was never any fighting back. He never defended Himself against the mobs, or against the weak-kneed, lily-livered leaders. Never said anything. He was the perfect sacrifice, all the way through this process. You can see that, the way He responded: absolutely perfect.

Barabbas (PLAY FROM 23:22)

The man Barabbas, I mentioned earlier, is someone that never really appears on centre stage in scripture does he? Just for a brief moment here, but he played a major role as things unfolded. When he was set free from what would have been a certain date with death for him, we might wonder what he was thinking.

Does he go back to his evil ways and think who he could rob and kill or whatever, or did he stop and say, maybe I should change what I am doing? Maybe I should learn from this man's teachings? You wonder, did it ever cross his mind. I wonder. If any man every understood what it meant to have Jesus literally bear his cross and die in his place, it was Barabbas. And strange as it may seem, if there is one person that each of us can identify with, brethren, it is Barabbas. Yet, how often do we think about that comparison. I doubt we do very often, or if not at all. Matthew 27:15:

"Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to releasing to the multitude one prisoner whom they wished [tell us who you want, and we will let you have him; so it was custom to release one person at that time of the year]. And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas." (Matthew 27:15-16)

You know, the historian Josephus agrees with Matthews' words because he said that Barabbas was a notorious criminal. An evil person before he was captured; into all kinds of things. Matthew 27:17:

"Therefore, when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, 'Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?' For he knew that they had handed Him over because of envy. [Verse 20] But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus [so they stirred the crowds up, got a real riot going]. The governor answered and said to them, 'Which of the two do you want me to release to you?' [he asked them again] They said, 'Barabbas!' Pilate said to them, 'What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?' They all said to him, 'Let Him be crucified!' Then the governor said, 'Why, what evil has He done?' But they cried out all the more, saying, 'Let Him be crucified!'" (Matthew 27:17-18,20-23)

"When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all [things were getting out of hand], but rather that a tumult [or a riot was being started here], he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, 'I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it [it's your problem, I'm out of here, that is basically what he said].' And all the people answered and said, 'His blood be on us and on our children.' Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified." (Matthew 27:24-26)

Now let's go to Mark 15:6, you will see here:

"Now at the feast he was accustomed to releasing one prisoner to them, whomever they requested. And there was one named Barabbas, who was chained with his fellow rebels; they had committed murder in the rebellion." (Mark 15:6-7)

The other two who were crucified with Jesus were fellow rebels against Rome and Barabbas was a criminal. Pilate offered to the Jews this prisoner release programme which is what they had once a year. And he released a dangerous man; a rebel. A person of violence and murder. Barabbas missed his day of reckoning, didn't he? He escaped the death hammer. I would not be surprised and can pretty well state that at some point, he met his day; because of the kind of individual that he was. Why did I say that we can identify with Barabbas? Because Christ was our substitute as well. That's why. He bore our sins and died the death that we deserve, just has He died the death that Barabbas deserved. Like Barabbas we have been set free. Over in Isaiah 53:6 I'll just turn there quickly:

"All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the [Eternal] has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." (Isaiah 53:6)

The iniquity of every human being laid on the shoulders of Jesus Christ. It is truly a remarkable story as the Passover approaches, and to look at the many components that are involved here. And there are many of them that preceded the hours even before His death. And the many people that played significant roles as the drama unfolded. And Barabbas was certainly a part of the story. And then of course he enters the stage of the scriptures for a very short moment and he has gone. But a significant part that he played.

Christ's Last Statements - "Father Forgive Them" (PLAY FROM 29:36)

For anyone standing at the foot of the cross while Christ hung there in agony as His life slipped away, they would have heard some significant statements that Christ said. You know it is interesting that the last words a person speaks are often of great importance. Especially to loved ones. That stand close and stay quiet, not wanting to miss any parting words, if someone is sick and dying. I have been in situations in hospitals where that has been the case and it is a very hushed room. Those who are there are whispering, because they don't know what the person can hear, and if they do say something they want to be very attentive towards it. A very very significant time.

We are going to look at a few of the words, there is not time to focus on them all obviously, but we will go through some of them. It is also interesting to note that while the two criminals flanking Christ were screaming out curses of bitterness and hatred toward everybody, Jesus focused His mind on others. It wasn't on Himself, focused on others, then on His Father, and all the more amazing His words were gracious terms of forgiveness after all He had been through. After all that led up to where He was at that point. Words of forgiveness. Luke 23:32:

"There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death. And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. Then Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.' And they divided His garments and cast lots. " (Luke 23:32-34)

Christ's words are a fulfilment of prophecy and you can notice that back in Isaiah 53:11, Christ's words are a fulfilment of prophecy:

"He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities [just like He bears ours]. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors." (Isaiah 53:11-12)

Those words fulfilled the prophecy made centuries earlier and so many people today are completely and totally unaware of that: and many other prophecies obviously as well. He offers a prayer to the Father on behalf of those who tortured Him. Those who abused Him, who humiliated Him, who beat on Him, who spit on Him. A prayer for the guilty. He bore the sins of many and interceded for transgressors. Only Christ could have uttered those words because He was filled with the Holy Spirit, but it is so very interesting to note here that another individual spoke similar words because he was fully charged with the Spirit of God as well. And it is amazing what can happen when you are fully charged with the Spirit of God. Not to the same degree of course, but he was fully charged. Notice Acts 6:8, a story that we are all familiar with:

"And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people." (Acts 6:8)

Acts 7:54, let's pick it up there, talking here again about Stephen:

"When they heard these things [because Stephen went through and preached them a very powerful lesson] they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth [they bit him they were so angry and upset]. But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, 'Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!' Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.' Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, 'Lord, do not charge them with this sin.' And when he had said this, he fell asleep." (Acts 7:54-60)

Being filled with the Holy Spirit, Christ said, "Forgive them, they don't know what they are doing. They don't understand, Your will be done." Stephen was filled with the Spirit as well. Again not to the same degree, but still filled with it. He was able to say, forgive them. Don't charge them with this sin. That is quite an attitude to have. Much can be accomplished when a person is fully charged with the Spirit of God. Now the apostle Paul brings out something interesting here, notice over in Colossians 2:13:

"And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross." (Colossians 2:13-14)

And when Christ asked the Father to forgive, no doubt He had us in mind as well. No doubt He had the future generations in mind as well and He did forgive all our transgressions. He cancelled out our certificate of debt and nailed it to the cross. People think that Christ nailed the law to the cross. No He did not. He nailed to the cross our certificate of debt and death. He died for us. That is what he nailed to the cross. Try to explain that to some Protestants sometime. Let's notice Colossians 3:12 here:

"Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection." (Colossians 3:12-14)

And we have been forgiven, so now we have the ability to have a heart of compassion, a heart of kindness, a heart of humility, a heart of meekness, and a heart of forgiving each other. Our great God continues to forgive, and forgive, and forgive, and forgive, doesn't He? How fortunate we are, how fortunate mankind will be when they understand the magnificence that involves and surrounds the Passover. It is an incredible story. It really is. It is hard as human beings to understand that kind of giving, that kind of sacrifice, that kind of will that He has.

"My God, My God Why Have You Forsaken Me?" (PLAY FROM 38:57)

Matthew 27:45 we'll read some more words that Christ spoke:

"Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, 'Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?' that is, 'My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?'" (Matthew 27:45-46)

Why have you left me? It says He cried out, it wasn't a whisper. He cried that phrase out. Notice over in the Psalm 22:1, I want you to notice that:

"My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, And from the words of My groaning? O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; And in the night season, and am not silent." (Psalm 22:1-2)

Many Psalms are messianic obviously, but Psalm 22 offers a rather vivid account of Jesus' death centuries before He went to the cross. Something else people don't understand, don't realise it is here. Psalm 22:14:

"I am poured out like water, And all My bones are out of joint [from that beating that He took; I read in an article somewhere, not too long ago about the graphic description of what happened at the scouring, not going to go through it obviously]; My heart is like wax; It has melted within Me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd [it has gone], And My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death. For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet [centuries before, here it is, prophesied]; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me [they have beaten me so cruelly, so unmercifully]. They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots." (Psalm 22:14-18)

He talks about being forsaken or abandoned and left completely alone, completely alone. Paul tells us why He thought that way over in II Corinthians 5:21:

"For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us [Him being Jesus Christ], that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (II Corinthians 5:21)

That we might become the righteousness of God in Christ. You could conclude that all the sins of mankind were momentarily poured out on the dying Christ - everything! That is why He felt so abandoned and alone. "Where are you my God, why you have forsaken me?" But you can be certain that it reverberated in His mind when He said; "...not My will, but Yours, be done." (Luke 22:42). God is holy, separate from sin, absolutely pure. Christ took upon Himself the sin of us all. Paying the penalty for it in full and we didn't have to face that penalty. And He opened the possibility of instant access to the Father. We can now have a relationship with God that we couldn't have before. It wasn't available at one time, before that, before this occasion. Hebrews 10:10:

"By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all [one time for everyone]. And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool." (Hebrews 10:10-13)

Christ was the one time ultimate sacrifice for our sins. He was God's one final acceptable sacrifice. It was the only acceptable one. Because of Christ's sacrifice, the Father would never have to forsake any of us. Hebrews 13:5 Paul says right here:

"Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' " (Hebrews 13:5)

The depth and astounding significance of the Passover and Christ's sacrifice, I think really hit, don't they. Because we don't go through this every other week during the year it's just during this time and so it should be significant. It should have an impact. You put the story together and you really begin to understand the compassion and the love of God. The kind of love and compassion and concern and forgiveness that He has for us.

"I Thirst" (PLAY FROM 45:31)

John 19:28, interesting words here; and you will understand why in a second, at least why I think it is interesting:

"After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled [completely and absolutely it was done; He], said, 'I thirst!' " (John 19:28)

I am thirsty. Now this is certainly an undeniable example of Christ's humanity, right? Being truly human existing in bodily form, expressing a necessary need for humans. And He was thirsty, after hanging on the stake for many hours. He knew all things had been accomplished up to that point.

And it is interesting to note that many Old Testament scriptures, many Old Testament scriptures were fulfilled during the last twenty-four hours of his life. Sold for 30 pieces of silver; betrayed by a friend, deserted and denied by His disciples, accused by false witnesses, humiliated, wounded, bruised, He stood silent before His accusers. His hands and feet were pierced; all fulfilled. And the prophecies, we read them earlier, back in the Psalms, and in Isaiah.

To be our High Priest Jesus Christ had to be a unique individual. He had to represent both God and man. Undiminished Deity, if you will and on the other hand, genuine humanity, all in one person. He has known pain, He has known suffering and discomfort, He was hated, He was rejected, He was ignored by people, He was abused. Do you think He doesn't understand our pain and suffering; what we go through on occasion. Have you ever been hated, rejected, abused? Many of us have. It happens on occasion during life. He understands and can be a faithful mediator before the Father. All of these things that occurred during the last hours of Christ's death are significant, and revealing and comforting for us. Truly we have priceless knowledge.

Another interesting fact to consider, to me it's fascinating actually, in many respects; when Christ went into the wilderness after His baptism by John, He fasted forty days. Remember that story? And was tempted by Satan; so what is interesting about it? Christ began His ministry hungry and He ended His ministry, ended His life being thirsty. Those are very human things, very human things - very human. I think sometimes many people do not grasp or fully understand that concept. In Philippians 2:6, let's just notice a few things here:

"Who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God [to be the very nature of God, Christ made it quite clear, and is to be worshipped as God; verse 10]: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:6,10-11)

And that statement is paraphrased; "...All flesh shall come to worship before Me, says the Lord." (Isaiah 66:23). {2} But where God speaks of Himself, God alone is to be worshipped, and when Christians call Him, Lord, they proclaim Him to be God. Yet He was human; had that form and shape. He was God before He was born in the flesh, John 1:1, Mr Armstrong often refers to that; "In the beginning [God] and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1). After His human birth, He continued to be God on earth. He forgave sins, He claimed divinity and thus equal with God. John 8:58 Jesus said to them:

"...Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM." (John 8:58)

He was being put upon as the Pharisees, by those around Him, the leaders; "Who do you think you are?" John 10:28:

"And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand. I and My Father are one." (John 10:28-30)

He makes it very clear. It was these claims that led to charges of blasphemy from the Jews. And after His resurrection, He continued to be God. Notice that in John 20, remember this story, I won't go through it all, obviously. Thomas, doubting Thomas:

"He said, come here Thomas, put your fingers in my side, reach in, put your finger through and, into my hands and see. It's Me. And Thomas answered and said to Him, 'My Lord and my God!' " (John 20:27-28 paraphrased)

The author of the Psalms says of Jesus; "Your throne oh God, will last for ever and ever."(Psalm 45:6) You see, when He walked the earth He was fully human. The New Testament insists that Jesus was a human being; yet without sin. Let's notice that, Hebrews 4:15, for a moment. Sometimes it is good to put these things together, it really solidifies it. Makes us realise how much of this Being was human. He had humanity, He understood pain and suffering and hurt and rejection and abandonment and humility and all the rest of it. He understood it, He intercedes for us because He knows what it feels like; yet He was God. It says right here:

"For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses [our many weaknesses], but was in all points tempted as we are, yet [He didn't mess up, He was] without sin." (Hebrews 4:15)

John 1:14, I'll just read something quickly for you:

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us [the Word reference back in John 1:1], and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14)

The Word became flesh. He operated within the confines of human flesh. He was born of a woman, He grew up in a human family. He often got tired, He hungered, He was thirsty and at the end of His life He suffered great pain. And cried out in a very human way, in a human manner as we would cry out; as we do when we get hurt when physically things happen to us.

In order to save us, He became one of us, interesting isn't it. To do so He did not abandon His divinity, because only God can save. He was God and fully human, sent by the Father as Jesus Christ, to be revealed in the flesh for our salvation. Something a lot of people don't fully grasp or understand. That is why He stepped aside for a second and went through this. No wonder He can understand weak human beings. And no wonder, but as God, He can intercede for us.

"It Is Finished" (PLAY FROM 54:56)

Another significant few words that Christ spake with His dying breath was, John 19:30:

"...He said, 'It is finished!' " (John 19:30)

It is finished. That was not some words of anguish but rather that was words of victory. It is finished, mission accomplished, the job is done, I have done my part, I have completed the plan, I have done the work that you sent me to do. In the book of John, Christ made mention of the goal, time and time again. John 4:34, let's turn there:

"Jesus said to them, 'My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.' " (John 4:34)

That was His only purpose. That is what He was there for. He understood that. John 5:36:

"But I have a greater witness than John's; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish - the very works that I do - bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me." (John 5:36)

And; "I and My Father are one" (John 10:30). He repeated that numerous times as well. God had given Jesus Christ works to accomplish, and He came to this earth with a goal and a purpose that He never lost sight of. Nothing else ever got in the way. 'Accomplish' means to bring to an end, to complete. Christ's entire life was devoted to accomplishing the will of the Father, not His own will. Not what He would have wanted. He said in Luke 22:42:

"...Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me [I don't want to have to go through this, He said]; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done." (Luke 22:42)

John 17:4:

"I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do." (John 17:4)

I have finished it. It is complete, absolutely, everything that has been fulfilled as You planned, as You wanted it. He had finished the task. The finality of His death was just around the corner; and He knew it. John 19:28:

"After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, 'I thirst!' " (John 19:28)

Finished and accomplished are the same thing - bringing to an end. So what then was Christ referring to? What is finished? Well, Hebrews 10:4, go back there:

"For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: 'Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me.' In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. Then I said, 'Behold, I have come - In the volume of the book it is written of Me - To do Your will, O God.' " (Hebrews 10:4-7)

Right to the end. His mission in coming to the earth was to do the will of the Father. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. That was it. And God's will was for His perfect sinless Son to die for the sins of mankind. Christ never varied, He never altered the will of the Father. Never tried to arm-twist Him; "Can't we change the plans here, and go for a vacation, and we will deal with this later." No, straight down the line, never varied. Christ said; it is finished, the work that He was given to do by His Father. It is complete.

Looking at it humanly, our work is not finished, is it? We need to strive to live a sinless life, the best we can. And that is never going to end. That striving that we are going to have to deal with will never end until we end. Until we are put under the ground. We have not completed the job of pulling those last cars in our spiritual train back on track, have we? I know I haven't. We have not completed the job of growing in the love of God, directed first towards Him and then out to others. There is much yet to accomplish. No matter how long you have been around. No matter how long you have been in the Church, there is much to be done. With you and with me. John 10:17:

"Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father." (John 10:17-18)

The Lord of Life gave up His life. Christ was not murdered by the Jews, as some people would say today and have done - and still do. No, He was accused by the Jews, of course. And people will often say they call the Jews Christ killers. You have heard this phrase, they still use it. The Jews falsely accused Him, yes; and they hated Him, yes. But looking into Jewish law back then, they would have had to stone him. That was their law, not crucifixion. But He gave up His life voluntarily. They didn't take it from Him.

"I Commit My Spirit" (PLAY FROM 1:01:50)

Notice the very last words that Christ spoke in Luke 23:44:

"Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, 'Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.' Having said this, He breathed His last." (Luke 23:44-46)

The Father's hands are trustworthy. The spirit, the innermost sacred part of His being, placed in the loving hands of the Father. Christ showed us how to live, I also think He showed us how to die. It is a tremendous story. All the events surrounding the Passover, all the players involved. We have only just touched on a part of it here, obviously. There are other messages, have been given, will be given before the Passover, to bring other things into it. So it is very interesting.

You know brethren, the events that surrounding the Passover, and indeed Christ's very life help us realise that lessons in obedience can be taught and sometimes learnt severely. Being submissive is not always easy, is it? Not always easy for any one of us. We do not like the thoughts of suffering or discomfort, right? Don't you love the thoughts of suffering and discomfort, it's wonderful, I like it. No I don't. Easy and comfort, that is what I want. Now we are talking. We enjoy that. But hardship and sacrifice? Forget it!

Christ had a single, solitary purpose. To do the will of the Father. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. That was His whole life. Our job also is to do the will of the Father, not you doing your will and me do my will. As difficult as that is to get through the hard head that we all have. That is our job; to do the will of the Father. Not in preaching and teaching and being sacrificed on the cross but by being obedient. Being submissive, being humble, being gentle, being kind, being a peace-lover. Being filled with the deep abiding joy because of our calling, most important, our destiny. Being submissive to God's will. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. Psalm 119:67:

"Before I was afflicted I went astray, But now I keep Your word." (Psalm 119:67)

"It is good for me that I have been afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes." (Psalm 119:71)

"I know, O [Eternal], that Your judgments are right, And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me." (Psalm 119:75)

Sometimes that is what we need, isn't it, that is what we need. Passover is a time to straighten out the ship. Get those last few spiritual cars that we have been dragging along, firmly back on the track. Everything we go through is merely a stairway to growth. If it is not a stairway to growth, then I declare to you; it is a descent and a decline into misery, heartache, pain and suffering and separation from God. The Psalmist begins with his own wayward ways, he said, I went astray, then affliction came and I learnt to obey. It is good for me that I was afflicted. Hebrews 5:8:

"though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered." (Hebrews 5:8)

Can you imagine the Son of God having to learn things, and then He having to suffer to learn. Another part of the humanity aspect of His being. Isn't that amazing. Our Saviour learned obedience from what He suffered. Hebrews 4:14:

"Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are [all points, not just a few, all], yet [He was] without sin." (Hebrews 4:14-15)

Remember what I said earlier, who can truly understand the depth and the greatness of love and compassion that God has? Who can put up their hand and say, I understand it completely and deeply. No you do not. We grow in understanding, we learn, we change, we move toward the goal. We move toward the Kingdom. Which one of us can truly understand the depth and the greatness of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ? Anybody? No you can't. I am learning all the time, as you are.

The God family is waiting for additional members to be born into it. And God the Father and our older brother are worthy of our adoration and our obedience and our deep love for their tremendous unselfishness. Their master-plan, their desire for our spiritual happiness and our spiritual ultimate well-being. So that it can all be put to good use in their family. Christ's sacrifice makes it all possible.


Footnotes:

{1} All scriptures are taken from the New King James Version.

{2} Mr Pippy said; Isaiah 43:23 instead of Isaiah 66:23.